12th Apr2013

Hannibal 1×02 – “Amuse-Bouche” Review

by Nathan Smith

Stars: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas, Laurence Fishburne | Created by Bryan Fuller

Amuse-Bouche: def: \a-’myuz bush\ [Fr. amuse the mouth] 1: a small bite before the meal begins. 2: greeting of the Chef de cuisine

The most important thing that ‘Amuse-Bouche’ does is to show exactly how Will Graham is affected by the shooting of the Minnesota Shrike himself, Garret Jacob Hobbes. They show him crushed by this decision, at a standstill with himself, just outright questioning himself. It’s a great moral quandary for the character because this idea is rarely raised on any shows. Death doesn’t have a weight to it. It just happens. But, here on “Hannibal,” it’s damned devastating as it should be. People are screwed up by it, the serial killers don’t just murder people and enjoy it, they’re just as wracked with the weight of what they do and both sides of the coin are just as mired in the red mists. ‘Amuse-Bouche’ is all about the fallout of the pilot’s events, everything involving the Shrike permeates throughout this episode, even if there’s a brief standalone story nestled within the larger plotline. They briefly visit the brilliantly eerie hunting lodge of the Shrike, and it’s just amazing detailed it is, with the neat looking antler museum. Even more so, they mention that Hobbes may have had a sidekick. It’s discussed only a little that it may be Hobbes’ daughter, but really doesn’t dig into the meat of this matter (pun intended). The real shrift of all of this is Will’s killed the Shrike and saved the killer’s daughter and about the after effects.

The great thing is, this is just the jumping off point. This is how Will is affected by the death of Hobbes at his hands. People all around him are congratulating him, but he feels it’s unwarranted and unnecessary. He killed a man and his next thoughts are to stop them from people following in the Shrike’s footsteps. And because he needs his evaluations to keep on working, he begins to become evaluated by Dr. Lector, which is a welcome, his presence is far more than in the pilot and welcomed immensely. This is an amazing entryway into the foundation of their relationship, even though it’s in its infancy, the groundwork is built. It’s a nice tete a tete between the two men, we see more of Hannibal as someone who’s fully capable of reading Graham like a book, and Graham is someone so resistant to the idea of getting his head shrunk. This is all about who we know as Will, perhaps his personality slant not being susceptible to Hannibal’s therapy.

There’s a small plot about a serial killer burying diabetics alive to grow his mushrooms and allow for people to grasp the tether to who we were in the most symbiotic of manners, but the plotline is a little murky as are his motivations but it still gets in some pretty cool looking effects with people layered in mushrooms, a sort of fungi-esque corpse. It’s pretty effective and starkly projected, and feels like something that Fuller would have created, an almost dark tapestry. It barely registers overall in the main throttle of the episode but still allows for a decent detour in the episode. And Fuller sneaks in a cameo for all the “Wonderfalls” fans out there with Chelan Simmons reprising her character of Gretchen Speck-Horowitz.

They do tie it into the story with Abigail and Will, about how the killer is trying to draw a connection from her to Will but it feels an afterthought in the whole scheme of things. They also introduce one of the more aggravating characters (and rightly so, this character is always pestering across the board) Freddie Lounds, although interestingly is gender swapped for the show. Lounds may serve a small purpose, to natter Will Graham but she comes off exactly as she’s to be presented. At least, she serves a purpose to all of the surrounding plot, to give the creepy killer an outlet, to make him think that he fosters a commonality with Will, that Will sees him for what he is. Lounds may be the most annoying character but is still so true to life. The scene where she attempts to pull the wool over Lector’s eyes and get him to fess up about his sessions with Will is great, it’s as if he straight up hypnotizes her and forces her to erase her recordings to save Will’s skin. But, she still writes up about Will and nearly screws the fungi case into oblivion and gets a cop fired and then killed in the process. Lounds is portrayed as a monster, but one who doesn’t kill and still gets her access, as Crawford figures she’s the owner of the hair strand found in the Shrike’s nest.

The final scene ends with Will and Hannibal and is so damn electrifying, it’s hard not to walk away feeling charged up. Will’s wrecked confession that he liked killing Hobbes is just heartbreaking as is Dancy’s performance of this admittance. But Hannibal’s rationalizing to bring Will aroung to the realization that killing Hobbes is all about power, likening him to God killing his worshippers is perhaps much too meaty for some but for those who enjoy a theological meal in their crime show procedurals, we’ll eat it up.

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