19th Apr2013

Hannibal 1×03 – “Potage” Review

by Nathan Smith

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

Po·tage  (p-täzh) n.- A thick, often creamy soup.

There’s so much depth in ‘Potage,’ that it required a second viewing to truly absorb everything that’s going on, and it’s a whole hell of a lot. Whereas last week’s episode took a minor detour and focused on a fungal fetished serial killer, this episode is more of a direct sequel to the pilot episode. And it’s still a continual, searing portrait of the aftereffects of crime, and how people both internally and externally respond to crime. There are several motifs that occur throughout the episode, namely each character needing something from everyone in the intricate webs they find themselves in. We start with the good doctor and the hanging thread of the copycat killing from the pilot episode, it’s not all the way a certainty that’s been shown to us on the series, but we’re realizing more and more that Hannibal is behind the death, perhaps as a method to push Will into cornering the Shrike and figuring it out. Mikkelsen’s glib reaction to the slideshow of his handiwork he committed is just peachy. And later, committing another murder to cover up the copycat by killing one of Abigail’s friends during their local jaunt to her crime scene/home and planting DNA from the first victim’s brother on the newer victim. It’s again, not something that’s expressly shown but intriguingly hinted at and isn’t dumbed down for the casual viewer.

You’ve got Crawford pushing Will into a corner all but condemning Abigail Hobbes for co-conspirator in the Minnesota Shrike killings and Will needing Abigail just the same as proxy to help alleviate the nightmares he’s been having since he killed her father, and as we see in the proceeding events, putting himself as the murderer killing her in his nightmares. It’s weighty stuff but giving both the Hobbes girl and Graham the link of both being victims on the flip side of the coin provides a rather interesting dichotomy in a show amidst all procedurals over-saturating the waves. The idea of nightmares plaguing the characters is a strong element simply they don’t show this stuff and all the stuff after the deaths are said and done. Or Freddie Lounds trying desperately to use Abigail to her advantage and being shot down by Will and simultaneously coming up with the only humor of the night in Will’s threat to her (which staying true to HER character, attacks him online). The only person not using anyone for their own good is Dr. Bloom, and she showcases a different approach to psychoanalysis than Hannibal could or Will’s anti-touching approach to getting to know anyone. Her interactions with Will near the beginning of the episode shows her as a person who sees Will as a person and not just a means to catching a killer or pureed psychology gray matter.

Another way this is essayed in the episode are the scenes where Abigail returns to her home and her father’s getaway cabin, the crime scenes where her parents were murdered and where her father committed his most dark of deeds. Returning pilot director David Slade paints the home and the cabin as shells of darkness, the cave that you have to return to after all is gone, and the warmth feels sucked out. Fuller and ace Buffy writer David Fury and Chris Brancato serving as the triple headed monster credited with writing the episode hammer home the effect of murder, be it Abigail asking why there’s no chalk outline for her dead mother, and subsequently saying goodbye to her mother and noting that the crime scene cleaners did a great job of cleaning up (it’s worth noting that Will mentions that the cleaners flipped their family photos on the refrigerator around). It hurts to see these things, revisiting this place of death.

There’s definite shading that’s given to Hobbes and his daughter, treating him as the casual hunter teaching his daughter and then folding it over on its self and makes Hobbes beyond the cliché of a serial killer. He treats his trophies, both animal and human with grace, his skewed mentality being that if he wastes one iota of the body, their death is meaningless. It’s a strange, almost “Texas Chainsaw” inspired killing mentality using the parts of his corpses for other uses like pillow stuffing of pipes or what else may be. But one that suits who we’ve seen Hobbes as, at least in this episode and builds a mythology around a killer we’ve only glimpsed in both reality and nightmares. Having Abigail kill the brother of the copycat victim gives her an edge and allows for her guilt to be palpable, even from the beginning we see she’s having recurring nightmares about gutting an unnamed woman victim rather than the deer she shoots in the cold open. But, her last conversation with Hannibal shows she knows exactly who he is and what he’s up to, after all he helps her hide the body of her victim. She calls him out as a killer and the caller to her father before all hell broke loose, and he uses his knowledge of her murder and her of his, to keep their secrets. Again, not to repeat a point over and over, but this is not a-typical behavior, the victim is now co-conspirator with the person who brought this madness upon her. It’s a deep. dark well.

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