26th Apr2013

Hannibal 1×04 – “Ceuf” Review

by Nathan Smith

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

‘Ceuf’ was notoriously pulled from the NBC lineup in the wake of any numerous tragedies that have occurred in the United States (Sandy Hook, Watertown, etc) and it wobbles the mind as to exactly why it was pulled. The episode, or the main plot of the episode revolves around a woman brainwashing children into killing other children seems pale in comparison to all the coverage of all the aforementioned tragedies that spool out before our eyes on news everyday and the episode would’ve fit right in line with all the many shows like Criminal Minds or Millennium that did the exact same plot but on a different tack. So, why was it pulled? Because the episode isn’t edited cohesively, it feels like an art experiment and feels disjointed. They hit all the emotional character beats but it still feels off. We just don’t feel the growth because it’s all presented as a series of shorts.

Hannibal is a show that lends grace and tragedy to murder, it doesn’t wallow in the bloody excess of these tragedies but rather show repercussions. It’s about how we react to death and violence. It’s about heartbreak. Hannibal is great in that sense. The lead character, Will is broken by the murder of the Minnesota Shrike and in the prior episodes we see how it tears him out, whether he enjoyed it or didn’t. The daughter of the killer is equally disturbed by the matter, either by growing up underneath the shadow of the killings and her own killing of a victim’s relative. It treats death with the weight it deserves.

‘Ceuf’ or the parts made available by NBC, mainly hits all the points of the character growth, hitting all beats with Abigail and Will, ushered into well-being by Hannibal and Alana. We see Hannibal picking at Will trying to see how he’s still affected by his killing of Garret Hobbes and the nightmares that he encounters every night by placing himself in the killer’s shoes. We learn about Hannibal’s past briefly, although he may or may not be telling all of the truths, that like Abigail he’s an orphan. And that Will may have commonalties in this two sided triangle. It’s interesting to see Will batting Hannibal’s psychological volleys about the low hanging fruit that is his past with his parents. He doesn’t have a moment of catharsis and let Hannibal get to the meat of the matter and have a revelation about his parents. No, he doesn’t give into Hannibal and that’s keeping Will’s character in check but allows for some deep darkness and a beautifully composed scene of Will revealing that he leaves on the lights on in his house and walks through the fog and mists in his fields surrounding the property. It’s a haunting shot of the home of Will’s house sitting there looking precisely like a ship at sea as he mentions to Hannibal as a metaphor for Will feeling safe. It’s a haunting shot by ace cinematographer (and staunch director) Karim Hussain. And we see Will at the episode’s end, alone and fighting his sleep.

Hannibal’s presence in the episode is felt immensely. He feeds Will’s dogs for him but rummages through his belongings in an invasion of Will’s privacy. It’s unclear what he’s going for but the more important meat of the episode lies in Hannibal’s radical treatment of Abigail, feeding her mushrooms to try and get her to dig in to how she feels about the murders her life has been thrust into. It’s great because Abigail and Hannibal are a complex relationship, just last episode they booth became co-conspirators in the murderous fallout of the Minnesota Shrike and now she sits at his table and eats his food but still sees her dead parents. Alana gets more and more involved in Hannibal’s therapy by creating the complete converse of his therapy. There isn’t a deep catharsis with Abigail as well as Will, and that hints at just how alike the two are. We only see him briefly with Jack discussing the fact that Crawford has marital problems and may be visiting Hannibal in an effort to heal any broken bonds he has with his marriage. And during their meal and discussion we get a  grim insight unseen by Jack that the “rabbit” that they’re eating is in fact an unnamed victim. We learn that Hannibal see Will as floundering and wants Jack there as an anchor for Will And we see that he wants to have kids with his wife but she shrugs it off and goes to sleep with nary a word said to him. There’s a clear problem but an unclear picture there that we don’t quite see yet.

It’s hard not to grasp at straws to put together the pieces made by the cutting up of ‘Ceuf’ but left in the wake we do have some great beats but an unfinished structure. Hopefully, it doesn’t hurt Hannibal because it’s a damn fine show.


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