Hannibal: 103 “Potage” Review
Reviewed by Gabriel Bergmoser.
When Hannibal turns its attention to its fascinating and nuanced cast of characters, it soars. Last week, the relationship between Will and Hannibal was put front and centre, hinting at just how close this bond might become and how devastating the inevitable separation will be. This week we are given a surprisingly strong new addition to the principal cast; Abigail Hobbs, the daughter of killer Garret Jacob Hobbs from the premiere. While yes, we have seen Abigail before, up until now we have learnt very little about her. Now however, the mystery of her character takes front and centre. Was she involved in her father’s crimes? Was she aware of them? Whatever the case, she has fascinated our trio of Will, Hannibal and Alana, all in different ways. Hannibal sees a protégé, Will someone he must protect and Alana sees a damaged girl in need of sympathy. Looming over all this is Crawford, convinced of the girl’s guilt and using all resources at his disposal in order to get an answer.
Wisely, there is no serial killer of the week dragging down this episode, but there is the bizarre murder of Abigail’s friend, presumably at the hands of Hannibal. While we know that Hannibal murders those he deems rude, her only crime seemed to be rebuffing her mother, who was being fairly unpleasant to Abigail. That hardly seems worth murder. That said there’s no actual evidence of Hannibal’s guilt; he’s just, for now, the most likely suspect.
This episode centres almost entirely on the character of Abigail, and the mystery around her is quite intriguing. She does seem genuinely horrified at her accidental killing of that man at the end (a character who existed purely to die), but the most interesting thing about all this is how Hannibal instantly takes the opportunity to pull her deeper into his web.
Sadly, the circumstances around this killing once again bring to light one of the major problems with Hannibal. While the focus of characters and their development is admirable and indeed, possibly the show’s best aspect, here it comes at the cost of believability. The show expects us to accept that Abigail can kill someone in a house surrounded by police, and that her and Hannibal can then somehow hide the body and get away scot free. While yes, this sets up the potentially great subplot of the relationship between Hannibal and Abigail, it’s very hard to buy as even remotely feasible. The situation is portrayed brilliantly through the great acting and solid direction, and yet the idea itself is just deeply flawed.
It’s moments like this that demonstrate the lack of realism which is Hannibal’s biggest issue. It undermines the brilliant work of the actors and the strength of the dialogue and characterisation. Even if the series is not interested in the more procedural side of its story, general feasibility cannot be just ignored. It makes the series difficult to enjoy at times; it’s especially irritating when you are missing a great performance or important moment on screen because you are so busy getting your head around a plot hole from the previous scene.
Ultimately, the good still outweighs the bad more than anything. Hannibal is great TV and much, much better than the other new television reboot of a classic horror villain, Bates Motel. It’s interesting that these two shows have arrived at the same time, both adapting the story of a famous fictional murderer. But where Hannibal finds new ways to approach the material, Bates Motel just throws in a whole lot of references to the original Psycho and hopes for the best. You cannot fault Hannibal for ambition and all it takes is a quick comparison with a similar but lesser show to remember just how good it really is.