Hannibal: 109 “Trou Normand” Review
Reviewed by Gabriel Bergmoser.
After the rollicking pace of last week’s excellent episode, Hannibal slows down a bit in this instalment. With the Tobias/Franklin arc wrapped up, the show returns to its more standard serial-killer-of-the-week trappings, and while the murderer is as usual an interesting one, this episode can’t help but feel like filler. That is, aside from the revelations of the final few minutes.
On that note, let’s talk about Abigail Hobbs. With the deplorable Freddie Lounds trying to milk her for all she’s worth, Abigail is being forced to confront her own complicity in her father’s murders. We can say that with certainty now because, as the conclusion of the episode finally made clear, Abigail was complicit, serving as bait for her father’s victims. However, clearly not cut from the same cloth as her late Dad, Abigail is haunted and tormented by this fact. Her actions were done out of fear that her father would kill her. While not unforseen, this revelation opens up a host of major new questions. Just what will Hannibal do with the information? Will he use it to continue transforming Abigail into his warped protégé or keep it as a blackmail tool if necessary? Either way, it’s hard to see this ending well for Abigail.
Meanwhile, Will Graham is continuing to lose it spectacularly; blacking out at a crime scene only to find himself in Hannibal’s office. He is starting to doubt his own sanity, and Crawford’s continuing insistence that Will be at the forefront of every new case is not helping. All this is made even worse when Will uncovers at least one dark truth about Abigail: her killing of Nicholas Boyle, and Hannibal’s knowledge of it. This discovery could well mark the beginning of Will losing trust in his doctor. If nothing else, it provides opportunity for a demonstration of Hannibal’s powers of persuasion and manipulation. He easily convinces Will to keep quiet about Abigail’s crime, appealing to his fatherly care for her and even going as far as to bluntly state that he and Will are essentially her fathers now, and that they have to serve her better that Garret Jacob Hobbs did. Did Hannibal know that this would strike a chord with Will’s fear of his own similarity to Hobbs? It isn’t made clear, but I suspect so. This is a fine example of the subtle mastery of the writing in this show. The strength of the characterisation is phenomenal.
The crime of the week, while ultimately paling in comparison to anything involving Will or Abigail, was a particularly nasty one; a totem pole of human corpses, charting the life story of the killer by starting at the bottom with the heavily decomposed corpse of his first victim, and ending at the top with the fresh body of his most recent. It’s a striking visual, and it plays well with the themes of legacy that this series has been exploring since the beginning. Laurence Wells’ (played by Lance Henriksen) legacy is this; his greatest work. For Hobbs, Will and Hannibal, their legacy is Abigail, though they have all sought to use her in different ways. The twist here is that in attempting to secure his legacy through his gruesome totem pole, Wells managed to destroy his true legacy by accidently murdering his son. Henriksen’s brief performance here is excellent, and his moment of horrified realisation is brilliantly played. In a twisted way, this is a rare win for Will and Jack; the killer’s expected satisfaction undercut by his own terrible mistake, and the promise of a future in prison dwelling on what he has done.
But honestly, as the season nears its end, these weekly killers are starting to seem increasingly inconsequential. The warped connection between Hannibal, Will and Abigail is slowly becoming more and more threatening to the lives of all involved, and this is what I, for one, really want to see more of. This was a strong episode, full of striking imagery, powerful performances and great ideas; but every snippet of the overall arc we get is just making me hungry for more plot and fewer throwaway weekly murders.