Hannibal: 110 “Buffet Froid” Review
Reviewed by Gabriel Bergmoser.
Despite the sometimes horrifying gore and consistent level of violence, I would not categorise Hannibal as a horror series. While there is a constant feeling of dread running through the show, fear is not its primary concern. Hannibal is fascinated by the beauty found in dark things, whether they be murders or the minds of its main characters. This series does not exist to scare its audience, and yet, if you were to introduce someone to the show with this episode, they would be mistaken for thinking otherwise.
Buffet Froid is the closest Hannibal has yet come to outright horror. For a series that has so far depicted living people with mushrooms growing out of them and a totem pole of human corpses, this is saying something. The opening scene is easily the most unnerving moment in the show thus far; as a young woman is murdered alone in a seriously creepy house in the middle of a forest. The method of her death plays on one of the most universal of human fears; that there is something hiding under the bed. In this case, the ‘something’ is the young victim’s former best friend, a very sick woman with major facial disfigurements and an inability to recognise human faces. At first glance, this new killer has the potential to be a genuinely terrifying foe and for much of this episode she is, but this depiction is turned on its head by the end of the episode. Georgia Madchen is ultimately shown as the victim of illnesses far beyond her control, and therefore as a strong parallel to the increasingly fragile Will.
In this episode we also finally get an answer to what is causing Will’s blackouts and hallucinations; encephalitis, an ailment entirely physical in nature, but easily mistaken for the onset of psychosis. While I don’t think anybody seriously thought the show would reveal that Will was a psychopath the whole time, this revelation still comes as kind of a relief. That is, until Hannibal manipulates the doctor who diagnosed Will into keeping the true nature of his illness quiet so that Hannibal could ultimately let his own warped version of therapy continue unhindered. While it did not ring entirely true that any doctor would agree to let a patient suffer just to see what happens, Hannibal’s use of Will’s malady to help achieve his own goals is a very interesting idea. It is a clever move on the part of the writers to reveal to us the truth about what is wrong with Will while keeping the character himself in the dark. This ensures that the unexplained scenes of Will’s continued torment do not run the risk of being tedious, but rather allow the audience to view them in a new light; as the combined result of his illness and Hannibal’s manipulation.
Hannibal is given quite a lot of focus this week, as we see him using the crime-of-the-week to further his own aims. The doctor who diagnosed Will remains a liability, so Hannibal kills him and puts the blame on Georgia Madchen, who, like Will, cannot trust her own perception of things. As far as she knows, she did kill the doctor, and the FBI has no reason to think otherwise. It is a typically clever bit of manipulation on Hannibal’s part, and serves as a nice little bit of foreshadowing to what Hannibal could potentially do to Will should he ever become a threat. Hannibal now has the ultimate trump card over Will, and the next few weeks will make it clear the what degree he will need to use it.
Buffet Froid was the kind of strong hour we have come to expect from Hannibal, combining a creepy and intriguing standalone story with a revelation that helps advance the plot and complicate the already tangled web this show has built for itself. With only three episodes left in the season, it will be fascinating to see just how this series will set itself up for its now confirmed future.