Hannibal: 111 “Roti” Review
Reviewed by Gabriel Bergmoser.
Thus far, Hannibal has maintained a steady pace. While the overall story arc has consistently moved forward, the case of the week elements tend to eclipse it, which really is my main criticism of the series as a whole, however strong those cases can sometimes be. But this episode… well, this was something else altogether.
For the record, Roti did not have any revelations or gigantic game changing plot twists. In fact, there is not a whole lot in this episode that will contribute a great deal to the endgame. But as far as being a tense, scary, fascinating and fast paced hour of television goes, Roti nailed it. This comes down to the return of Eddie Izzard’s Dr Abel Gideon, a character from an earlier episode who I suspected was meant to be a slight homage to Anthony Hopkins’ more flamboyant take on Hannibal Lecter. But the Gideon we meet in this episode is a different beast altogether. It turns out that Dr Chilton has been trying to convince Gideon that he in fact is the Chesapeake Ripper, which has left Gideon confused and unsure of his own identity. When he escapes in the middle of a transfer, this confusion becomes deadly.
On that note, let’s get the surgery scene out of the way. This is possibly one of the most skin crawling moments I’ve ever seen on TV; Gideon exacting his revenge on Chilton by one by one removing his organs, and keeping him awake for the entire process. Obviously anybody with even a passing familiarity with the Hannibal Lecter canon is aware of how awful Chilton is, but this is a dreadful fate for anyone, even someone as deplorable as him. I am curious to see just how this affects his character in future episodes; even a loose following of the book series will mean that Chilton is around for a while yet, but the big question is whether or not he will learn anything from this. I would tend to doubt it.
Gideon has been a strong secondary antagonist, for a couple of reasons. With his more traditionally ‘evil’ demeanour he provides a contrast to Mads Mikkelson, and their scene together in this episode, the showdown between the true and false Chesapeake Ripper, was excellent. However the strongest aspect of his character is the way in which, over the course of two episodes, he has been completely subverted from what we first expected him to be. He is quieter, less sneering and ultimately much more threatening for it. Here he is portrayed as a confused and very sick man rather than an evil mastermind, and this humanising is very effective. His demise at the hands of Will felt more like a mercy killing than anything else.
This brings me to Hugh Dancy. Over the course of these reviews I haven’t paid a huge amount of attention to his performance. The fact is, with Mads Mikkelson stealing every scene he’s in, it’s sometimes hard to give anyone else in the show their dues. But Dancy shone in this episode. His breakdown toward the end as he faced off with Gideon (or in his mind, Garret Jacob Hobbs) was stunningly well played. He really sold the increasingly fractured state of Will’s mind, and his fear at the realisation that he is no longer able to differentiate between fantasy and reality. Hannibal, of course, uses this to his benefit, manipulating the fragile Will into following Gideon to Alana’s place and killing him, thereby removing the pretender and edging Will further along the path to becoming like Hannibal. It is hard not to feel really sorry for Will in these scenes; Hannibal is one of the few people he trusts, yet his pain and suffering is almost entirely Hannibal’s fault. It’s a sad, affecting state of affairs and the pair of brilliant performances lends it almost unmeasurable power.
So, while overall Roti did not change the status quo in any enormous way, it advanced our understandings of the characters while at the same time delivering a gripping and creepy episode of television. The final two episodes have a lot to live up to.