Hannibal 1.03- "Potage" Review

A tv review article by: Paul Brian McCoy


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1.03- "Potage"

Director: David Slade

Writers: David Fury, Chris Brancato, and Bryan Fuller (story by David Fury)

The writing/directing team of Bryan Fuller and David Slade returns for the third episode with a little help from Chris Brancato, who may be there to provide a little down-to-earth police procedural input, given that his resume is packed with things like Law & Order: SVU, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Boomtown. He also happens to be an executive producer of Hannibal, so we're in firm hands all around this week. And it's a good thing too, because this episode is all about character development.

This is the week that Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl) wakes up.

But before we get to that, what about this week's foodie title? According to the fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, Potage is a "thick soup, stew, or porridge in which meat and vegetables are boiled together with water until they form into a thick mush....A course in a medieval feast often began with one or two potages, which would be followed by roast meats." Thematically speaking, this week's course brings together the meat and vegetables of Abigail and Hannibal, linking them together with secrets, and setting up the meat of the show to come.

Is that too much?

Hannibal Potage


Regardless, that really sums up the biggest move this week. Abigail is awake and Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) thinks she may have been an accomplice to her father's murders. It's a popular opinion, although Will (Hugh Dancy) resists. Dr. Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) has an increased role this week as she serves as Abigail's therapist, providing a buffer between Abigail and the Dynamic Duo in much the same way she buffers Will from Crawford. And while she's not convinced that the girl was helping her father kill young girls, she's honest in her appraisal of Abigail as a manipulator who may be hiding something.

What that something is, we'll have to keep waiting to find out.

When it comes to manipulation, in Hannibal, everybody gets in on the act. Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) is back, slipping in to see Abigail before even Will and Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) get a chance to, and she wastes no time poisoning the waters against Will. Seems like there should have been some security on the door, though. Not sure how she got in and it's not explained. She later appears from the darkness outside the Hobbs house having somehow slipped the police barricade that is set up. She's a sneaky one. Someone should keep an eye on her.


Hannibal Potage


Because not only is she fiddling about with Abigail, she also tracks down Nicholas Boyle (Mark Rendall), the brother of the copycat killer's victim, just to let him know that Abigail is awake. It's a deliberate stirring of the pot, hoping that it will provide something juicy to write about further on down the line. It doesn't quite work out like she imagined; not that she'll ever know.

The final confrontation between Boyle and Abigail ends bloodily, and provides Hannibal with the opportunity to manipulate Abigail into a mutual agreement to keep each other's secrets. Because she knows it was Lecter who called and warned her father that his goose was cooked. Of course, Hannibal doesn't admit to the content of the call, but as he's been doing with Will, he mirrors her, assuming the role of someone who did something innocent that could be misconstrued by others.

This is really only necessary because Abigail can identify Lecter as the caller and Will has made it clear that he believes the caller is the copycat serial killer. The scene where Will shares this with his FBI training class is a beautiful moment, as Hannibal walks in just in time to hear his work described as that of an "intelligent psychopath," a "sadist," and someone who elevated Hobbs' killings "to art." The look of pride on Mikkelsen's face in that moment is perfection. It's pride in his own work, but also the pride of a mentor watching his protégé grow up before his eyes.


Hannibal Potage


And if Abigail hadn't killed Boyle, Hannibal would have anyway. He began planning it the moment Boyle arrived on the scene. Duplicating the style of kill (impaling a girl on deer antlers), slightly sloppier this time, allows him to both frame Boyle and undermine Will's profile. However, it also may have given Will the psychic nudge he requires to start doubting Lecter's intentions. We'll see.

As always, the performances this week are practically flawless. Dancy and Mikkelsen are working to accentuate the differences in how their characters relate to the world around them, while echoing each other psychologically. Dancy's Will is hesitant and flinchy, rarely ever meeting anyone's gaze, while Mikkelsen's Hannibal is resolute and solid, observing everything that occurs with a cold, lizard-like gaze. His pose as he kneels down to examine the bloody corpse of Nicholas Boyd is pure Komodo dragon.

Dhavernas is given the opportunity to make Dr. Bloom more three-dimensional than ever before with wit and intelligence, while Fishburne brings more intensity and drive to Crawford than we've really seen so far. And he seemed pretty intense and driven already.


Hannibal Potage


The majority of the dramatic weight this week, though, fell on Kacey Rohl's shoulders, and she was definitely up to the task. Her Abigail Hobbs is multi-layered and very believable. She plays the disassociation of dealing with reality after nearly being murdered by her own father in a way that makes it impossible for the viewer to know whether it's real or if she was an accomplice. There's also an intelligence at play as she lets Lecter know that she's onto him. And her horror discovering the human hair filling the pillows in her home was gut-wrenching. As was her quiet acknowledgement that her father was probably feeding her whole family the meat of his kills.

I know I mentioned this last week already, but it bears repeating: Brian Reitzell's musical score for this series is a work of brilliance. He's composing soundscapes rather than a traditional score and it is a huge part of what makes even quiet scenes of people talking unnerving and tense. It's an almost-ambient nightmare wave of sound that works perfectly with what Fuller and company are trying to accomplish.

The ratings were down this week, though. Mostly, I'd say, because of the country's reaction to the Boston Marathon bombing. People probably didn't want to spend time watching a murderer getting away with his killings (which would also explain the huge numbers for this week's repeat episode of Person of Interest, the show where the good guys always win). The bombing has had another impact on Hannibal, this one quantifiable and proven. In light of the murder and maiming of children at the marathon, as well as in response to the Newtown shooting, Bryan Fuller has requested that the scheduled fourth episode of Hannibal, "Ceuf," be shelved indefinitely.


Hannibal Potage


It was to co-star Molly Shannon as someone who brainwashes children to kill their families and other children, or something along those lines. According to Fuller, it was a stand-alone episode and its absence shouldn't hurt the ongoing continuity. I kind of doubt that, but what can you do? Instead, we'll jump directly to episode five, "Coquilles," which, if the previews are to be believed should be remarkably disturbing and more graphic than anything they seemed to be planning with "Ceuf." This also means that the season finale will be moved up a week as we'll be getting twelve episodes now, instead of thirteen.

In better news, during the week, Fuller will be airing a special "clip package" from the unaired episode on the NBC website without the violence toward children and with his commentary. And for those of you who are interested, here's "Potage" in its entirety:


Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot at Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now forKindle USKindle UK, and Nook. You can also purchase his collection of short stories,Coffee, Sex, & Creation at Amazon US and UK. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at@PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.

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