Hannibal Review: “Amuse-bouche” (Season 1, Episode 2)

Hannibal is heating up and beginning to deliver on its great promise. It’s gritty, intense, and supremely well-crafted (haven’t seen this much ground covered in under an hour since the remarkable Game of Thrones). Amuse-bouche even pulled a page straight out of Se7en. Hugh Dancy is owning Graham, settling into Will as Will is settling into himself, perfectly articulating the man’s troubled compassion, while Mads Mikkelsen has undoubtedly created Hannibal Lecter v3.0.

It was hard to imagine anyone as Lecter after Brian Cox debuted him in Manhunter. Cox played it beautifully ~ contemptuously practical and dangerously, even gleefully, crafty. Couldn’t imagine it done as well by any other, but Anthony Hopkins’ spin eased the pain of losing Cox, actualizing Lecter as equally gleefully crafty, but with a streak of wry madman in there, one who enjoys startling people. Mikkelsen is actualizing him yet a third way, and one I may even wonder is the best of all (inconceivable!).

Mikkelsen’s take is almost friendly, in a perverse sort of way; we can see within the man he would have been had Rhys Ifans not grabbed hold of his sister back when. He seems to genuinely, personally engage with others, as when having Crawford over to dinner (to dinner, not for dinner) and exploring Jack’s insistence on viewing Will as a “broken pony”; yet we also see the man who regards Crawford with a clear-eyed, unblinking fascination as Crawford enjoys his… well, what is that he’s enjoying, anyway? Pork loin? … There is menace, but we don’t feel menace. Now that’s dangerous.

And then there’s the tantalizing conversation with our new friend Freddie Lounds (formerly Freddy). She, the utterly despicable tabloid reporter who recorded his session with Will and then tried to fool him as well by pretending to be interviewing practitioners; chastising her for being so rude (look out!), he makes her and then calmly avers, “I must ask for your bag. I’d rather not take it from you.” And when she posts an article about Will entitled, “Takes One to Know One,” she earns his, “You’ve been very naughty, Ms. Lounds. What’s to be done about that.”

Lara Jean Chorostecki nails Freddie’s inner ugliness; just as we’ve all seen the plain person brought lovely by inner quality, Freddie is pure beauty revealed vile the minute she opens her mouth. She corrupts crime scenes, responding to Crawford’s threat of arrest with “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t.” She ruins careers often enough to maintain a stable of referral sources for finding replacement work in the private sector. She publishes recklessly and allows serial murderers to escape (only temporarily ~ Stanis was nabbed when he tried to capture Abigail in attempt to connect with Will). She’s a real piece of work, this one, destined by nature for an ugly end (just ask Stephen Lang or Philip Seymour Hoffman).

We end with Will back in Hannibal’s office, as Hannibal suggests Will consider the “sprig of zest” he felt in taking a life. In feeling that power; in feeling like God. Too bad Crawford didn’t know to give Will the advice he later gave Clarice, “Don’t let Hannibal Lecter inside your head…”

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