Though it has spent the last five weeks filling the dreams of viewers with monstrous stags, human fungus colonies, and grotesque flayed angels (flayn-gels?), Hannibal’s consistently most disturbing imagery continues to come from one thing: food. As stomach-churning as it was to see a man impaled with the contents of half a Home Depot, or a nurse have her eyes gouged out, there was no moment quite so unnerving this week, as seeing the extreme close-up of Dr. Lecter scalping the top of a grape, exposing its juicy viscera to the world, before serving it for dessert. More than just an excuse to remind us of Hannibal’s unorthodox diet, the show’s use of food taps into a primal terror: consumption, and I don’t just mean the fear of being on the dinner table, instead of at it.
For as long as we’ve watched Will Graham, he’s been teetering on the edge of being devoured by his “gift.” His reenactment of the nurse’s skewering is particularly efficient this week, forgoing the opening moments of hesitation, to showcase how easily Will is able to get into the mind of a sociopath. The man being imitated is Dr. Able Giddeon, a once relatively peaceful resident of Baltimore’s State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, recently responsible for the sudden, and brutal murder of an attending nurse. The method he uses is a far cry from how he butchered his family before being locked up, but it bares an unmistakable resemblance to the work of the Chesapeake Ripper.
Will’s growing instability, if unchecked, poses a serious problem to the ongoing health of Hannibal as a series. The more his exposure to the macabre gnaws away at his sanity, the harder it is to believe anyone would possibly subject themselves to the weekly punishment he puts himself through. He’s going to need something to motivate him to stay in this line of work for much longer, and “Entrée” gives us an idea of what that might be, by taking the focus off of Will for a week, and placing it on the men who are his mentors.
Well, Jack probably wouldn’t want to apply such a title to Will, considering how things turned out the last time he took someone under his wing. In flashbacks, Veep’s Anna Chlumsky guest stars as Miriam Lass, an up-and-coming FBI trainee with an interest in the Chesapeake Ripper that gets Jack’s attention. Her sense for the killer’s background convinces Jack to send her off to do some questionably ethical clue snooping, the result of which leaves Miriam missing, presumed dead, and the last victim of the mysterious Ripper…before Dr. Giddeon plants a flag (among other things) into his claim as the Baltimore boogeyman.
We’re transported into Jack’s mind for once, not just Will’s, as the flashbacks are almost entirely black and white, save for the slimmest remainders of colour in the image. It’s a clue to how Jack has learned to survive the constant horror of chasing demons: the trauma of losing Lass (which was nicely foreshadowed in the pilot) has given him thick calluses of his own, such that the memories have been almost completely robbed of emotional attachment. He’s compartmentalized his biggest professional mistake into one case, and so long as the Chesapeake Ripper is off the map, he’s on point.
Understandably then, the murder at the madhouse throws Jack for a loop, despite all signs pointing to Giddeon doing a cover act of the real deal. The Ripper’s M.O. was kept from the public, so Giddeon’s near perfect imitation implies some sort of connection to the man. You know Jack’s in deep water when his first inclination is to go to Freddie Lounds, who publishes a tabloid tribute to Giddeon, in the hopes that the real Chesopeke Ripper will finally stand up.
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