Hannibal Review: “Relevés” (Season 1, Episode 12)

The final dance of Hannibal Season 1 has begun. Will is finding himself once more, Jack is on the verge of securing an arrest warrant, and Hannibal is literally pacing the floor.

After last week’s grisly Rôti, I had some concerns about the direction of the show and where it might lead now that Season 2 is assured. The episode felt gruesome for gruesome’s sake, which is a fundamental departure from the Harris/Fuller tradition. Customarily, no matter how repugnant a crime, there is always an element of the quest to return to light, be it by the killer him- or herself (Georgia, Frances Dolarhyde in Silence of the Lambs) or by the people dealing with the aftermath (Will). But with Rôti there seemed to be none; Gideon’s motives were as dark as they get, Will sunk further into madness, and it seemed the series might descend into torture porn.

This week’s episode returns Hannibal to its heart: the tug-of-war between dark and light, the paradox of conflicting allegiance, and the chess game toward dominance. A “relevé” is the ballet move of raising oneself up onto the toes, requiring balance and alignment. And, one might imagine, only the strongest, fittest dancer can maintain it.

Will’s getting stronger: his fever’s down and he’s been spending time with Georgia, who’s continuing to heal in the hyperbaric oxygen chamber and looking like the lovely young human she is. She serves as Will’s “support group,” as he calls her, sharing perspective on the implications of mental illness and what he’s likely to expect from doctors. Will also continues to receive support from Hannibal, who brings him an exotic version of homemade chicken soup, and tells Jack that they must continue to standby him.

Jack’s getting stronger: still firmly convinced that Abigail killed Nicholas Boyle, he’s also caught the clue that Hannibal is hiding material information regarding Will’s mental state. Hannibal staunchly defends this action, arguing that it would be irresponsible to speak without ruling out that Will’s problems are the result of the stress and trauma of working for Jack. But Jack remains unmoved.

Hannibal’s already strong, but needs to get stronger, and fast: he’s been the puppet-master all along, but now his puppets are starting to tug at their strings, and he needs to start pulling more sharply. First up: poor Georgia. Word from Will is that she’s considering electroconvulsive therapy but ambivalent because it could make her remember what she’d done – and thus possibly remember who killed Dr. Sutcliffe. Time to give her a plastic comb, which will cause a static spark and turn her oxygen chamber into an incinerator.

And thus the dance begins.