Hannibal Review: “Trou Normand” (Season 1, Episode 9)

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Hannibal’s had just about enough of this. As Will’s friend, he doesn’t care about the lives Will saves, he cares about Will. What about Will’s life? He has an empathy disorder, and every right to take care of himself as well. He needs to do so, it’s important ~ he could wake up one day to find his own totem pole…

Hannibal looks out for those in his care. Will, Dr. Du Maurier, Abigail, Clarice. One could hardly imagine being safer. He tends to their mental and emotional well-being with great loyalty, and heaven help anyone who jeopardizes their interests. Indeed, he sees himself and Will as Abgail’s fathers now.

And as dangerous as he is, his loyalty runs deep and requires much testing before it fails. Will’s discerned, see, that Abigail killed Nicholas Boyle and that Hannibal helped her cover it up. Jack’s been on a rampage of suspicion in this regard as well, but as yet unable to rattle Abigail into dropping a usable clue even when forced to view the body. But because Will told no one before inquiring it of Hannibal, because Will didn’t want it to be true, because he responded that no, Hannibal doesn’t need to call his lawyer, Will gets the hand clasped on his shoulder instead of around his neck.

Abigail enjoyed an actual embrace (NBC didn’t post any photos, but it’s a beauty, desperately wish we could see it here). Despite her decision to write a book in hopes of correcting the world’s opinion that she helped her father, and do so with Freddie Lounds (self-proclaimed as being the one to help her tell her story), Hannibal stands fast. He invites the two to dinner with him and Will to press them to reconsider (with all civility and tact, of course), and stands fast. Stands fast even when Abigail dismisses his argument that she will be violating not only her own privacy but that of his and Will’s as well; stands fast even as he puts the question directly to her of what happens if he can no longer trust her.

And eventually she folds. As he prompts her to disclose the truth she’s struggling to hide, the one she can’t admit, even to herself, she confides. Confides that her father told her that he kills girls like her so that he doesn’t have to kill her, and that she herself ran the recon, befriended the quarries, set the trap, over and over and over. Because it was either them or her. And as she falls into Hannibal’s arms, he assures her that she’s not a monster as she fears; he’s seen monsters. She’s a victim, and he and Will are going to protect her. It’s a comforting, genuine, embrace and when he looks up, there’s that gaze.

It’s worth spoiling a bit here as to what drives Hannibal’s pathology, for those unfamiliar with Hannibal Rising. I’ve resisted giving it away, but it’s become important (especially since, as my colleague Sam mentioned, it’s hard to come into this late in the game, and I’m all about keeping this series alive, on NBC or elsewhere). Short version: Hannibal was born in Europe into great generational wealth; WWII, app 11 yrs old, fled with parents and beloved sister Mischa, app 6 yrs old, to family forest home. Dead of winter, parents killed in aerial attack; children left alone, Hannibal caring diligently and lovingly for Mischa; no food anywhere, everyone starving everywhere.

Marauders happen along, led by Grutas (a vicious Rhys Ifans); they take over the home, bind the children; one day take Mischa to the barn, and there’s soup in the kettle that night. Fast forward to adulthood, and Hannibal visits his fury upon them, one by one, and quid pro quo. The salient point, however, is that it’s not vengeance that drives him, it’s unendurable shame: driven by starvation, he himself had finally broken down and partaken of the soup. It wasn’t merely to avenge Mischa, it was that he couldn’t tolerate having anyone alive and knowing what he’d done.

Hannibal’s protective instincts are honest. But for Grutas, Hannibal would be the most admirable of human beings. But Grutas did happen, and Hannibal’s Hannibal now. And but for her father, Abigail would be fine; but Abigail’s Abigail now. And Hannibal gets it, will protect her as long as she isn’t reckless with him.

Reckless. There’s that word. Used twice in as many episodes. Hannibal told Tobias he was reckless when Tobias rushed their relationship; Alana tells Will that despite definite longing to be more than friends, as long as he’s unstable further involvement would be reckless for her. It’s a word we usually associate with boisterousness, adolescent adventurousness; but it’s also a still, silent word of faulty judgment, of failure to appreciate the consequences of one’s actions.

Hannibal disdains it ~ as a force unto itself, and as a quality in others. It leads to rude, naughty behavior. Where he finds it, one can hardly imagine being at more risk. Where he can avert it, and where he experiences its opposite personally, his loyalty knows no bound.

Hannibal sees Abigail as a daughter. Will as a friend, a fellow father. What he sees in Will, Will is probably close to succumbing to seeing in himself at this point, even as it’s killing him. Why does one go one way, and another another, and can Will be able to hang onto the light of Alana, or will he succumb into the coverage of one who knows him better than he knows himself?

Whatever you do, Will, don’t get reckless…

Stray Thoughts:

– No stray thoughts this week. I’m busy praying for Will.

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