Will Graham does his best Bruce Banner, Hannibal wreaks his homicidal havoc and Jack tumbles into himself when his agenda pushes everything to the edge as the Abigail Hobbs mystery gets explored further in 'Potage', the third episode of the series.
When I watched the show last spring, it was this episode that caused me to sit up and take notice of Hannibal's fulcrum and lever. Not only could 'Potage' have easily fit into the arc as a follow up to the series opener but its structure and placement in the season's lineup boldly showed how Hannibal will defy definition within any typical genre we have come to know. Bryan Fuller has no issue taking the time to tell these stories, network protocol be damned. I love a revolutionary.
Abigail awakens from her coma having had a beautiful awful dream about the first time she killed a deer with her father. But as dreams are wont to do in this universe, (hers turns horrific when the deer she’s gutting is really a girl), it insinuates a much bigger truth, that she has colluded with her dad in his savagery in complicated ways.
Abigail Hobbs is the center of the episode’s universe. Everyone wants at her for some very personal reason ranging from shame to concern to exploitation. And our blessed characters shout volumes about themselves when interacting with her. In the end, there’s a tapestry woven ablaze from the character development of Will, Alana, Hannibal, Jack and Freddie.
Yet as far as the plot goes, Hannibal’s seated at the loom. Our “copycat killer” pulls the story strings by killing Abigail’s friend under everyone’s noses. This causes a chain of events that calls forth epic hesitation, confusion or complicity, respectively. Jack casts doubt over Will’s profiling and Will doubts himself. Freddie, ever the opportunist, uses the tragedy to convince Abigail that she should publicly tell her story (and Freddie will pen it for her). But the worst victim is Abigail whose instability gives way to terrible judgment when she kills the brother of one of the victims even though he’s only approached her pleading to clear his name.
Hannibal, who by my account knew at least the broad strokes of what would happen when he committed his latest murder, steps in to cover up Abigail’s crime thus re-creating the same pattern of conspiracy she’s already so familiar with. In the last scene, she’s escaped her psychiatric hospital and winds up in Hannibal’s office confronting him with calling her dad before all hell broke loose. She knows his secret and he knows hers. Now they are locked into one another’s drama. Aces. This is her design. But really this is Hannibal’s design.
Odd and Ends
*Chris Brancato is listed as one of the writers for this episode. Brancato wrote The X-Files episode 'Eve', an episode many years later that has stuck with me.
*The relationship between Alana and Will really begins to blossom in weird and twisted ways. The foundation it’s built upon made up of sibling-like affection (Jack Crawford is the paternal figure in this equation), though there is attraction too. And of course I am shipping them.
*Even though Jack’s actions are akin to a steamroller, they are insight into what makes him tick. His work is his life and while he’s incredibly driven, I think a lot of it is powered by guilt and responsibility. He can barely tolerate when he’s wrong or has pushed people to a dangerous place. (I.E. Will)
*Freddie Lounds reveals that she’s even more of a parasite than I originally perceived. She has at least some intellectual understanding of her power to manipulate which makes her more toxic. She toys with Abigail, emotionally, and has the audacity to dangle it in front of Will and Hannibal.
*There’s a moment in the episode where Will and Hannibal sit with Abigail at the psychiatric home. I couldn’t help but think: all three of these people are technically killers.
*Abigail asks to go to her home and Alana, Will and Hannibal accompany her. It’s a heart-wrenching scene that begins the moment they pull into the driveway and see that someone has spray-painted “CANNIBALS” all over the outside of the house. But what’s most eerie is Abigail’s compartmentalized reaction to being there. It’s basically Dissociation 101.
*File this under You Learn Something New Everyday: The only time crime scenes have a chalk outline of a person is when said person is transported to the hospital before the investigators have finished their initial surveying of the scene.
*Two words: hair pillow.
* Abigail “climbed the wall” in order to escape her psych home. An interesting metaphor for a show where everyone is ultimately scaling the interior walls of those around them as a means to gain understanding.
*There's an interesting juxtaposition of motivation v. instinct in the third act. Abigail's murderousness reads as instinct. What follows immediately, Hannibal's maneuvers, because they happen so quickly, also appear to defy reason therefore could be viewed through the lens of survival. This interpretation leads to more questions: Have people like Hannibal (and to a lesser degree Abigail) survived this long because they seize opportunities? How much of their conscious mind is participating in their choices? What about Will?
*I think the show's a vanity project. Not for Bryan Fuller but for NBC. It makes the network look smarter. Thank god for vanity because it's why we get a Season 2.
Will: “I didn’t hear you drive up.”
Alana: “Hybrid. Great car for stalking.”
Will (to Alana): “I like you as a buffer. I also like that you rattle Jack."
Freddie: “Know that I will never lie to you.”
Abigail: “Sounds like something a liar would say.”
Will (to Freddie): “You help Abigail see me as more than her father’s killer and I help you with… online ad sales?”
Jack: “Then we have a difference of opinion therefore I’m going to choose the option that best serves my agenda.”
Abigail: “You do this a lot? Go to places and think about killing?”
Will: “Too often."
Abigail (about her dad): “What did it feel like… to be him?”
Will: “It feels like I’m talking to his shadow suspended on dust.”
Abigail (on her dad's teachings): “No parts went to waste. Otherwise it was murder.”