Hannibal: Buffet Froid

“I know what kind of crazy I am, and this isn't that kind of crazy.”

I’m not sure what’s scarier—Georgia Madchen under the bed or watching Will Graham intuit he has no control over how fast he’s sinking into opacity. Eh, I think it’s the former.

The featured weekly plot moves from paralleling Will's experience to intersecting it as he strives to validate and rescue a young girl with Cotard's syndrome, a mental illness whereby its sufferer cannot make sense of their external reality which includes neglect of one's physical health. (It's also called the delusion of negation, by the way.) (Oh, show.)

I can feel my nerves clicking like… roller coaster cogs, pulling up to the inevitable long plunge.

Oh Will, we feel the same way, sweetpea. Somewhere right around the totem pole “incident” Hannibal began its crank up that hill. Naturally what's making the second half of this season so much more upsetting is not what Will’s dealing with within the framework of his profiling (which itself is a feat, I mean 'Buffet Froid' features a character who can't see faces therefore attempts to remove them like they are a mask), but Hannibal's compulsion to arrange Will's breakdown. My god, in essence, he just wants to see what that looks like. And though Jack's role is hardly comparable, he has played a part in Will's demise, too. Even if Hannibal also used Jack's lack of psychological sophistication to buoy his own plan along the way, Jack's answerable. So now the show’s basically got our proxy straddled on slippery bits of ice in some remote part of the Antarctic ocean. Good on you, Fuller et al. ‘Buffet Froid’ is almost too excruciating to watch.

Do you have anyone that does this better unbroken than I do broken?

Will's desire to preserve himself, his whole self, through this lose/lose situation is devastating to take in. And because Hugh Dancy has nailed the shit out of this specific portrayal of Will Graham's ego, what we get to comprehend is an unobstructed view of an uncommon sympathetic character who has relentlessly battled to make sense of what the world reflects back to him 'as him' for thirty years and change, and is now aware that his single golden gift to this planet is failing him. Also, he has no earthly idea why since his trusty medical team neglects to inform him. The ways he wears this awareness is prismatic. In one moment his real fear is spilling out of him in a therapy session, in another, he's hellbent on a verbally fencing with Jack and in yet another, he's frantic to reach Georgia, someone the world has long given up on.

7:16 PM. I'm in Baltimore, Maryland. And my name is Will Graham.

Seemingly concerned for Will's well-being, Hannibal gives him a tool to use as a tether to this world in dark times. And in typical Hannibal fashion, along with psychic driving comes a life preserver. It's just helpful enough for Will to continue to trust Hannibal through this very choppy water. For us, the effect of this presents more of a conundrum. Every time we're treated to seeing Hannibal as both ghastly, unnervingly unfeeling and unethical on a catastrophic level AND undeniably mindful, we are confounded, face to face with that feeling of trying to fit this character into a box we are familiar with. But it can't be done. Our society doesn't have a box for Hannibal. Anyway, Bryan Fuller is aware that the way you expand peoples' vista is by pushing their boundaries a little further than what they're comfortable with. Repeatedly. But not without giving them a footing in what they know to be real and accountable.

He started sleepwalking and I noticed a very specific scent.

You guys. What plane of existence are doctors operating on that we are most definitely not? When Hannibal begins to relay his observations and diagnosis of Will to Dr. Sutcliffe, aside from a quip motivated by narcissism, Sutcliffe doesn't even react in the slightest to Hannibal's spot-on, uncanny eerie generally-supernatural olfactory skills. I know it's well-established that Hannibal has an extraordinary sense of smell but this recent example takes it to a new level. And then to about 15 levels above that. Also, Sutcliffe is not the least bit troubled about completely abandoning the Hippocratic oath because Hannibal is so scary skilled? Makes you wonder what these two got up to twenty years ago.

When you take him to a crime scene, Jack, the very air has screams smeared on it.

This is one of my favorite lines of the series. It's evocative in ways I can barely describe. It paints Will as this almost-childlike adult having this anomalous esoteric experience that's on par with synesthesia. And it's like Hannibal provides Will this incredible service by explaining to Jack even just the tip of the iceberg of what an empath's life is like. You can see the wheels turning in Jack's mind. Of course he longs to understand Will better. Hannibal doesn't hyperbolize it, he isn't melodramatic in his description either. His words transmit what it's like for Will in a loving, potent fashion. It's pretty brilliant. This conversation between Hannibal and Jack has another purpose, something unassailable comes to the surface: Hannibal Lecter understands Will Graham. He's the only one who does.

Je le jure devant Dieu.

Odds and Ends

*Georgia goes through her entire life undiagnosed until she crosses paths with the venerable Dr. Lecter. Incredible.

*I found this episode admirably progressive on issues of mental health and the problem with that facet of the medical field that appears to continuously be at a loss for dealing with mental illness effectively. This subject is wonderfully dramatized in the conversation between Jack, Will and Georgia's mom.

*The execution of this episode has left an indelible imprint on the fans en masse. It's the scariest, jumpiest, creepiest of all of Season One complete with an old farm house, a creaky (though red herring!) shed, a trip to the attic and a monster under the bed.

*Welcome aboard, plastic snuff suit!

*Would Hannibal have framed Georgia for Sutcliffe's murder even before Georgia caught him in the act?

Quotes

Hannibal: “An exercise. I want you to focus on the present moment. The now. Often as you can, think of where you are, and when. Think of who you are… A simple reminder. The handle to reality for you to hold on to. And know you're alive.”


(The clock Will draws, by the way. Good god.)

Will: “I can see and hear better afraid. I…I just can't speak as concisely.”
Jack: “Will, you contaminated the crime scene. You've never done that before.”

Jack: “Fear makes you rude, Will.”

Dr. Sutcliffe: “And the hallucinations?”
Will: “I can't really say when they started. Um I just slowly became aware that I might not be dreaming.”

Dr. Sutcliffe: “What do you smell on me?”
Hannibal: “Opportunity.”

Hannibal: “The problem Will has is too many mirror neurons. Our heads are filled with them when we are children. They're supposed to help us socialize and then melt away. But Will held on to his, which makes knowing who he is a challenge…”

Will: “This killer can't accept her reality. I can occasionally identify with that. That said, I feel relatively sane.”

Will: “Stability requires strong foundations, Jack. My moorings are built on sand.”
Jack: “I'm not sand. I am bedrock. When you doubt yourself, you don't have to doubt me too.”

Hannibal: “I am grieving Dr. Sutcliffe, but Will is very much alive. He's still desperate for an explanation that can make everything right again.”
Jack: “I'm, uh, pretty desperate for some explanations myself. I really want to talk to this young woman when she comes to. How much do you think she'll remember?”
Hannibal: “Well, I sincerely hope, for her sake, she doesn't remember much.”

2 comments:

ChrisB said...

I find myself actively drawing away from this show when it gets too intense. This episode upset me/freaked me out on a whole new level and I struggled to get through it. The inherent sadness in watching both Georgia and Will suffer is tough to take.

Lecter is a villain like no other. His final line, that you quote, made me shiver. Are we meant to be grateful that Georgia cannot recognize faces as this means she won't recognize Lecter and, therefore, survive? Wow.

Heather said...

Chris,
It's really all just so troubling.