Episode Title: "Potage"
Story by: David Fury
Teleplay by: David Fury and Chris Brancato and Bryan Fuller
Director: David Slade
Previously on "Hannibal":
It’s refreshing that “Hannibal” hasn’t become a serial killer of the week show... at least not yet. In fact, the characters are still dealing with the fallout from the "Minnesota Shrike" killings committed by Garret Jacob Hobbs (Vladimir Jon Cubrt) in the pilot episode.
Even though his character is dead, Cubrt still shows up as Hobbs in a disturbing dream sequence in which he teaches his daughter, Abigail (Kacey Rohl) how to hunt and skin a doe. The question was raised in last week’s episode about whether Abigail was unaware of her father’s murder spree or whether she helped him lure young girls to their doom.
“Potage” doesn’t definitively answer that question, but Abigail’s behavior can be used to argue both for and against her complicity in the Shrike killings.
Full spoilers are ahead for “Potage,” so skip this review if you aren’t up to date with this show or else NBC will pull next week’s episode of “Hannibal” from the schedule. Oh wait... too late.
Regarding Abigail, her nightmare at the beginning of the episode suggests that she had some awareness of what her father was doing when the doe transforms into the body of a dead girl that resembles her. Since Abigail was comatose after her father attacked her, the only way should could have that image floating around in her subconscious is if she was knew the truth.
Also working against Abigail’s innocence is her apparent skill at reading and manipulating the people around her. It’s not lost on Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) that Abigail recognizes his voice as the man who called to warn her father that the police were on to him... and that was before Abigail made it more obvious by casting Hannibal as the caller in her mock recreation for Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas).
The factors that put Abigail in a more sympathetic light are the horror she experienced in the dream when the doe became a dead girl and when she found human hair in one of her family pillows. Her father “honored” his victims by using every part of their bodies. And hilariously, Hannibal nonchalantly confirms Abigail’s suspicion that her father was probably feeding the girls to his family.
Even though Hannibal has yet to kill on screen, it’s deliberately apparent that he is the copycat Shrike killer whom Will correctly guesses was the same man who warned Hobbs that he was coming. The look on Hannibal’s face almost conveyed a sense of pride as he heard Will’s theory and Mikkelsen was particularly good as we saw Hannibal thinking about his next step. We actually see Hannibal pick his next victim: Abigail’s friend, Marissa Schurr (Holly Deveaux) and the perfect fall guy, Nicholas Boyle (Mark Rendall)... the brother of the woman that Hannibal murdered.
Marissa inadvertently helped Hannibal cover his tracks by antagonising Boyle and by striking him with a rock that drew his blood... which was later planted in her mouth to implicate Boyle as the copycat killer. It’s a brilliant plan, but it required quite a bit of luck to work. In one of the weaker parts of the episode, Boyle breaks into Abigail’s home (while it’s guarded by the police) and he ends up dead at her hands. So, Hannibal knocks out Alana and helps he Abigail hide Boyle’s body because he convinces her that she couldn’t claim self defense with his death.
Somehow, Hannibal and Abigail pull off this feat without alerting the cops or the angry residents outside the front of the house. And we don’t even see how they managed to do it, only that it happened offscreen. The one really effective moment in that sequence came when Hannibal fiercely attacked Alana. That’s the first act of violence we’ve seen Hannibal perform onscreen in this show. And it served as yet another reminder of how dangerous he can be.
By the end, Abigail and Hannibal have an understanding of sorts where he’ll keep her secrets and she won’t reveal that he called her father. Still, Abigail is a potential threat to Hannibal and he normally deals with threats by serving them up alongside a fancy European dish. Perhaps Hannibal’s goal with Abigail is the same as his agenda with Will: encourage the darkness within and create more people like himself. In Will’s dream, we see that he still hasn’t let go of Hobbs and he even assumes the role of Hobbs in the murder of Abigail. It’s not that Will is a monster himself, it’s more like psychic residue. Will got inside of Hobbs’ mind and he experienced events from his perspective. That’s not something he can easily wash away from his brain.
"Potage" also brought Hannibal further into the FBI fold as Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) kept meeting Hannibal and Alana about Will’s mental state. Crawford openly admitted that he only accepted Hannibal’s medical opinions because they served his agenda. But it also served Hannibal’s agenda to be so indispensable to Crawford and Will. They gave him everything he needed to escape detection once again.
In a running subplot, tabloid journalist Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) is still making problems for Will. She even beats Will to Abigail’s hospital bedside and she describes him as insane in an attempt to undermine any trust that Will hopes to build with her. I’m fairly certain that interfering with an investigation like that is still against the law, but nobody even calls Freddie on it this time. Will only gives her an implied threat that she turns around on him to paint him as the next potential “Shrike” on her website.
I really hate Freddie, but that’s the reaction that she’s meant to invoke. So in that regard, her character is having the desired effect. But too much Freddie may wear out her welcome long before she gets her comeuppance. Freddie wouldn’t be as annoying if she had some redeeming qualities, but so far she’s basically been a human cockroach. Fortunately for her, cockroaches tend to survive everything.
There is some lip service given to the idea that Will may view Abigail as a surrogate daughter. If Will actually takes her in, that would be an intriguing way to keep her on the show. Both Will and Abigail are incredibly damaged people who could help each other heal... or slip even further into darkness at Hannibal’s behest.
But the masterful touch is that the episode made care about what happens to Will and Abigail. Alana’s got some potential, but she still needs more development. As for Hannibal, he’s a terrific villain and he’s frightening in a way that his TV serial killer counterparts, Dexter Morgan and Joe Carroll haven’t been able to pull off. Mikkelsen’s Hannibal is so deliberate and careful that it may be years before his crimes come to light. But that’s worth sticking around to see.