So, the true Dr. Lecter finally comes out to play.
“Entrée,” in the old-school, European sense, is the perfect name for this episode. While it’s come to mean the principal component of a meal colloquially, an entrée is literally meant to be the entrance into the main course. That’s what this episode is, an explicit entrance to a plot element—Hannibal equals killer—that will likely fuel the rest of the series (save the odd Big Bad serial killer, a la Garrett Jacob Hobbs and Francis Dolarhyde, if series creator Bryan Fuller gets his wish of a fourth season). Hannibal has reveled in relative subtlety until now, but just in case the audience had any doubt that Hannibal Lecter was a bad dude with a mean manipulative streak, “Entrée” should clear all that ambiguity up. No more winks and nods to the familiar, yet unsaid. For Lecter, it's murderin' time. The thematic arcs and character depth of previous episodes are foregone but there was a lot to get through before Hannibal could strangle Miriam Lass (a relative of George’s, perhaps?). Essentially, I don’t mind that “Entrée” was underwhelming in the richness department, because it bodes well for the remaining courses.
“Entrée” opens in Hannibal’s future home, a Baltimore psychiatric hospital that is currently housing Dr. Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard, who played Grandpa on Bryan Fuller’s aborted Munster reboot, Mockingbird Lane), a former surgeon who butchered his family on Thanksgiving (“You know how stressful the holidays can get,” he says when asked why). After two years of good behavior, the not-so-good doctor has gone and killed a nurse à la the Chesapeake Ripper. But, of course, Gideon’s not the Chesapeake Ripper. That distinction is Hannibal's. Gideon is a tough villain because, to put it frankly, he’s not that exciting. Calling the man who butchers his family, lies in wait for two years, hides a fork tine under the skin of his palm and then brutally murders a nurse feels odd to say. But Gideon is simply violent. The other killers, hewing to Thomas Harris’ source material, had an outlandishness to them and their methods. After four episodes (five if you count the unseen Molly Shannon episode) of particularly creative crazies, Gideon is just another violent psychopath without any flair. But, maybe like Gideon himself, his true potential is lying in wait. Izzard plays Gideon almost in homage to Anthony Hopkin’s version of Lecter, slithering around his cell and one-upping wits with his interrogators, particularly his intercut scenes with Will and Alana where they figure out Gideon might not be the serial killer they're looking for. The prospect of Gideon and Lecter meeting, seeing the two styles of villainy—slimy and theatrical versus cold and understated—is an exciting prospect.
Lecter, while in lock up, had a thing for corresponding with killers on the outside, notably with Red Dragon’s Francis Dolarhyde. Hannibal’s version of Hannibal has shown a desire to create a network of people he believes are like-minded, especially in the clips for the unaired fourth episode focusing on family, which is now available for purchase in its entirety on iTunes. Hannibal slowly manipulates the already-fragile Will and Abigail, lulling them into false of security. But that's not the case with Gideon. Hannibal is not the source of Gideon’s deception. For an episode that’s supposed to give us a big, concrete Hannibal reveal, there was little Hannibal actually in it (there was a similar lack of Will), and the strongest scenes featured our eponymous doctor primarily, namely his final conversation with Jack (the lighting in that scene, with the glow coming off of the fire, was perfect for Mads Mikkelsen's strange angularity) and his dinner party with Alana and Dr. Chilton. In a few key, emphasized phrases, namely Hannibal's endorsement of psychic coercion, the entire plot is split open. Dr. Chilton, who had intimate knowledge of the Ripper case, has pushed Gideon into believing he’s the wanted serial killer. While Chilton uses psychic coercion in the service of ego, Hannibal doesn't need the ego boost. But he does certainly like to play.
I like Raúl Esparza’s take on Dr. Chilton, who was most notably played by Anthony Heald in Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon. Esparza’s Chilton is not only arrogant but deeply incompetent. Bloom is already suspicious of Chilton. She looks at him in the exact same incredulous manner—head cocked to the side, downturned mouth—she uses while interviewing Dr. Gideon. It was delicious watching Hannibal play with the lesser Chilton, manipulating him into believing they are on the same side, just as he’s done to almost every other character he comes into contact with.
The gold acting star this week deserves to go to Laurence Fishburne, who carried the episode with a universally strong performance, navigating his grief, pent-up rage, the cool confidence necessary to deal with Freddie Loundes, and finally his utter loss of hope. His character is dealing not only with the slow and painful death of his wife (the moment he admits that he’s constantly thinking about when his wife will die was beautifully done), but the sudden disappearance of the protégé (Anna Chlumsky) he sent on the Chesapeake Ripper’s trail. Jack takes Will’s spot in Lecter’s office this week, as Miriam’s memory dredges up the weight and responsibility for an innocent’s pain. But Will and Jack are also deeply contrasted by their grasp on reality. Z questions Jack’s memory of Miriam Lass’ mysterious 2:46 a.m. call, saying Jack could possibly be dreaming, Jack snaps back, “I know when I’m awake.” But then the camera cuts to Will who clearly doesn’t, hallucinating the elk mirage that has haunted him in the aftermath of Garrett Jacob Hobbs’ death. Jack has a grasp on his on instability while Will does not. In a wonderful final scene, Jacks says to Lecter, “Whatever the Ripper was doing, it worked. I thought she was alive. For a moment, I let myself believe what I knew was impossible.” But is it impossible? We haven’t seen Hannibal kill Miriam just yet because she still needs to call Jack. It’s sick how excited I am to see what Lecter does with her next.
- Recipe of the Week: Auguste Escoffier’s preparation of beef tongue (Escoffier is like the haute cuisine OG).
- “I get a little nervous going into these places… afraid they won’t let me out.” “Don’t worry, I won’t leave you here.” “Not today.”
- Will’s re-creation of the nurse’s murder gave me the major willies. We’ve mostly seen the product of the murders, even with Will’s reenactments, rather than the murders themselves. Honestly, I’d rather be grossed out by skin angels than de-eyeballing, thank you very much.
- “Here we are. A bunch of pyschopaths helping each other out.”
- Mads Mikkelsen’s face when he reads Freddie’s piece claiming Gideon is the Chesapeake Ripper! The sound of an annoyed swallow! I get the feeling we won't like Hannibal when he's angry.