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In “Entrée,” the sixth episode of Hannibal’s first season, we are offered the first true look into Hannibal Lector’s sociopathic nature, and we are also treated to a trio of superb guest stars.
Unlike previous episodes, this episode doesn't concern itself with a killer of the week. Instead, the episode’s focus is on the Chesapeake Ripper, a serial killer who was mentioned previously in last week’s episode, and who is revealed to be Hannibal Lector. While this reveal is certainly not a surprise for fans of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon, or either of the films based on the novel, it finally allowed us a chance to see behind the calm and poised exterior of Hannibal - allowing Mads Mikkelsen a chance to really sink his teeth into the darker side of the sociopathic cannibal.
Mikkelsen has done a great acting job so far, making Hannibal his own, which is no small feat, considering how strongly the Anthony Hopkins version of the character is imprinted onto the pop culture consciousness. This episode finally offers some looks at the darkness that lurks within Lector. Particularly stirring is the look of anger on his face while reading the Freddie Lounds article. Without a word of dialogue, Mikkelsen conveys the deep yet controlled anger of Lector upon realizing someone else is getting credit for his work.
We are also allowed a bit deeper into the deteriorating psyche of Jack Crawford, as he is taunted by his past failure to protect trainee Miriam Lass from the Ripper, while still trying to come to terms with the impending death of his wife. Lass, played convincingly by Anna Chlumsky, is certainly comparable to Clarice Starling, who Jack will place in similar danger in the future. Laurence Fishburne once again turns in a strong performance, and I hope he continues to be utilized by the writers at the season churns toward its conclusion.
In addition to Chlumsky, the episode features two additional notable guest stars. First, Raul Esparza, who previously appeared on Bryan Fuller’s excellent (and canceled too soon) Pushing Daisies, joins the show in the recurring role of Dr. Frederick Chilton. One of the more memorable characters from both Harris’s novels Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon, Chilton is known for his questionable psychiatric skills and his smarmy personality. This version of Chilton appears to be cut from the same cloth, as he is quick to take credit for having the Ripper in custody (and, in turn, solving the case before the FBI). Esparza offers the right mix of smarmy charm and fear of not being good enough, particularly in the kitchen scene between Chilton and Lector.
Finally, as NBC indicated throughout the week, the episode features Eddie Izzard (who appeared in Fuller’s Munsters reboot) as Dr. Gideon, the man who may be the Ripper. Frankly, Izzard is woefully underused in the episode, but when he is on screen, he turns in an electric performance. Izzard’s Gideon is presented more in the vein of the Hopkins Lector: smart, coy, and looking to shock those from the FBI who have taken an interest in him. It is unclear if Lector is in touch with him, and if so, how the communication is occurring (the FBI has gone through all Gideon’s mail, so perhaps there is another mode of communication). I certainly hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Gideon and Izzard, as I would love a scene between Lector and Gideon.
-- The shot of Dr. Bloom walking down the corridor to interview Gideon is a nice homage to the Silence of the Lambs film.
-- Freddie Lounds is back again this week. After seeing Hannibal’s reaction to her article, I think it’s safe to say her days are numbered.
-- I’m still not quite clear on what the various crime scene techs do. According to Wikipedia, one is a fiber specialist and another is a fingerprint specialist. But in the past they have been doing autopsies and this week one is tracking down the source of a phone call. Are we just assuming they’re like the cast of CSI and can do pretty much anything?
-- The final scene between Miriam and Hannibal in his office is extremely similar to the initial meeting between Will and Hannibal in the Red Dragon novel. However, in this case, Miriam is rendered unconscious, while in Red Dragon, Will is viciously attacked and nearly killed by Hannibal.
-- Why doesn't Jack immediately head into the building where the suspicious phone call originated? I mean, if you are looking for a serial killer and you have a clear lead (the first in years), why wait around for the rest of your profilers when you can head in and investigate with the other FBI agents there?
-- It appears that Will is still getting headaches and he is still seeing the stag. Is it the sign of an impending psychological break?
-- Last, but certainly not least, it appears that this season is going to finish out with the search for the Ripper. While the story of Will Graham and Hannibal Lector continued past the capture of Lector in the novel, I find it hard to believe that the show will be willing to put Lector behind bars this quickly. It has the potential to alienate any fans who are drawn to the show by the lure of seeing the cat and mouse game between Will and Hannibal, and it also limits storyline potential for the future. It will be interesting to see which route they choose.