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It’s always risky to adapt a television series from a novel or other existing material. You will always have a chunk of the audience who is well-versed in that source material, as well as a section of the audience who is coming to the series with little or no knowledge of what has come before. The question then becomes how will the audience respond when the series begins to diverge from the source material?
Up until recently, Hannibal has followed the course of its novels and film adaptations fairly closely. Yes, Chilton apparently died a few weeks back, and Beverly departed before the entirety of the “Red Dragon” storyline finished, but there are certainly ways to work around these two deviations from the Thomas Harris canon. However, this week’s major apparent change from the Hannibal Lecter canon is a bit more troubling than those that have come before.
Now, ever since Will and Jack had their ice fishing tete-a-tete, we as an audience have been operating under the belief that Will has been attempting to play Hannibal and capture him in a deadly web of misdirection and lies. And since that moment, it has become less and less clear whether Will is succeeding in the greatest manipulation in the history of manipulations, or if he has failed and is being groomed and molded into the image of Hannibal. Personally, I believe the former, but it could certainly be the latter- particularly in light of this week’s murder tableau.
Nearly killing a killer and telling Hannibal that you want to kill others is quite different from killing someone (albeit a “pig” under Hannibal’s definition) and leaving his body in an artistic tableau to be found by the FBI. In doing this, Will has crossed a line that will be hard to uncross. Perhaps, if we discover that this has been one long con, we will also find out that Will told Jack this was coming- that he had to create the tableau to further pull Hannibal into the web he has been weaving. But it will certainly be hard to explain away this entire episode should it be brought up during Hannibal’s inevitable trial. In fact, it could certainly go towards creating reasonable doubt that Hannibal has been the killer all along, if it is shown that Will is capable of similar horrors.
The murder tableau aside, the main action of this week is in the apparent murder of Freddie Lounds. We all know that Freddie has rubbed Hannibal the wrong way from day one, with her rude and borderline unethical reporting methods. We’ve all assumed she would one day end up on his table. However, those who are aware of the show’s source material know that Freddie (in the source material, it is Freddy, a male reporter) is a crucial character throughout the main action of the “Red Dragon” story- which we have yet to begin digging into in the television series. So, the thought that Freddie may have become a victim this early in the story (and a victim of Will’s, no less) is a bit troubling.
That being said, I have serious doubts that Freddie is dead. In fact, I don’t really believe for one second that she is. Rather, I think Will explained his plan to Freddie, offered her an exclusive, and has her hidden away somewhere, to emerge at the end of the season relatively unscathed. Although this theory does have one wrinkle: If Freddie is alive, what did Will serve to Hannibal? We have been told that Hannibal has a refined palette and can detect the smallest impurities within food. Therefore, one would assume that he would be able to determine that he was in fact not eating human, but rather veal. But who knows. Maybe Hannibal isn’t as excellent at determining various meats as we originally thought? That might be the biggest surprise of all.
— Another change from the source material (and, frankly, the canon of the series itself) occurs during the interesting sex scene. Margot Verger, who seduces Will, is a lesbian character within the “Hannibal” novel (in which she and her brother appear- not “Red Dragon,” which is the basis for the series up until now), and we were led to believe her sexuality was unchanged within the television series as well. However, considering how every character save Alana is using the sex scene as a means to gain something (whether it is some sort of validation in the case of Margot, to forget another in the case of Will, or to craft a persona and alibi in the case of Hannibal), perhaps it’s less of a deviation from the original character of the novels than it seems at first glance.
— Speaking of Margot, we get the change to meet her truly odious brother Mason this week (played by Boardwalk Empire‘s Michael Pitt, sounding a bit like Heath Ledger’s Joker). It seems as if Mason is just as awful as Margot implied in the past. He’s currently training his pigs to eat living humans through a unique regimen that includes spraying Margot perfume on meat, dressing the meat in her clothes, and letting the pigs listen to her screams. Charming.
— I’m still super worried for Alana.