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“Roti,” the tenth episode of Hannibal’s freshman season, is once again bit heavy handed in its comparison of Will to the episode’s killer, but offers just enough twists to the traditional mythology surrounding the story of Hannibal Lector to keep the episode suspenseful.
Rather than present another killer of the week scenario, “Roti” gives us the chance to reconnect with one of the season’s past killers – the charming, if insane, Dr. Gideon. When Gideon first appeared early in the season, I wrote that I hoped we would get the opportunity to see him again, as Eddie Izzard was truly wonderful in the role, so it's great to see him again.
When we last saw Gideon, he had been convinced that he was the Chesapeake Ripper by his therapist Dr. Chilton. He even brutally killed a nurse at the asylum where he was being housed to prove his claim. However, this time around, it appears things have changed a bit for Gideon. Thanks to comments made by Alana in the previous episode, Gideon no longer believes himself to be the Ripper (or, at least has serious doubts regarding the subject), and is suing Dr. Chilton for using psychic driving to convince him that he is the Ripper. The lawsuit leads to a court date, which means Gideon will have to be removed from the asylum. As is so often the case when a killer is placed in a supposedly secure transport vehicle, Gideon manages to overpower the guards within the truck and escape, but not before leaving a present of his victims’ innards for the real Ripper.
Once Gideon orchestrates his escape, the episode quickly segues into its main action: getting Will and Gideon together in order to push Will over the edge. While Hannibal doesn’t necessarily fall into the realm of a procedural drama (a la CSI or NCIS), its episodic use of killers often treads very close to that territory. While there is nothing wrong with procedural dramas (and, judging by their longevity and ratings success, many people enjoy them), Hannibal has billed itself as something beyond a procedural (and, in large part, delivered thanks to its great character development throughout the season) and with that identity in mind, constantly seeing the clear lines linking the killer of the week to Will’s own inner struggles is getting a bit tiresome.
Izzard is once again superb as Gideon, walking the fine line between cloyingly polite and psychotic, but I couldn’t help but feel his performance is wasted as it is overshadowed by the story’s rabid desire to compare Gideon’s search for self to Will’s own struggles in the area. Additionally, I was hoping for more interaction between Gideon and Hannibal. It is interesting to see that while Hannibal can clearly recognize the madness in others (even other controlled sociopaths such as Tobias), Gideon is unable to pinpoint Lector as the Ripper (or, at least, it appears he is unable to do so).
While a great deal of the episode feels a bit paint by numbers in terms of its overarching themes, there are several interesting surprises along the way. First, it's startling to see Chilton placed in mortal peril, considering his role in the future of Hannibal’s story. Granted, there has been no indication that the show will venture beyond the events contained within the novel Red Dragon, but I found myself believing that the show might actually kill the not-so-good doctor, and I felt strangely relieved when he was revealed to still be alive (albeit in pretty horrible shape).
The episode’s second major surprise comes when Hannibal tips Gideon off as to the location of Alana. While Hannibal gives Will the information and the tools necessary to stop Gideon before he kills Alana, there is no guarantee Will will be successful. Rather, based on Will’s mental and physical state, the odds are likely greater that Will will fail. Judging from Hannibal’s past actions in protecting Alana from harm (and his apparent desire to protect women he cares about), the move seems out of character for Hannibal. Perhaps he has greater faith in Will than I, or perhaps he's willing to sacrifice Alana to see what effect it would have on Will’s mental state.
The episode’s final surprise is a pleasant one, as we are told that Gideon appears to be alive (at least for the time being). Hopefully this means that we will finally get the showdown between Gideon and Hannibal. More importantly, I hope it means that we will be seeing Eddie Izzard back on our screens soon, and with much more interesting things to do than act as a cypher for Will.
-- Alana being placed in mortal danger would be more worrisome if the show would take the time to develop her character to the same degree they have the show’s male leads. Simply making her a therapist (and a not so great one at that) who has feelings for Will doesn’t provide the audience with enough reasons to care about her.
-- While many of the season’s murders have been graphic, seeing Gideon remove Chilton’s organs while he was awake is absolutely brutal to watch. On the flip side, the imagery of the blood patterns on the orderly’s whites in the opening sequence is morbidly beautiful to watch.
-- For a split second, I thought Hannibal might call the paramedics when Will was having his seizure.
-- It 's nice to see Freddie back and in danger.
-- Finally, I’m a bit surprised that the hospital has yet to diagnose Will with encephalitis. Surely, a CT scan would be an obvious testing choice when they are unable to find the source of his infection?