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Hannibal continued its foray into the Chesapeake Ripper case as Hannibal began killing in earnest in an attempt to throw Jack and Will off track.
As with last week’s episode, this week’s “Sorbet” was focused more on delving into the backstories and emotional states of our main characters than on the actual murders taking place (although some progress was made on that front as well). The episode opens with a body, sans kidney, in a hotel bathroom. While the crime techs are convinced it is the Ripper, Will surmises that it lacks his M.O.
After relaying his belief to Jack (who is willing to accept it, despite desperately wanting it to be the Ripper), he presents his belief to Hannibal, who quickly latches onto a means to throw the FBI off his trail by pointing Will toward organ theft as the motive behind the killing. Hannibal then embarks on an epic killing spree, removing organs to match the organ theft scenario. But Will sees through at least some of the murders, chalking them up to the Ripper. While the episode ends with the capture of the actual organ thief from the initial body, the FBI is only slightly closer to catching the Ripper, as Will has successfully deduced the reasoning behind Hannibal’s choice of victims: he is punishing those who lack manners.
This episode officially begins the cat and mouse game between Hannibal and Will that I presume will at least continue throughout the season. Hannibal has spent the season testing Will - from trying to pit him against Jack to seeing if he can throw Will off his trail. So far, Will has passed all of his tests, proving him to be a worthy adversary for Hannibal (and likely the reason Hannibal continues to let Will chase him).
The Hannibal we have seen (particularly in this episode) leads a solitary existence. He lacks friends and family, and the person he has formed the closest bond with so far has been Abigail Hobbs, with whom he shared a murder and body disposal. Without the interactions between Hannibal and Will, where Hannibal is at least challenged on an intellectual level and not simply playacting at hosting (when he hosts his dinner parties), Hannibal would be a truly blank slate and a far less rich character that he has become.
The most interesting look at Hannibal’s layers come from his visit to Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (played with excellent professional distance by Gillian Anderson), his personal psychiatrist (and, at least in Hannibal’s mind, friend). Du Maurier easily reads him, telling him that he only allows her to see a certain side of him, and she hopes that what they discuss is able to get through to whatever part of him he refuses to show. Seeing someone who sees through Hannibal and is willing to tell him so is a bit unnerving, especially since I worry such insight will result in deadly consequences for Du Maurier. But Anderson’s work is particularly welcome, and I hope we will see more of Du Maurier, and by extension, the inner workings of Hannibal’s mind.
Also receiving some backstory (albeit only a small bit) is Dr. Alana Bloom. Up until now, Bloom has mainly existed to monitor Will and provide a link to Hannibal’s past. However, while helping Hannibal prep for dinner, we learn that trainees often think she and Will are embroiled in a tawdry affair - much like they used to think about her and Hannibal (although, as she points out, Hannibal was in fact involved in an affair at that time, just not with her). Bloom also lets slip that it was lucky she was interviewing PhD students for Hannibal the week Miriam Lass disappeared, as both she and Lass were working on leads in the Ripper case. Does this mean that Hannibal was aware they were getting close to discovering him and he intentionally protected Bloom by taking her off the case for the week? We need to continue to get to know Bloom, lest the show fall into the trap so many male-fronted dramas make: allowing female characters to lack depth and serve only as damsels in distress or as the impediment for the male character in reaching his goal.
Finally, I still have some worry about the show delving fully into the Ripper storyline this quickly, as it means time is rapidly ticking away on Hannibal’s freedom. While the show can certainly continue with Hannibal behind bars (and should it get a second season, I am becoming more convinced it will have to do so, as there is only so much of the chase we can watch before becoming bored), how long will a show about Will asking for Hannibal’s help solving cases be interesting - particularly since the show is called “Hannibal” and not “Will Graham”?
-- We finally see Abigail Hobbs again, even if it is only in Will’s dream. Are we going to have some resolution to her story, or was that covered in the missing fourth episode (beyond the scenes released online)?
-- It is nice to see Hannibal enjoying the opera, especially since it continues to factor heavily throughout Thomas Harris’s books.
-- Based on next week’s previews, Franklin’s friend from the opera (Lance? Tobias?) is up to no good - which was readily apparent from his one scene this episode.
-- So far that show has done an excellent job of walking the line between Hannibal outsmarting the FBI and Will figuring out who he is.
-- I’m officially sick of the FBI techs. They add very little to the story - they could simply be generic characters that add a few technical clues for each case, and they take away time we could be spending with characters we care about. I’m hoping they are ditched next year (if not sooner).
-- Love seeing Ellen Greene (Mrs. Komeda, the friend at the opera). I’m hoping she returns in the future - and not as a course at one of Hannibal’s dinners.
-- While I’m glad that Jack has a stake in the Ripper case and now has some focus as a character, I’m worried he’s going to turn into Captain Ahab. I’m hoping the case doesn’t become too all consuming, especially with the character already emotionally tapped out with his wife’s cancer.