Hannibal Season 1 Review “Potage”

Hannibal (NBC) Episode 3 Potage (6)

On the latest episode of “Hannibal,” serial killer Garret Hobbs’ daughter Abigail awoke from her coma, and there was only one thing on Jack Crawford’s mind: did she help? To that end, he left no stone unturned, sending Will, Lecter and Dr. Bloom to poke at her brain to get to the bottom of things, in “Potage.” This week’s fun food term title means a soup, stew or porridge made with meat & vegetables and boiled into a thick mush and served up hot. Yum. (Actually, I’m not sure what this term had to do with the crime at hand this time around, unless it was implied that Hobbs made people porridge for the fam, which is all kinds of gross.)

This episode kind of revolved around that old saying about “no part of the animal shall be wasted.” We saw the super-creepy dynamic between Abigail and her father, with Hobbs teaching her to hunt and gut a deer, preaching how “eating her is honoring her- otherwise, it’s just murder.” Did she, in fact, help her father to kill, using herself as bait, as Nicholas, the brother of the copycat killer’s victim suggests? I don’t think so personally, but boy, is that a freaky conceit.

Whatever the case, she does end up killing in the end, so maybe it’s in her after all. What’s more, even though it’s clear she knows that Lecter was the one who tipped off her father and that it was likely him that killed the two girls, including Abigail’s friend Marissa in this episode, she chooses to go along with his subterfuge, allowing him to hide Nicholas’ body- which she flat-out gutted like one of those deer- in exchange for his silence about her actions, even though she likely would have been exonerated for it. Although Hannibal has a point in that the press would have made her into a chip off the old serial killer.

I certainly wouldn’t put it past Freddie Lounds, who’s getting sleazier and more unethical by the week. It’s kind of unfair that she’s so sexy, being such a reprehensible human being and all. Actually, it’s also kind of awesome from a characterization standpoint. She must be fun to write for, you know? Not to mention play, for an actress. Why should the guys have all the fun?

In fact, all of the women here were pretty compelling, from Abigail to Freddie to even Marissa. For a hot minute there, I even considered that she might have been in on it with Abigail’s dad, doing what Nicholas accused Abigail of. Something about the way she viciously threw those rocks at the guy, you know? She really pegged the hell out of him. Ouch! Obviously, that theory went out the window when they found Marissa in the cabin. Oh well- Marissa, we hardly knew ye.

Then there’s Dr. Bloom. Her character is pretty fascinating and I like the sort of edgy dynamic between her and Lecter introduced here, especially when they were consulting with Jack about the case and Will. Once again, the writing was superlative across the board. I loved her line to Will, upon seeing all his stray pooches: “Dogs keep a promise a person can’t.” Guess she’s not a cat lover.

I also liked Will’s retort to Freddie, after she viciously told Abigail that Will is as crazy as the people he hunts: “You know, it’s not very smart to piss off a guy who thinks about killing people for a living.” Freddie didn’t even flinch, instead rushing to toss the line into her latest article, which Jack read aloud, not without some glee in his voice.

The stuff with Abigail re-visiting her house and then the cabin was also super-effective, with some chilling moments. Actress Kacey Rohl really nailed the sort of deadpan did-she-or-didn’t-she elements of her role (“Is that where all my blood was?”), keeping you guessing every step of the way. Was she just a child that didn’t see any of this coming? Or was she in on it?

It was hard to tell until the very end, when her final confrontation with Hannibal seemed to indicate she was essentially innocent…but still had it in her to be every bit as vicious as her dad, as evidenced by her brutal killing of Nicholas. I mean, granted the guy was a bit intense and freaky, but she could have just stabbed him. She didn’t have to gut the poor guy.

The Will stuff was also fascinating to me. Abigail nailed it when she said: “You do this a lot? Go places and think about killing?” Yes, he does, and it’s pretty nutty. Truth be told, Freddie isn’t too far off the mark in her assessment. You always get the sense that Will is hanging on by a thread in any given moment. Take his reply to Abigail’s query about how he feels when he steps into the shoes of a killer: “It feels like I’m talking to his shadow suspended on dust.” Yeah, that’s perfectly normal.

As ever, Will’s dreams were the freakiest part of the episode that didn’t involve discovering a body, or where the killer “elevated murder to art,” as he assesses Lecter’s handiwork. Finding that body in the attic was indeed spooky, but to me, watching him slit Abigail’s throat as a stag wriggled around in slow motion was actually more disturbing. (Although perhaps not as disturbing as the fact that Jack lets Will show crime scene photos in class- is that even legal?)

Speaking of which, kudos to the cinematographers on this show. Those murder scenes are indeed artfully shot, but so is everything else. I’m thinking in particular of the scenes in the greenhouse at the hospital, and most everything in the woods. The look of this show is stunning, and definitely on the level of something you’d see in a movie. They did not skimp on production values for this show, by any means.

My only misgiving is that business with the ending. So, Nicholas is able to sneak by the cops and get Abigail alone and confront her, then Lecter is able to knock Dr. Bloom out without her seeing him either, then steal away with Nicholas’ body before anyone knows what is going on? Where the hell was Will, or anyone else, for that matter?

Also, why would Lecter help her, when he must know she didn’t really do anything, and what’s more, she tells him she knows he was the one who called and that she suspects him of being a killer, too? Wouldn’t he have done well to cut his losses and kill her, especially with her off the cops’ radar after having escaped the hospital? Maybe he thinks he can train her to be his killing apprentice, like something on “The Following.” Not that I wanted to see Abigail die- she’s a pretty compelling character- but I’m not sure where they’re going with that plot development.

Still, all in all, a pretty solid episode. I really like the way they’re letting the plot unfold week-to-week, allowing new elements (and killers) to enter into the story while still circling back to deal with the unfinished business from previous cases. That makes the show’s story feel more real, not wrapping everything up in a neat little bow every week, you know?

What did you think of “Hannibal” this week? Do you like the approach they’re taking with the ongoing storylines, too? Or would you prefer a more “CSI”-style murder-of-the-week approach? How did you feel about the ending? Did you think Abigail was innocent or just a good liar? Do you think she’ll become like her father in time? Do you see Hannibal helping her to achieve that? Feel free to spout your craziest predictions in the comments section!