Hannibal Season 1 Review “Buffet Froid”

Hannibal Episode 10 Buffet Froid (1)

On this week’s “Hannibal”, we started out with a scene straight up out of horror movie 101, in “Buffet Froid”. (This episode’s title means “Cold Cuts”, for those of you keeping score at home…) We saw a single woman, living all alone in a spooky house, going to investigate a strange occurrence in the attic. Of course, those of us used to such things knew what to suspect there, but instead, the film went for the big fake out and nothing happened…yet.

Upon returning to bed, the woman saw what appeared to be watery footsteps which she followed like a trail of bed crumbs to her bed, at which point: YANK! Under the bed she went and out spilled the blood, in somewhat cartoonish fashion, like something in an old-school Sam Raimi film. It was a pretty effective little sequence, playing with the expectations of the viewer adroitly, assuming most of us who have ever seen a horror movie would have a pretty good idea where this was headed and would have expected certain things to happen at certain times, before trying to pull a fast one and catch us off-guard. I can’t say I jumped, but then, I’ve seen a LOT of horror movies, so there’s that.

What did make me cringe a bit was the aftermath, in which we saw the killer’s handiwork, in which the face was slashed through both cheeks, giving the illusion of a toothy smile even Julia Roberts couldn’t compete with- or would want to. I’ve seen something like this before, but I can’t quite place it, though I do recall a short story and subsequent movie entitled Mr. Sardonicus, which dealt with a man whose face was frozen in a perma-grin that was somewhat similar. That guy was alive, though, whereas this woman was very much dead.

The killer turned out to be none other than Georgia (Ellen Muth), who fans of writer/producer Bryan Fuller might recognize as having been the main protagonist on his series “Dead Like Me” previously, and was portrayed by the same actress- although intended as a different character, obviously, as that character was dead in the beginning of the show- hence the title. Anyway, it was a neat little inside reference for fans of that show.

Fuller also did this before, in the episode “Amuse-bouche”, with the character Gretchen Speck-Horowitz, who also appeared in his show “Wonderfalls” and was likewise played by the same actress, though I believe that time it was actually intended to be the character and not an inside joke sort of deal. Another character, Reggie Lass, also from “Dead Like Me” and Georgia’s sister on that show, was reinterpreted on “Hannibal” as Miriam “Reggie” Lass, the doomed FBI trainee played by Anna Chlumsky, but this time played by a different actress than in that show, where she was played by Britt McKillip. I love stuff like this, so I was perhaps ultimately more intrigued by that aspect of the show than anything else, which I’m not sure is a compliment necessarily, but it is what it is.

As for that main plot, it was reasonably compelling, particularly the moment in which Will, who continues to lose time and pop up in random places not remembering what he was doing or how he got there, woke up in a CAT scan machine and discovered his doctor’s body killed in a similar manner as the first victim and thought he might be responsible. Of course, he wasn’t, but as with previous episodes, Hannibal Lecter took advantage of the situation to toss a murder of his own into the hat with Dr. Sutcliffe, who he murdered for no good reason I could figure out, as he already agreed to lie about Will’s condition to him so that he and Lecter could study him. Guess that won’t be happening.

Of course, what I want to know is how Lecter has so many friends, period, what with him being in the habit of killing them all at an alarming rate. I’d say Will better watch his back, but we already know how that ultimately pans out. Anyway, that was a pretty neat little button to the crime at hand, as Georgia witnessed said murder, but given her condition, an ailment known as Cotard’s Syndrome, would not exactly be the greatest witness to said crime, allowing Lecter to once again piggyback onto another killer’s handiwork. Of course, this was also part of the aforementioned inside joke, as the ailment was a condition in which the person suffering from it thinks that they are dead and somehow still alive- a la her character on “Dead Like Me”, only much more warped and psychotic. Pretty clever, Mr. Fuller.

We also learned that there is indeed something wrong with Will, who has encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain. Of course, he doesn’t know that, and the only other one who does is Lecter, as he killed poor Dr. Sutcliffe, the only other witness. I feel like Lecter must be doing this in order to shore up evidence for himself when Will inevitably figures out what he’s really up to, as in: “You’re going to listen to this guy? He’s literally brain damaged.” Since it’s only a matter of time, the more off-the-reservation Will is when Lecter’s caught, the better, I guess.

As ever, some great quotes throughout. Here’s a few of my favorites:

Will, after doing just that: “I got lost in the reconstruction.”

Jack, after Will snaps at him: “Fear makes you rude, Will.”

Dr. Sutcliffe, after Lecter “diagnoses” Will by smell (!): “What do you smell on me?”
Lecter: “Opportunity.”

Lecter, on Will: “He doesn’t just reflect, he absorbs.”

Will: “I feel relatively sane.” (Gee, that’s comforting!)

And my favorite of them all, Lecter, on Will: “Imagination is an interesting acceleration for a fever.”

I also liked the bit about spatial neglect, which was fascinating. As a former Psychology major, I always eat up any mention of obscure terminology, so that and the Cotard’s Syndrome thing was compelling to me. Honestly, the psychological stuff is what makes this show for me, as we have previously discussed the downside to having a “killer-of-the-week” approach. While the set-up for the killer this week was interesting, as most of them have been, as ever, the show falters a bit in the follow-up and subsequent capture of the killer.

Still, it’s hard to complain when there’s so much to like about the show, which is undeniably intelligently made and nothing if not fascinating to watch. In short, the good outweighs the bad…for now. What will be interesting is to see how they prolong the inevitable, which is Will figuring out what Hannibal is up to and calling him on it. Given that the show takes place before “Red Dragon”, it occurred to me, that they could certainly capture Lecter and still have a show, as we know that Will continues to consult him even after his incarceration.

Of course, for the show, it works better to not have him be captured just yet, as it allows Lecter to continue to do what he does under the radar by emulating other killers, which can be fascinating as well, as you never know if a victim is actually a victim of the killer (or killers) at hand or Lecter himself. I think they will hold off on it for at least season, so don’t count on that happening by the end of this one.

On the plus side, it was just announced that the show was renewed for a second season, which was not at all a foregone conclusion, given the show’s middling ratings. Though, as with this season, it is technically a half-season, and will likely be aired as this season was, as a mid-season replacement, that’s still good news for fans of the show, so I’ll take it. I think it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go ahead and set things up in such a way that they can at least get to the Lecter capture at the end, as that would make the show a perfect bookend to the books and movies. (Well, as “Hannibal Rising” was a prequel, technically it would be a gap-filler, but you get my meaning.)

What did you think of “Hannibal” this week? Glad it was renewed? Looking forward to seeing how they wrap up the season? How do you think it will end this season? Is it logical that Lecter would continue to get away with so much right under the FBI’s noses? Did you “Dead Like Me” fans get a kick out of seeing Muth? Sound off in the comments section!