Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Idiot Box: Hannibal 1x06 - "Entree" Review

A good friend of mine who spends much more time paying attention to these sorts of things than I do casually mentioned to me recently that this series is currently tanking in the ratings something fierce, enough that a second season is most certainly in doubt even with the network's incredibly low standards. Normally when I see a show that I like in danger of cancellation I react with some combination of sadness or anger, and yet for some reason this news did not effect me quite as much as I would have thought. Despite generally liking this last episode and really to some degree every episode so far, I've realized that the series as a whole has moved forward so little and so slowly that the lack of anything accomplished beyond the pilot has left me somewhat ambivalent as to the show's future, regardless of how compelling each individual installment might be.

Case in point, Entree, an episode title I would have thought they would have saved for the season or series finale, or at least the penultimate episode (the last then being an epilogue entitled Dessert). Even before I watched this episode, which I did as I usually do without watching any ads for it if I can help it, I had read online that this was to be the show's tribute to Silence of the Lambs, with a serial killer interviewed while locked away in an asylum, while a plucky young female FBI agent tracks a killer on the outside. In the end I don't know if the homage really works all that well, or if it was ever really necessary in the first place, and since the killer in question isn't actually Lecter himself for obvious reasons, it didn't have the same emotional punch that makes this set up so culturally indelible to begin with.

Still I was excited about this episode primary due to the guest casting, which features what I hope to be the introduction of a recurring character rather than a one-off in the form of Eddie Izzard as a psychopath already in custody taking credit for the crimes of a serial killer thought to still be at large. The last thing I saw Izzard in before this was the amazing NBC pilot for the rebooted Munsters series also written by Bryan Fuller, which was unfortunately not picked up. If you haven't seen it, I'm sure its available online somewhere, and I highly recommend that you watch it to see what this actor can do when actually given material to work with, unlike here where after the opening murder scene, he's basically wasted in a few boring interview segments with absolutely no tension to be built. Hopefully if they keep him for another episode or two they can give him something to do to redeem the wasted potential seen here.

Why not, for example, have Dr. Lecter interview the killer, placing him in the role of the Clarice Starling-esque character while the flashbacks to the actual Starling surrogate play out in between? Two serial killers, one passing for normal, the other free to be as evil as he knows he is, would make for great television and in this context seems like a no-brainer, not to mention an excuse to have Lecter in the episode for more than a few minutes. Admittedly those few minutes are the highlight of the episode, establishing an interesting if somewhat predictable connection Lecter has with the case, but once again the reveal of this connection would have carried a lot more weight if he had been more integrated into the plot.

Will Graham continues his streak of not actually using his amazing gift toreally solve any cases, and the subplot involving the chief's wife's cancer is still going despite my express desire to see them get to more action and bloodshed already. Overall, there was enough to like about Entree that I would easily say it is in keeping with the level of quality so far even in spite of what probably sounds like my annoyed griping. I think the problem is that I've just begun to lose a little patience with it, which as I alluded to above, is why even though I've enjoyed the ride all along, I don't think I'll be all that sad to see this show go if the ratings don't pick up from here. 

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