Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Idiot Box: Hannibal 1x08 - “Fromage” Review

Sorry I'm a little late with this one, been waylaid by illness recently. Anyway, we're back with another episode of Hannibal, a direct sequel to the previous one which at the time I considered to be possibly the best of the season. Though the new episode relies on a particularly gruesome gimmick that I think (or at least hope) is somewhat unrealistic, it was nonetheless another top notch installment that proves why this show should be getting a lot more praise, and a lot more viewers, than its gotten up to this point. The only reason I know what the title of this one means is because of an old Dexter's Laboratory cartoon, but I fail to see what cheese has to do with any of it.

The killer of the week in Fromage is a classical music obsessive who turns his victims into living musical instruments, in this case shoving wood down the mouth of a corpse and playing the vocal cords like the strings of a cello. I wonder if we might be reaching a point where the creativity of the killers on this show might be straining credulity, but then I think we might have passed the point where that is a legitimate complaint. I want to watch this show and charge that real serial killers are never like this, rarely as intelligent or erudite, and few are compelled to create these sort of tableaus we find in every episode. And yet, the whole show is predicated on exploring the life of Hannibal Lecter, a classic literary serial killer far too smart to ever exist in real life, and I never complained about that while reading the books or watching the movies.

In any case, the mind games between Hannibal and this new monster are at the heart of the episode, as Lecter's continued search for a friendship he can keep while maintaining his charade of humanity puts him in the path of the mad cellist, giving him the chance to finally be honest with someone, even as the question of who will eventually try to kill who is always at the forefront of their polite conversations. I can't remember where I've seen the actor who played the bad guy this week, and as always I'm too lazy to check even though I'm literally online at my computer right now as I'm typing this, but he's really good, and its a shame to see him go in the end, as he must once he discovers Lecter's secret life.

Less interesting this week is the Will Graham subplot, which after eight weeks finally succumbs to the temptation of every network television show by taking the two reasonably attractive opposite gendered characters and revealing that they have romantic feelings for each other. This is my least favorite staple of police procedurals, the Castle-esque "will they or won't they" bullshit, and it has been to this show's credit that they never forced this dynamic until now (though now that I think about it, some Graham on Lecter action is not without its entertainment value). That only makes it all the more eye roll inducing when it comes a bit out of nowhere here, seemingly at the expense of the much more intriguing auditory hallucinations he's experiencing which unless I missed it were not resolved.

I am a MAN!

Still, overall another good episode that will add to the list of reasons for my outrage should this show not be picked up. That question is apparently still up in the air, as while it survived the recent holocaust of NBC cancellations, there has still been no official word as to its future. Given the commitment to stick to the cable model of shorter seasons, its pretty much guaranteed that if it continues, Hannibal will be a perennial mid-season show, only adding to the annual tension surrounding its fate. I'm hoping they give it the same chance they are now giving to Community, a show that gets to go on to a fifth season despite it going from one of the best show's on television to one of the worst. Hannibal is already one of the best, so I've got to think it at least has something going for it. 

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