Hannibal, Season 1, Episode 4: “Coquilles”
Directed by Guillermo Navarro
Written by Scott Nimerfro and Bryan Fuller
Airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on NBC
Author’s note: NBC and Bryan Fuller mutually agreed to pull the originally scheduled fourth episode of the series, and move straight to the fifth episode instead, fearing that the events depicted in the skipped episode might be disconcerting in light of recent real-life events. While certain parts of the unaired episode were released as webisodes, the reviewer has refrained from watching them, and they are thus not referred to or spoken about in the following review.
A recurring theme in Hannibal’s first three episodes has been an exploration of how getting into the mindset of serial killers affects Will, as he is unable to slip out as easily as he slips in, something that is beginning to take its toll on him. Each case that Will has taken on has chipped away at his psyche a bit more, and while Dr. Lecter is ostensibly helping Will retain his sanity, the psychologist clearly has another plan in mind. The toll that working with the FBI is having on Will’s sanity is further explored this week, in another atmospherically scary episode that gives the audience a look at the life of Jack Crawford.
It is fascinating to watch Hannibal and Will’s relationship with knowledge of who Hannibal is, but not what his endgame is with Will. While there is no denying that Will’s mental state is fragile, as the sleepwalking further emphasizes this week, it’s clear that Lecter, in addition to trying to understand Will, is trying to push him towards a certain mindset that will suit Lecter’s goals, but what those goals are still remain unclear, as first glance would seem to indicate that Hannibal would like to remove the tether that keeps Will with the FBI; however, Hannibal’s increasingly close relationship with Jack Crawford casts some doubt on that idea. What those goals ultimately are, and how far Will can bend without breaking, promises to be compelling. In addition, how long it takes until Will catches on to Hannibal’s ploy, and how people like Crawford, Alana, and Abigail Hobbs factor into Hannibal’s scheme are worth looking out for.
It was also great to learn more about the personal life of Jack Crawford. The reveal that Crawford’s wife is dying of cancer, and the slow realisation of the reason behind his wife’s change in behaviour dawning on Jack, was very well done, and gives some interesting insight into Jack’s actions going forward. Due to the nature of his job, home was the one place where Jack previously didn’t have to face death, but with Bella’s cancer now at a late stage, and her refusal to undergo chemotherapy, Jack will now find no reprieve from the Grim Reaper, something that is bound to take a toll on him and affect not only his work, but his relationship with Will. As someone who is able to deeply empathise with people, it will also be interesting to see how Jack’s changing circumstances affects Will, particularly since Will offers to listen to Jack’s problems at the end of the episode, and is thus bound to get closer to them, whether he wants to or not.
Overall, this was another excellent entry into what is shaping up to be a top-notch first season of the show. Gina Torres is an excellent addition to the cast, and hopefully this is not the last the audience has seen of Bella Crawford. Hannibal’s food preparations continue to be chilling without ever being explicitly unnerving. The various images of the bodies arranged as angels were genuinely creepy, as were the heads on fire. Will’s hallucination at the end of the episode also gives the impression that Will considers himself a Demon, in a sense, and this is worth exploring to see if it is a result of killing Garrett Jacob Hobbs and the associated guilt he has over feeling good about it, or if it’s a condition that has been present in Will long before that, with the Hobbs killing only being the latest manifestation of it. In many ways, despite Dr. Lecter not being the main character in terms of screentime or character focus, Hannibal is the perfect title for this show, as his presence is felt throughout, and his actions dictate much of how events unfold, and this week was no exception. How Will copes with his unravelling psyche, how Jack copes with his wife’s cancer, and how both Dr. Bloom and Dr. Lecter factor into Will’s decisions going forward are all worth tuning in for next week.
– Deepayan Sengupta