Last week, I said episode 8 was my favourite episode until that point. Now, episode 9, Trou Normand, takes that title. First off all, these murders are getting more and more gorier. The killer creates a totempole out of his victims. It is disturbing, especially against the backdrop of the ocean and a chilly, desaturated milieu. The scene also causes Will Graham to have a mental lapse/breakdown so that he suddenly goes from being at the crime scene to Hannibal’s office without any awareness of how he got there. When I initially saw Lance Eriksen in the credits, I got excited. He played a FBI detective in the TV show Millennium who has a similar gift to Will to be able to see through the minds of serial killers, and I wondered if he was going to be a guest FBI agent, perhaps play mentor? It turns out he plays the killer.
The totempole murder takes a backseat, though, to Abigail’s story arc. Abigail, as you may remember, is the daughter of the Minnesota Shrike. Will feels a sense of responsibility for her after he shoots her father. You may also remember that after she is attacked by Nicholas (a brother to one of the victims of the Shrike), she kills him in self-defence. Hannibal helps her cover up the body. Someone uncovers that body in the episode. Was it Abigail who did it? Hannibal suggests as much, though it’s unclear if it was her, or Hannibal himself who did this. Abigail wants to sell her story to Freddie Lounds at the National Tattler. Hannibal and Graham are perturbed by this, and perhaps Hannibal is forcing the issue of what might be uncovered if such were to happen. Yes, you could dismiss his actions as being calculating and menacing. But it’s suggested it’s more complicated than that. Hannibal sees the world in a different shade of morality from others, even though he has a very strange code of honor (or is it civility?) he abides by. Even in Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal is appalled when Starling gets ‘juice’ on her cheeks and causes the perpetrator to swallow his own tongue.
When Will discovers that Abigail killed Nick, he confronts Hannibal about it. I wasn’t sure how Hannibal would play it. But he did so by coming clean and confessing to it. Will, whose mental state is about to shatter at any point, realizes Hannibal is right. But the moment is tense and we see a glimpse of where this frail relationship could immediately turn. Hannibal thinks Will is on his side, and to a certain extent, he is. But Will has boundaries that Hannibal does not. Hannibal understands that too, but this is the first real point where the whole thing could have gone awry. Wonderfully acted by both actors. It was taut as Hannibal asks Will if he needs to call his lawyer, and Will, after deliberation, says no.
I didn’t anything could top the chills of the human totem pole. But Abigail’s final confession was psychological terror at its sharpest. Hearing her confess to her involvement after all her pleas to the contrary was dark. I mean like sun blotted out dark. Damn. Hannibal, unlike any one else in the position of recipient, doesn’t judge, but instead, embraces her, empathizing, drawing her in. I’m still shivering.