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Hannibal - 1.09 Trou Normand - Recap

Another meal, another body.

Trou Normand, fittingly representing the appetizer before an entree, uncovers Abigail's secret and puts Will Graham into another conflict with himself.
Lecter seems to entrench himself more firmly into his mind, and the show proceeds to show this development via constant psycho-analysis.
The following case initiates the distance, Will experiences between reality and his ability to trace back the motivations of the killer, and as we move on, the loss of one's self becomes the central theme for all protagonists involved, excluding Hannibal, of course. Curiously enough, we get to see a visually moving scene between Abigail and Lecter, her "father", which tells us that his ability to display empathy like other people, is so frightening that no one seems safe from him at all. A true manipulator. I'm also stunned by Mads Mikkelsen's performance, because his interpretation of Hannibal is so visually disturbing in its lack of actually displaying stronger feelings than mere amusement or mild concern. None of which is real. I'm also questioning what exactly goes on inside Lecter. The controlled movements and facial expressions give me this sense of anticipating more. And sometimes the control of one's body is even more terrifying than the actual act of using it as a weapon against others.

A totem of your own making

Crawford and Graham discover a totem pole of dead bodies and Will concludes that the latest victim was saved for last to watch the killer work on his "creation", his legacy and résumé. As Will continues struggling with his experiences to empathize with the killer, he suddenly finds himself in Lecter's office.
I find the blatant way in which Lecter approaches Will's empathy disorder very revealing, and his blunt diagnosis short and to the point. Even though I would argue that empathy disorder doesn't fully cover it, Lecter highlights the core issue that plagues Will's mind. The proof that he cannot recall a 3-hour trip to Lecter's office underlines the problem of reality vs zone. And he's aware of it and responds very strongly to the problem.
Will: I save lives.
Hannibal: And that feels good?
It probably does, although it only covers Will's problem on a superficial level, especially since Lecter suggests that Will cannot cope with the investigation and proceeds to retreat into himself. We can definitely conclude that Graham cannot be diagnosed with Autism/Asperger, because Will doesn't feel a lack of empathy. Additionally, the sleepwalking and REM sleep uncovers a truly horrifying perspective, as we will see later.
Meanwhile, Abigail and Freddie Lounds discuss the proceedings of publishing her story, which isn't exactly something Lecter or Graham approve in true style of fatherly concern.
Even more problematic and a parallel to Abigail's hallucinations is Will's deteriorating state, which Alana Bloom summarizes as "unstable", after she witnessed him talking to himself. I'm not really sure what kind of message this scene wants to send.
On the one hand, it's problematic to assume that Will's mental state affects the way Alana feels about him to such a degree that she calls an involvement with him reckless.
I have feelings for you, Will, but I can't just have an affair with you. It would be reckless. It's because I think you are unstable, and until that changes, I can only be your friend.
His health is treated as a deficiency undeserving of the kind of love he could eventually receive, and it's problematic to assume people with mental health issues will destroy relationships from the get-go. On the other hand, I understand her feelings regarding that matter.
As we're moving on, Crawford is turning into a ruthless interrogator. He has his suspicions regarding the death of Nicholas Boyle and investigates Abigail's involvement in it, disregarding her trauma entirely in the process. I cannot find it in me to like Crawford's approach, even though he's on the right track.

Moreover, the totem pole case reveals that the latest victim, Joel Summers, was killed by his biological father Lawrence Wells, and Will, recalling his previous conclusion about the killing being a legacy, firmly concludes that Wells didn't secure his legacy at all and simply destroyed his son for the sake of his own comfort.

The truth

Will experiences another hallucination in which he kills Boyle only for the body to transform into Abigail, who then kills Will. This serves as a major clue for him to deduce that it was actually Abigail, who killed Nicholas. To be honest, I very much liked the emphasis on Abigail's feelings after stabbing Will, which implies that Graham accepts his fatherly feelings for her regardless of what she did, and is not falsely concluding that she is a murderer with cruel intent. This conclusion leads to my personal highlight of the episode.

The confrontation between Will and Hannibal

The close-up to Lecter's hand movement before he approaches Will was extremely interesting on several levels, and left many things unsaid regarding Lecter's approach to pacify Graham. He decides for the more empathetic manipulation, revealing that he knew all along about Abigail's involvement, and stayed silent only for her sake. What a liar, and a charming one at that.
Who knows Abigail better than you and I? We are her fathers now.
In this case he appeals to Will's sense of responsibility for her, while actively seeking a physical as well as emotional connection to point out that they're basically in this together. By doing so, Lecter masterfully puts them on the same level, effectively avoiding further trouble with the authorities.
On a side note, the dinner scene with Lounds puts a very ironic spin to the name "cannibal family", with her complaints about having too much meat in the salad. By the way, I'm still hungry after watching this episode. Shame on me.
Abigail's secret is fully revealed in the end, with the last scene shot in black and white, showing her approaching a girl. She confesses that she helped her father with the victims and Hannibal reacts to her confession in a truly outstanding way. In the end, Lecter's deception is so incredibly real, because he hugged her and comforted her, declaring how she's not the monster, but the victim, which gives this scene so many layers for all key players involved. We have to ask ourselves, what the definition of monster truly entails and how much it extends to Hannibal himself.

I don't think he is, but that's just me.

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