TV Review: HANNIBAL Season 1, Episode 2 ‘Amuse Bouche'

PrintE-mail Written by Joel Harley

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Freshly traumatised by last week's series opener, empathetic FBI consultant Will Graham finds himself picking through another neatly constructed crime scene. This time, to a cabin in the woods, where there's an attic full of deer antlers and unanswered questions. Something still doesn't ring true. Did last week's killer, Garrett Hobbs, work alone, or did he have a partner? Crawford suspects Hobbs' daughter to be his partner in crime – Will's not so convinced. With Hannibal, Hobbs and this third party all munching on bits of human in their spare time, how many cannibals does one programme need anyway?

After a quick, cursory psyche evaluation (thanks Doctor Lecter) it's not long before Will is dragged out by Graham to another crime scene, no less intricate or grotesquely fascinating. Nine bodies, buried in shallow graves in the woods. Buried in highly fertilised compost and kept alive for a while before their deaths, these poor souls' corpses have mushrooms growing all over their bodies, are highly decomposed and arranged like some sort of Hellish Alan Titchmarsh design. This botanic crime scene only strengthens the MPD Psycho similarity I noted last week (the unfamiliar would be well recommended to check it out – it's a police procedural, Taskashi Miike style). There's also an element of the old slasher movie Motel Hell there too, although it's far less funny than that.

Previously sidelined in favour of Graham and his reintroduction to the FBI fold, there's a (slightly) bigger portion of the titular Hannibal brought to this week's table. This gives us a chance to get to know Mads Mikkelsen, and gauge what he's doing with the character. It's still to early to tell how it's going to play in full – Doctor Lecter is too multifaceted a character to get to know this fast – but this version is coming along quite nicely so far. I sense a recurring theme of Hannibal feeding people bits of, well, other people. This week it's Crawford's turn to feast at Doctor Lecter's deli. To be fair, he makes it look damn appetising. I sense another recurring theme, in which I get worryingly hungry while watching Hannibal.

Amuse Bouche brings another character from Harris's Red Dragon into play – Freddie Lounds, tabloid hack at Tattlecrime. We find Fred looking much, ah, tastier than Philip Seymour Hoffman and Stephen Lang, played here by Lara Jean Chorostecki. If purists baulked at the appointment of Larry Fishburne as Crawford (and sadly, I have seen some complaints to that effect) Lord only knows what they'll make of a curly redhead, doe eyed Freddie Lounds. She's sure to cause a stir among the characters too, winding up not only Crawford and Graham, but Hannibal himself too, over the course of the episode.

Amuse Bouche is an effective, exciting second episode in a series which shows a lot of promise. It's just as visually interesting as the first episode, with every shot and layout only contributing to the uncomfortable, modern Gothic tone. Free of the constraints of its series opener, there's more room for the crime itself to breathe, and plenty of time spent in the company of our main characters. As with last week, we're left ravenous for more. Like a chinese takeaway, this Hannibal has just finished, but I could eat it up all over again. Hold the mushrooms though, please.

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