TV Review: HANNIBAL Season 1, Episode 5 'Coquilles'

PrintE-mail Written by Joel Harley

My kitchen is always open to friends.” Just coffee for now, thanks, Hannibal. And boy, could Will use a cup of Joe. Stressed and overworked, he wakes up in the middle of the road, in the middle of night. Bleary eyed, confused and half-naked, poor Will now has to contend with the onset of sleepwalking on top of everything else. Hannibal is quick to blame Jack Crawford, hoping to drive a wedge further between the pair's already fragile working relationship. Oh, that Hannibal. If there's one thing he loves more than cannibalism, it's meddling.

The latest extravagant crime scene he's called to check out can hardly help Will's state of mind. He arrives at an all-American Devil's Rejects-style motel, where a serial killer has struck in marked style. A double homicide, with the victims arranged to look as though in prayer. Their skin peeled off their back, ribs broken. Their internal organs hung over their shoulder with fishing wire, like a Lady Gaga meat suit pair of angel wings. At once it recalls the William Blake murders of Manhunter and Red Dragon, crossed with Colin Hanks's grisly tableaux in Season 6 of Dexter. It's a powerful bit of imagery. So powerful that the killer apparently followed up his corpse arranging game by puking everywhere. If last week's murder was Hannibal in slightly more conventional territory, Coquilles is crime television at its most horrible and inventive.

Obviously, the first thing Will does is lie on the bed next to the victims. Engage serial killer vision (it's like Batman's detective mode in Arkham Asylum). Meanwhile, Hannibal is at home cooking yet another dinner. Today it's Crawford's turn (again!), wife Phyllis in tow. While Phyllis disagrees with Hannibal's foie gras starter (“too cruel”), Doctor Lecter is quick to assure her that his meats are all ethically sourced. Well, his animal meats anyway. Very careful phrasing, there. Again, dinner looks amazing. Once again, I am left drooling by an episode of Hannibal. We still haven't been shown any of his victims though. Who knows, we could have a massive twist in store – he's been serving pork/beef all along! This tension – it's like the horse meat scandal all over again, although Lecter's larder is considerably better looking than your average freezer aisle in Tesco's.

There's more meddling afoot as he convinces Phyllis to sign up to one-on-one couples therapy with him, where he proceeds to snoop about the man's marriage behind his back. What with Lecter also trying to alienate him from Will and his wife's cancer, Jack Crawford has more on his plate than even he realises. Heh, on his plate, get it.

This week's killer also has some serious problems – suffering from a severe brain tumour which apparently lets him sense others' wrongdoing. It asks a very interesting question – how complicit is the 'angelmaker' in his own crimes? With Abigail Hobbs and the other lesser characters shelved for the moment, Coquilles gives us plenty of room to get to know its main protagonists some more. While Hannibal remains something of a cipher, Will's mental unravelling can only worsen over time – each killing and crime scene seems to have a profound effect upon him – and even Crawford emerges a little more well-rounded than his big shouty man act suggests. It's another excellent performance from Fishburne, who continues to impress, and even Hugh Dancy isn't too annoying as Will.

Coquilles is another strong episode of a consistently impressive series. There's some great character work going on here, coupled with an interesting central mystery and some grand design work. There's thought put into everything – even Hannibal's curtains – and it really shows. With Bates Motel giving off more of a pulpy feel, and even the mighty Dexter faltering in its later series, it's up to Hannibal to step up to the plate with some Michelin Star service. So far, it's on the right track. Ha, plate. Get it, again.

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