No, nothing to do with Hannibal's habit of psychoanalysing people over dinner (buffet Freud, geddit) – a 'buffet froid' refers to, well, it's a fancy word for a buffet, actually. Knowing our Doctor Lecter as we do though, we can guarantee that there'll be no cocktail sausages, nor even oranges wrapped in tinfoil and covered in cheese and pineapple, like some sort of gourmet tinfoil Pinhead.
Once again, the title refers less to the food served in the episode than it does the show's themes and ideas. We should know this by now – after all, I've closed almost every review I've done of Hannibal with a summary of the title's relevance to the series. Maybe I should lay off the TV Criticism for Dummies for a while. Were Hannibal really a buffet, I would have gorged myself silly on all thirteen episodes already. Mmmm... box set marathon.
It's Will who's been overeating at the metaphorical buffet, stuffing his poor sad face with gory crime scene after gory crime scene. It's little wonder he's losing his mind. The grisly murders he's called to investigate should be once-in-a-lifetime stuff, yet he regularly encounters this week in, week out – it's like Brad Pitt or Morgan Freeman investigating a different Se7en scenario every week. Buffet Froid's is a little more conventional than usual, but still highly disturbing, all the same. As a serial killer cuts young women from ear to ear, Graham once again blacks out at the scene of the crime. When he comes to, he's covered in blood and his crime scene has been trashed. Oops.
Hannibal refers him to a neurologist, where (thanks to Graham's inability to draw a clock face) he's popped in an MRI scanner and sent away for tests. When he wakes up, the good doctor is dead... it's to the show's credit that one genuinely wonders whether Graham could actually be the killer. He's not, of course, although he does find himself sympathising with the real murderer. Believing herself to be dead and unable to recognise faces, her mental illness is something Graham sympathises with and fears in himself. Episodes in the series tend to juggle between being Hannibal or Graham-heavy, and Buffet Froid is definitely in the latter court. Interesting as Hannibal's cannibalism is, it's Will's story which takes precedence right now – after all, it will likely lay the groundwork for Red Dragon and other series to come.
There are only three episodes of Hannibal's first series to go now, and things are heating up quite nicely for a finale to remember. The way poor Graham is headed though, he may need metaphorical heartburn tablets to follow the metaphorical buffet. That metaphorical indigestion is a bitch.