Oh, deer. It's father/daughter bonding time for Abigail Hobbs, whom we see in a flashback with her father, killing and harvesting a deer for its edibles. “We honour the beast by eating her,” says daddy dearest, “otherwise it's just murder.” It's a sentiment and philosophy which will no doubt echo throughout this first series, certainly more so as our Doctor Lecter's crimes come to the fore. But before all that, the main question posed by Potage surrounds Abigail – is she her father's daughter, or another innocent victim?
With the girl freshly awoken from her coma, it's not long before everyone wants a piece of her. Crawford suspects she might be complicit in her serial killer father's crimes, Graham wants to adopt her, and Doctor Bloom is there to provide sympathy and iTunes vouchers. Even Freddie Loundes turns up at Abigail's bedside, calling first dibs on her story. Hannibal just seems to be there for the fun of it all, looking on with a sense of superior amusement.
Abigail herself wakes up in rude health, psychoanalysing with the best of them. At times, Hannibal resembles a psychoanalysts' grudge match, with everyone sitting around psychoanalysing everyone else all day. You have to feel for poor Crawford, stuck in the middle of them all. Especially when his best brain on the job goes around saying things like, “It's not very smart to piss off a guy who thinks about killing people for a living.” It's even less smart to go around saying that kind of thing to a journalist who already holds a grudge against you. It's little wonder Crawford seems so stressed all the time. Should have stuck with CSI, Larry. Weird as Las Vegas gets, at least the team there are a friendly bunch, at heart.
Where one might have anticipated a formulaic freak of the week format for the series, Hannibal follows a more central narrative, still taking its cue from the first episode. It goes some way to redeem that throwaway feeling Aparitif's crime had. Where most crime series would have forgotten him by now, the ghost of Garrett Jacob Hobbs looms large. These larger story arcs have served Dexter well, so it's good to see Hannibal following that template – while, of course, it still leaves room for more disposable villains and standalone episodes too. The Hobbs copycat killer strikes again too, further confusing matters. One suspects Doctor Lecter knows a lot more than he's letting on, particularly where this 'copycat' is concerned. It's curious that we've yet to see the Doctor commit a single murder – our fear and knowledge of how dangerous the man can be comes almost entirely from Thomas Harris's books and the character's outings in The Silence of the Lambs, Manhunter and Hannibal (we'll ignore the other two terrible, terrible movies, shall we?). Mads Mikkelsen is doing a fine job portraying Hannibal's public face, but he's yet to show us why we should be scared of this iteration of the character. His choice in suits remains enviably awesome, though. This is without a doubt the sharpest dressed Hannibal yet. Far better this than Sir Anthony Hopkins' ponytail in Red Dragon.
No cannibalism from him though, this week. Nor does he feed his packed lunches of dubious design to any of his new friends, either. That's a shame; it would be hilarious if, every week, we got to see Hannibal covertly feeding bits of long pig to his chums and colleagues. That may not be the strongest foundation for a television series, but it's an original one. Nice bit of schadenfreude, too, as Hugh Dancy's Will is quite annoying at times. Yeah, shut up and eat your lunch, Will.
Potage is a good third episode, strengthening story and character alike. The pace is slower, the emphasis less on gruesome crime than plot development. Like the humble 'potage' (a kind of soup) itself, this episode is a hearty workman's brew, thick with flavour and ingredient. As it slowly simmers to the inevitable boil, I can already feel myself salivating for more.