Of Doctor Hannibal Lecter's crimes, it's usually the census taker who gets the most attention. “I ate his liver,” says Hopkins' sneering Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, “with fava beans and a nice chianti.” It's become the most famous line of any Hannibal sequel or iteration. But let us not forget poor Benjamin Raspail, the musician murdered by Hannibal for letting the side down. His death tells us as much about Hannibal as his love of refined nosh. He's a music fan, Hannibal, a real lover of the arts.
Hannibal's love of music is the centre of Fromage, an episode in which Graham and the team investigate the murder of a poor unfortunate musician. No cannibalism, though. No, this music man has a violin shoved down his throat so as the killer can play him like an instrument. For once, Hannibal doesn't seem to be responsible. Another serial killer on the loose? How very Dexter.
The relevance of Hannibal's clingy patient from the previous episode becomes evident here, as Hannibal discovers that Franklin's 'friend' Tobias may not be all that he seems. While the plot (serial killer investigates the crimes of another serial killer) seems derivative of the crimes of the Bay Harbor Butcher, Hannibal goes about it in its own undeniable style. That is to say, heaps of psychology, dark mind-games and a lot less gaping plot holes than Dexter seems to be serving up these days. Who would have thought that, while Dexter continues to struggle, this newcomer – a TV reboot that no one wanted – would be going from strength to strength? Hannibal has emerged as my favourite genre television show this year. Dare I say it, I'm even beginning to enjoy Mads Mikkelsen as my Doctor Lecter of choice. Bear with me. Hopkins is a wonderful Hannibal Lecter, of course, but there's very little that's outwardly normal about him. Mikkelsen does a great job of portraying a psychopath who is very good at covering up what he does. To paraphrase Gillian Anderson, his “person suit” is much better than Hopkins'. Sorry, Sir Anthony. But that ponytail you wore in Red Dragon was fooling no one. Except for maybe Ed Norton – who was an awful Will Graham anyway.
Meanwhile, Graham is hearing things, Doctor Bloom is moving in for the kiss, and everyone wants to be Hannibal's friend. Well, who wouldn't? It's a great way to win friends and influence people, cooking them dinner every five minutes. I expect the final series of Hannibal (hoping and presuming it gets that far) to be made up of Graham, Crawford and Bloom standing in a circle throwing up everywhere as they realise just what it is they've been eating since episode one.
Fromage is another great episode. The interactions between Lecter and Tobias are excellent, as are his hilarious sessions with Franklin and Gillian Anderson. In fact, it's a highlight any time Hannibal interacts with anyone. Hannibal stepping forward and casually breaking Franklin's neck delivers the first laugh out loud moment of the series, quickly followed by Tobias' declaration that “I was looking forward to that.” All this and fisticuffs too! It's taken a long time, but we finally get to see Hannibal break a sweat. And also a neck, arm and a skull too. Thankfully not his own.
In an episode devoted to music, Fromage hits all of the right notes.