Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside. Even serial killers! The latest grim treat for Will Graham and his FBI chums is a totem pole made up of dead bodies and lopped off limbs, left on a chilly beach for our heroes to find. Well, Will might not be too keen on the seaside himself – soon after popping into his “this is my design” trance, he suffers a blackout and wakes up in Hannibal's office, miles away. Talk about zoning out.
After previous weeks' barnstorming action and character beats (we really were spoiled by the excellent Fromage) Trou Normand slows down again to give its characters time to breathe and adjust. And it's back to the Abigail Hobbs plotline too, as the serial killer's daughter returns to the fray – as mentally traumatised and disturbed as the rest of them. Freddie Lounds is quick to take advantage – offering the girl a sum of money to spill the beans on her experiences with Will and Hannibal. Freddie may have undergone a gender change since the events of Manhunter and Red Dragon, but it's nice to see that her slimy character remains intact. She really is very easy to hate. It will be interesting to see if the programme decides to make her sympathetic at all, or whether she's doomed to die unmourned at the hands of Francis Dolarhyde.
The emphasis in Trou Normand, however, is mostly upon Will Graham and his continuing struggle with his empathy powers. He's unravelling at a startling rate – surely headed for a fall. While Dr. Bloom and Hannibal are concerned – yes, even Hannibal seems to worry for his friend – Crawford seems barely interested. As he traumatises Abigail even more by dragging her off to the morgue for a peek at a disfigured corpse, there's a sense that Crawford will stop at nothing to get some answers, even if he doesn't know entirely what the questions are. Horrible taste in beachwear, too. Crawford's hat and coat combo are simply dire, single-handedly bringing down the show's excellent track record for design. In addition to this, we also learn that Abigail may not be entirely innocent in her father's crimes (as if we didn't suspect it already) and that Will feels more than a little guilty. Well, he is Mister Empathy.
Once again, the weakest element of the episode is its crime of the week. The series has a habit of confronting our heroes with a fantastically terrible, grotesque crime, but ultimately making the manhunt and actual culprit much less interesting. It's a shame, because the body part totem pole looks incredible – like the dead girl of Cannibal Holocaust on a much bigger scale. Still, even if its handling is fumbled, it does get us an appearance from B-movie legend Lance Henriksen. Sure, he'll appear in anything for an easy paycheck (as his Sy-Fy movie CV will attest) but Henriksen is always welcome, wherever he may be.
As a palate cleanser, Trou Normand does a great job. There's a sense now that Hannibal is heating up something really tasty for us. Palate cleansed, bring on the main course.