Have I. Oh, anon, you must be new around here…
Which is to say, yes—it even has its own tag, ear-eating, in which a number of fans engage in a macabre discussion of precisely this subject. (My personal favourite: a mathematical calculation of how long it would take to digest a human ear.)
This is Bryan Fuller’s explanation, in case you weren’t already frightened of our showrunner’s grotesque imagination. And somewhere in the S2 spoiler post is a note of which future episode will explain how Hannibal forced Will to ingest it. (2.02, maybe?)
Thank you! And oh, good question.
This scene is important because it’s not only Hannibal’s first real scene with us the audience; it’s also his first meeting with Jack.
Interestingly, the “Wound Man” image in Hannibal’s office isn’t mentioned in the pilot script; it was added during filming. On a basic level, it tells us about Hannibal’s relationship to the existing canon. Integral to the show is the (counterintuitive) idea that the crimes of Hannibal Lecter have ‘already’ been committed, because the original canon story already exists. So the show itself is like one of Will’s reconstructions of a crime: Hannibal has stepped back in time, wiped clean the name of Hannibal Lecter, and is moving slowly but inexorably forward as it ‘reconstructs’ his past murders. Every detail is potentially meaningful; and what you see depends on how familiar you are with the Lecter mythos. So if you’ve read Red Dragon or seen the films, you’ll know that the discovery of the medieval “Wound Man" diagram in that office is what enables Will Graham to identify Hannibal Lecter as the Chesapeake Ripper. It’s a symbol of Hannibal’s medieval brutality, right there in the room.
Hannibal is on the defensive: presumably he’s already killing, and suddenly an FBI agent, who knew one of his victims, arrives without warning at his office. For the first half of the scene, Hannibal believes Jack is investigating him. He has left his scalpel on that table—like in “Trou Normand”, when Will confronts him about concealing Abigail’s crimes, Hannibal is prepared to kill as a last resort.
The drawing seems like a test. As you say, Hannibal has plenty of time to conceal that image; yet he doesn’t. I think Hannibal already knows about Jack’s relationship with Miriam (argued here) and that he is certainly mocking Jack. But more importantly, Hannibal wants to know the kind of adversary he’s working against, and whether Jack has any suspicions about him. So as Jack inspects the drawings, Hannibal initially keeps his distance, observing Jack’s reaction.
(To quote the script: “[Hannibal] listens to Jack, eyes drifting to the F.B.I. Agent’s jugular.” Yes, it actually says that.)
But Jack doesn’t notice the Wound Man, and certainly doesn’t make the imaginative leap to the Ripper’s mutilated victim. Jack’s remark, “The amount of detail is incredible,” is important—as Hannibal himself says, the devil is in the details. Jack’s is a practical intelligence; he doesn’t intuitively grasp the imaginative detail and abstract symbolism of Hannibal’s grisly art—which is why Jack needs to “borrow” Will’s imagination. For the viewer, it’s a first glimpse of the kind of games that Hannibal is going to play with the FBI; and that Hannibal is going to play with its audience. And it shows that the FBI is suffering from a chronic lack of imagination. This is why Hannibal has eluded capture for so long; and this is why Will is so important and so necessary if the FBI is going to catch “the Ripper”.
(For this reason, I sort of take issue with “Entree” giving Will’s inspiration to Miriam, brilliant though she is. Having established Will’s distinctive gifts, to have another character exhibit similar gifts diminishes our sense of Will’s peculiarity. But I can understand, given the complex and non-canonical pre-Red-Dragon relationship that’s being created between Will & Hannibal, that the show would want to find its own climactic moment of recognition.)
[For anyone else, Bryan Fuller discusses Raspail / Gumb here.]
I think Bryan Fuller’s solution—Franklyn Froideveaux (Benjamin Raspail; connection explained here) & Tobias Budge (Jame Gumb)—was pretty damn clever, given that the scripts had to allow for the (very remote) possibility that MGM might let them use Raspail & Gumb in future.
For me, Franklyn & Tobias aren’t substitutes for Raspail & Gumb; they’re entirely new characters. (And there’s no Klaus.) The only strong parallel is that Franklyn is Hannibal’s patient and he brings another serial killer, Tobias, into Hannibal’s path. Otherwise, the relationship dynamic is wholly different: the queer text has been removed, and replaced with subtext. Franklyn has no known past or present lovers; he certainly doesn’t have his dead lover’s head in a jar. In fact, Franklyn’s life is so unremarkable that he becomes fascinated by the idea of psychopaths; and he becomes infatuated not with Klaus but with Hannibal himself. Franklyn admits strong affection for Tobias, but vehemently rejects Hannibal’s suggestion that he might ‘desire Tobias sexually’; I read him as queer, but YMMV. Either way, he’s a mildly neurotic character mostly played for awkward comedy, only vaguely resembling his literary version.
Tobias is almost nothing like Gumb. Unlike Gumb, he’s an inexplicable sadist & serial killer: we don’t know what in his past, if anything, drove him to murder; and why he chose now to bring himself to Hannibal’s attention. Tobias murders a member of the Baltimore Orchestra, Douglas Wilson (x), for being awful trombonist, and not because he was having an affair with Franklyn. (In SotL Raspail was killed by Hannibal for being a terrible flautist, and his organs served up to the rest of the orchestra.) According to Franklyn, Tobias doesn’t return his feelings—although Tobias is attentive to Franklyn looking at another man (Hannibal) during the opera. Tobias really acts as a foil for Hannibal, showing how he’s different from an ordinary psychopath.
What we got of Franklyn & Tobias’s story was great, but limited. I would’ve liked to have had more, because Hannibal encountering another highly sophisticated & intelligent serial killer was fascinating. We learned so little about either Franklyn or Tobias, their history, their relationship… Of all the ‘killers of the week’, Tobias certainly had the most potential; but ultimately he and Franklyn served to shed light on Hannibal and his personal relationships, which is why they weren’t very well-rounded.
As for the Raspail/Gumb arc… tricky. Sexuality is central to the that plotline and connected to the characters’ respective pathologies, rather than being incidental. Up to this point no character in Hannibal has been identified as queer, and I think it’d be pretty unpleasant to have the first explicitly queer characters appear in this plotline as it’s written in the books. I think the show will have to seriously downplay the unpleasant connotations, hopefully after establishing elsewhere that queer ≠ pathology. It’s difficult to speculate at this stage, because we don’t know whether Hannibal will get the rights to Buffalo Bill, or whether that character will have to be altered. But knowing Bryan Fuller, you can count on a head in a jar :P
Ha ha, I was being sort of facetious; but I don’t think it’s completely out of the question! [Warning: overthinking ahead.]
Hannibal does waste good food, all the time. If he were dedicated to ‘honouring every part’ of his victims, he would take all of their organs and flesh and blood, etc. His killing spree in “Sorbet” is horribly wasteful: he takes one organ from each victim (spleen, pancreas, heart, kidney, intestines), and leaves the rest behind. He’s perfectly happy to use his victims for more trivial reasons (like Miriam’s arm to shame and enrage Jack) because he has no respect or regard for them.
Hannibal’s office is a very important space for him, full of significant symbols and items—where we know he’s killed three people, if not more—and that red wall looks so deliberate and provocative. I mean, the colour red increases arousal (“passion is good; gets blood pumping”, as Hannibal would say) and possibly appetite in people who look at it, so when the audience is shown a shot of one of Hannibal’s patients with the red wall as a backdrop, it’s sort of mimicking for the audience what Hannibal sees when he looks at a person: prey; food. Red paint which contained people would be the sort of gleeful, macabre inside joke that Hannibal relishes.
So maybe the paint is people :P
I make my own : ) I have all of the episodes in 1080p resolution, and I screencap them myself, because usually I’m after a particular shot or sequence of shots.
With any other show I’d probably settle for standard definition (480p) or 720p, but Hannibal is so visually detailed and vivid that I always want to screencap in the highest resolution available. (Also, as David Slade notes, they don’t light the show, they ‘darken’ it, which means that a lot of detail is lost at lower resolutions.)
If you’re after screencaps, there are logoless 720p screencaps here; and I’m sure a quick Google search will turn up logoless 1080p.
We’ve probably been hanging out in different parts of tumblr, because I’ve only ever seen good things about Abigail. Hope you don’t mind that I butt in! I, personally, dislike her immensely, but that has nothing to do with her character, as much as the way she’s written.
Which is why it bothers me that she’s so underdeveloped.
Abigail suffers from the typical female character syndrome; we don’t know anything about her outside of her relationships to various men.
No, I don’t mind at all—this is a legitimate criticism. I think that Hannibal, while more responsible and imaginative than the majority of dramas in its approach to female characters, arguably still has a female character problem.
[I’ve made the same criticism; and particularly regarding Bedelia, who is so completely defined by her relationship to Hannibal that some viewers wondered whether she was simply a product of his imagination / memory. I think a similar criticism could be made about Alana, who is largely defined by her relationships with men, although her dialogue goes further in giving us a sense of her inner life.]
Regarding Abigail, it’s a problem that her narrative is defined by first her murderous father, and then—if she really is dead—her murderous father-surrogate. Her conversation with Alana in 1.03 (which I think is incidentally the moment that the show passes the Bechdel test) suggested that her narrative going forward would be very much her own; but her subsequent scenes don’t always make good on that.
For me, much of Abigail’s story is implicit rather than explicit because the show wishes to keep her true motivations and feelings somewhat obscure and ambiguous; but I agree that she is neglected. I think some of that is simply that in the first draft Abigail’s role was more minor: originally, the writers intended to kill another character, but chose Abigail instead because they felt it would have greater impact. This gives her narrative an importance in retrospect that perhaps isn’t supported by the earlier episodes, particularly as she’s completely absent between the end of 1.04 and the beginning of 1.09. For me, Abigail’s death is powerful and affecting; but it would have been more so if we’d had a greater & deeper sense of the life being destroyed.
Thanks! : ) I love Abigail; and what I love most about her is that it’s difficult to get a fix on her.
She isn’t an innocent—but there really aren’t any innocents in the world of Hannibal: even the children are killers. In the absence of an explanation, her father’s obsession with killing her, or the surrogate Abigails, is just an unfathomable, irrational, and insatiable desire for her destruction, and Abigail has grown up in the shadow of that. We know that the price of her life was the lives of eight girls; but the show leaves the degree of her guilt unclear. In 1.03 Abigail’s dream depicts her with (literal) blood on her hands long before she stabs Nick Boyle; and I think showing her several times with the hunting knife suggests that Abigail herself has become a kind of weapon—cold, sharp, ruthless—because the ruling principle of her life has been kill or be killed.
But the fact that she responds to Nick Boyle’s assault by brutally and efficiently stabbing him to death suggests that it has become a reflex—as Hannibal no doubt suspected when he created that situation. Growing up with her father’s murderous impulses, unknowingly consuming the flesh of his victims, has given Abigail a “taste for murder”. She tells Will that “it felt good” to kill Nick; she relishes the power it gives her. She hasn’t forgiven her father; instead, she wishes she had been able to kill him herself.
And yet, she isn’t simply wicked: her nightmares, her strange behaviour, the flashes of grief, suggest that she carries deep guilt and remorse about her involvement in the girls’ murders, and for killing Nick Boyle, even as she excuses those actions as self-defence. She also has a deep and tragic longing for family and belonging and acceptance, so powerful that it overrides her reasoned suspicions about Hannibal; and I think that’s a vital part of her humanity.
costumesofhannibal replied to your post “i loved your post on why abigail might not be dead. i love her character and you put it so well, including things i didn’t even think of. thanks so much for writing it!”
Yeah…why do so many people hate her? I never understood that one. Thoughts?
I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, because I’m not so dogmatically in love with her that I can’t imagine disliking her.
Abigail is a difficult character. At various moments she’s cold, abrasive, defensive, changeable, manipulative, deceptive, and violent. Having been an accessory to the murder of eight innocent girls, she then murdered Nick Boyle, arguably without proper justification, and concealed it from the authorities; and in doing so, colluded with a man whom she knew to have been involved with the murders committed by her father, and who viciously attacked Alana Bloom before her eyes.
Abigail’s also a troubling character because she is constantly performing: we are never quite certain that the remorse, guilt, and grief she displays are genuine. Her morality is certainly warped; and I suppose it could be argued that she’s amoral.
But I also think some viewers allow Abigail less sympathy because:
- murderous female anti-heroes are somehow less acceptable than murderous cannibal male anti-heroes;
- they forget that she has been the victim of prolonged and terrible psychological abuse, and that Hannibal’s treatment of her was also horribly abusive;
- her behaviour is inconsistent and sometimes seems illogical, even though many other characters—Jack, Will, Alana, Hannibal—are inconsistent and illogical in their actions;
- because she is the female character who ‘comes between’ the two male leads;
- she’s defiant and unapologetic and independent-minded;
- she refuses to be intimidated by Hannibal, and instead goes against his orders & presents a bold, significant challenge to his control over the board of play;
- she doesn’t neatly fit into a female “type”: she isn’t infantilised or demonised or sexualised;
- because she is not charming and seductive and a wealthy silver-tongued socialite gourmet, but instead she’s awkward and emotional and rough around the edges, with no resources but her wits.
There are perfectly valid reasons for disliking her; but when the dislike becomes utter seething hatred, there’s probably something ideological in the background that needs unpicking.
[I think she’s fantastic and god, can we have more female characters with this kind of darkness and complexity and interest, please.]
I don’t think that Will has fallen completely under Hannibal’s control because my argument still holds the idea that Will’s spirit maintains some power in the situation and works to protect him.
I think it’s the terms I’m failing to understand. If Will’s “spirit”, which seems an unconscious force, isn’t part of his conscious will, if it acts in contradiction to that, then arguably he isn’t exercising free will when it intervenes because it’s more akin to an involuntary reflex.
But I do think Hannibal has had some success with Will, and I don’t think there’s any ambiguity at all in Will’s intentions: he gives in to the temptation when he lifts the gun and tries to shoot.
To me, Will raising the gun and trying to fire is an act of desperation, fuelled by brain-fever & lapses in sense of reality. He doesn’t know whether he truly intends to kill Hannibal, but he understands that he has no more options and that this is the last moment in which he can act of his own free will before he is disarmed and imprisoned. He might never have this chance again to destroy Hannibal; and yet, because he is not a killer by choice, because he fully grasps who he is and recognises that he is not like Hannibal in crucial ways, he still hesitates.
And I don’t think you should sell yourself short: Bryan Fuller doesn’t retweet everything that gets sent to him by a long shot.
I don’t mean to subtract from it: if he retweeted it, he probably approves of it! But I don’t think that equals a total endorsement of what it expresses—just as BF retweeting sexy Hannigram pictures does not mean that it accurately reflects their relationship within the show :P
I mean, seriously, there’s a reason why you’re known as the best Hannibal meta on Tumblr, and it isn’t because you’re simply enthusiastic.
Oh goodness, no, I’m just the noisiest!
Our interpretations on this matter obviously reflect our own values as much as anything else, and I think, ironically, we’re motivated by the same things: certain ideas that we see as cheapening or diminishing the two primary characters, and largely for the same reasons. It’s just how we resolve those things that’s different.
Yes, absolutely :D The interplay of power is so deep and strange and nuanced, the culmination of hours of character interaction and conflict and cooperation—and psychological abuse—that naturally every viewer has a different response. But we’re both trying to resist simplistic readings of it, and particularly of Will, which is always to the good.
My interpretation comes from how seriously I take the idea that Will’s character and his relationship to Hannibal is based around the line from Red Dragon where Hannibal tells Will: “The reason you caught me is that we’re just alike" (x—Bryan misquotes it here, but that’s the original line). This informs a lot of how I understand what happens on the show: it’s the lens through which I view it.
I don’t want to steal the wind from your sails, because I think that’s a great post, but I’ve had a couple of my posts retweeted by BF, which I take as more an expression of his appreciation for fan enthusiasm than a total endorsement of the content : )
I think Hannibal values Will immensely, and finds him fascinating; but I don’t think Hannibal is willing to sacrifice his own life to have Will realise his potential. Hannibal believes the world exists for his benefit, which enables him to use others as tools. He doesn’t want Will to shoot him. And he has engineered the situation so that Will won’t be able to because Jack will intervene. He just wants Will to fully experience that powerful desire to kill, the visceral anticipation of how good it would feel to kill Hannibal, to recognise the killer in himself.
I think there’s perhaps an inconsistency in your argument: by arguing that Hannibal wanted Will to shoot him, and engineered the situation to produce that outcome, you’re actually arguing that Will has fallen completely under Hannibal’s control, and that Will’s attempt to shoot Hannibal isn’t an act of defiance but of compliance. I like the ambiguity because it allows Will to retain a degree of resistance.
I think that scene in “Savoureux” is particularly great because it demonstrates both Will’s power and Hannibal’s power. Will’s triumph is one of knowledge: a moment in which he recognises Hannibal for what he is (although not completely; he doesn’t know that Hannibal is also the Ripper). But Hannibal has complete control of the physical facts of the scene: he has Will in a cage, and Will’s options are few. So yes, I am arguing that Will has very little physical freedom at that moment: the trap that Hannibal has laid has shut around him. And I think it’s deliberately ambiguous as to whether Will intends to shoot Hannibal, whether he intends to shoot to kill, whether he wants to utterly destroy Hannibal. He certainly wants to shoot Hannibal, and I think that he desperately struggles with that impulse: this is a temptation scene.
I definitely agree that it’s important to take a broader view of Hannibal’s power: the end of S1 marks the moment at which he has the greatest power; it’s all downhill from here. Although I think the world of the show will continue to largely reflect his psychology, I think it will open up as other characters become significant and powerful and Hannibal himself diminishes in power. I don’t think the killers are solely expressions of Hannibal—because at certain points their actions create problems (e.g. Georgia)—but I think they are echoes of him. I do think the ‘Hannibal as Satan’ mythology is vital: there’s a reason that BF refers to it in just about every interview, as Mads does. Hannibal shouldn’t be reduced to that archetype, but it certainly informs every act he performs, and the supernatural power he exercises. I think the series goes to some lengths to show that while Will is intelligent and dangerous and extraordinary in his gifts, Hannibal is fundamentally Other—some sort of beautiful, tragic, ineffable evil that can’t be fully explained in human terms. Hannibal’s statement that they are “just alike” is another manipulation, an attempt to push Will toward fully realising what Hannibal sees as his ‘potential’, and Will sees as a curse.
[No problem! I love debating this show with smart, insightful people.]
I’m not trying to suggest that anything that you’ve said here is untrue, because I agree with all of it. What I’m suggesting is sort of two-fold:
- All the serial killers have the capacity to make the world bend to them, some to a greater extent than others, and Hannibal to the greatest extent. If this is true, then Will has that capacity as well by virtue of the killer that’s one part of his nature.
- If Will has this quality, then it stands to reason he also can enforce his morality on the world around him as well.
I don’t think it detracts from Will’s heroism in any way by saying that the world helps prevent him from killing; rather, I’m trying to say that the fact that he doesn’t kill again actually reflects the power of his will over his circumstances. You say, “Will is determined to view killing with moral seriousness, not hedonistic hubris like Hannibal.” What I am trying to say is that this is the world’s way of responding to that choice Will makes, to protect him when he doesn’t have a choice.
I think this is where your argument confuses me: “this is the world’s way of responding to that choice Will makes, to protect him when he doesn’t have a choice”. If you’re ascribing that level of consciousness to it, I don’t think it can be simultaneously helpful and harmful to him.
I don’t think the world ever protects Will. I think it is at best indifferent, at worst hostile, to him. For me, the entire universe of the show is a reflection of Hannibal—he doesn’t completely dominate it, but it has his aesthetic sensibility, his heightened view of the (melo)drama of life, his twisted sense of humour, his musical tastes, his love of strange metaphorical language, it’s full of murder, etc. Perhaps I’m giving Hannibal too much credit, but I do think the show bears his name for a reason.
I think Will is able to resist the pressures of that world as they bear down upon him and his mind; I don’t think he’s able to bend it to his will. I think the only character who can do that is Hannibal, and that the serial killers are in some ways aspects of Hannibal (they’re certainly not fully realised characters in their own right), and so extensions of Hannibal’s power (Hannibal as Satan, etc.). I think Will himself is not an extension of Hannibal—he is, as Hannibal says, “unique”, which is why he is so fascinating—and doesn’t have that power. He only has ordinary, limited, human will.
And I disagree about the potential murders. I think Will couldn’t kill Tobias because Tobias was simply too strong, and had the advantage of being on “home ground”—I mean, even Hannibal struggled to kill Tobias, almost lost that fight. And I think that Will, even in a desperately compromised state, endeavoured not to kill Gideon (because Gideon’s story mirrors his own in many ways, it would be like an act of self-destruction)—although I agree that it’s left ambiguous. I don’t think Will intended to kill Hannibal, as that would wholly put an end to any possibility of arguing for his innocence; but whatever intentions he had were overridden by Hannibal’s supreme control of that scene.
That’s Eldon Stammets, the mushroom guy. Will’s bullet connects with his shoulder, disarming him and knocking him to the ground, but not killing him. They then have the conversation about reintroducing Abigail to the concept of evolving from mycelia, then the scene cuts away. He doesn’t die.
Ha ha, yes, realised as soon as I clicked “reply”! :P
I think I depart from your view in that I don’t think the universe of the show bends around Will to keep him from having to kill. In a sense, the audience has watched Will commit appalling acts of murder in every single episode: it occurs within his mind-space, but it’s no less shocking and horrific and compelling, not least because we know it’s partly involuntary—Will can’t help but imagine it. And the world around Will seems determined to press these horrific situations upon him, forcing him to imaginatively rehearse them over and over, as if driving him to become that murderer in real time and space.
For me, the conflict is rooted in the character. Will’s empathy enables him to understand and experience the allure and the visceral pleasure of murder. And he has been greatly tempted by it, as shown in his conversation with Abigail in “Releves”, when he confesses that killing Hobbs made him feel “powerful” (as opposed to righteous), which is a strikingly amoral response. I think it’s interesting that later in the season we see Will visibly enjoying murder. This is because he’s mimicking Abel Gideon (murder of the nurse in 1.06, murders in the prison van in 1.12), but the undeniable effect is that it seems Will himself is deriving a perverse pleasure from killing.
I think Will’s great struggle is to not give in to that: to resist the pressures of his environment which would make him the sort of monster that he himself hunts. If anything, I think the world of the show bends to Hannibal’s extraordinary power, creating situations in which Will might be forced to commit lethal violence (Hobbs was just the beginning; Hannibal drove him into Tobias’s path, and then again into a confrontation with Gideon). But Will is determined to view killing with moral seriousness, not hedonistic hubris like Hannibal. He makes that conscious choice—that he will not become a killer, and indulge those impulses—again and again (his name is, after all, “Will”), and I think that’s what makes him heroic.