Le quois?* Amuse-Bouche (n): …a single, bite-sized horse-oeuvre. Amuse-bouches are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but, when served, are done so for free and according to the chef’s selection alone. These, often accompanied by a complementing wine, are served both to prepare the guest for the meal and to offer a glimpse into the chef’s approach to the art of cuisine. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amuse-bouche)
First thoughts: Hooooly shit you guys, this episode was good. Like, really good. The horror is even more intense—antler room, mushroom people, the living dead—and now that we’ve nailed down the show’s premise, they’ve even got time for some much-appreciated humor. Not that this show is a comedy, but the characters are making jokes, and it’s really humanizing. Also, I was disappointed by the lack of witty Caroline Dhavernas in the last episode, and they totally made up for it this time around.
Alright, now let’s get down to business.
Will’s having nightmares about Garret Jacob Hobbes (GJH), the killer from the last episode. And, oh hey, here they are at Hobbes’ cabin, now a crime scene. I like that the crime-a-week thing isn’t interfering with continuity. It looks like this show is going to be one story, which is exciting. We don’t need another bland crime drama where the unlikely duo of an FBI consultant and his shrink solve crimes. Even if one of them is a cannibal, it still would have been lame. This way, we get character development. And, oh man, is that ever satisfying.
While Jack and Will investigate Hobbes’ super-creepy antler room for clues about where he hid the seven other bodies, it becomes apparent that however Will feels about killing the killer, it’s starting to affect his work in the field. He’s pretty shaken up, which is understandable. I’ve never shot a guy ten times, or at all, but it seems like it’d be kind of a big deal. Jack thinks that Abigail Hobbes—killer’s daughter, left in a coma after her dad cut her throat—might have been working with her father. Will’s convinced that the GJH worked alone, but has he gotten too close to the comatose girl? More on that after the show’s bitchin’ new credits sequence. Oh, but before that, Will finds a long strand of red hair at the crime scene, and we cut to a mysterious naked redheaded…ah, she’s the tabloid journalist who’s been leaking crime scene photos on the interwebs. Okay, now we can go to the credits.
So Will is still teaching, apparently. And being commended for saving Abigail, though he clearly hates the standing ovation his students give him when he enters the room. And it looks like these day-time nightmares are still a thing. Is it guilt, or something else? I will totally answer that question in like a few paragraphs.
Caroline Dhavernas gets to do more than look serious in this episode, and as I said before, that makes me very happy. Will has a friend! She’s witty! They have banter! In fact, this show has seen like a 50% increase in character-enriching banter since the last episode. Soon, they’ll have collected enough wits to power a sizeable electric car. See what I did there? I substituted “wits” for “watts.” My God, does that sentence ever sound ridiculous if you say it out loud.
Jack is more overtly pressuring Will to get psycho-analyzed. And by that I mean that he tells Will to get an evaluation from, surprise surprise, Dr. Lecter. Will, of course, is not thrilled by the prospect. “Therapy doesn’t work on me.” I do like that the evaluation isn’t a formality, but something for Jack’s own peace of mind. Hannibal was right in the last episode when he observed that Jack treats Will like a piece of fine China. Again, I’ll touch back on that later.
Therapy is interesting. When Will gets there, Hannibal has already filled out the evaluation, so that their conversation can “proceed unobstructed by paperwork.” And guys, it is a good conversation. I cannot stress this enough, but this show is doing some really awesome stuff with its characters. Hannibal’s being frank about his feelings of responsibility for Abigail, or is he? I think he might just be saying what he thinks that Will is feeling, in order to draw him out of his protective shell to get at the gooey Will in the center. That was a weird image. Yeah, it was like half-turtle half-jelly donut. Let’s never speak of this again.
Possible manipulation aside, Hannibal actually gives Will some good advice: “the mirrors in your mind can reflect the best of yourself, not the worst of someone else.” Whatever his intentions, Dr. Lecter certainly understands his patient, and it looks like Will is beginning to trust this perceptive psychiatrist. Which, as we all know, is a terrible idea.
And now we get to this week’s serial killer. Some teenagers on a hike (suck it, X-Box) come across corpses and…mushrooms? Shit’s about to get weird, man.
Meanwhile, several hours later: Will’s back at the shooting range, giving himself some good old-fashioned gun therapy. Beverly Katz (Hettienne Park)—one of the FBI science people—shows up to get some more screen-time, and, aw yeah, banter. This script is so good, even the supporting characters have good lines and real development.
Now on to the weird shit! This week’s killer buries diabetics alive, keeping them in comas with an IV drip. And, even better, he’s using them as fertilizer to grow mushrooms. While Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki), the mysterious redhead journalist, watches in the wings and chats up a local cop, Will gets ready to do his empathy thing. It’s obviously taking its toll, and halfway through he sees GJH again. When he comes out of his unhappy place, he’s kneeling next to one of the half-rotted bodies. Which then grabs his arm. It’s not a hallucination. One of the victims isn’t quite dead. And you can see his teeth. Through his face. I actually said “oh my God that actually happened” out loud when watching that. Spoiler, though: he/she/couldn’t-really-tell-at-this-point dies on the way to the hospital.
After that lovely turn of events, it’s back to therapy. Will tells Hannibal about seeing Hobbes at the crime scene, then talk goes to mushrooms and connectivity. Will leaves and, oh hey, there’s Freddie Lounds listening at the door. Seems that she’s made an appointment with Hannibal. It doesn’t take the good doctor long to see through her, and the show gives us another nice bit of misdirection. Hannibal calls her out in a very tense scene, then tells her: “you’ve been very rude, Miss Lounds. What’s to be done about that?” Cut to Hannibal serving “pork” to Jack. Is the journalist dead? Nope. But I kind of thought she was for the five minutes between her scenes. That trick is going to get me every single time.
Dinner scene! Once again, this show delivers two of my favorite things: scenes of Mads Mikkelsen eating, and character development. This time, we get to know Jack a little better. As usual, he’s friendly, warm, and confident, but Hannibal manages to find a crack, asking why Jack is so afraid of losing Will. Jack deflects the questions pretty quickly, but, get this, they’re setting up for character development in later episodes. That is so cool.
Okay, I’m getting a bit long-winded now. We can fast-forward through some parts. Will and the scientists figure out that the victims were diabetics! The killer is a pharmacist! Hannibal has let Freddie live! She posts something stupid about Will on the web and the killer escapes just as the FBI are closing in! They find a live victim locked in the trunk of his car and buried in fertilizer! Laurence Fishburne is scary when he shouts! The FBI briefly arrests Freddie and Jack tells her that they found her hair at the spooky-ass antler room! Jack tells her that he won’t arrest her if she stops posting shit about Will!
Phew. So where does that bring us? Will’s having another nightmare, this time at the hospital. Looks like the creepy stag from the last episode is back. Even better, we get, wait for it, a character development scene with Will and Alana! We get to see them interact as friends, and Will finally admits that killing GJH made him feel…good. Now that is interesting. Sadly, the whole show can’t just be characters sitting around and being friends and overcoming trauma. There’s this little thing called plot that all the kids are into.
The killer goes to Freddie, kills a cop, and asks her to tell him everything she knows about Will. Naturally, she does. Since he wants to connect with Will, he kidnaps Abigail. Not just to draw Will out, but to let Will “connect” with her the way he connects with his victims. Aidan Devine, playing the killer, really nails this scene, actually managing to make “mushroom connectivity” a believable serial killer shtick. Will stops him in the nick of time, shooting him in the shoulder.
The episode ends with another great therapy scene. Will admits that he liked killing Hobbes, and that scares him. He’s been trying to convince himself that it felt good because it was the right thing to do, but he and Hannibal know better. Hannibal suggests, through an analogy about God, that the pleasure came from power, not righteousness. Again, what they’re doing with Will’s character is really intriguing.
One more thing before I sign off, though. That confession begs the question: is Will convinced that Abigail is innocent because of the evidence, or because her guilt would complicate the satisfaction he feels from having killer her father? You guys, they are going all out with this character development stuff. It’s like he’s a real person and so is everyone else and I’m just so happy and ahhh I can’t wait for the next episode.
Recap of the Recap: This episode has even more horror, humor, and character development than the first. In short, everything I wanted but was too nervous to ask Santa for. It’s like Christmas. Or…MurderChristmas. Murdermas? Halloween. Oh. Duh.
Tune in next Saturday for my recap of episode trois, “Potage,” which, without looking it up, means: “a marijuana-laced cottage cheese. Popular in Vermont.”
*Literally French for “the what?”