Rooster Recap: ‘Hannibal’ Episode 5: “Coquilles”

Well, this thing is a bit late, as are the next two. Kids, if anyone ever asks if you want two jobs, say yes (because, you know, moneh), but be prepared to have less energy for doing stuff. So much less energy. But enough about me. Let’s talk about cannibals.

Le quois? “Coquilles (n., pl.): Any of various seafood or chicken dishes baked with a sauce and usually served in a scallop shell or a shell-shaped serving dish. (Source:

First thoughts: Okay, does *every* killer need to tie in to Will’s personal problems?

The stag returns! I’m really digging that raven-feathered beast, in case you guys hadn’t picked up on that. Unsurprisingly, it looks like this whole GJH thing is really getting to Will. Now he’s started sleepwalking. I really liked that the cops who find him are pretty decent guys. Especially the one who does most of the talking. I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in a rural area, or because I’m a quiet middle class white kid who pretty much stays out of trouble, but most of the police men and women that I’ve met have come across as decent people just doing their jobs. Seeing that made the scene feel more real. Hey, the world of this show is full of normal dudes just doing their jobs and here are some of them being cautiously helpful to this crazy man in his underwear.

Hey bud I am a normal person who is a cop and you are kind of freaking me out right now.

Hey bud I am a normal person who is a cop and you are kind of freaking me out right now.

It’s a small thing, but this show has so many small things that I like. If I didn’t talk about them, then these Recaps would just be me regurgitating plot details with a little sarcasm and some fangirling about Caroline Dhavernas and character development and hahaha who wants that?

Fortunately for Will, Hannibal’s kitchen is always open to friends. Yayyyyyy. Less fortunately, Hannibal is a psychopath, and he’s still trying to drive a wedge between Jack and Will. Was Will manipulated into helping the FBI? Not really. Is he being manipulated right now? Yes. Yes he is. It’s understandable, though. He’s exhausted and plagued by nightmares and guilt and fear and some pretty mixed feelings about that time he killed a guy. No wonder he feels like an old mug.

Next, we’re introduced to the new killer, who can set people on fi-uh with his mind.

Don’t you wanna know how we keep starting fires?

Don’t you wanna know how we keep starting fires?

Wait, scratch that. This man has no telekinetic powers. He does have a weird religious thing, which you nerds should eat right up. Speaking of eating, you should probs hold off on that pizza while you’re watching this. Unless you really dig spines and seeing the flesh peeled back from a man’s bones, in which case hey, maybe don’t go to Sandy’s party tonight. She’s kind of seeing that guy Todd, and I have the feeling that you might not handle rejection well.

So, yeah, this week’s Serial Killer of the Week turns people into “angels.” And then has their corpses watch over him when he sleeps. As far as gross killer shticks go, this one’s pretty neat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel particularly necessary here. More on that later, though.

In the meantime, yay, Beverly’s back! I’ve always enjoyed her interactions with our boy Will, and it’s good to see that they’re giving her some more to do. She’s a secondary character and she’s interesting! Allow me to literally jump for joy ohhh God my laptop.

Will using his empathy power is more interesting for the toll it’s taking on him than the revelations we get about the angel-maker: “I allow you to become angels, and now I lay me down to sleep.” Yeah, it’s chilling stuff, but I’m not watching this show for the serial killers. I’m watching it for one serial killer and a whole lot of character development. Blood and gore are cool, sure, but I’m all about people talking and eating fancy meals made of implied cannibalism and gourmet cheese.

Hey, speaking of food and conversation, Hannibal finally got Jack’s wife over for dinner. It seems like Jack and Bella have an interesting dynamic—which I really would have loved to see developed over another episode before this one—and the latter’s conversation with Hannibal about ethical butchers says a lot about her. It also sets up Hannibal for one of the episode’s best lines: ““It was an especially supercilious pig.” Trust me, it’s great in contest. Also, Hannibal has a smelling power! He can smell things really well!

It’s like a sixth sense. Oh, wait, no…uh, fourth sense?

It’s like a sixth sense. Oh, wait, no…uh, fourth sense?

Okay, I know I was complaining about the superfluous killer earlier, but don’t think that this episode is light on character stuff. Bev and Will have a good moment in the lab with the Jim Morrison quote, and they’ve got a great conversation coming up in, like three or four scenes. Hang in there.

I have mixed feelings about Bella’s “therapy” session with Hannibal. Why didn’t they just come out and say that she has cancer? Did we really need the “maybe she’s having an affair” misdirect? This is only her second episode, so we haven’t had much time to connect with her, but her character is developing, and we need to empathize with her for that development to work. Gina Torres gives a solid performance here, but her whole subplot feels rushed. We’ve connected with Jack, so the way he feels about all this has a much bigger impact.

Meanwhile, or I guess later, Hannibal continues trying to drive Will and Jack apart. I feel like he’s pushing a little too hard. Eventually, Will’s going to wonder just why Hannibal wants him separated from the FBI so much. But what would a conversation between Hannibal and Will be without some comparison to the Serial Killer of the week? This time, Will’s careful about being self-destructive, just like the killer! Okay, that’s valid. Will’s never been open about his emotions, but now they’re starting to seriously mess with his mind, and if he doesn’t find some release he’ll crack like fine china. Still, we probably could have gotten there without the obligatory “hey, Will, this killer guy reminds me of your emotional problems!”

Aaand the angel-maker castrated himself. Lovely. Will’s theory is that he wants to be more like angels, which don’t have genitals, but they also don’t have wings, so…what’s up, guy?

Ha. “What’s up?” Because he’s tied to some scaffolding in an alley. Hilarious.

Ha. “What’s up?” Because he’s tied to some scaffolding in an alley. Hilarious.

Hannibal’s hard work is paying off, because Will has started to get a little uppity with Jack. And boy, does Jack ever know how to handle insubordination. He shuts down Will quicker than the University broke up your underground cockfighting ring. Which I’m implying is pretty fast. Ugh. Look, they’re not all gonna be gold, you guys.

Yaaay character development with Beverly and Will! This is a great conversation, and I was hyperbolically devastated when the awkward timing fairy showed up to deliver some exposition.

Hey, could you maybe give us five minutes? We were kind of developing a friendship here.

Hey, could you maybe give us five minutes? We were kind of developing a friendship here.

The whole “oh wait but the killer is actually killing bad people” thing is just ridiculous. Is it luck? Has he done his research? If it’s God guiding him, why don’t they make that a thing? Seriously, no one in the lab is going to look into this any further? Are we just supposed to accept that he has psychic visions like it’s no big thing? Throw me a bone here.

Hey, surprise! Jack’s wife has cancer. And feelings! Again, it would have been nice if she’d gotten more than one short scene in a previous episode before they jumped into all this. That having been said, Gina Torres and some solid dialogue are kind of making up for lost time.

Will is still sleepwalking, and Hannibal is still manipulating him with varying degrees of subtlety. Smelling Will made for a good creepy moment, but I feel like that’s kind of a red flag right there. “And while I’m telling you that, like this angel-themed psychopath with a brain tumor, you’re just a guy whose mind is playing tricks on him, here’s some advice about aftershave!”

The scene where Jack realizes that his wife has cancer is seriously good. So good that it almost makes up for having an unnecessary Killer of the Week. Most of what makes it work so well is Laurence Fishburne’s acting. Man, he is on fire in this episode. There’s a pun in there somewhere, because the angel-maker…ehh, never mind. The way his personal shit ties in with the killer’s personal shit is, I suppose, clever, but then Will’s personal shit also ties in, and I’m not sure how much weight this one killer can bear.

Probably not much, at this point.

Probably not much, at this point.

Will doesn’t know if he can do this anymore. That sentence was a long time coming, but I don’t think that Will needed a symbolic killer to figure that out. We definitely didn’t need the scene where Will sees himself through the killer’s eyes. Yes, we know that he’s conflicted about killing GJH. Remember all that sleepwalking? That told us the same thing, but with 100% more creepy stag.  I did like that Jack doesn’t scold him or baby him. Dude’s got plenty to worry about without telling Will how to fix his life. He trusts him to make the right decision, because he respects him. Because they’re friends. And Bella’s cancer would have been enough to help them arrive at that conclusion.

Guys, the killer doesn’t always need to subtly (or not-so-subtly, in this case) relate to the characters’ emotional problems. It can just be people meeting terrible things and, y’know, dealing with them. Or not meeting terrible things at all! I would have been totally fine with another episode where there’s no new killer and the characters are just dealing with the repercussions of stuff that’s already happened. Y’know, like real people do. Still, Jack’s talk with Bella is a good scene, and it kind of makes up for how quickly they dealt with this subplot. I wish that this had taken place over at least two episodes, though. It’s rushed.

So yeah, the killer ties into everybody’s personal stuff waaaay too neatly. But however many times this episode misses the mark, it’s still strong where it counts. At the end of the day, this episode is about being there for people. That’s kind of a running theme in the show, actually. Will’s emotional isolation is taking its toll, and he’ll need to open up to people if he wants to retain his sanity. That’s why I liked Will and Bev’s conversation by the bodies so much, and why I loved the final scene, with Will and Jack just sitting together in silence. It’s important. Hannibal may have been trying to drive the two apart, but this episode ends with their bond strengthened. Will does need an anchor. He needs people who care about him and a sense of purpose, and I think by the end of “Coquilles,” he’s starting to recognize those things in his work for the FBI. It isn’t all nightmares and guilt. He’s doing something positive, and there are people who value him. Yeah, he feels like an old mug, but old mugs are the best. They’re full of coffee and tea and sometimes wine and almost always memories. An old mug is the one you’ve kept around for years, the one you want with you for all those early mornings and rainy afternoons and yes, bottles of wine when you don’t have any glasses or they’re all dirty or hey, maybe I just feel like drinking wine from a mug, okay?

In conclusion, character development. This show is about Will finding a positive use for his empathy, and about Hannibal trying to pervert and exploit that power. Because he’s a psychopath.

Also, this is what character development looks like.

Also, this is what character development looks like.

So what do you guys think? Did Bella’s subplot work for you? What about the angel-maker? Would you have watched an episode with no Killer of the Week and more Jack talking to/about his wife?

Tune in soon-ish for my Recap of Episode 6, Entrée. And then some time not too long after that for my Recap of Episode 7, Sorbet. Don’t think of all those “soons” and “ishes” as me being “unreliable.” It’s more like I’m giving you the opportunity for a countdown to a countdown. And yes, I said that just so I could get a hat trick of linking to Electric Six songs. What’re you gonna do about it?

One thought on “Rooster Recap: ‘Hannibal’ Episode 5: “Coquilles”

  1. I didn’t like the angelmaker bit as much as the rest of the show that could have stood on its own without the angelmaking stuff and peeling skin off the bone to make wings, etc. This was the one episode that I felt went way over the top in grossing people out, as it almost grossed me out for sure. And I had to ask myself (or maybe I could ask you) how the hell did the angelmaker tie himself up there in that barn ceiling? Did he have help? Because I can’t see how he could have killed himself that way and present himself as an angel – but then, who cares?

    The show was about character development and I’ll definitely settle for that.

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