Previously: Apéritif (pilot).
My favourite scene in this episode is Beverly Katz (Hettienne Park) teaching Will how to shoot. Because, whilst Hannibal is coaxing Will into admitting that killing Garret Jacob Hobbs felt good not for the fact that he saved Abigail’s life, but for the sake of killing, whilst everything Hannibal says can be twisted into the opposite, revealing a gruelling picture of a master manipulator casting a net — there is a support network forming. A network that Hannibal is going to go to great lengths to isolate Will Graham from.
Bryan Fuller said in an interview that Red Dragon, the novel by Thomas Harris that this first season is based on, “needed more ladies.” So this episode introduces us, properly, to the ladies of Hannibal.
Alana Bloom, the genderbent friend and fellow psychiatrist, we already knew a little more about, but Amuse-Bouche tells us much more about Beverly Katz, tiber analysis specialist, and introduces for the first time to Freddie Lounds, tabloid journalist of Tattle Crime. While Freddie can’t necessarily be counted among Will’s support network as of yet (if ever), Alana and Beverly — along with Zeller and Price, the odd couple of the autopsy room — are Will’s best (and almost only) hope of escaping Hannibal Lecter with the shredded remains of his sanity firmly in his grasp.
While there is an undercurrent of awkward romance in Alana and Will’s interactions, his contact with Beverly lies firmly on the brotp side of things, and I enjoy that greatly. Even though I would wish for more direct contact between the female characters and less using the men as go-between to tie the characters together, the writers have successfully created female expert players of this game that very much confirm the radical notion that women are people. Neither of them are just archetypes that fit whichever role Will needs them to play, they’re there for their own sake and because the narrative wouldn’t work without them — the whole narrative, not just Will’s. Beverly, along with Hannibal, is the only one who can coax a smile out of Will in this episode. She also helps him improve his Weaver stance, help that Will accepts without question. She reveals to share the morbid crime scene humour of her male colleagues, without that sticking out like a sore thumb — they just work well together. It’s clear that Beverly, Zeller, and Price, have known each other for a while. They’re a unit — and of the three, Beverly is the most willing to pull Will into their circle.
Zeller (Aaron Abrams), meanwhile, has a teeny tiny problem…
Freddie used him to get information about Will Graham — the thing is, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Brian won’t be loyal to Will. If he’d known who she was, he wouldn’t have told her these things — but he also knows he shouldn’t have told anyone these things, not even just some girl he picked up at a bar. Still, it’s indicative of a current of uncertainty that probably many at the BAU feel about Will, and it resonates in Zeller and, perhaps to a lesser degree in a seemingly neutral Jimmy Price.
In the meantime, Freddie is very naughty and terribly rude. She pursues her goals, and the very fact that the pseudonym she chose for her work is gender neutral — but leading readers to assume she’d be a man — tells us a lot about her play with these conventions. Women can conquer and smear and rule just a man can, to adapt the popular quote for the purposes of this review. We love to hate Freddie Lounds — because she’s ruthless and determined and doesn’t care who she hurts to make her way in the world. Is she malicious? Yes. Is her making her way on her own like this, undetected, using society’s blindness to the fact that women are capable of being Freddie Lounds, admirable? Absolutely. She’s a bad person, but a great character. What’s more: we see her half-naked. Yet, her “villainy” isn’t connected to sex, or her gender. It’s just who she is, and that’s the point. She must have manipulated Zeller into telling her what she wanted by having sex with him — yet, that doesn’t define her. It’s just one of the many tactics she uses to get people to do her bidding. She didn’t seduce that local cop physically — and when he comes to confront her, she tries to lure him in by dangling a new job and more money in front of him. She figures out what people want and gives it to them, but getting much more in return. As such, sex is Zeller’s weakness — not hers.
Same as Will’s obvious crush on Alana, his presumably also physical attraction, doesn’t define her. She may like him back just as much, but she’s not viewed by the camera — or by us — through that lens. Alana wants to be Will’s friend, and that means she doesn’t want to invade his privacy by psychoanalysing him. At the same time, it’s not something she can just shut off, same as Will can’t. Her abilities are such that Jack Crawford trusts her to keep Will sane — but they’re also such that Alana openly fights Jack on what they believe is the best course of action for Will. She sticks to her guns and never backs down, but also leaves the ultimate decision to Will — and, by extension, Hannibal.
Strictly speaking, that’s from the next episode, Potage, but I’d like to include this quote of Will’s here:
“I also like that you rattle Jack. He respects you far too much to yell at you.”
“And I take advantage of that.”
All images courtesy of NBC’s Hannibal Facebook page.