Digesting Hannibal – Season 1, Ep13

 Episode 13 – Savoureux

Will walks through the woods at night with a scoped rifle, hunting a stag.  It runs off, and then Will fires a shot.  We kind of know, already, that this is going to be a dream sequence.  And knowing the stag represents Hannibal much of the time.  He runs after the body, and we see the stag in shadow, on the ground, then turns to face him.  For a moment it looks like a man with antlers.  And then it’s gone.  He follows a blood trail.  And sees a man with antlers, and glowing eyes.  He wakes up.  Will has been on the trail for a while now.  Finally he’s catching up and seeing the stag for what it really is.  

Will is home, but clearly still sick and sweaty.  His legs are dirty, as if he’s been running in dirt.  The world seems to shudder.  He heads to the kitchen and gulps down water and a pill.  Then he vomits.  He should still be in the hospital.  Anti-NMDA encephalitis can be hard to catch.  If you don’t look for it you won’t find it.  It’s relatively new as a diagnostic entity, and isn’t looked for much.  He probably needs supportive care, IvIG, plasmapheresis, etc.  Most importantly this can occur as a secondary condition caused by cancer, known as a paraneoplastic syndrome.  The immune system attacks the cancer, but the cancer has some overlap with regular cells so the immune cells make antibodies that cause their own problems.  Will looks in the sink, and looks like he vomited an ear.  We don’t know if it’s real.  

Hannibal shows up to Will’s home, finding him shaking on the stairs.  Will tells him about the trip to Minnesota.  Hannibal checks the sink, and the ear appears to be real.  Will doesn’t remember going to bed, and last saw Abigail the day before.  The question is laid — is it her ear?  And if so, how did he swallow it?  We presume Hannibal killed Abigail, so he would have fed it to Will in his fevered sleep, which might explain part of the dream.  Will remembers that she got scared at the cabin and then ran away.  We know she made it to Hannibal.  Will remembers hallucinating that he killed her, but it wasn’t real.  Hannibal looks at the ear in the sink, seemingly upset by this.  Hannibal is most likely feigning being upset, and doing a fantastic job of it.  If we didn’t know better, Will really does seem guilty.  How Hannibal fed him an ear will be an interesting discovery.  Hannibal tells him they have to call Jack.  The frame is nearly complete.

The team arrives at Will’s home.  Jack asks Will what they will find in Minnesota.  He doesn’t know.  Jack takes him in for processing  The team can’t make eye contact with him (well, Katz can, briefly).  Will is taken to a car, and he sees one of his dogs whimpering outside.  We’re reminded that Will at his core is humane and merciful — a dog rescuer.  He isn’t a killer.  Zeller and Price process him and his clothing.  They find a folding knife on him.  Katz scrapes his nails and digs out blood.  She tries to engage with him to get his side of the story.  He doesn’t know where it came from.  She pushes him to think about the evidence.  He can’t come up with an alternative conclusion than that he killed Abigail.

Jack tells Alana about the forensic findings, that the blood and ear all belong to Abigail.  She’s crying, hurt that Will was pushed this far.  Jack justifies it, since he was saving lives.  She believes Hannibal must have seen something was wrong.  “Not until it was too late.”  We know the truth.  Jack notes Hannibal told him Will had symptoms of dementia.  She rebuts that it isn’t a disease, but a symptom of a disease.  That’s mostly right.  Dementia means there’s an impairment in cognitive functioning, due to some underlying process.  In someone his age, there must be some other cause.  Plus he doesn’t have dementia.  He has had delirium.  Dementia is progressive, meaning it doesn’t come and go.  Delirium waxes and wanes.  Alana advocates that they need to find the cure and treat it.  Jack thinks there might not be a cause, since he had a normal brainscan.  “Then they don’t know what they’re looking for.”  She nails it, there.  If you don’t look for it, you won’t find it.  All too often a cursory head scan like a CT without contrast is done, but really doesn’t rule out anything besides large tumors or head bleeds.  They both struggle with guilt over the situation.

In her car alone, Alana grieves in frustration.

Alana visits Will in an interrogation room.  They’re both frustrated.  Will is surprised Jack let her in, considering they were romantically interested.  But Jack doesn’t know about that.  Until now.  She lets him know she’ll take care of his dogs.  This is like saying goodbye.  They’re both grieving his passage into prison.  She’s there to do some tests.  He asks if she’ll make him draw a clock.  She asks if Hannibal had him do this.  She knows that a clock drawing is a standard part of a cognitive screening test.  And if he did, he might have found something, or at least suspected something.  Will describes Hannibal’s rationale.  She has him do another one.  This one isn’t as severe, but still has all the numbers crowded on the right.  He still has Left sided spatial neglect, indicating that at least his Right parietal lobe is impaired.  

Hannibal sits in therapy with Du Maurier.  He seems sad, even glassy eyed.  She talks about grieving, that it’s an “individual process with a universal goal — the truest examination of the meaning of life and the meaning of its end.”  I’m not sure much of that is true.  Many people grieve just by missing the person they’ve lost.  They may or may not ever think about the nature of life.  It’s a nice idea, though.  Hannibal maintains he already knows what life is.  And yet he’s near crying.  Or faking tears.  If he’s faking it, it would mean that the presentation to Du Maurier is so important that he would go to this length to show her how human he is.  If he’s really feeling it, it must be novel for him.  He talks about Abigail making him appreciate what having a child would be like.  Perhaps.  Perhaps he really did care, but he cared about himself much more.  She reflects on living on through children, and he never thinks that way.  “I haven’t given up on Will.”  He wants to continue to be involved in Will’s life, and she recommends against it.  Is Will just a toy he wants to keep playing with for his own curiosity?  The difficulty with such a well constructed psychopath is that we can never be certain when we’re seeing the real him, aside from when he thinks he’s alone.  Every conversation with another must be interpreted with a large grain of salt.  “It’s hard to imagine that I could fail them both, so profoundly.”  It’s statements like this that makes it seem that every moment is a ruse, him trying out playing a part as a human, during which he’s orchestrating his own pretend misery to see if he can experience loss.  

Price describes some findings to the team.  His homemade fishing lures appear be trophies of his victims, made with body parts from the copycat murders.  Alana maintains he has some neurological problem.

Will stands in the interrogation room, looking in the one-way mirror and seeing the man/stag.  Is Hannibal back there?

Jack tells Will he’s sick.  Will says he wasn’t consistent with his antibiotics.  Antibiotics definitely wouldn’t help.  Jack tells him they’re moving him to a medical ward for treatment.  Jack wants to be hopeful, but all the evidence goes against that.  He tells Will about the lures.  We saw Hannibal checking out the lures early in the season.  Will maintains that he wasn’t sick back then.  He means he didn’t notice the symptoms back then, such as fever.  He may still have been symptomatic, though in other ways.  If Will wasn’t sick back then (and he did it), it might mean he’s a psychopath.  If so, he’s even more convincing at appearing like a person with feelings than Hannibal is.  Will warns Jack that he’s being set up, and to be cautious about someone close to him.  Jack reads him his rights.

In the medical transport, Will watches and waits.  Then he breaks his own thumb, and breaks out.

Alana, Jack, and Hannibal discuss the escape.  Jack thinks this means he’s guilty.  Alana thinks he’s sick, and shows the clock (with L spatial neglect).  Hannibal produces a (fake) drawing that he says Will made before.  She asks about a disease that progresses but plateaus.  That is not what is happening with him.  Hannibal talks about how sometimes Will is lucid, sometimes impaired.  This is the definition of delirium — a waxing and waning level of consciousness and impairment, including hallucinations and disorientation.  She offers the possibility of encephalitis.  Hannibal asks about autoimmune, as if that’s the only kind.  Anything ending in -itis means inflammation of.  Enceph- refers to the brain.  His brain is inflamed, and that can be from a variety of causes including infection (bacterial, viral), or autoimmune.  She offers that if immune it wouldn’t show up on a brainscan unless looking for it.  Jack just wants to know if this could make him kill and not remember.  Definitely maybe.  Jack says it doesn’t sound like dementia.  There is nothing medically about this that fits with dementia, nor has it ever.  Jack still thinks it’s a psychopath, and even that he could have faked the clock test.  Yes it could be faked, but it shows a specific area of impairment that itself wouldn’t explain the killing.  

Hannibal sits in his office.  He realizes Will is there, hiding.  They discuss him.  Will wonders if Hannibal thinks he’s guilty.  Hannibal says he is skeptical, though the evidence is clear.  All of which he planted.  Will says he knows who he is.  Hannibal disputes this, pointing out that that’s temporary.  This is actually true.  Even his moments of clarity are only moments.  He’s still very sick.  Visiting Hannibal never actually helps, though.  Ultimately it just confuses him more.  Will maintains his innocence.  Hannibal offers to help, with the Devil’s bargain – “if we’re  to prove you didn’t commit these murders… perhaps we should consider how you could have.”  He’s now tasking Will to convince himself he’s guilty.  Very clever.  It also uses Will’s superpower to figure out what breadcrumbs were left that could incriminate Hannibal.  

Will imagines it, starting with Cassie Boyle, the first victim.  It told Will everything he needed to catch Hobbs.  Hannibal suggests he might have killed to better understand Hobbs.  Just as it might have been for Hannibal.  He’s really talking about himself, and seeing if Will can join into that logic.  But Will wasn’t in the state at the time.  Hannibal tells him how it was possible.  Will remembers the man/stag.  He fights the idea — “I know I didn’t kill her.”  Hannibal pushes further, asking about Will’s first thoughts about Marissa.  He even suggests the similarities to Abigail.  All Will sees is the memory of the body, mounted on antlers in the office.  “How could I resist.”  The suggestions seem to be working.  And we can notice Hannibal’s voice get raspier, perhaps his evil side emerging.  Hannibal suggests further that the imagining being a killer brings the killer into his head.  Will sees a memory of Hannibal at his desk, with a shape like antlers behind him.  The source of the image, perhaps.  He really is starting to think clearly.  Will wants to go back to Minnesota.

In the night, they drive together.  Does Will fully realize now?  Probably not, but he’s close.

Jack and Alana pay a visit to Du Maurier.  He missed his appointment with her and didn’t call, which is unusual.  Plus he didn’t call.  They believe Will has taken Hannibal to Minnesota.  Alana even believes that Will is slipping “in and out of delusion.”  Well the very definition of a delusion is that it is fixed, meaning it’s stuck and doesn’t come and go.  They misuse psych jargon a lot, unfortunately.  It muddies the importance of the real words.  She goes so far as to offer that he could kill Hannibal and not even remember.  For the most part every lost period of time for Will has been non-violent, so the likelihood is low for this.  Du Maurier believes Hannibal may still be trying to help Hannibal.  Optimistic, considering she knows how Hannibal at best wears a “person suit.”  

Hannibal and Will arrive at Abigail’s house.  Will walks in and sees himself as Hobbs on the day of Hobbs’ death.  Abigail hands him the phone.  He hears Hannibal’s voice, but it’s Hannibal waking him up in the car.  He’s putting together all the hints now that Hannibal is the copycat.  Hannibal was the man on the phone, and Will finally seems to know it.  They get into the kitchen, with blood all over the floor.  Hannibal suggests that if he was thinking like Hobbs, they might never find the body.  He even raises that maybe Will came there to find himself, as this seems to be the start of his departure from himself — the location where he first killed someone.  Will talks about seeing Hobbs as like flies.  He sounds almost non-sensical.  Hannibal goes on to now really push as the devil on his shoulder.  No more indirect suggestion.  He tells will that if he cultivated those urges as “inspirations,” he would become someone other than himself.  He’s dropping his voice, and using elevating language like “inspiration.”  

Will takes a step — saying who knows who he am, but not so sure about Hannibal.  And one killed Abigail.  And whoever did that was the copycat.  Will draws his gun.  Hannibal now questions if he’s a killer, appealing to his better nature.  Will knows that he called, but isn’t sure how deep this rabbit hole goes.  Hannibal picks at the logic of it.  Jack slowly creeps in through the front door.  Will knows there’s no motive, “which is why you were so hard to see.”  Yes.  Plus the skilled manipulation.  “You were curious what I would do.”  Now he’s able to think like Hannibal, finally. 

Even as Will gets worked up, Hannibal appears calm.  Totally appropriate for a psychopath.  Jack steps in to talk Will down.  Hannibal gets a smug look on his face.  Will goes to shoot, but Jack shoots first.  Will collapses in the exact spot where Hobbs was shot.  That chapter is now complete.  As Will bleeds on the floor, he sees Hannibal as the man/stag.

Jack visits Will in the hospital.  Hannibal sits at the bedside.  The right side of his brain was inflamed, and they’re treating with antivirals and steroids, in a medical sedation.  That might be expected, since they might not be able to rule out viruses that early in his workup.  He’s getting better, unclear how much better.  Jack asks if Hannibal would have gone to Minnesota if Will didn’t have a gun. Hannibal says he would have wanted to.  We know that’s true, since Will didn’t have a gun on him until the end.  But most interestingly he’s willing to tell this to Jack.  It paints himself as someone who cares undyingly for Will.  

Hannibal visits Du Maurier, bringing her a meal of veal.  They’re having a full meal together, including wine.  This is not doctor/patient.  It could be colleagues.  It also raises the possibility that she is like Hannibal, a psychopath that he found but that hasn’t been shown to us, yet.  That would be unlikely, but so is a totem pole of bodies.  Hannibal brought this as a way to initiate a conversation.  He’s going to say goodbye to Will.  Is the game over?  

She warns him that others are starting to see his pattern of developing relationships with others prone to violence.  Perhaps.  I suspect it’s more that he develops relationships with people he thinks he can coax into violence.  She believes it might get him caught.  And yet she warns him about it.  

Hannibal walks through the prison until he reaches Will’s cell.  Hannibal smiles a little.  Onto round 2.


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Digesting Hannibal – Season 1, Ep13
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Paul Puri

Dr. Puri is a board certified psychiatrist, in private practice in Los Angeles. He practices multiple forms of psychotherapy, including hypnosis, in addition to managing medications. He attended medical school at University of Rochester, and specialty training at University of California, San Diego. He is currently on the Vol Clinical Faculty at UCLA. In his non-clinical time he writes TV pilots, and designs iPhone apps.

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