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GRAHAM: I feel like I have dragged you into my world.
LECTER: No, I got here on my own, but I appreciate the company.

(NOTE: This review contains some particularly icky imagery….If that’s not your thing, get someone with a stronger stomach to read it to you. If you’re cool with blood and gore and viscera and all those fun things – then read on, sicko!)

 

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Yo,

Okay, tonight I’m gonna dispense with the food metaphors and just get right to the meat:

(DAMMIT!)

Here’s the thing, kids: I like this show, a lot. I’m sure those of you who’ve been kind enough to follow my reviews for the past seven weeks have noticed this. I’m rarely all that critical, and I’m forgiving of all but the most blatant errors and obvious weaknesses….It’s a great show, plain and simple.

I mention this so you realize I’m well aware of my complete lack of journalistic objectivity when I say “Fromage” will rock your balls off (yes, even if you’re a woman).

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So let’s proceed with the awesome: Remember this tool? This is Hannibal’s patient Franklin Froideveaux (finally found out his last name: Don’t know if they never said it on the show, or if I just didn’t give a crap). This is from last week’s episode, actually, when Franklin was stalking the good Doctor at the opera. That’s his friend: Tobias Budge, portrayed by Demore Barnes, whom fans of Supernatural will recognize as the Archangel Raphael….
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….and this unfortunate gentleman is Tobias’ victim.

The poor fellow was bludgeoned to death, then the neck of a cello was forced down his throat, his neck was opened, and his vocal cords were stretched and treated in the same manner as craftsmen who make violin or other instrument strings out of cat gut…Apparently, Tobias wanted to see if he could “play” him.

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Meanwhile, Hannibal confesses to Dr. DuMaurier (his own psychiatrist), that Franklin’s borderline obsession is leading him to consider dropping Franklin as a patient. We learn a bit more about the nature of the relationship between the doctors in this episode: DuMaurier was apparently once attacked by a patient, and since then she’s semi-retired. Hannibal is her one and only patient. He obviously cares a great deal for her: Though whether his feelings are romantic or platonic is unclear at this point. Either way, he feels very protective of her, and apparently he killed her attacker–though whether or not she knows this is also left rather nebulous.
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Speaking of love and feelings and all that nonsense, the chemistry between Graham and Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) finally results in their first kiss…which the previews have been teasing us with since episode one:

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They honestly look great together, from a purely aesthetic point of view: Bryan Fuller knew what he was doing when he assembled this cast.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Alana shuts Will down. She feels her professional curiosity about Will and his gifts/neuroses would make a romantic relationship inappropriate….Not like dating a patient–more like dating a research subject.
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Meanwhile two brutal, depraved multiple murderers sit down to a pleasant, gourmet supper.

Long story short: Tobias knows what Hannibal is. He saw him kill the impolite medical examiner on the road in the last episode.

And Hannibal knows what Tobias is because….well, because he’s Hannibal Fucking Lecter, that’s how!!! (okay, so Franklin coming to the Doc with his worries about some of the “dark” things Tobias has been saying MIGHT have helped…a bit).

Thing is, Tobias wants to be pals with the Doctor (Jeepers! EVERYBODY wants to be Hannibal’s friend, huh?). He figures Hannibal might understand his….ahem, “world view” in a way that no one else could. Hannibal sees Tobias’ logic, but has no desire to be his friend. Truth be told, while he remains unfailingly polite, it’s pretty clear Hannibal is repulsed by his fellow serial killer.

This leads to a standoff (and a great line: “I didn’t poison you–I wouldn’t do that to food.”), and a hilarious argument over who gets to kill Franklin.
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Fortunately, Will shows up and Tobias absconds through a window.

For his part, Hannibal seems much happier to share dessert with Graham than with Tobias. Will came to see Hannibal to tell him about what happened with Dr. Bloom….It’s such a fantastic moment: It’s less a patient talking to his shrink, and more a guy showing up at his bro’s house and saying: “DUDE! I KISSED HER!!!”

Oh, and I have no idea WHAT Dr. Lecter was serving Graham for dessert–but god damn, I WANT some!

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Finally, Tobias and Hannibal confront each other in a Highlander-esque “There can be only one!” moment…..I’m just gonna skip ahead to Strong Points, since everything that happens next belongs there:

 

STRONG POINTS

Are you ready for this? Trust me, you’re not…But here it comes:

SERIAL-KILLER MORTAL KOMBAAAAAT!!!!!!!

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This fight was nothing short of magnificent. Of course Hannibal won (as I pointed out to my roomie: The show ain’t called “Tobias”), but he took quite a beating.

Oh, and yes: Hannibal did finally kill Franklin….which I enjoyed far more than a well-adjusted person should.

But the best came at the end, when a beaten and bruised Hannibal had his final one-on one of the episode with Will.

See, when this show began, I had a lot of preconceived notions about the relationship between Graham and Lecter. I assumed Hannibal’s opinion of Will would be a mixture of scientific curiosity and grudging respect–seasoned with the realization that he’d eventually murder him:

“Good job, Will…Good work on that case…I’ll most likely kill you in the morning…”

Except that’s not what we’re getting.

Hannibal HONESTLY likes him….We forget sometimes that, whatever else he is, Hannibal Lecter is a human being, and he needs friendship and connection just like everyone else.

Imagine the betrayal and hurt they’re both going to experience when the truth comes out.

Will grows closer to Hannibal as his mind deteriorates….he trusts him more and Crawford less….They’re like two opposing forces fighting for Graham’s soul.

And just because the show will probably follow Thomas Harris canon, and Hannibal will be caught and incarcerated, doesn’t mean he can’t also WIN.

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Oh, and before I forget: Demore Barnes is phenomenal as Tobias Budge. To be honest, Barnes himself could have made a pretty decent Hannibal Lecter.

 

WEAK POINTS

None.

Seriously. This is as close to a perfect hour of television as I’ve ever seen.
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In conclusion, “Fromage” is easily the best episode so far, and if there’s any justice in the world, it’ll be an Emmy contender….That’s really all I have to say:

Thanks for letting me gush unprofessionally, see you next week, when I’ll hopefully be back from the moon 😉

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