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I’m going to be brutally honest, friends: There’s no quote at the beginning of this article because nothing really stuck in my head. So rather than read other sites’ reviews and steal whatever THEY used, I’ll just proceed with the review proper…

After the ecstasy that was Episode 8: “Fromage”, I knew the follow up would be at least a slight let-down. “Trou Normand” isn’t the best episode of the season, but I give it credit: Given the sloppiness of the storytelling here, it could have been significantly worse.

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That’s what Will Graham is looking up at: It’s a totem pole painstakingly crafted out of corpses, mostly years old and stolen from graves, except for the “head”, which is made from a fresh victim. This is the “design” of our KOTW (Killer Of The Week).

But Guillermo Navarro, the episode’s director (and director of episode 5–“Coquilles”, my least favorite episode so far) isn’t very interested in this killer. He’s MUCH more interested in the rapid decay of Will Graham’s mental state, and when he makes this his focus, the episode is actually quite compelling. This is an episode carried by the performances of the main cast, not by the writing or direction, and Hugh Dancy rises to the occasion.

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After seeing the totem pole, and doing the voodoo that he do so well, Graham opens his eyes and finds himself in Dr. Lecter’s office. He’s missing 3 hours of his life….and Hannibal is beginning to seriously worry about him.

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At the same time, Jack Crawford is also becoming concerned about Will, but not because what he’s telling him, but because he’s no longer telling him anything: No longer complaining about nightmares or other difficulties….Jack knows something is wrong, and as we learn later, he’s beginning to suspect Hannibal has something to do with it.

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Kacey Rohl returns as Abigail Hobbs, daughter of Garrett Jacob Hobbs: The serial killer Graham killed in the pilot. Crawford still suspects Abigail’s involvement in her father’s murders, and interrogates her in the presence of the recently discovered corpse of Nicholas Boyle: The brother of one of Hobbs’ suspected victims (actually Hannibal’s) Abigail killed in self-defense when he attacked her. Hannibal witnessed the act, and helped her hide the body….He agreed to keep her secret, if she would keep his: Abigail knows Hannibal was the man who warned her father that the FBI was coming.

Now things are coming out into the open: Graham’s insight leads him to the realization that Abigail killed Boyle, and Hannibal assisted her. He agrees to keep their secret, though–realizing that revealing the truth to Crawford would ruin Abigail’s life….Graham lies to Crawford a LOT in this ep.

STRONG POINTS

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The fabulous Freddie Lounds returns (Lara Jean Chorostecki). She’s helping Abigail write her story: An idea both Hannibal and Will try their darnedest to talk her out of, but she wants to clear her name–plus wrongful death suits from her father’s victims have left her penniless, and she needs the money. Hannibal actually has the unscrupulous blogger over for dinner, along with Will and Abigail, near the end. Turns out Freddie’s a vegetarian….yet another reason for Hannibal to dislike her–but that doesn’t stop the good doctor from practicing his culinary magic: Check out her dinner…

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Beautiful production design on this show, as always.

As I mentioned earlier, Hugh Dancy is incredibly compelling as he showcases Graham’s degrading sanity, and Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal is proving an actual source of strength and support–not a villain taking advantage of a potential foe’s weaknesses (well, for now anyway).

Glad to see Kacey Rohl back. Her performance as Abigail Hobbs was her strongest yet–especially when she blew my mind by admitting Crawford’s been right this whole time: Abigail WAS assisting her father in his murders…Because it was them or her. She would befriend his victims, earn their trust, learn whatever info her father needed to catch them defenseless.

WEAK POINTS

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That’s Lance Henriksen of the Alien movies and the late, great TV series Millenium. He plays Mr. Wells, the KOTW. Now, Henriksen himself is not a weak point–by no means! But he deserved more than this script gave him.

Fact is, the story of Abigail’s confession, Will’s deterioration, Freddie’s book, and Hannibal’s orchestration of pretty much all these events is more than rich enough to carry an entire episode. The KOTW was superfluous–and too interesting a concept to be wasted here. He’s given no real motive beyond insanity. The problem here is similar to what bothered me about the Angel-Maker in “Coquilles”: They came up with a great M.O. for a killer, but couldn’t think of an equally compelling back story to explain it.

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So what we end up here is two great episodes cut into pieces, and sewn together to make one mediocre episode. Had they focused exclusively on the continuing story of Will, Hannibal, and Abigail, this could have been one of the season’s best. OR, had they delved deeper into this totem pole killer–that, too would have made for an exceptional episode. Hannibal is best when it doesn’t try to over-extend itself: It has introduced some truly fascinating characters and plotlines–it has no need to outdo them.

(Because I can’t leave you without SOME food metaphors…)

Last night’s special is still quite tasty, but have the Alka-Seltzer ready: It’s likely going to cause some mild indigestion….

Until next time…

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