CRAWFORD: I think the work you do here has created a sense of stability for you. Stability is good for you, Will.
GRAHAM: Stability requires strong foundations, Jack. My moorings are built on sand.
CRAWFORD: I’m not sand. I am bedrock. When you doubt yourself, you don’t have to doubt me too.
Sweet, crunchy Jesus folks–I’m not quote sure where to begin….
“Buffet Froid” is a better episode than last week’s monumentally uneven “Trou Normand”, that much I can say with certainty.
However, it may be the WEIRDEST ep of Hannibal thus far, for whatever that’s worth.
I know….sorry to spring that on you, but now you have a fair notion of what experiencing this episode was like: It wasn’t BAD–but it was occasionally difficult to look at.
The unfortunate young lady with the “Glasgow Smile” is the victim of this week’s KOTW….But this time, our murderer isn’t yet another weirdo serial killer: Just a very troubled young woman, actually. But I digress.
Will Graham is getting worse. His hallucinations and “lost time” culminate in an incredibly vivid delusion in which HE is the killer of this girl. The hallucination is so intense it causes him to contaminate the crime scene, something he’s never done before.
Hannibal is growing more and more worried about Will’s condition, and refers him to a neurologist: Dr. Sutcliffe (John Benjamin Hickey, above), a former classmate and old friend. An MRI confirms what Hannibal already knew (by smell, apparently): Will has encephalitis. Whether or not the stress of his job has exacerbated his condition, or if it would have progressed this far on its own is unclear–but without a doubt Will’s delusions and loss of time are indeed due to a serious physiological condition.
Hannibal convinces Sutcliffe to lie to Will about this, and tell him the tests are inconclusive, and his condition is likely psychological.
This is an interesting turning point in the series: It’s the first actively harmful thing Hannibal has ever done to Will. He needs Will to believe that only he can help him with his problems: If it were a disease that could be cured, Hannibal would lose the subtle control he has over Will–a control that’s probably all that’s keeping him from realizing his helpful, supportive psychiatrist is a brutal, cannibalistic serial killer.
Oh, Hannibal REALLY does like Will–that’s no act…But he doesn’t like Will enough that he’d risk his life or his freedom.
Anyhoo, here’s our killer: Georgia Madchen (Ellen Muth).
Poor Georgia suffers from a neurological condition called Cotard’s Syndrome. One of the ways it manifests is it convinces the victim that they are already dead. It also affects the portion of the brain that allows us to recognize faces, meaning everyone she sees appears to be a stranger (Cotard’s has officially replaced Tourette’s as the neurological condition I’d LEAST like to have).
That’s why she killed her victim–she was trying to remove a face that to her was just an amorphous mass (kudos to the special effects people for their magnificently disturbing POV shots).
Georgia returns to the scene of her crime and finds Will, who’s trying to piece together his missing memories. He tries to stop her, but loses time again. Later, she follows him, for reasons that are less than clear, to Dr. Sutcliffe’s office where he’s having further tests done.
It seems she murders him, too–but as the still above makes clear, that’s not quite how it happened. Looks like our Hannibal decided he couldn’t trust Sutcliffe to keep his mouth shut, so he dispatched the neurologist (this is the first time we see Dr. Lecter in his “work clothes”), and let Georgia peel his face off when he was done–apparently she interrupted him in the middle of his work when she came calling for Will.
Georgia survived–Will found her and was able to convince her she was alive and not alone, and is now being treated for her mental and physical ailments. She’s expected to make a full recovery, but how much she’ll remember–if anything–is unknown.
I’m embarrassed that I didn’t catch this until after viewing “Buffet Froid”, but the whole episode is an homage to one of my favorite shows of all time: Dead Like Me–also a creation of Bryan Fuller.
If you’re not fortunate enough to have seen this show (and you SHOULD), Ellen Muth played a young woman who died in a freak accident and was recruited as a Grim Reaper: It was her job to take people’s souls just before their deaths.
Now, on another Bryan Fuller series, she plays a young woman who BELIEVES she’s dead.
Oh, and both characters are named “Georgia”–only the last names were changed (though Fuller gave Muth‘s character’s last name–Lass–to Anna Chlumsky’s character in Episode 06: “Entrée”)
Granted, Muth was almost entirely mute and not given a whole lot to do as an actress in this ep, but just seeing her here was like a big wink from Fuller to Dead Like Me fans.
The visual style and direction of “Buffet Froid” was a combination of fascinating and harrowing. The episode was helmed by John Dahl, a director known for work on shows like Californication, True Blood, and Dexter–so Hannibal was right up his alley. On a personal note, he also directed one of my favorite Battlestar Galactica episodes: “The Oath”, first part of the “Gaeta’s Mutiny” story arc in season 4.
It should also be noted that the “Killer Of The Week” plot in “Buffet Froid” meshed seamlessly with the continuing story of Hannibal and Company, rather than feeling tacked on and superfluous as it did in last week’s “Trou Normand”.
Not too many, really:
Disturbing visuals (like Ellen Muth’s zombie-esque skin condition) made parts of this hard to watch….which may or may not be a bad thing–I’ll leave that to you to judge.
Some of it was confusing, but again, that may have been a deliberate ploy by the director to mirror the confusion Graham is experiencing as his sanity deteriorates. Still, it would be nice to know, at least after the fact, just what Will is doing when he loses time.
All in all: A messed-up, delightful, weird-ass, hard to watch, visually stunning, and definitely compelling hour of television….
Next week my boy Eddie Izzard is back as Dr. Gideon–the fake Chesapeake Ripper….I can’t wait to see that. I’m hoping that the third time will be the charm for Guillermo Navarro, who’s directing next week–and helmed my two least favorite episodes of the series.
I can hope 😉