As the series begins to draw to a close, Hannibal’s (Mads Mikkelson) deceptions continue as Will’s (Hugh Dancy) mental state reaches new levels of uncertainty. In an episode that takes the show’s levels of grisliness to a new height, Eddie Izzard returns as the disturbing Dr. Abel Gideon, who escapes from custody and sets out to take revenge on anyone who had a hand in his so-called treatment, especially the ill-fated Dr. Frederick Chiltern (Brian Fuller).
Throughout this first season of Hannibal, the show has had a difficulty in drawing together all of its component parts to make a strong narrative throughout. Whether it’s the coming and going of Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), or the quick dispatching of each week’s killer, the one weakness of this otherwise powerful show is its eclectic nature. However, Rôti returns to a character from a previous episode, the chilling Dr. Gideon, whilst also continuing the rapidly downward spiral of Will Graham’s mind. It seems that approaching the end of the season has prompted all of the loose ends to begin to tie up, making the drama all the more effective.
In a wonderfully crafted opening scene, Hannibal and Dr. Chiltern sit down to dinner whilst Chiltern confides in Hannibal about his patient Gideon, who following the events of episode six (Entrée) is attempting to sue the doctor for his use of psychic driving in convincing him that he was the Chesapeake Ripper. It is always interesting to watch the scenes between these two characters considering what their future holds in the books of Thomas Harris, and the writing of the show makes it even more enjoyable, as Hannibal’s discussions of the ethics, and techniques, of this form of treatment apply directly to his ‘friend’ Will, as well as the conceited Chiltern.
However, what really sparks this episode off is the escape of Gideon from the prison van he was being taken to court in. Eddie Izzard returns as the former surgeon who killed his family at Thanksgiving dinner, and if there were questions raised as to the benefits of having such an actor in this role when last he appeared, this episode more than answers them. Whilst in Entrée Izzard had little chance to be anything more than mildly threatening behind the bars of his cell, Rôti gives him an opportunity to truly embrace his character. As Gideon sets out to take revenge on any psychiatrist who attempted to treat him and, in his mind, manipulate him, the humour that Izzard is able to bring to the character makes him all the more menacing. Cracking wise about Columbian Neckties (a particularly brutal form of execution) or draining a victim of blood and leaving a note with it asking that the blood be delivered to the Red Cross is amusingly horrific, as is what happens when he finally gets his hands on Dr. Chiltern.
Despite the distractions of such antics, the episode continues to use the strength of last week in that it links the mental state of Gideon to Will, whose grip on reality is more tenuous than ever. With almost David Lynch-like dreams tormenting him, and further lapses in time, Will is not a well man. The truly horrific fact about this is that Hannibal, knowing that his condition is caused by an inflammation of the brain, has not only kept this from Will but also made sure he is the only one who knows, leaving Will in a state of self-imposed anguish. This cruelty continues when Will captures Gideon but not knowing what to do, takes him to Hannibal, saying that he can see his mental tormentor Garrett Jacob Hobbs in place of the doctor. Hannibal, aka the real Chesapeake Ripper, has business with Gideon and so tells Will that in fact no one is there, causing Will to slip into a seizure. The ease at which Hannibal has manipulated Will throughout the season has escalated to this, as Will’s health is threatened by Hannibal’s influence. Hugh Dancy’s consistently gripping performance as Will takes a further step up as the range of negative emotions are accurately displayed in quick succession, delivered in the most convincing of ways.
It is this lose of identity, and reality, that links him to Gideon, who is in search of his own identity, knowing only that he is not the Ripper but little more. The fact that he is calmer about this, perhaps due to his killing spree, is a sign of what may be in the future for Will if he were to lose grip on his reality, and is a nice contrast.
Whilst it could be said that Rôti is further proof that Hannibal is a show concerned with the male psyche, as the female characters seem only present to aid the characterisation of their male counterparts, an intriguing scene between Hannibal and Gillian Anderson’s Dr. Du Maurier has some interesting possibilities for the final episodes of the series. With only two left, the great thing about the show is it’s almost impossible to tell where it will end, but one thing is for sure; it will be well worth the wait.
Proving just how touching Hannibal’s concern for his friend Will is:
Hannibal: “He’s had a mild seizure”
Gideon: “That doesn’t seem to bother you”
Hannibal: “I said it was mild”
Best Kill: The initial shock of Gideon’s attack on Dr. Carruthers is quite something, as is his revenge on Dr. Chiltern
Best Scene: The range of emotions and manipulations on show when Will brings Gideon to Hannibal’s office is both uncomfortably and engaging to watch.