So here it is. After weeks of anticipation, the beginning of the end has arrived for Hannibal season one. In this penultimate episode, revelations finally emerge as Will (Hugh Dancy) begins to get a grip on the influences that have dominated his life for several weeks. As he begins to suspect the motives of everyone around him, Hannibal (Mads Mikkelson) begins to make the moves that will no doubt take the fore in next week’s finale, convincing Jack (Laurence Fishburne) his protégé may have been the focus of his investigation all along.
When it comes to this adaptation of Thomas Harris’ novels, the substance comes not from the flash of its violence, or its imaginative creations, but from the interplay between its characters. The manipulations and suspicions that have constructed the show are what make Hannibal so engrossing, and it is this aspect that drives the latest episode, Relevés. With Will now comparably sane after last week’s frightful mental state, the episode opens with a touching conversation between him and Georgia (Ellen Muth), the previously monstrous killer from episode 10. Now on the mend in a highly oxygenated isolation pod, Georgia has continued to grow as a highly sympathetic character, making her interactions with Will all the more effective. However, when she accidently ignites the oxygen around her with the static electricity formed when combing her hair, her resulting death is one of the most harrowing of the series. For Will to say that it is “a horrible way to die” is putting it mildly, however this death spurs him on to investigate its cause, and it is at this point that Hannibal should begin to worry.
The real trick that the show has been able to pull off is to make Hannibal a convincingly menacing killer without making those around him seem foolish for not suspecting him. However, with Will connecting Georgia’s death with those of Hannibal’s victims from earlier in the series, the net is beginning to close around the titular psychiatrist. Blocking investigations into his activities before they even start has been Lecter’s skill throughout the series, so when Will confides in him that he believes the copycat Shrike killer may be within the bureau, it comes as a surprise (not least to Hannibal) that Will remains steadfast in his convictions. Mads Mikkelsen has proven time and time again that his casting as Hannibal was spot on, eking out the slightest signs of emotion as needed, and so it is a great indicator that things are not going his way when his nostrils flare more animatedly than ever before. Even if this is a slight change, the control and consistency that the Danish actor has shown throughout gives this change an almost monumental significance.
Not happy to only focus on Will and Hannibal, Relevés begins to draw all of the show’s narrative arcs together, with Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl) continuing her meetings with Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki). The Hobbs family has been an overarching presence throughout the show, first with the effect Garrett Jacob Hobbs has had on Will, but also with the presence of his daughter, now working with Lounds on a book of her experiences. These meetings are intriguing to watch, not least because Lounds is a fully formed character in her own right despite her infrequent appearances. Freddie knows that Abigail is hiding something, and more interestingly, she strongly suspects this to be the murder of Nicholas Boyle. The various relationships within Hannibal all boil down to one thing; manipulation. Jack and Hannibal both use Will for their own ends, Abigail attempts to manipulate everyone around her into accepting her innocence, and Lounds, unconvinced, is looking to use Abigail for a story. The passive aggressive nature of these bonds is palpable, and make for engrossing television.
The same can be said of Jack Crawford’s story in this episode, as he seems to be looking into the workings of the relationship between Will and Hannibal. To this end, he visits Dr. Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) to ask her if Hannibal has revealed anything about either the investigation, or about Will Graham. To finally see Anderson’s character interact with someone other than Hannibal is a pleasure, as it not only draws her into the wider narrative, but also reveals more about her than before. In her therapy sessions with Hannibal, Du Maurier’s steady and measured air mirror Hannibal’s perfectly, almost as though her therapy is based on trying to make him see himself. However, when her answers to Jack’s questions are just as emotionless and neutral, its plain to see that her and Hannibal are linked in more ways than just their therapy sessions. This is especially true when she immediately warns her charge to stay away from Will, Jack, and anyone else that may draw suspicion. The relationship between these two has been subtly constructed so that their past is all but clear but still with questions as to what really happened. However, it’s clear that Du Maurier owes Hannibal a debt, and it is this that causes her to try and look out for him. What the season finale holds for Du Maurier is yet to be seen, but it seems clear that what really happened between her and Hannibal will answer some pressing questions about their past.
Savoureux will no doubt offer up more than just this, with Jack now firmly of the mind that Will is the killer they’ve all been searching for, whilst the wonderfully constructed climax of Relevés leaves one wondering who exactly will make it to the finale. With all these stories converging, next week’s final episode is set to be a memorable end to what has been one of the most stylish and creative shows to hit our screens for some time. However, this would not be possible were it not for the efforts of Relevés, doing what was needed to serve up the final course of season one of Hannibal.
“Is it really mental illness Doctor, or is it just that his mind works so differently from most people’s that we don’t know what else to call it?” – Jack may have stumbled on the question that has surrounded Will all season.
Best Kill: The immolation of Georgia is disturbing in its delivery, both horrifically confined and emotive considering the new found care attached to the character.
Best Scene: In an episode full of tense moments and long-awaited revelations, the skillfully crafted scene in which Hannibal convinces Jack that Will is the man he’s after is superbly controlled and sets in motion the action that will take the series to its end.