Due to the numerous tragedies endured by the American public over recent months, episode 4 of Hannibal was originally pulled by American network NBC due to its distressing content. Replaced instead with a series of webisodes that sought to keep viewers up to date with the main story, Ceuf remains intact for its overseas airings and continues the series’ grim outlook on the criminal mind.
The storyline of Ceuf that caused the controversial pulling of the episode concerns a series of family murders perpetrated by young boys. Brainwashed by a deluded woman, played by guest star Molly Shannon, the children are forced to kill the families that she abducted them from. With the issue of adolescent killings always riding high in America (particularly following a recent shooting at a school in Connecticut), it’s understandable as to why this narrative of the episode was removed.
Instead, the webisodes contained arguably the more interesting, and important, scenes involving Hannibal’s (Mads Mikkelson) continued interest in the traumatised Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), whom he signs out of her clinic, convinces to take mind altering drugs, and serves her a meal reminiscent of the last she had with her parents. Mikkelsen’s Lecter is growing more intriguing as the series continues, with his manipulative abilities serving him well when confronted by Abigail’s doctor Alana (Caroline Dhavernas). Hannibal not only manages to convince her his actions were acceptable, but includes her in the familial scene he is attempting to replicate for Abigail.
Similarly, his abilities are returned to Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), as his counseling sessions continue to break through Will’s barriers to the troubled soul within. The sense that Hannibal is remarkably skilled at providing a seemingly kind ear to everyone’s problems whilst also sizing them up for how he can use them in the future is brilliantly drawn, much to the credit of director Peter Medek as well as Mikkelsen.
It is this aspect that so far is the real strength of Hannibal: its focus on character. Whilst this is of course a highly important aspect of any show, particularly one about the iconic cannibal, Ceuf perhaps brings up a potential downfall to what has so far been a highly impressive show. It’s clear that the show-runner’s go to remarkable lengths to dream up obscure, even interesting, killers for the team to chase down, creating some truly memorable set piece murders. Unfortunately, when it comes to apprehending these monsters, the show seems to lose traction and wrap up each episode far too simply, with episode 4 serving as a prime example. The unnamed woman responsible for the multiple deaths has been going for a long time, crossing state lines and evading capture whilst carrying out her deluded mission to create a family for herself. However, very little is identified as her motivation, or even a solid backstory. Molly Shannon, best known as a comedic actress, does well with what her character is given, but can still not cover up the glaring omissions in her story. Of course, the show is rightly concerned with the relationships between its principle characters, but there is a danger that the distraction of the grisly killings will lose their relevance. However, the series is still in its fledgling beginnings, and with the great Hannibal Lecter lurking in plain sight, there is no doubt that at some point both sides of the show will converge, and that’s surely going to be worth the wait.
Best Kill: In a fairly straight-forward series of killings, the detail to which Hannibal goes to in order to create the Turner family death scene is still impressively put together.
Best Scene: Each time Hannibal has Jack Crawford at his dining table, the polite conversation is wonderfully overshadowed by the simple question of what’s for dinner? In this case, a “rabbit” that just didn’t hop fast enough…