Hannibal, Ep.1.09: “Trou Normand,” a nearly flawless cohesion of visual poetry

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Hannibal, Season 1, Episode 8: “Trou Normand”
Directed by Guillermo Navarro
Written by Steve Lightfoot
Airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on NBC

Hannibal serves up another carefully cooked up course of events with its ninth episode of the series titled “Trou Normand.” As Jack and Will follow pursuit of a new killer (Lance Henriksen), the case of the week really takes a toll on Will’s psyche. Will is really beginning to crack under the pressure this week, suffering from time lapses (losing a total of three and half hours of his life), and teaching the killer’s design to an empty class. As we see each and every week, Will is exposed to unimaginable horror and as Hannibal points out, Will is bolstering a sort of self inflicted emotional abuse by forcing himself into the minds of the killers he hunts down. The question is, how much can he possibly take? Hugh Dancy is by far the best thing about Bryan Fuller’s new show and this week the actor is at the top of his game. “Trou Normand” is another solid entry in what is without a doubt, the best series on network television.

Directed by Guillermo Navarro (who also helmed episodes “Roti” and “Coquilles”), episode 9 opens with the show’s biggest WTF moment yet. The human monument of corpses is truly a sight to behold; a beautifully twisted and disturbing crime scene in which a totem pole of bodies in various stages of decay stand upon a West Virginia beach. Even if the standard case of the week isn’t the show’s strongest point, how could anyone complain when treated to such an incredible opening vision. It shouldn’t be a surprise that “Trou Normand” excels in the visual department. Navarro, a regular Del Toro collaborator and world-renowned cinematographer (who has worked on such features as Pacific Rim, The Devil’s Backbone and Jackie Brown), seamlessy blends terror with tenderness. Navarro has crafted something both traditional and original in the opening scene: a sun-kissed winter-landscape of horror and beauty.

It could be argued that the crime in focus is a far stretch from reality. After all, how could one man alone, accomplish such an incredibly difficult task? But nine episodes in, viewers should come to expect that they will have to suspend their disbelief to some degree. Truth be told, it isn’t the way the murders are commuted that matters, but rather why they are committed. As Will explains, the totem pole signifies the end of a story for our killer: “This is my resume. This is my body of work. This is my legacy.” It’s not how the victims died, but how the killer eventually gets to tell his story. Unfortunately for Lawrence Wells; his master-plan comes crashing down when he realizes he literally destroyed his own legacy. And how about the wonderful reaction from Lance Henriksen when Will delivers the bad news. Can this show get any better?

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It will be interesting to see how both Abigail and Freddie Lounds continue to tear apart the relationships between Will, Alana, Hannibal and Jack throughout the rest of the season. This week Abigail converses with Freddie about the sale of her father’s estate. With the money likely to go to the family of the victims, Freddie urges Abigail to sell her story in a book which she would write. Freddie convinces Abigail it is in her best interest as it will surely clear up her involvement with the murders. Speaking of which, the discovery of the body of Nicholas, the man Abigail killed, further complicated the proceedings. Jack remains convinced Abigail is guilty in assisting her father, and as it turns out, he is right. If Jack discovers Abigail was involved he’ll surely realize Hannibal is helping her out. This would no doubt shine a spotlight on Hannibal and could easily lead to his secrets being revealed. Abigail turning out to be her father’s accomplice was rather surprising. Even more so, learning that she did what she did out of fear, helps viewers somewhat sympathize for her character: “I knew it was them or me” she tells Hannibal. The question remains, what does Hannibal want with Abigail? He sure wasn’t subtle when he told Will, “We are her fathers now.” Hannibal seems determined to make himself a family unit, with Will, Abigail and Alana all seemingly involved.

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The episode ends with a weirdly poetic moment as Hannibal places his hand on Will’s shoulder. In some cultures, the gesture of touch is an additional way of communicating feelings. Of course, customs of physical contact vary with the situation and the relationship of the people. It is important to realize that usually physical contact makes people feel uncomfortable, yet Will seems fine with Hannibal reaching out to him. Even more, Will’s ‘Spidey Sense’ doesn’t kick in. This tells us two important things: Hannibal wants Will to figure out who he is and, Will has become so overworked, he can’t see the monster standing beside him.

Calling Hannibal a procedural is an unfair simplification of an exquisitely crafted series. If you must label this show as procedural, then it’s a procedural with a heart and soul; A finely acted, atmospheric series with artistic elements and genres blended together in a nearly flawless cohesion of visual poetry.

  • Ricky D

 

Extended Thoughts:

Too bad we won’t see more of Lance Henriksen.

Jack butting heads with Alana was great: “You’re here by invitation, Dr. Bloom, by courtesy. Please don’t interrupt me again.”

Who exactly was digging at the body of Nicholas? Was it Hannibal? If so, was he testing Abigail?

By telling Will the truth about how Nicholas died, Hannibal has made Will an accomplice while also testing his trust.

Kacey Rohl remains excellent throughout the season as both innocent, and deviant.

If Jack Crawford knew Abigail was escaping the institution, why didn’t he have her followed? Or maybe he did and is playing dumb?

I could have done without the black and white closing scene. Abigail already explained to us how she felt she had no choice but to help her father out.



By Ricky

Ricky D is the editor-in-chief of Sound on Sight and one of the hosts of the Sound On Sight podcast and the Sordid Cinema podcast. He is Sound On Sight's expert on Horror and contributes written reviews when time permits.

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3 Responses to Hannibal, Ep.1.09: “Trou Normand,” a nearly flawless cohesion of visual poetry

  1. moviefan May 25, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Abigail was digging out Boyle, it wasn’t Hannibal. She did it to get rid of the fear the body would be discovered.

    Reply
    • Ricky May 26, 2013 at 1:50 am

      Did I miss this or are you speculating ?

      Reply
      • Kate Kulzick May 26, 2013 at 8:18 am

        This is revealed in the episode when she’s talking with Hannibal.

        Reply

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