TV Recap: 'Hannibal' Episode 101 - 'Aperitif'



hannibalHannibal Episode 101
Written By: Bryan Fuller
Directed By: David Slade
Original Airdate: 4 April 2013

In This Episode...

Will Graham is an agent with the FBI, specializing behavior profiling. Right now he is a lecturer, until Jack Crawford lures him out of field-retirement to work on a case. Will makes it clear that he is not good at being social, and that he has been diagnosed as having Aspergers and is potentially sociopathic. Jack still wants him.

The case they are working on involves eight missing young women. No bodies have turned up, nor have any parts of bodies shown up. They focus on the eighth woman, Elise Nichols. Will says that not all of these women - maybe not any of them - are the suspect’s target, but they likely represent a “golden ticket.” Will and Jack head out to Minnesota to speak to Elise’s parents. He isn’t there long before he proclaims that she returned home from school to feed her cat, and this was where she was kidnapped from. Will needs to see Elise’s room. Her cat is scratching on the door to get in. Elise is laid out in her bed, dead. Will is left alone to think. His gift/curse is that he can put himself fully in the perpetrator’s shoes. Dr. Lecter later says that Will has pure empathy; Will worries that this makes him a sociopath. Will is interrupted by the forensics team. Elise was strangled, then hung up on a set of antlers, like a a slaughtered animal being drained of its blood. In Will’s mind, Elise’s death was an apology. When an autopsy reveals her liver was removed, then sewn back in, Will knows, without even looking at it, that the “meat is bad.” Elise had a tumor on her liver, and therefore it couldn’t be eaten.

On referral from another agency psychoanalyst, Alana Bloom, Jack visits Dr. Hannibal Lecter. He brings him back to Quantico to consult on the case, but really he wants him to keep an eye on Will. Will picks up on this and is instantly uncomfortable with Lecter.

Another coed is found in Minnesota. She is naked and impaled on a rack of antlers and left in the middle of a field. Her lungs are missing - and presumably eaten. (No irony that this scene is intercut with Lecter cooking and eating a pair of human lungs.) Will instantly recognizes this as a copycat and coolly directs Lecter to work up a profile on this one.

The next morning, Lecter shows up at Will’s motel room with homemade breakfast: an egg and “sausage” scramble. Jack is in court, leaving Will and Lecter to investigate the case together. Forensics found on Elise a flake of metal, like that found in commercial-grade piping, so Will and Lecter start going through the paperwork at a construction site. The file of Garrett Jacob Hobbs catches Will’s attention - he is the only one who didn’t put an address on file. While Will is helping carry file boxes out to the receptionist’s car, Lecter accidentally-on-purpose spills a few boxes. While Will cleans it up, he slips back into the office and places an anonymous phone call to Hobbs. “You don’t know me, and we will probably never meet. This is a courtesy call. They know.”

So when Will, Lecter, and backup pull up at Hobbs’s home, he is ready for them. He throws his dead wife onto the porch then hides out in the kitchen. Will leads the charge inside and sees Hobbs with a knife to his own daughter’s throat. He slashes it, and Will opens fire. He empties his entire clip into Hobbs, his shooting sloppy and no one shot making the kill shot. In shock, Will bends over the daughter, desperately trying to close the gaping wound in her throat. Lecter comes in and takes over for Will until the paramedics move in. Will is in shock.

The next day, Jack goes to find Will in his lecture - but Alana is there instead, subbing for the missing Will. “I told you not to let him get too close,” she scolds. Will has gone to the hospital to sit with the Hobbs girl. Lecter is already there, asleep in a chair and holding the girl’s hand. Will takes a seat on the other side.

Also important to know (but something that didn’t really fit into the narrative I was telling) is that Will is something of a dog hoarder. On his way home from work, he likes to drive around looking for strays. He keeps treats in the car to entice them, then takes them home, gives them a bath, and introduces him to the rest of his clan. As of the first episode, Will had at least a half-dozen mutts, and they all sleep in a big, adorable pile.

Dig It or Bury It?

Haunting. With a property like Hannibal, you don’t have to spend much time setting up characters because you know who Hannibal Lecter is. We get a brief, quick introduction to Will Graham, but we don’t need to be told who he is - it is painfully obvious. That was something I really liked about the character of Will. It is rare that we get a lead character who is so frayed, who is so far off from the normal “leading man.” Will and Hannibal are like bookends. Both are deeply disturbed, but Hannibal keeps it neatly tucked in behind a polished exterior, while with Will, he can’t help but let it splash around him.

Hannibal goes much, much deeper than a traditional crime procedural, which makes it fascinating and evocative. It worries me because that also makes it tough for a wide range of viewers to latch on to, which makes it an easy target for a network to cut. (Especially worrisome is that this is on NBC, a network that has been drowning for years and wants instant results and quick-fixes.)


Will is having a hard time dealing with the fact that he shot a man. Their newest case is the Mushroom Man, a killer who has to be seen to be believed.