TV Recap: 'Hannibal' Episode 109 - 'Buffet Froid'



hannibalHannibal Episode 109
“Buffet Froid”
Written By: Andy Black & Chris Brancato and Bryan Fuller
Directed By: John Dahl
Original Airdate: 30 May 2013

In This Episode...

In Greenwood, Delaware, a woman named Beth LaBeau comes home, feeds her bird, and goes to bed. She is in bed for moments before she discovers her roof is leaking. In the attic, she finds a hole in the roof, which is letting in lots of snow. She patches it the best she can for the night and goes back to bed. As she approaches her bedroom, Beth notices wet footprints on the floor. She proceeds slowly, but finds no one there. That is because whoever is there is hiding under the bed. A hand reaches out, grabs Beth, and pulls her under. Blood sprays as the monster under the bed kills Beth.

Will comes home from fishing and sets about gutting his catch. The fish spills more blood than the fish could possibly hold. Will is confused and concerned. Suddenly, he is on top of Beth, hands bloodied and a frenzied look in his eye. Scared, Will bursts out of the room - and finds Jack and the team standing out there, waiting for his assessment of the crime scene. Jack is “officially concerned” - he has never seen Will look so scared. Will, for his part, tries to brush it off, saying he just got confused. He goes straight to Hannibal with his concerns. Will knows, logically, that he didn’t kill Beth, but he “remembers” cutting into her. (It could be because, as he was visualizing the violence, he grabbed the knife.) Will “knows what kind of crazy” he is, and this isn’t it. Hannibal agrees to take him to a neurologist to check for tumors or blood clots, but if they find nothing, Will must face the scary truth: that he is dealing with a worsening mental illness. 

The men go see Dr. Sutcliffe, a neurologist whom Hannibal used to work with. Hannibal admits to Sutcliffe that he suspects encephalitis - a swelling of the brain - because he can “smell” it on him (remember a few episodes ago, when Hannibal sniffed Will?) and when asked to draw a clock face, the numbers appeared to be sliding off, showing spacial neglect. He hints that he didn’t suggest anything to Will because he wanted to study him. A CAT scan reveals that Will does indeed have encephalitis. The right hemisphere of his brain is massively swollen, resistant to treatment, and will only get worse. So Sutcliffe plays along with Hannibal, and tells Will that his brain scan was clean. No tumors, no clots, nothing abnormal. He agrees to run more tests, but he tells Will that physically there is nothing wrong with him.

The evidence left behind suggests that the suspect has some kind of disease. Their skin was flaky, they didn’t leave behind fingerprints, and Beth scratched her attacker, but the skin didn’t bleed. It also appears that the killer was trying to peel off Beth’s face, like a mask. Will sneaks back to Beth’s house and has a look around. He notices someone, a woman with a ghostly, Grudge-like appearance, hiding under the bed. The woman turns over the bed and runs. Will calls to her, tries to catch her hand, but ends up peeling off a sheet of her skin like he was removing a glove. Then he is outside, in the woods, and three hours have passed. He has no idea what happened in those three hours.

Hannibal suggests Cotard syndrome - that the suspect has it, not Will (though he says it in such a way that it plants the seeds in Will’s brain). Cotard syndrome is a very rare mental disorder in which the sufferer believes that he or she is dead. An inability to see faces and an inability to trust or otherwise recognize people is also common. The girl that Will encountered was real. Her name is Georgia and she was once Beth’s best friend. The skin taken from Beth’s fingernails matched Georgia’s DNA. Her mother suspected that something was wrong with her daughter when she was nine years old and told her mom she wanted to kill her. Mom took her to every doctor, ran every test, but got no answers. She was relieved when Georgia became comatose. 

Will goes in for another CAT scan. He loses time in the machine, and seems surprised when he is ejected but no one is there to greet him. Will dresses and leaves. On his way out, he notices blood on a door handle. Using his sleeve to prevent contamination, Will enters the room, Sutcliffe’s office. Sutcliffe is there - dead, with his face ripped open like Beth’s. The FBI team comes immediately and Beverly checks Will over. There is not a drop of blood on him. He couldn’t have killed Sutcliffe. This is of little comfort to him. The only connection between Beth and Sutcliffe is Will. He is worried that Georgia was looking for him but couldn’t discern a face.

That night, Will is waken from a fitful sleep by his his whimpering dogs. He peeks under his bed and sees Georgia. Rolling to the floor, he speaks softly, calmly, asserting who she is and where she is. “Am I alive?” she asks timidly and reaches for Will’s proffered hand.

Georgia is installed in an oxygen chamber. She has lost most of her bodily fluids and a lot of her bone mass, so they are treating her as a burn victim. While Hannibal believes she will recover, she may never remember what happened. At least, he hopes not. For Georgia, silent in that chamber, recalls the night of Sutcliffe’s murder. She walked in on Hannibal committing the crime, dressed in a clear plastic Patrick Bateman raincoat. But when Hannibal turns around, all Georgia sees is a creepy blank slate where a face should be. Silently, Hannibal hands her the murder weapon and slips away.

Dig It or Bury It?

Holy fuck that was a chilling episode. There were so many elements that made it so: the Cotards Disease. The under-the-bed killing. The blank faces. The idea that Hannibal won’t tell Will about his encephalitis. When I was about three years old, I had encephalitis. It certainly wasn’t as severe as Will’s, but it was bad enough that I couldn’t walk, couldn’t see straight, and was scared enough that this is my earliest memory and always makes me nervous to think about. I can’t even imagine having it as an adult - and made to think it was mental illness. That right there scares me. This episode was so intense, so well-crafted, and so layered. I think this was my favorite episode yet.

Fun fact: Georgia is played by an actress named Ellen Muth. Ellen starred in Dead Like Me, one of executive producer Bryan Fuller’s first shows. In Dead Like Me, she played a “grim reaper” - named Georgia. (Dead Like Me is one of my all-time favorite shows.) 


Eddie Izzard is back and escapes prison. He is looking for revenge on the psychiatrists who treated him, and Hannibal wants to help - by pointing the way to Alana Bloom.