At first, Will's repeated visions of the Raven Stag are symbolic of his inability to escape the memory of Garrett Jacob Hobbs (who hung dead girl bodies on antlers). However over the course of the series the Raven Stag comes to represent Hannibal, until it transforms into the Wendingo. This is symbolic of Will realising that he is being manipulated by Hannibal. The association could have just come from him being unable to escape Hannibal, as he couldn't escape the memory of Hobbs, but that isn't all. Remember how Will spends a session with Hannibal staring at the stag statue in Will's office? Or how Will knows that it was that statue that caused Tobias' death (though he believes accidently)? Or even Will's dream of talking with Abigail over Hannibal's copycat killing (a girl impaled on a stag head). Notice how Abigail looks frightened when Hannibal tries to wake Will up.
So much of this series works as Foreshadowing for the planned future seasons which are to be adaptations of the books; but more than that, they put future events in a new light. When Dr. Chilton bullies Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, for instance, it seems petty and motivated by jealously- his prisoner is smarter than him and doesn't bother to hide it; but in this show, given everything Chilton goes through thanks to the Chesapeake Ripper fiasco, finding out that the guy he thought was helping him was in fact the real Ripper himself and had been playing him for a fool the whole time, thereby nearly ruining his career, exposing Gideon as not the Ripper but then dumping Will on him as if he was a Serial Killer when he wasn't, and very nearly getting him painfully killed; suddenly, Chilton's grudge against Lecter takes on many new dimensions. Lecter basically humiliated Chilton over the course of the entire first season, and will probably continue to do so over the course of the second — of course Chilton is pissed off at him!.
In the novel, Jack Crawford says that Hannibal is an Insufferable Genius and that this was the only weakness he ever saw in him; in both book and film he warns Clarice Starling that "you don't want Hannibal Lecter running around inside your head". Given that in those novels, Hannibal was captured before Jack even met him, he was likely talking about how he acted during interviews and his trial, but this show gives Jack a much more up-front look at how Hannibal behaves and his future words carry much more weight as a result. Jack also assigns Clarice because he thinks Hannibal will respond better to a woman — we see that in this show, such as him opening up to his female therapist (for a given value of "opening up"), his "friendship" with Abigail, and in the fact that when he killed Abigail and Meriam Lass, it's implied that he preserved their bodies rather than eating them, showing his respect for them — this also calls forward to Red Dragon as we know that a police officer will see something horrible in Hannibal's basement that will give him "emotional problems" — since Hannibal eats most of his victims, it's possible that the preserved bodies of Abigail and Lass — and maybe others — are in Hannibal's basement, waiting to be found.
Each of the killers so far on the show reflect some aspect of Lecter's own style — cannibalism, religious iconography, artistic flair, manipulation on the level of brainwashing, etc. The Fridge Brilliance? The prequel series now retroactively adds another layer to the films' version of Lecter, as each kill invoking such motifs now doubles as Lecter taunting the FBI for how they invited him to meddle in these earlier investigations in the first place!
All of "Fromage". The entire hour is Hannibal manipulating people who are annoying the hell out of him into situations in which he can kill them without exposing himself. It starts with Franklin inadvertently passing on a "message" from the killer-of-the-week Tobias, which prompts Hannibal to invite Tobias for dinner so as to sound him out — only for Tobias to not only admit that, yes, he's a killer, but that he knows that Hannibal is the Chesapeake Ripper. Afterwards, Hannibal plays the situation like a fine instrument; Tobias admits that his latest killing (a trombonist made into a cello by chemically treating his vocal chords into strings) will draw the FBI to him simply as an expert in stringing instruments, and Tobias plans on killing them before escaping; Hannibal wants to keep Graham alive, so he passes on Franklin's "message" to keep him on his toes. When Tobias escapes from Graham and shows up at Franklin's next therapy session, Hannibal takes the opportunity to kill his annoying fanboy, knowing that Tobias will be blamed for it. He then engages Tobias in combat, and purposefully takes a few nasty-looking but otherwise superficial wounds before proceeds to curb stomp Tobias; first using a rope-a-dope on a rather conveniently placed ladder (that he himself moved during the course of the fight) to pin and break Tobias's arm, then an almost nonchalant larynx strike that drops Tobias like a sack of potatoes. Following that, he not only uses his handkerchief to pick up a heavy statue — of a deer, no less — before smashing Tobias's head with it, he uses the handkerchief to tip over the table it was on — no fingerprints means it looks like Tobias fell against it, dropping the statue on his own head. Then he delicately folds up and tucks the handkerchief back into his pocket, as neat as you please; you'd never think he moved it at all. Hannibal: 3. Tobias, Franklin, FBI: 0.
It only makes sense that Abigail's a Manipulative Bitch when you consider the fact that she recruited girls for her father to kill. She's had a lot of practice in lies and subterfuge.
Freddie Lounds's antagonism towards Will Graham, and conviction that he must be a villain, in the later episodes of Season 1, continuing into Season 2, doesn't make a lot of sense on its face. Until one remembers that in the second episode of the series, she eavesdropped on a lengthy therapy session between Graham and Dr. Lecter, in which Will confessed to hallucinating about Garret Jacob Hobbs while working at a crime scene, and probably talked about a whole host of other issues he was beginning to experience. Knowing he was losing his grip on his sanity (and even having heard him admit to the same), it makes sense that she would be suspicious of him.
When Hannibal hid the body of the man whom Abigail killed in self-defense, he wasn't merely trying to protect her. He knew that covering up the killing would give him leverage with Abigal that he could use to manipulate her later. His relationship with Abigail eventually becomes both fatherly and manipulative.
In "Buffet Froid", we finally get some insight into why the Angel Killer saw Will with his head on fire. Will has severe encephalitis, which means his head is literally inflamed.
Hannibal claims that Will is his friend, and yet he manipulates and deceives Will without remorse. For example, he knows that Will's mental state is deteriorating due to anti-NDMA encephalitis, but he withholds this information. Hannibal may be lying about being Will's friend, or, because Hannibal is a sociopath, it may be that he has no clue what friendship actually looks like.
It's a little of both probably. Will can completely relate with him but he can't relate to Will. He wants friendship, but let's be honest... this is Hannibal Lecter.
Also, Hannibal has made it clear on multiple occasions that he wants Will to quit profiling. This would not only save Will's sanity (which was decaying rapidly due to mental stress), but keep Will from discovering that Hannibal is a serial killer. And if Will quits, Hannibal can easily treat Will's encephalitis with medication (treatment includes immunotherapy — a heavy-duty dose of steroids and other drugs aimed at suppressing the body's attack on itself. Typically, Dr. Najjar said, the treatment is effective, and most severe symptoms improve within three to four week after treatment begins) which Hannibal could falsely label as anti-depressants, supporting the whole "profiling is bad for you" concept Hannibal's been pushing for months.
Miriam Lass discovers that Hannibal is the Ripper because she found a copy of The Wound Man in his office, just like Will did in the books. In "Sorbet", Will shows a slide of The Wound Man to his class right before a slide of Miriam.
Of course Will loves dogs, he can figure put exactly what the dogs want to communicate to him thanks to his super-empathy, and with dogs being way simpler than people, he doesn't feel uncomfortable with them.
Eddie Izzard's as Dr. Abel Gideon mirrors that of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Which is brilliant when you realise that he's been coerced through psychic driving by Dr. Chilton into believing he is the Chesapeake Ripper, i.e. Hannibal. Given that the Hannibal of the show is wildly different from that of the films, this is the showrunners' attempt at creating contrast between them, and also carries the implication that the creepy scenery-chewing Hannibal mannerisms would be more typical from a man pretending to be a ruthless super-intelligent cannibal than from a real one.
Add to that the symbolic naming: Abel was the first murder victim in Biblical history, and Gideon was the second leader of the Jewish people after their flight from Egypt. Both characters played second fiddle to the better-remembered Cain and Moses, just as Dr. Gideon is a pale reflection of two versions of Hannibal Lecter.
In "Rôti", Will is just beginning to sense glimmerings of the Chesapeake Ripper through his hallucinations — e.g., a forest of antlers — because he's getting into the head of Dr. Gideon, who thinks and/or thought he was the Ripper. He's essentially perceiving the Ripper/Hannibal's true nature through the empathetic equivalent of a thick fog, or misted glasses.
Hannibal's psychiatrist, colleague and confidante is named Bedelia DuMaurier. The surname is an obvious reference to writer Daphne DuMaurier, creator of Jamaica Inn', Rebecca, and The Birds'', the latter two of which got used as the basis for Alfred Hitchcock films. Given that Hannibal allegedly got a patient who attacked DuMaurier to swallow his own tongue, is it that much of a stress to notice that, as when the Hopkins-Lecter did this, he was protecting a young woman whose surname is connected to birds?
Rebecca also has strong themes of gaslighting — which is appropriate, given Hannibal's... relationship styles.
The reason Bedelia left the perfume behind in "Sakizuki" is because she knows Hannibal could track her down with his sharp sense of smell, regardless of whether or not she was wearing it.
When Beverly Katz is investigating Hannibal's home, she find the evidence she needs that Hannibal is a killer, but before she can leave, notices red wine dripping through the cracks in Hannibal's floor to his basement. She goes to take a look in the basement, and is killed when Hannibal finds her there. Beverly Katz was killed because she gave in to her natural curiosity to look. In other words, Curiosity killed the Katz.
Why did Hannibal save Bella's life when she attempted suicide via morphine, besides his noted curiosity? Well, if you think back, Hannibal himself gave an answer. "I didn't poison you, Tobias. I wouldn't do that to the food." The meat was tainted.
Hannibal, proving himself ever the Manipulative Bastard, deliberately leaves one of the FBI agents disemboweled for Chilton to find. So on top of everything else, Hannibal basically taunts Chilton with a visual reminder of the horrific And Show It to You attack he suffered at Gideon's hands. Sure enough, it drives Chilton to even greater and more irrational terror, exactly as Hannibal wants.
The opening of Season 2 shows Jack confronting Hannibal without backup, in a preview of what's to come. We're left to wonder about the circumstances. Was there a pressing need that forced him to act before backup could arrive? Was his phone dead, broken or stolen so that he couldn't call anybody? Was he discredited so that nobody would come to his aid? "Yakimono", however, gives us some important foreshadowing. Will calls Jack to tell him that Chilton is at his house, and Jack arrives in a rage to apprehend Chilton alone (or worse), without any sort of backup. Will is quick to notice this. Jack's dance with the Chesapeake Ripper has become personal, and he demonstrates a reckless desire to be the one to visit justice on the killer. This, then, is likely why he will confront Hannibal alone. Pending the outcome of their fight, his recklessness could lead to his death.
While clever and fitting, this isn't entirely correct. The real reason Jack Crawford didn't have any backup was because Kade Purnell put him on temporary suspension after finding out about him and Will's plan to trap Hannibal.
In Shiizakana, Jack makes casual chitchat with Hannibal and mentions that he used to be afraid of losing his memory. He follows that up with "What I wouldn't give to forget a thing or two now"...which is incidentally just moments before he takes a bite from the liver omelet Hannibal just set down in front him.
Mizumono ends in a nigh-perfect parallel to the death of Abigail's parents in Kaiseki: Alana bleeding out on the front doorstep, like Abigail's mother; Will bleeding out in the kitchen from a massive wound to the abdomen, like Garrett Jacob Hobbs; Abigail bleeding out in the kitchen from a slash to the throat; and Hannibal having gotten away with orchestrating all of it.
Winston, the dog Will adopts in the first episode, is found wearing a collar and a leash and, after initial skittishness, is a friendly and well-socialized pooch — probably not an abandoned or abused dog. Yet no explanation is given as to why Will adopts him instead of finding and returning him to his owners. Anyone want to bet that Winston's family is still looking for him?
I'd take that bet. Winston was actually dragging a length of rope with a ragged end (I checked — it's in both the shooting script and the show); he either chewed or pulled himself free, and whatever it was that he escaped, he's very determined to escape it. His fur was as dirty and matted as dog fur can get given television standards. He acknowledges Will but won't approach him. Will has to entice him with food — even then he's reluctant — and the water from his bath is filthy. Will introduces him to the other dogs using a cage and makes very certain that he supervises and controls their behaviour, allowing Winston a calm and safe welcome; Winston's obedience is as much a product of Will's handling as Winston's upbringing. He had no collar, no tag, no registration, nothing. An absence of viciousness doesn't mean a dog had a good past home, and who's to say Will didn't check for lost dog notices or anything like that? If Winston's prior home still exists, I don't think he'd be glad to return.
The Angel Maker kills and suspends himself from the rafters. This involved somehow making "wings" of the flesh on his back, (how he reached it is anyone's guess,) hanging them from the ceiling, before tying himself into the correct position. Even if we accept that he was somehow immune to the agony, shock and crippling blood-loss, it would still be virtually impossible for him to kill himself in that way.
In "Trou Normand", the killer who makes a massive totem pole of his victims is an old man, who is shown to be very weak and frail, despite somehow managing to tie dozens of bodies to a huge pole of wood, and then somehow standing the pole upright. The latter would have to have been done with heavy machinery, but we don't see him have access to any.
In episode 10, it's hard to see how the killer being a sick woman, would have the brute strength necessary to drag her victim under the bed the way she did, even ignoring the fact that fitting two struggling bodies under a normal-sized bed would leave very little room for her to build up any leverage or momentum.
There's a lot of space under that bed. Enough to raise your arm quite a ways. Georgia's not very big and neither was her friend, and surprise (as well as murderous rage) will lend you a lot of advantages.
How the hell did Lecter manage to get Abigail's ear into Will's mouth?!?!
Will has fugue states and seizures, during which he has no awareness of his surroundings. After Hannibal murdered and mutilated Abigail, he probably took her ear and some blood to the cabin where she told him she'd left Will. If Will was in a fugue state, Hannibal could have fed him the ear, smeared the blood under his fingernails, and scratched him to create the illusion of a struggle.
Or it could already have been in the sink before Will threw up in it.
In "Kaiseki", we get to see a nice sequence of Hannibal forcing a long tube down Will's throat, which he then stuffs Abigail's ear down. Will is unconscious, presumably drugged or delirious. It's about as disgusting as you might imagine.
We're still left wondering why anyone would believe Graham ate her ear whole — no bite marks, no preparation to make the cartilage digestible. It's still unusual, sure, but it's clearly a frame without these.
How did Dr. Gideon, an overweight middle-aged man not only overpower and kill someone but overpower several guards younger than himself?
They show you in the episode! There were only two people in the van with him, a cop (who looks near to Gideon's age) and an orderly (younger); and then there was the driver, whom he got the drop on. They were in a small space, where Gideon's lack of height would have given him extra room to manoeuvre. Gideon himself isn't overweight to a degree that would hinder him in combat — he's stocky and sturdy, as well as a surgeon familiar with anatomical weaknesses and probably used to making quick decisions under pressure, though in this instance he's killing people rather than keeping them alive. Honestly, it was probably easy in comparison with surgery.
How does Freddie manage to recover from her ordeal at the hands of Dr. Gideon with no mental side-effects and, more, pointedly, why does she still want to work on a book with Abigail... after all, she herself got kidnapped and forced to work with a serial killer. Couldn't she simply write a book about her own recent experiences?
This could be another sign of some psychopathology residing in Freddie's mind.
Freddie doesn't dispute the implication that journalists have an unusually high incidence of sociopathy, and her appearance at the fungal garden scene shows she's eager to be there, as opposed to everyone else. Despite being direct witness to one killing and a forced participant in torture, she emerges quickly from each seemingly unchanged. Her panicked states in both may just be due to her not wanting to die, uncaring of the others around her.
Freddie's been in her business for a while; she's probably inured to a lot of horrific things (she's pretty cool about that cop getting shot in front of her face, for instance). And while writing about one personal kidnapping by one murderous knock-off is good material, a book about a young girl whose father cannibalised other young girls is bestseller material. More than money — reputation, publicity, fame!
How exactly was Freddie's death faked? Where did the charred corpse come from? How did they fake it matching Freddie's dental records?
The degree to which Garrett Jacob Hobbs' relationship with his daughter resembles abuse or an incestuous relationship into which he has forced her, as if it weren't bad enough on its own. The rationale of "I have to do this to you so I don't do it to anyone else" as well as its inverse (what actually happens to Abigail and which she herself buys into, helping her father capture other girls out of fear for herself is horribly common and is a big part of why survivors of rape and incest don't speak out, or feel guilty themselves for the fact that their abusers do hurt other people. Abigail's fear that will think she's complicit in it/tainted as a result or that living with her dad has warped her beyond repair especially as she played along to save her own life is also realistic for someone who grew up in the shadow of another kind of monstrous crime. Hobbs might not be sexually assaulting the girls he kills, but obsessively hunting girls who resemble his teenage daughter as a symbolic way of keeping her from ever ever leaving him (and the somewhat infantilizing way he re-dresses the girl whose body he returns) really don't bode well.
As Hannibal mentions in "Relevés" before killing Abigail offscreen, he has killed many more people than Garret Jacob Hobbs. But if the police only know about his killings done in the persona of the Chesapeake Ripper, and if he sometimes kills in different ways, or copies other killers, then it's probable there have been many killings even they don't know about... And even as the Chesapeake Ripper, he already seems to be the most infamous serial killer currently active in the world of Hannibal.
When they first meet in the pilot episode, Hannibal is somewhat hostile toward Jack Crawford. He tells Jack to wait outside, while he presumably is in his office clearing his schedule. He invites Jack in eventually, and the two observe an amazing drawing Hannibal has made of his former boarding school in Paris, pointing out his use of a scalpel instead of a sharpener to get the edge right on his pencils. Lecter basically asks Crawford why the FBI would be investigating him, to which Crawford tells him they aren't but want his help. After this and more flattery on Jack's part, Hannibal's mood is significantly lighter and he hears out Jack about profiling Will Graham. For those new to these characters, it probably didn't seem too suspicious. However, those already keenly aware of Lecter'strue nature will see that he was ready to murder Jack Crawford right in the middle of his office, or abduct him the way he had his protege, Miriam Lass, who is revealed later on to have been caught, mutilated and killed by Lecter. This would explain why Hannibal is immediately defensive toward Jack, he knew him and assumed he was being caught. He likely was hiding evidence while Jack was in the waiting room (a precaution he failed to take with Lass). The only real evidence of this in the scene is a solo close-up of the scalpel in Lecter's hands. Though we don't see it again, he's staring at it as he turns to ask Jack why he's being investigated. If Jack had beaten around the bush a few moments longer, Hannibal might have slit his throat with that scalpel and disappeared him the way he always seems to be able to do.
No, it's the opposite. Hannibal did NOT hide evidence, because when Jack looks at his drawings, there is a picture of the wound man just beneath. If Hannibal had the desire to hide it, he would have removed it entirely. Instead he left it sitting at exactly the same spot Miriam Lass had found it in, or, even more likely, he placed it there while Jack was waiting outside. Either he did it to taunt him (see if another agent would be as smart as Miriam), or he did it in the hope that Jack would linger on it, alerting Hannibal that he was here in connection with the Ripper case.
Miriam Lass's fate. She went missing about two years ago, right around the time Hannibal started brewing that special, odd-tasting beer Alana is so fond of. Further, preserving in alcohol would explain how her arm is whole and intact enough to be recognizable to Jack and the team. Last piece of the puzzle? Offal beer is a real thing: it involves dumping organs or other meat into the brewing vat and then fishing them out later.
Alana: "I taste oak...what else do I taste...?"
When Bella Crawford overdoses in Hannibal's office, he flips a coin, apparently to decide whether he should save her life or not. Had he chosen not to, he presumably wouldn't want the potential fallout of Jack Crawford's wife's body being left in his office. And we know how Hannibal prefers to deal with dead bodies...
This is actually a bit debatable. According to Mads Mikkelsen and Bryan Fuller, Hannibal respects and perhaps even loves Bella Crawford, for her strength in the face of death. And I'm not sure he would mind Jack finding his wife at Hannibal's feet, given that she obviously killed herself. The desired effect (keeping Jack's mind occupied with his dying wife) is maintained regardless of the coin toss.