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Recap / Hannibal S 01 E 06

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Season 1, Episode 6:


At Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, a man lies on the floor. Outside his cell, law enforcement and hospital orderlies step in to investigate. They feel for a pulse. Next thing we know, the prisoner, a Dr. Abel Gideon, is being wheeled to the dispensary for treatment. A nurse straps on the leads, the blood pressure cuff, rigs an IV drip... only for the pulse monitor to flatline. Why? Because Dr. Gideon has risen from the gurney.


Crawford and Graham roll up to the hospital. According to Fredricka Lounds, paparazzi, the fabled "Chesapeake Ripper" is already in custody here, and Crawford wants Graham to confirm this. First, however, they have to get past the gatekeeper: Dr. Frederick Chilton, administrator of the hospital, Smug Smiler and slimeball of the highest caliber. He seems to see Graham as more of a curious specimen than anything else. "He's not here to be analyzed," Crawford declares, and Chilton returns immediately, "Perhaps he should be." In any case, Chilton is sure they have the Chesapeake Ripper in custody... and the nurse's body, impaled midair on a series of poles, certainly seems to agree.

After the credits, we find Graham doing his re-enactment thing: being wheeled through the halls of the hospital, getting the leads attached to him; extracting the tine of a fork from his palm to use as a handcuff key; gouging out the nurse's eyes; and finally the staking. Will looks none too happy about this reconstruction when he comes to himself. But he's not the only one having flashbacks: Crawford has some to two years ago, when the Chesapeake Ripper last struck and Gideon, in seemingly unrelated news, was incarcerated after killing his wife and in-laws over Thanksgiving dinner. During this time Crawford was grooming his next protégé. It's a scene taken almost word-for-word from The Silence of the Lambs: she's an Academy trainee with a dual background in forensics and psychology; she wrote Crawford a letter upon admission to the Academy expressing her desire to join Behavioral Analysis after she graduates; and Crawford needs warm bodies to help in his latest hunt. Only the names are different: she's being attached to the task force hunting the Ripper, and her name is Miriam Lass.


In the present, Dr. Bloom has joined Graham at the hospital. Graham, having digested Gideon's actions, does not believe he is the Chesapeake Ripper, but both he and Bloom will be interviewing Gideon anyhow. It doesn't go particularly well, since all three of them are trained psychologists and can talk shop both to and against each other. Gideon insists he's the Chesapeake Ripper, but neither Graham nor Bloom seems to be buying it. In particular, Graham believes the murder of the night nurse was too impulsive and garish to fit the profile.

Crawford drops by Lecter's office to grump about Bella's continued lack of transparency. She's abroad on NATO business, so she can't talk about it, but she doesn't want to talk about it either. Of course, once we hear Crawford's concerns, it's kind of understandable: "I can't stop thinking about when my wife's gonna die. I look at her side of the bed and think, 'Is she gonna die there?'" He's scared of losing her, and isn't taking it well that to a certain extent he already has. This segues to the question of who else he has lost...


In Deliberately Monochrome flashback, Crawford and Lass contemplate the Chesapeake Ripper's latest victim, a man named Jeremy Olmstead. She identifies that the Ripper is likely a surgeon—not only were the attacks precise, but people with Lack of Empathy are drawn to the power, to the chance to make objective decisions. Like the nurse Gideon murdered, this victim has an awful lot of stuff sticking out of him. In point of fact, Zellner has found that the nurse has the exact same wound pattern as Olmstead—well, last known victim, since Miriam Lass is still officially a Missing Person, despite Crawford's insistence that she is beyond mortal help. Graham's opinion is that Gideon is a plagiarist... and "if he's a plagiarist, the real Chesapeake Ripper is gonna make sure everybody knows it."

In Crawford's lonely bed that night, the phone rings. "Jack? Jack... Jack, it's Miriam. I don't know where I am. I can't see anything. I was so wrong. I was so wrong!... Please, Jack— Please--"

The next morning, Katz has been unable to find any electronic trace of the phone call itself, but Crawford is sure it's the Chesapeake Ripper, taunting him with a recording made of Miriam Lass in the last moments before her death. Graham points out that this rules out Gideon as the Ripper, since had he made the call from the asylum, Katz would have been able to trace this. When Zellner questions the veracity of Crawford's recollections, Crawford simply pins him with a Death Glare: "I know when I'm awake."

This isn't very comforting to Will Graham, who can't: whilst sitting at his desk in his empty lecture hall, he sees the ravenstag enter from without. When he blinks his eyes, it's Bloom and Crawford. "You looked like you were dreaming," Bloom observes. She and Crawford want to exert pressure on the Ripper and encourage him to break dormancy. Not only might this result in more murders, but... "Are you thinking of getting into bed with Freddie Lounds??"

At the meeting, Crawford introduces Lounds to Bloom, while Graham ignores her handshake. She zeroes in on the fact that Gideon might not actually be the Chesapeake Ripper, but he certainly fits the profile, surgeons being the 5th most popular employment for sociopaths. Graham points out that 6th is journalists, and Lounds returns that 7th is law enforcement. And on that cheerful note, she goes off to interview Gideon.

After her article is published (we see Lecter reading it on his iPad), Crawford's the next to call on Dr. Gideon. However, he throws a spanner by claiming he killed Miriam Lass. A second spanner arrives when Crawford's Blackberry lights up with a call from home. But it's not Bella: it's the recording of Miriam. BAU finds one of her hairs on Bella's pillow and her prints on the bedside phone. Incidentally, the last thing Crawford said to Gideon was, "Why didn't you put [Miriam's body] on display?" And the last thing Gideon said to Crawford was, "What makes you think I didn't?"

It's Graham who zeroes in on the obvious conclusion, though: "Whoever made that call thinks you were close to Miriam Lass and feel responsible for her death." And here we get another flashback of Lass checking in with Crawford. Since the Ripper is a surgeon, her idea is to check for leads in the victims' medical records. Those data are confidential, and Crawford cannot petition for access to them without probable cause... but a trainee can get scolded over what a Special Agent In Charge would lose his badge for. Crawford doesn't give her permission, but he also doesn't stop her.

Bloom broaches the subject to Gideon: she believes that Gideon was brainwashed into believing he is the Chesapeake Ripper. If so, Chilton would be the most likely candidate. If so, he isn't cracking: over dinner at Lecter's, he gloats about the career potential of getting to analyze a true sociopath. Bloom, to her credit, takes the high road, suggesting that Chilton may have accidentally suggested to Gideon that he was the Ripper—as opposed to something like, say, psychic driving, which would be unethical. Lecter doesn't help when he points out that if Gideon repressed memories of being the Ripper, Chilton has actually done a helpful thing by dredging them back up again. Drawing Chilton aside for help with the next course, he begs for further disclosure, claiming he is not as critical of unorthodox treatment as Bloom is.

Crawford gets another Miriam call, this time from a discrete phone number (804 555-0131) traced to a disposable cellphone currently located in an abandoned observatory. (Incidentally, these latest shenanigans have convinced Crawford that Gideon is not the Ripper.) Crawford employs the time-honored tradition of "find a lost phone by calling it," and he, Graham and Katz home in on the ringtone of the device. It's at the top floor, in a hand connected to a forearm connected to... nothing at all. Next to it, a letter with a handwritten legend: "What do you see?"

Before a roaring fire, Crawford unburdens himself to Lecter. The point of all this torture, he believes, was gaslighting: making him believe that Miriam might be alive, despite his constant declarations throughout the episode that she is, must be, dead. The Ripper, he confesses, succeeded: for just a moment, he experienced a Hope Spot despite being intelligent enough to know it for what it was. Lecter invites Crawford to talk to him about the dead trainee, leading us to our final flashback:

Miriam Lass knocked on the door, and Dr. Hannibal Lecter invited her into his office. She asked for details about Jeremy Olmstead, whom Lecter once operated on during his years as an emergency-room trauma surgeon. Lecter, unfortunately, didn't remember much, but he offered to go fetch his records. As he climbed the ladder, Lass wandered idly about his office, finding one of his drawings... and beneath it, a diagram of wounds that matched those inflicted on Jeremy Olmstead. Understanding flashed, but too late for Lass; Lecter had already shed his shoes. His hands snaked around her neck, and despite her struggles it was all over. What happened next wasn't detailed, but it was fairly obvious: Lecter would have needed to protect his secret, to silence anyone who—like Miriam Lass, FBI Agent In Training—had figured out that he was the Chesapeake Ripper.

This episode contains the following tropes:

  • Deliberately Monochrome: While not entirely in Black & White, the flashbacks have an extremely muted color palate.
  • Expy: Dr. Gideon (Eddie Izzard) is one to Lecter, even to the point of using the alternate name Ted Tally assigned to the character during the drafts before the studio had secured the rights to the name. He's basically an imitation of Anthony Hopkins' Lecter.
  • Fridge Brilliance: if he's really not the Chesapeake Ripper (spoiler: he isn't), then being an homage to the wrong actor actually has weird metafictional resonance.
  • Shout Out: To The Godfather Part II.
    "In my house? In my bedroom? Where my wife sleeps?"
  • Tranquil Fury: This is the first time we see Lecter really angry. He barely changes expression, but it is terrifying.
  • Whole Plot Reference: To The Silence of the Lambs.

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