Season 1, Episode 7:
Will Graham lectures to his class on the habits of the Chesapeake Ripper, who kills in "sounders of three": "I use the term 'sounders' because it refers to a small group of pigs. That's how he sees his victims: not as people; not as prey." Will goes into a bit of detail about Jeremy Olmstead, the victim Miriam Lass was investigating in the previous episode, and then goes on to add Lass herself as the final member of the third sounder. (By coincidence, Crawford has stepped into the room.) Graham adds that the arm was deliberately distributed so that it would be found: "The Chesapeake Ripper remains consistently theatrical."
This brings us to a shot of a set of vocal cords, currently in use. The camera pulls back out of a throat and mouth to reveal an operatic soprano charging through the "Piangeró la sorte mia" aria of Giulio Cesare in Egitto by George Frederic Handel. In the audience, Dr. Hannibal Lecter enjoys the music, though we are spared a shot of his inner ear at work. Some rows behind him, his client Franklyn Froideveaux sits with his friend Tobias Budge. After the performance concludes, a Baltimore socialite needles Lecter about his recent absences from high society, only to be interrupted by Franklyn. He introduces Budge, whose polite face seems frozen on and who rarely blinks. He reveals that Franklyn seemed more interested in impressing Lecter than enjoying the performance itself.
Crawford is in the lab when a phone rings. After the events of the previous episode, he's rather attuned to this sound. He finds the source in one of the autopsy coolers: Miriam Lass's phone, still clutched in her hand. Then he wakes up and finds his Blackberry ringing at his bedside. Next we see him, he's driving Graham to a hotel room where a body was found. Crawford wants to know if it's the Ripper, but Graham has his own words of wisdom: Take a step back and don't get too involved. "The reason he left you Miriam Lass's arm is so he could poke you with it."
One look at the crime scene and Graham knows it's not the Ripper: it may have been performed with surgical skill, but the victim was left rather too alive. So alive, in fact, that he ended up causing his own death by clawing the sutures open. Except that's not true either: Graham perceives that there were two surgeries, and the second, across the victim's chest, was actually an attempt to get to his heart and keep it beating. It's botched CPR at best, Failure-to-Save Murder at worst, and—this is for certain—it's not the Ripper. Of course, Crawford isn't happy to hear that, since he wants the Ripper's hide on the barn door.
Speaking of the Chesapeake Ripper, now here is Dr. Lecter at his weekly session with Franklyn. The body language says volumes: Dr. Lecter reclined back in his chair, Franklyn perched forward on the edge of his. Franklyn confesses that he may or may not have gone to the opera event largely because he thought Lecter might be there. His eagerness approaches Stalker with a Crush levels. He wants to be friends. He then talks about the (then) recent death of Michael Jackson and his own belief that, if he had been MJ's friend, he might have managed to prevent the tragedy, might have "saved him from himself." At this point, Lecter's decision to maintain appropriate therapist-client boundaries seems like wisdom as well as proper psychiatric procedure.
Most characters would say "I Need a Freaking Drink" after such a session. Well, what Hannibal says instead is, "I need a freaking session with my own psychiatrist." Enter Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (ret.), played by none other than Gillian Anderson. She starts out by proclaiming that she's going to be completely honest with him: "I have conversations with a version of you and hope that the actual you gets what he needs." She reveals that he is her only patient, since he chose to "ignore my retirement." Of course, he gets some of his own medicine in reverse when he mentions that he and Du Maurier are "friendly" and she corrects that they are not. But unlike Franklyn, Hannibal seems okay with this.
Back at his own office, Lecter finds Graham waiting without. Talk turns to shop talk almost immediately, and Lecter does his best to suggest that there might be two people whose crimes have been lumped together under the "Chesapeake Ripper" file. Specifically, he brings up the idea that this might be some unhinged orgen harvester. Graham is intrigued and promises to keep it in mind. And, of course, the theory is completely accurate: all it misdirects on is the matter of where the harvested organs end up.
As it happens, they end up in food. First, we see a brief flashback of Lecter undergoing an exam by a rude health professional named Andrew Caldwell; in the present, Lecter pulls Caldwell's business card from his rolodex. Next, he finds himself a recipe—Crisp Lemon Calf Liver—from a box of index cards. (They are all handwritten in elegant script, suggesting Hannibal went through the trouble of recording them longhand.) Next he opens a rolodex and pulls out Caldwell's business card. Finally, we find Caldwell on the road, inspecting his car, whose gas tank has sprouted a convenient puncture. When a stranger pulls over to help, Caldwell accepts it gladly. Of course, that stranger is Lecter... And the next we see of Caldwell, he's being wheeled into the FBI crime lab, his hips no longer connected to his torso.
Graham argues with the lab rats over whether there are indeed two killers on the loose, interspersed with shots of Hannibal preparing his dish. (He took the heart too for a different recipe.) It's Price who hits on the important question: "Is the organ harvester disguising his work as the crimes of a serial killer, or a serial killer disguising his crimes as the work of an organ harvester?"
Crawford, on his way out, stops by the same autopsy locker that, in his dream, contained Miriam Lass's ringing phone. Today, it's empty... but the morgue is not. Across the way, Will Graham's corpse rises from its gurney. His left arm is missing: he has everything they don't have of Lass. Crawford blinks... and the hallucination is gone. But the symbolism is fairly obvious, especially given the contents of the previous scene. This recap doesn't include it because it's frankly inconsequential, except for one line: Lecter observes to Bloom (who is helping him with kitchen prep work) that Crawford is grooming Graham to catch the Chesapeake Ripper. He was doing that to Miriam Lass too, and look where that got her. If you need a reminder, watch the scene again.
Next we have a montage of Lecter finding more recipes and hunting down more victims to the tune of the cheery "Le Veau d'Or" from Charles Gounod's Faust. The recipes: Chicken Liver Pate (with the addition of a 1/2-teaspoon of sage), Braised Beef Lungs (recipe source unknown); and Parmesan-Crumbled [sic] Lamb's Brains. The prepared foodstuffs fill Hannibal's freezer as the corpses fill the FBI morgue. Behavioral Analysis is stumped. "Before, we were looking at waiting lists for a heart, or a kidney," Price explains. "This guy... he's missing a spleen. A spleen! Who the hell gets a spleen transplant?" (It's being blended into god knows what.) "So we're either looking at someone with short bowels, or..." Zellner shrugs. "I dunno, the Ripper's making sausage." (He is.) Graham, however, is still confident that there are two killers, and that "at least one of them" is the Chesapeake Ripper.
Lecter is having another session with Franklyn, who today is going on about their shared love of cheese. Lecter, evidently starting to run out of patience, pinpoints that Tobias is Franklyn's best friend, but Franklyn is not Tobias's. Finally the interview is at an end, and Lecter happily opens the door to greet Graham... but Graham isn't there. The "Lacrimosa" from Mozart's Requiem thunders as Lecter confronts his own disappointment. So he goes looking. He finds Will sitting at his desk in his lecture hall, mid-hallucination—in Will's mind, he is sitting with Abigail Hobbs next to the girl-on-stag-head tableau, and when she says, "Dad?", he answers, "Yes?" Will, to his credit, apologizes for sleeping through the appointment. He's been having nightmares—and given the pile of Ripper-victim photos on his desk, who can blame him? Lecter identifies the victims as being put on display as a sign of victory, but Graham corrects him: these are punishments for "undignified behavior", "public shaming." "He takes their organs away because in his mind they don't deserve them," Lecter observes. The last photo he comes up with is that of Miriam Lass's arm. Graham explains that the point of her death was not to humiliate her, but rather to humiliate Crawford. And "I'd say it worked really well."
Katz has found their organ harvester, using hotel security cameras to find the single ambulance driving away from the emergency. Baltimore subcontracts to a number of ambulance companies, and the owner of this particular one is a "Devon Silvestri," who works while studying for his MCAT exams. Despite being "in for repairs" on paper, the vehicle in question is out of the office... but Katz knows how to trace it via its consumer-model GPS. (Lecter leans close to Will and observes, "This is very educational," with every sign of sincerety.) When an FBI SWAT Team closes with the van, Devon is within, hands-deep in another patient/victim. Under the ominous thunder of "Patri Oppressa," a Crowd Song from Giuseppe Verdi's Macbeth, Dr. Lecter steps in to save the man and Silvestri gives up without a fight.
In the final scene, Lecter puts the finishing touches on his dinner-party feast while begging Graham to stay. Graham declines, claiming he is in no mental shape to be good company, and asks about the aftermath of the Silvestri case. Graham has not been able to find any connection between Silvestri and the Chesapeake Ripper, meaning any hope Lecter has of passing Silvestri off as the Ripper is gone. But hey, at least he's got this great dinner party to throw! To the sprightly tones of Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, "L'inverno" (Winter) by Antonio Vivaldi, Hannibal bids his guests to take their fill. "Before we begin you must all be warned: nothing here... is vegetarian."
This episode showcases the following tropes:
- Expy / Meaningful Name: In The Silence of the Lambs, Benjamin Raspail was one of Lecter's patients and victims. Per Word Of God:@BryanFuller: @mrdanfogler plays Franklyn Froideveaux. Ben Franklin. Froideveaux is a street running parallel to Raspail in Paris.
- I'm a Humanitarian
- Small Reference Pools: averted. Even when the show snippets Vivaldi's Four Seasons, it doesn't go for the obvious choice of Concerto No. 1 ("Spring").
- Soundtrack Dissonance
- Story Arc: this episode forms a rough two-parter with the following, "Fromage."
- Wicked Cultured