Season 1, Episode 8:
Graham works on a boat motor while his dogs stand guard. Outside, he thinks he hears the whimpers of some wounded animal and strides forth into the thin spring snow to investigate. But the scene ends without him being able to conclude that there's actually anything there.
Next we zip over to "Chordaphone," a store in downtown Baltimore. Here Tobias Budge, Franklyn's friend from the last episode, teaches cello and sells strings. His student struggles through the melody of Bach's "Minuet In G" (playing it in C, too!), complaining that the strings are harder to play on. Budge tells him that if he learns to play on authentic strings, he'll be a better musician even when he switches back to modern wire and nylon strings. "Are they really made from catgut?" the young man asks. "Not always," Budge replies. His face still looks frozen, and as we see a Hard-Work Montage, we find out that he is right: Budge's strings, in particular, come not from catgut but from human gut. The pre-teen plays on, oblivious to the truth.
Out in his yard, Graham is joined by Dr. Bloom. Graham is not sanguine on actually finding the wounded thing still alive, and Alana teases him about it instead being a date—which would be strange, since in her estimation he's too heartbroken to date. Will turns it right back on her by asking why she doesn't. She admits that she thinks too much for it. There's soft, contemplative piano music underscoring this scene.
Dr. Lecter opens his door for Franklyn's next session. Franklyn takes yet another step down the path of creepy-ass clown by claiming that, since he and Lecter cannot become friends, he has begun psychoanalyzing his own friends as he believes Lecter would. However, the amateur-psychologist Dumbass Has a Point: he found the Hare Psychopathy Checklist online and was a little alarmed at how much Tobias Budge fit the description. "He's been saying very dark things, and then saying, 'Just kidding!,' a lot; it started to seem kind of crazy." Lecter seems intrigued, to the point that Franklyn asks if he himself is getting boring.
No; it's just that Budge is crazy, as we see in today's victim: a cellist who has been staked on the stage of an auditorium, so that his vocal cords could be the strings of the instrument. (Amusingly, Douglas Wilson was actually a trombonist.) Crawford asks Graham if it's becoming easier for him to look; Graham replies that no, it isn't, he's just learned to look anyway. Crawford responds, "Good," and leaves him to it. The tableau was pretty obviously crafted as a performance, but the real shocker is who Graham sees in the audience: Garret Hobbs.
Lecter is having another session with Dr. Du Maurier, in which he confesses that he feels Franklyn is becoming inappropriately fixated on Lecter and that he should refer him to a different psychiatrist. Du Maurier returns that she referred him to a different psychiatrist after she retired, but he refused to go: "I feel protective of you. ... I want to support you, after what happened." "I'm not the only psychiatrist who's been attacked by a patient," Du Maurier returns with brittle politeness.
The BAU Lab Mob is fussing over the trombonist's corpse, and Katz makes the quick connection that his vocal cords were treated the way you treat catgut strings. ("Yes: I played the violin.") Graham deduces that whoever did this is not only a skilled musician but a skilled killer. He brings his thoughts to Lecter, who basically confirms Katz's hypothesis and helps Graham take another step: that the performance was for the benefit of the Chesapeake Ripper.
Franklyn's next meeting pours more fuel on the fire: he confesses that Budge made jokes about using human vocal cords as violin strings. By now the murder of the Baltimore Philharmonic trombonist has become public knowledge, and Franklyn is starting to get freaked out... especially when he realizes that Budge may have said it solely because he knew Franklyn would then tell Lecter about it. Well, the message is received: next we see Lecter, he's paying a visit to the Chordaphone store. He and Budge trade barbs like two animals circling, though they both agree on one thing: at least the trombonist's death will improve the orchestra's brass section.
Graham is hard at work at another fishing lure when he hears more noises: this time scraping and whimpering from his fireplace chimney, as though something is stuck there. After the commercial break, he has managed to open the chimney all the way up the wall. Alana Bloom looks on doubtfully: no actual critter was discovered. Evidently she wasn't invited, either; she just chose to drop by. Will questions this behavior, since (as has been pointed out a few times) she's gone out of her way to never be alone with him essentially since they met. Then, stepping close, he kisses her, while the piano accompaniment plays the only happy chords in the entire season's soundtrack. But almost immediately she pulls back: they wouldn't be compatible together, and she has too much professional curiosity in him and his peculiar abilities to leave her career at the door. Alana departs, leaving Will to his empty house and its hole in the wall.
Evidently Lecter likes Budge, because the two are dining together. Having said that, it's a business dinner, and Lecter comes right out and asks if Budge killed the trombonist. Budge confesses the crime, and then declares that he is not afraid of the FBI's investigation: he feels he can kill anyone they send after him, and then kill Franklyn, and then be on his way into flight and anonymity. In fact, he was thinking about killing Lecter. Lecter takes this in stride until Budge explains why he changed his mind: because he followed Lecter on one of his own excursions. He then, of all things, makes an offer of friendship; it's pretty obvious he'll kill Lecter to protect his own secret, but it's just as obvious that he'd prefer not to. Lecter declines, explaining that he invited Budge over because he intended to kill him. The two of them stare each other down, neither blinking: two serial killers locked in a room together. How's this going to end?
With a doorbell. It's Graham, all aflutter over Alana. Either he has a key to Lecter's house or he just flat-out broke his way in, because he's already in the foyer when Lecter walks up.
Of course, Lecter invites him into the dining room; of course, there's settings for two, but Budge is nowhere to be found, having excused himself in the interim. "This benefits you," Lecter observes, "because I have dessert for two." As he prepares it, Graham confesses that he's wanted to kiss Alana since he met her; Lecter observes that there then must have been some other factor to prompt his Anguished Kiss Of Love. Graham explains that it's because Alana knew: "There was no animal in the chimney, it was only in my head. I sleepwalk, I get headaches, I am hearing things... I feel unstable." "That's why you kissed her?" Lecter asks. "A clutch for balance?" Will concedes this, and Lecter, after a moment's thought, drops the bombshell: he reveals "Franklyn"'s "suspicions" about Tobias Budge. Will, despite his clear emotional instability, agrees that perhaps he should call upon this string shop in future. This will end well.
At his next session with Du Maurier, Lecter confesses that he's met a man who he ought to befriend, but doesn't want to. Instead, he'd rather befriend Will Graham: "He's nothing like me. We see the world in different ways, yet he can assume my point of view." "...By profiling the criminally insane," Du Maurier observes, and Hannibal shrugs and says, "That's as good a demonstration as any." Of course, Hannibal is the sort who sends his friends after serial killers, so Will might not appreciate the compliment.
Speaking of which, here is Graham now, asking if Budge knows anything. Budge doesn't blink, the way he does when he detects challenge. Budge explains that he heard that the trombonist was cut open and his vocal cords played as though they were an instrument, and Graham responds that those details were withheld from the press. But now Graham's growing problems get the better of him: standing here with two Baltimore PD at his back and a serial killer in front of him, he thinks he hears the squealing of tires and the last cry of a run-over dog. He steps outside to investigate, finding nothing but still hearing all manner of chaos... and when he returns, Budge is gone and the two officers are down. Graham tracks him to the basement where Budge makes his strings... and where Budge gets the drop on him. But Graham manages to blow a chunk out of his ear, and Budge disengages and escapes with Graham in pursuit, both of them deaf from the roar of the P226.
At Dr. Lecter's office, there's a painful break-up scene: Lecter has referred Franklyn to another psychiatrist. "You focus too much on your therapist and not enough on your therapy," Lecter explains. But the unhealthy meeting is interrupted by Budge's arrival, who has come to say goodbye before he goes on the run. Franklyn, to his credit, attempts to talk Budge into giving himself up. Lecter suggests Franklyn run, but Budge insists he stay, and Franklyn is too intent on convincing his friend to leave in any case. "You're probably scared... You probably feel like you're all alone..." "I'm not alone," Budge growls, and something changes behind Lecter's eyes. It's all too easy for him to step up behind Franklyn for a Neck Snap.
- BUDGE: "I was looking forward to that."LECTER: "I saved you the trouble."
They fight. It's savage and brutal. Lecter eventually uses the rolling ladder that leads up to his library: he traps Budge's arm in it and snaps it. A judicious blow to the throat, and now Budge is choking, having trouble breathing. Lecter pulls out a handkerchief and wraps it about one of his ornamental stag statues. It "accidentally" smashes Budge's head.
Lecter is tending his wounds when Crawford and Graham arrive, some time after the other authorities. "I was worried you were dead," Lecter says to Graham, possibly sincerely. Crawford is naturally suspicious that a serial killer, immediately after slaying two Baltimore PD and almost killing an FBI Special Agent, would stop at Lecter's office, but Lecter explains that he was after Franklyn. He manages to look sufficiently haunted when he admits to killing Budge. Graham apologizes for dragging Lecter into his own field, but Lecter dismisses it: "I got here on my own. But I appreciate the company."
The final scene is of Lecter in session with Du Maurier. They now have something more in common, having both been attacked in the line of work. Du Maurier cautions Lecter not to blame himself for Franklyn's death, that he cannot take on responsibility for Franklyn's life. Lecter asks if she took responsibility when she was attacked, and she replies, "Yes. But I don't take responsibility for his death."
"Nor should you," Lecter answers.
This episode portrays the following tropes:
- Artistic License Music: In addition to the discussed difficulties of turning any sort of biological substance into string, the trombonist's body would not make a good instrument.note