I’d like to preface these weekly episode recaps by saying that they are written after a third or fourth watch. I intend them to be consumed (cannibal puns) with the hindsight of rewatching or at least watching along. Perhaps it will even inspire you to go view it again with fresh eyes while we wait for Season 4 news. I will try and recapture what was felt at first, alongside what I feel now I know everything. A mixture of recap, bad analysis and fangirling.
TL:DR ***SPOILERS*** and then some.
Trou Normand AKA Secrets & Hugs
A cold looking beach and Jack is coming for Will, who is taking his aspirin, and they walk in silence…this one must be bad. Beverly stares, speechless at the totem pole of bodies, while Jimmy P and the Z joke about it being like a jigsaw with the heads as the corners. Everyone is in a hat. Will takes of his glasses again to ‘go back’ and I wonder if this is a ridiculous Will vs. dark!Will contrast, see also: Clark Kent. He talks about assembling the bodies while the latest victim watches then savours stabbing him. “This is my resume, my body of work, my legacy.” He gazes up at the totem pole, a single blood drip on his cheek and he blinks.
When Will opens his eyes he’s in Hannibal’s waiting room and hella confused. So is Hannibal but he tries to help by calmly folding his coat while Will is frantically freaking out. He logically points out that the beach is 3.5 hours away so Will has lost time, he is dissociating. Will loudly protests that he’s not abused (the usual cause of dissociative states), but Hannibal begs to differ. He suggests Will’s empathy is overwhelming and since he continues to ignore it, and rejected the choice to leave, that is abuse. Will – pure, delusional Will – insists he is saving lives. The poor soul just feels useful and…he kinda has a taste for it now. Hannibal, in a seemingly instinctual display of genuine but frustrated concern, says, “What about your life? I’m your friend I don’t care about the lives you save I care about your life.”
This knocks the fight out of Will I think, as he sits down and suggests he needs a brain scan. Hannibal is jolted back to reality, considering he is keeping Will’s condition secret from him, and he scolds him for looking for reasons that aren’t there. He asks about the beach crime scene to change the subject. They discuss the meaning of the totem pole – shame or celebration? – and Hannibal says he is worried about Will. In frighteningly similar phrasing to what Jack said before, he tells Will he empathises so strongly with the killers he’s losing himself, and he could dissociate and hurt himself or someone else.
This might sound kind to an untrained ear, but it’s the seeds of his framing being planted. He is literally gaslighting Will to think he might be capable of murder while blacked out, maybe even subtly steering him towards it. Speaking of which, let’s not forget that much of Will’s symptoms are being caused by Hannibal and his psychic driving. He ends this faux chiding with the very ominous “I don’t want you to wake up to totem of your own making.” So like…perhaps…literally waking up in the morning and coughing up an ear?! HANNIBAL, YOU MONSTER! So let’s of course cut to….
Abigail in group therapy. She says she hears her dad telling her he killed so he didn’t kill her and wishes she could ask why. Like actually think about what her life must have been like before the show began. Poor girl has so many issues, one of which is Will Graham style nightmares. The group is actually some of her dad’s dead victims, taunting her that he should have killed her so they wouldn’t have killed them. Finally Nick Boyle appears back to haunt her over her own crime of killing him and she wakes, understandably crazed over this crippling anxiety.
Meanwhile, elsewhere Will has gone to apologise to Jack about his beach episode. He probably wanted sympathy, comfort, maybe help, or at least an acknowledgement that he’s not ok. That’s what he needs anyway, but he isn’t getting it, because apparently he seemed totally fine to Jack. This is likely explained by the psychic driving, or maybe that’s how dissociation works, I’m honestly not sure. Will is puzzled and heartbreakingly almost in tears as he brushes it all off. Goddamn it, Jack, he just wants someone to notice he is struggling, don’t you know what that feels like? 😦
Someone has ironically noticed, Freddie Lounds, and she’s desperate to get Abigail on side. She is telling her that her dad’s victims’ families have filed wrongful death suits and will get all the money from the sale of their house, to try and push her into doing a tell-all book. Playing on an 18 year old girl’s vulnerability when she is likely already terrified about how she’s going to cope alone in the world. Wow. No wonder Will hates her. Abigail as we know is good at fronting though and says she doesn’t need money, and wonders if Will isn’t a better person to help her tell her story. Freddie just says he IS part of the story, since she clearly wants to expose him too.
Abigail just sadly notes that Will avoids her because she makes him feel like her dad. Again this shows how good she is at posturing, since she is always huffy with Will in person, but also how bloody insightful she really is. Freddie unfortunately sells her on the idea by suggesting she can change what people think. At the time she seemed like a poor soul, associated to her crazy dad, but considering that she turned out to be very much involved I can see why she was so desperate to publish a book of lies. [Note – see also: OJ Simpson]
Science Bros (loving your wavy ponytail work, Bev) have counted 17 bodies in the totem pole, some accidental deaths. Will says nope, all murders, and then we see him back in class talking about this case. He is full of, as it turns out, super accurate statements about the killer staying a ghost until right now, and the new victim being “resented with ostentation”. Another example of a glorious piece of dialogue which is elevated from just stylish writing on a page, to something else, by Dancy’s gorgeous over-enunciation. [Note 2 – Did I mention it’s only 28 days – 4 weeks – until I get to meet this man AND the man who created this damn show?!] *takes a breath and stops fangirling*
Let’s snap back to reality along with Will, since Alana strolls in to find him saying all this in his empty class. Will, for the second time is bewildered by his mental state and wants her to stay. No wonder, after Jack dismissed him and Hannibal gave him the kind of help he didn’t really want. She comments on the low light being “very moody” and he makes a sad little joke about that being him all over, and that he won’t try to kiss her again. I am not a big fan of Will/Alana but his hopeful little face at this very moment he breaks my heart and I just want to shake her. The tragic flirting goes on as she gets closer and closer and I would love to include a clip of their whole scene but I will refrain.
Basically, in the spirit of honesty she tells him she does have feelings for him but thinks pursuing them would be reckless. He asks a painfully pleading, “Why? Why?” and she bluntly says it’s because he is unstable, asking if he feels it. Will sort of just gives in and nods and because she is human she hugs him. He is so in need of this hug you can tell from space. He is pondering his loneliness and the likelihood that he is in fact too broken to date, since despite saying otherwise in episode 8, Alana’s actions say different. This profound need to be understood and seen and loved instead of treated like a case study is what hannibal is exploiting and later, fulfilling. TL:DR – Alana let’s Will down not-so-gently and Will thinks no one will ever love him…
So of course cut to Abigail and her murder dads who think both the book and Freddie are a not good, very bad idea. She is in full defiant teen mode though, goading them that Freddie wants her to write about them too. They exchange that look (you know when you and your friend are sick of your other friend’s shit?) and approach her in different ways. Hannibal cites the invasion of their privacy whereas Will wants to protect her. Her response is “Just because you killed my dad, doesn’t mean you get to be him.” and I have just had a real time thought about this. She is prickly with Will and not Hannibal, because this sentiment works both ways. The way he is kind and loving and sweet to her reminds her too painfully of the fact her dad was the same way and it was all fake.
Hannibal scolds her and she is instantly contrite, though she continues to push, saying she doesn’t need their permission. He goes for the jugular of guilt and says he would hope she would want it. Their S1 dynamic makes me lol if I think about what it is and the perfect murder family that could have been; but also makes me want to cry forever if I think about what ultimately is to come. She is at her last resort of tears now, demanding to know why she can’t just tell everyone the truth (“truth”). Hannibal’s final remarks are fairly foreshadowing (yay…), “If you open this door, you won’t be able to control what comes through it.” and I hope both he and Will are listening to this message…no? Ok then.
A dark figure in a parka uncovers Nick Boyle’s body in the middle of the night, and then Jack is summoning Will, Alana and Hannibal to discuss – they can’t tell when he was killed. Jack still thinks Abigail knows more and questions where she goes when she escapes from the hospital. Alana is furious and looks to Hannibal for support, who is sassy as hell saying, “Jack is not interested in any opinion that is not his own.” No, and he NEVER is. Will still doesn’t believe and wants to accompany her if Jack insists on making her see the body, but Jack says no. After Jack and Alana go get her, Hannibal comments to Will that Abigail might be stronger than we think. Troll. He of course decided (correctly) long ago that this is true, and knows where she often goes at night – to see him. I will not go into what I personally imagine of these little meetings but….she does have grounds for some pretty strong daddy issues. Mads/Hannibal is nothing if not ‘Daddy’. She’s not a child. Just saying.
Alana brings her to ID Nick Boyle and she is Anxious. Jack is a total dick to her (although he IS right) about how he was gutted with a hunting knife etc, and she just about holds her own. She finds her voice and describes how she “survived” when she thought she would die that night and Jack smiles like ‘yup, caught you’. She says that Alana and Hannibal saved her life (not Will…? Oh come on now.) and Alana is furious about this treatment of her, although I also think quietly curious. After they let her go, Alana goes off about how she may have doubts about Abigail, who is trying hard to hide something, but not Hannibal. Oh dear, we are so complicit in his deception, even at this point.
Hannibal presumably took her back to the hospital and is trying to comfort her that she isn’t the monster she thinks she is, you know, since he knows she killed Nick. He is also taking the opportunity to warn her off doing the book yet again, citing the fact that she DUG UP NICK BOYLE’S BODY as a betrayal of his trust. I’m sorry what? I swear I only picked up on this being a fact on this fourth watch. I thought he was just fishing before but then it dawned on me that you don’t see who made the discovery, she said she sometimes goes into the woods, that she is trying to get ahead of the lie, and she basically admits this. Abigail is practical so she took his words about ‘controlling what comes through’ to mean go and actually take control. He says “i need to trust you, what if I can’t?” Oh no, Daddy is mad at you baby girl…please don’t piss him off… *screams in frustration*
Other murder dad, Will, has found that the first victim was the latest victims dad, but actually not biologically so off he trots with Jack to see the best suspect they had for that first murder, now an old man. He is expecting them, he let himself be found because prison will be a luxury compared to what retirement home he can afford. Says he was securing his legacy, showing us by using the exact same word as Will did, how close to these killers minds WIll is getting. He says his victims, “never saw me coming unless I wanted them to.” and brags about chatting normally with people whose loved ones he had killed.
I guarantee you that Will has a moment here by the window, a little frown, as these sentiments trigger something in him about Hannibal. This may be his first realisation or it be one of those times when Will does his Will Graham thing and takes in information selectively. After that, he and Jack take some twisted pleasure in informing their guy that he was actually the last victim’s father, that he killed his own son. Will says maybe Joel’s mother “saw” what he was. So much foreshadowing and epiphany and omg Will, do you ever listen to yourself?
Will dreams of Abigail and Hannibal and talk of killing and knows he has to visit Nick Boyle’s body to see if he can get anything from it. He does. He gets a zombie Nick rising from the morgue table and being gutted once again at his hands. Will looks down at the stabbing and back up into not Nick’s face anymore, but Abigail’s, who is now gutting Will the same way. He wakes up like ‘fuck no’ since he knows that what his brain gives him is true. Off to inform the authorities? Confront Abigail? No of course not – he’s off to confide in his bff, Hannibal.
Hannibal is at his office but casually drawing…where do I get a job like this? Never mind that this is another very important scene to both my psychological thriller brain and my gay shipping heart. Will bluntly announces Abigail killed Nick Boyle and Hannibal taps his pencil, weighing the options before admitting, “I know.” Will asks how and he simply states that he helped her hide the body. Will Graham, in a very rare moment of showing his true self, does not get scared, or outraged, but in his dead-eyed growl says “Obviously not well enough.” Hannibal established that Will hasn’t told Jack and then does this little slide forward and back of his scalpel, considering. Blink and you’d miss it but this is a Big Deal. Will knows a thing that he never lets people know AND is here off his own back, nobody would suspect. Hannibal’s gut says kill him, heart says no, brain undecided. Killing is how he would always deal with this situation were it anyone but Will. He needs/wants to keep Will for reasons that we can’t be sure of at this early stage. Friend? Alibi? Lover? Experiment? Perhaps he just wants to take Will’s unusual response to the information and run with it, as he goes on to do.
Hannibal decides to test the waters and says Abigail killed Nick in self defence, and he protected her from Jack and how the world would see her. Will turns away to stare out the window in contemplation, despite knowing he is with someone who just confessed to helping hide a body, and that someone still does not attack him. Their relationship is utterly unique to both of them now. Hannibal implores him to see reason,
‘please don’t make me have to kill you, I like you!’ saying that they know Abigail, and the burden she bears having taken a life, best. Then the fatal blow, “We are her fathers now.” which upon first hearing was a real wow moment. Upon fourth hearing my heart shattered into a million pieces.
Will doesn’t immediately respond and Hannibal sort of half walks back towards the desk, like he might yet have to kill Will. He asks this question in the form of, “Do I need a lawyer, Will.” and Will finally concedes, his desire to protect Abigail much stronger than his sense of ethics apparently. Hannibal says they can tell no one and lays a tentative hand on Will’s shoulder. This is the first time they have touched, since neither of them are exactly the tactile type, and I think Hannibal is quite reluctant to let go. So the pact is made, for good and for bad. Oh dear.
They invite Abigail and Freddie round to try and do some damage limitation AKA vetting their daughter’s new friend like good murder dads. She is a vegetarian and a bitch. Abigail is wary. Will is in his almost perfected, Season 2, murder husband outfit and hates Freddie so hard. Doing the washing up like a nice domestic murder family, Abigail tell Hannibal she knows that Will knows. Are you confused yet? You will be. Hannibal assures her that Will will keep her secret, that nobody will know “the truth you try so hard to hide”. She confesses to helping her dad with his murders. She’s mumbling and in this scarily Dom move, Hannibal says “I can’t hear you.” and she automatically tells him louder. Wow. Tell me their dynamic isn’t…something…I dare you.
Abigail breaks down, unable to bear it any longer, and he just folds her into his ridiculously good arms for a psychiatrist in his 40’s. This hug gives me 3756394209 different feels and none of them are ok. She cries into his chest that she is a monster and he pats her hair and rests his face on her head, then like, whispers to her with these exact pauses, “No you’re a victim…and Will and I…we are going to protect you.” Yes, really. Will and I. We. At first I was like oh man his little murder protege, that’s funny. Ughhh…this time real tears.
Ends with a flashback to Abigail and GJH on a train. We see her befriending one of the girls he killed, at his nod. Oh darling…what big daddy issues you have.