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‘Hannibal’ Review: “Coquilles”

NBC Hannibal Coquilles Review
NBC

Hannibal’ serves up another course with its fourth (technically fifth) episode of the series “Coquilles,” as Will struggles to maintain his effectiveness in the face of a new “Angel-maker” killing spree, while Jack struggles to identify what his wife (‘Firefly‘s Gina Torres) might be keeping from him.

Last week’s ‘Hannibal’ episode “Potage” saw Will Graham Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl) awaken from her coma, placing Will and Hannibal in the difficult position of determining her involvement in her father’s murders, so how the fifth episode of ‘Hannibal’ taste?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Hannibal’s latest episode, “Coquilles!”

Will sleepwalks out on a Wolf Trap road, nudged along by his ever-present stag, before police officers drive up and rouse him from his daze. As he slowly comes to, Will answer’s the officers’ questions and accepts a ride home. The next morning Will shares the incident with Hannibal over coffee, as Hannibal suggests that Jack may have been pushing him too hard of late, causing him to feel out of control. Meanwhile at a Trenton motel, a visibly nervous man at a motel sees a couple walking by, their faces wreathed in flame.

The next day Will and Jack arrive to the latest crime scene at the motel, wherein the man from earlier had horrifically killed the couple he saw, stringing up the skin of their backs and propping them up to look like angels praying at his bedside. Will lies down on the bed to attempt to see inside the killer’s head, realizing that he transforms them into angels as a gift to them.

That night, Hannibal has Jack and his wife Phyllis over for dinner, the latter of which turns down the meal despite Hannibal’s ethical butchering. Jack explains how they met, as Hannibal’s powerful nose detects Phyllis’ perfume, explaining that he once smelled his teacher’s stomach cancer as a boy. Meanwhile, Will and the others look over the flayed bodies, deducing from the killer’s vomit that he suffers from a brain tumor, and makes the angels to protect him from dying in his sleep.

The next day, Phyllis books an appointment to see Dr. Lecter, explaining that she sees someone twice a week and doesn’t particularly want to concern Jack with the affair. Hannibal suggests that she resents her husband, but Phyllis explains that she resents how much Jack has to worry about already, without adding her to the list.

Some time later, Will meets with Hannibal and struggles to identify the Angel-maker’s thought patterns, while Hannibal once again presses that Jack might be pushing Will too hard to see things he doesn’t want to. While in bed with his wife Jack brings up that something is definitely wrong between them, but respectfully agrees to let her come to him in her own time. Elsewhere in Cleveland, the Angel-maker sees another man with a burning face, and ominously focuses his intent.

Will and Jack observe the latest crime scene, seeing the man strung up in an alleyway. Struggling to identify the motive, Will tells Jack to formulate his own opinion, before Jack angrily snaps him back in line. Afterward, Beverly presses Will to share if he’s feeling off, while the rest of the team identifies that all of the Angel-maker’s victims have been convicted criminals, whom he would believe to be demons in need of God’s work.

In her next session with Hannibal, Phyllis reveals her secret not to be that of an affair, but rather the stage four lung cancer she’s declined to tell Jack about. Hannibal suggests that she resents her husband for his inability to save her, though she presses that she doesn’t feel any differently about her health or relationship for the moment. Back at Will’s house, his insomnia gets the better of him again as he awakens standing on his roof.

Will continues to vent his frustrations to Dr. Lecter, pointing out that a brain tumor would make even a psychotic man’s thought patterns difficult to identify. Hannibal suggests that both Will and the Angel-maker seek a sort of internal peace, while the killer attempts to make it through the world around him. As he doles advice, Hannibal detects an unusual smell from Will, brushing it off as his aftershave.

Searching the database of tumor patients leads the group to Elliot Budish, whose estranged wife they bring in for questioning. Elliot’s wife explains that she and the children left over how withdrawn Elliot had become after his diagnosis, causing a revelation to wash over Jack about his own wife. The woman reveals that her husband was never religious, but had a near-death experience in a hometown barn as a child, causing a fireman to suggest Elliot had a guardian angel.

Will and Jack arrive at the barn, finding Elliot already hung from the rafters, his “wings” strung up as well. Will tells Jack that the constant exposure to darkness makes his gifts increasingly less effective but Jack assures him he wouldn’t be happier returning to a classroom, knowing the good he could have done. As Jack leaves, Will finds Elliot staggering to life behind him, offering to make him an angel while Will’s face burns. Grievously wounded, Elliot finally slumps over, though Will quickly realizes he hallucinated the exchange.

Hannibal and Phyllis find Jack waiting for her in the reception room, and Hannibal offers the two the office to talk. Phyllis tells Jack she hadn’t wanted to burden him just yet, and that she doesn’t plan to accept chemotherapy, as Jack assures his wife he’ll support her however she needs. Phyllis isn’t sure she can give Jack the feeling of help and comfort he wants to provide, as she hadn’t counted on the cancer changing their relationship.

Sometime later, Will arrives at Jack’s office to talk, but seeing the man lost in thought, simply sits with him until Jack decides he wants to talk.

It would be impossible to discuss tonight’s ‘Hannibal’ episode without pointing out the episode that had originally intended to air in its place, “Ceuf.” NBC and Bryan Fuller ultimately decided to pull the episode and put “Coquilles” in its place, citing “Ceuf”s sensitive material of child violence. “Ceuf” wasn’t among the episodes sent to critics either, though a few segments of the episode made their way online, none of which seem all that crucial to “Coquilles” anyway.

Still, it’s worth keeping in mind that US audiences aren’t seeing the whole picture as intended just yet, should anything about “Coquilles” have felt jarring. “Ceuf” would have lent further exploration to the Abigail Hobbs character, along with a killer plot involving ‘SNL‘ star Molly Shannon, perhaps acting as a better bridge toward the more standalone “Coquilles.”

In any case, “Coquilles” indeed returns to a killer-of-the-week formula, but in a manner that connects with Will’s ongoing struggle for control over his gifts, and provides some pretty gruesome and memorable imagery in its own right. The episode doesn’t give very much focus to the killer himself, though the flaming imagery also provides some interesting scenery, while the hour mostly focuses on the relationship between Will, Hannibal and Jack.

Also present for the first time is Gina Torres as Jack’s wife Phyllis, though the character would have appeared briefly in “Ceuf,” from what we’ve seen. As you can imagine, Fishburne and Torres work exceptionally well in their scenes together, what with being married in real life and all, but each does fine work in their own right. There’s a grace to Fishburne’s work as a revelation dawns on him while he listens to the killer’s wife describe the killer’s depression, all conveyed without Fishburne saying a single word. The character hadn’t been lacking in presence before, but we appreciated a bit of development and sympathy, however tangential it might have proved to the actual story.

All in all, it can be hard to gain a sense of how “Coquilles” progresses the season without having seen the episode intended to precede it, but tonight’s episode certainly proved memorable and well-drawn, with the isolation and death specters hanging around as central themes.

What say you?  Did you feel that ‘Hannibal’ hit the spot with its fourth, or fifth episode? What did you like about “Coquilles?” Join us next week for another all-new ‘Hannibal’ episode recap of “Entrée” on NBC!

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