Will is still haunted by the death of Garret Jacob Hobbs. Will and Jack visit Hobbs’ cabin in the woods only to discover that someone else has been in the cabin recently – a reporter named Freddie Lounds. Will learns that Abigail Hobbs is a suspect in the investigation. Will is being considered for a return to the field, but Jack is concerned about Will’s state of mind after killing Hobbs. He recommends Hannibal do a psych evaluation of Will Graham. Hannibal subtly begins to implant ideas of Jack driving Will towards dark places despite knowing that it may not be in Will’s own best interests.
Meanwhile, a group of children come across a twisted mushroom farm – the mushrooms are being grown out of human corpses. One of the victims, badly decomposed, turns out to only have been comatose and comes out of the coma when Will investigates, indicating that the victims were all comatose (and hence why no restraints were found on any of the bodies). Freddie Lounds visits Hannibal in his office under the pretence of being a ‘Ms.Kimble’. Hannibal sees through the deception almost instantly but Lounds shamelessly proceeds to interview Hannibal. Lounds confesses to recording Hannibal’s conversation with Will and Hannibal asks that she delete the conversation.
Back at the lab, Will has figured out how the mushroom killer is killing his patients – he is a pharmacist who changes diabetic patients’ medication in order to induce diabetic comas in them. The FBI tries to apprehend him but he escapes. They discover that the killer has been using Lounds’ website to stay one step ahead of the FBI. The FBI hunt down Lounds and Jack threatens to have her arrested on grounds of tampering with a crime scene.
Will is spending more and more time with Abigail Hobbs at her bedside. Lounds is ambushed by the mushroom killer who demands to know more about Will Graham. Lounds, at gunpoint, tells the killer about all the events of the past two episodes and the killer goes to find Will to help him ‘connect to Abigail’. The killer takes the still comatose Abigail (disguised as a nurse) with the intention of burying her, before Will finds him and shoots him in the arm. The episode ends with Hannibal and Will conversing again and Will admitting that he liked killing Hobbs.
I feel bad that I keep referring to this episode’s killer as the mushroom man, but I really can’t help it. In any case, I doubt he’ll be making a second appearance so I don’t really feel obliged to remember the man’s name. This episode revolved around Will’s crisis of conscience at having killed Hobbs the previous episode. The show captures Will’s ongoing struggle with his own imagination and wavering sanity very well – Hobbs shows up in the most unexpected of places but a great deal of the success of this device lies in just how unfamiliar the majority of the audience is with mental illness, specifically the gift/curse that Will possesses. While it is fairly simple enough to understand on the surface, I do not feel as though I can I truly understand what it is like to empathize with everyone, even people I despise.
On the other end of the spectrum is Hannibal himself – I believe he keeps his murderous urges to himself this particular episode, but the threat he poses is omnipresent. It is literally impossible to see him eat food without wondering what meat it contains. Having said that though, his instant identification of Freddie Lounds is pretty damn awesome – he even makes a small show of going through with her pitiful excuse before exposing her. I am not entirely sure what he told her after he makes her delete the conversation she recorded because the next time we see him, he remarks on how ‘naughty’ Lounds has been – with regards to spilling the beans on Will.
What is much more interesting is how there is already, just two episodes in, a pattern emerging of Will being pulled in two separate direction. Jack is pushing Will to return to the force, something that it is obvious that Will isn’t too comfortable with just yet, whereas Hannibal seems to be subtly pushing Will away from Jack and the force. The reason behind this isn’t entirely clear just yet, but it does feel like Will’s ability to empathize has got Hannibal’s attention. On a related note, I cannot help but feel that this killer-of-the-week format is detracting from the show’s real conflict – Hannibal and Will. I had a hard time giving a crap about this mushroom obsessed killer (hence my rather dismissive name of mushroom man) and I really hope this does not become a thing. The episode itself was excellently crafted and I have to admit that even the mushroom man did serve a purpose – he brought Freddie Lounds into the narrative and established the growing connection between Will and Abigail. That said, he was in no way essential to the plot but I do understand that the tension between Hannibal and Will must be built slowly and surely in order to have any impact on the audience. Perhaps it is a sign of a great show that I find even (objectively) interesting killers like this mushroom guy a distraction from the intense conversations that Will and Hannibal have.
Those conversations are beginning to get increasingly full of subtext. I simply cannot stress just how well done this particular aspect of the show is – their conversations range from the subject of mental medicine to religion to philosophy but there is a secondary conversation that is going on below the surface that continues to build the tension. I absolutely love Hannibal’s last few lines in this episode:
“Killing must feel good to God too. He does it all the time. And are we not created in his image?”
It is lines like these that make me love this show (so far). The audience, of course, sees a whole new meaning in these words, but it’s easy enough to imagine that Will sees only an innocent question.
I would also like to take the opportunity to praise the music in this show. The scene with Hannibal and Freddie Lounds would have been almost forgettable if it were not for the ominous background music. Throughout the entire scene, I kept wondering when he was going to kill here because the music made it seem obvious that she would die, yet the fact that she didn’t somehow worries me even more because she’s now seemingly part of Hannibal’s schemes.
I wouldn’t rate this episode as highly as I did the previous one, but it was still a very solid second episode, with strong enough ties to the pilot to keep us engrossed. I am really looking forward to see how Hannibal’s downfall is going to come together, though I have to imagine that it will not happen anytime soon.