The Great American “Hannibal” Rewatch:S1E1-“Apéritif”

This is my design” is what FBI Special Investigator Will Graham says as he gets inside the mind of a murderer, way super deep inside as it turns out. It is also a fitting way to describe what series creator Bryan Fuller has got going on here. This is my third or fourth time watching the pilot and each time I’m struck by how much is going on here. So much happens, so many things are introduced that will pay off later.

We start with Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) at a crime scene, two bodies and blood everywhere. In a brilliant “show don’t tell” bit of work, the show demonstrates how Will gets into “profiler mode” by winding back time so that we’re at the moment when the murders start and with Will in the place of the killer. Then unfortunately we get a little tell along with the show as the killings play out: no, nobody can shoot people with a pistol and sever their carotid and jugular with surgical precision. That silliness aside, Will somehow manages to figure out that the killer tapped the couple’s phone and created a false alarm on their security system, then recorded the wife’s voice to play back to the security company on the night of the murder? At least he has the all-clear password so no one comes out immediately to interrupt him.

Anyways, cut to Graham teaching a class on this murder. Special Agent Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne) shows up to drag Will into a missing teen girls case, 8 so far. We’re told that Will is somewhere on the autism spectrum and suffers from a case of too much empathy. That’s his superpower, he empathizes so much that he can read motive from murder scenes. It costs him though, so he’d rather not… but he does anyways. He meets with the family of the most recently abducted girl, knows she was taken from the home because she fed the cat first. The girl’s body is returned to her bedroom, because she’s got liver cancer and the kidnapper is a cannibal and won’t eat “spoiled meat” or something.

We’re only like 15 minutes into a 42 minute episode. This show is pretty densely plotted, and we haven’t even met Hannibal yet. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) is recruited by Crawford to help profile and to maybe sort of keep an eye on Will? Hannibal winds up doing a copycat killing of the abducted girls, since he has access to the entire FBI case file and also he wants to cook some fancy meal with the lungs of the dead girl. Will and Hannibal share a meal that Hannibal prepared… eww! And then they find the killer! Unfortunately Hannibal tips off our killer, one Garrett Jacob Hobbs, so before they can arrest him he’s murdered his wife and is holding his teen daughter(who is the template of the murders he’s committed) at knifepoint. Hobbs starts to slit her throat, but only makes it part-way before Will guns him the fuck down y’all! The girl survives due to the quick actions of Hannibal (who is both an MD and a psychiatrist), and the show ends with Will walking in on Hannibal sleeping in the girl’s hotel room holding her hand oh so sweetly.

 

WHEW!

 

So much I glossed over. The look on Hannibal’s face when his patient puts a used tissue on the table instead of the trash bin. The weirdly beautiful way Hannibal butchers a set of lungs and lovingly prepares a meal for one. The very artistic blood spatter, Will Graham’s horrible nightmares, all of it. Plus this shot:

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…which very much mirrors this shot from “The Shining”:

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MIRRORS. There’s some mirroring in this episode. Will and Hannibal sit across from each other in a perfectly divided room, sharing a meal that may or may not include human sausage. Hannibal even sort of dresses a little bit like schlubby on-the-spectrum Will and sports some semi-matching stubble too, which is a far cry from the perfect suits and grooming Hannibal displays everywhere else. And here’s a question: if Will is Jack Torrance, doesn’t that put Crawford in the place of Grady? I do believe it does, and hints at the direction this series is going with these characters. There’s a boatload of stuff happening in this show that I’m sure to explore later as we get past the introductory stuff. After all, this episode is called “Apéritif” and is meant to stimulate our appetite for more. Episode 2 is “Amuse-Bouche” because a show about a cannibal HAS to have food-themes everywhere you look!

Next few posts, I promise to talk  about Dr. Alana Bloom and the sweet crime scene techs who are introduced in this episode but don’t do a whole bunch. The techs are AWESOME-MINTS!

 

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The Great American “Hannibal” Rewatch: Introduction

So this is a thing I’m going to do to encourage myself to write something on this blog on a more regular basis. Since “Hannibal” is one of my favorite shows ever, has enough depth to bother discussing, AND I got all the seasons for Xmas… it seems like the time has come to do this. I FUCKING LOVE THIS SHOW HOW COULD IT EVER BE CANCELLED GODDAMMIT!

Anyhoo, I figure 3-5 episodes a week, so this will take about 8-10 weeks. By then blogging should be a habit again.

 

This is my design.

The Day Before Payday Blues

I’m going to warn you up front, I’m whining from a place of privilege. I know…

Dammit, so it is the day before payday and all through the house I’m out of almost everything. No soda, beer, rum, bourbon, chips, popcorn. Not much this week in the way of interesting things to cook either, which is a real downer. I DO have plenty of coffee and cheese and a few other things I buy at Costco. There’s some leftover food in the fridge, 3-4 bowls of instant phở, and a couple of pounds of meat in the freezer. And there’s like $3 in the checking account! I’m really super stressed out.

The reality here is that my stress is largely unfounded, and due to part of my brain living in the past. I’ve been in a place where if I burned a meal I’d have to eat it anyway because there wasn’t any other food. I’ve scraped together change to buy a couple of packs of ramen to make it to payday. I’ve been in a situation where I’ve had to go to a pawn shop ON PAYDAY because the whole thing was spent before I got it and there wasn’t any money left for food. I’m not there now, but I know how easy it can be to fall back down again. I don’t take it for granted, and I never forget how lucky I am that I have a selection of kind of boring meals that I can cook tonight, instead of digging around in the car for an extra few coins.

Sometimes though… damn I don’t want to cook what I got. 😛

“But controversy = more visitors to your blog!”

Yeah… about that. This is maybe going to be the most controversial thing I’ll ever post here, so brace yourselves. All three of you.

I’m not interested in arguing with people on the Internet.

Let me say that again.

I’m not interested in arguing with people on the Internet. 

I just have no interest. I’m right about everything, because obviously I wouldn’t go around being intentionally wrong now would I? And that’s what everyone else thinks too, so what’s the fucking point? If we disagree about something I really care about, I don’t want to be around you. If we disagree about something I don’t care about, I’m even less interested in having some sort of debate about it. People pretend that there’s some sort of intellectual superiority in exposing yourself to ideas that you disagree with but they’re usually people who have shitty views, or like to argue for the sake of arguing. As far as I’m concerned, ideas are a lot like food: you usually only need a small sample of each to judge whether you should explore further. You’re never going to convince me that Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism is anything but bigotry, and I don’t need to eat one more bite of past/current/future “worlds hottest pepper” to know that they’re going to make me want to puke out my tongue and shit out my goddamned intestines.

So if you’re reading this blog, you probably know me from social media or you’re sitting on my couch right now. If you know me from social media the things you read here are probably going to be things you agree with. If you don’t agree with them for some reason, feel free to keep it to yourself* because I’m NOT HERE TO ARGUE! And don’t be surprised if we start to argue on Twitter and you get blocked one tweet after I ask you to stop arguing with me. Because here’s the other bit about arguing on the Internet: it is really bad for my mental health. When I “get my blood up” it doesn’t come down easy. Plus, I think looking for people to argue with puts me in a bad negative emotional space that comes with an unhealthy “high” that I should probably avoid. I don’t know what the rest of you get out of it, but I won’t and really can’t join in. If you see me joining in, or even taking sides in an argument, I’m probably not feeling very good about it and it would be better if I stopped.

If that means I wind up with a ton less social media interactions and nobody but my wife and cats reads this blog? I can live with that. The same way my cats are annoyed to be inside cats and also as safe from harm as I can possibly make them, I would rather be a little more lonely if it means I’m a lot healthier mentally and emotionally. That’s a trade-off I’m happy to make.

*Sharing alternate cooking ideas is fine… I guess.

“The Strain” is the worst show since the last worst show…

I promised some media criticism, so here goes:

“The Strain” is a television show on FX, based on a series of vampire novels by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. I’ve read the books, they’re OK but suffer from a pretty serious flaw. The TV show has that same flaw, and very little of the positives. I’m trying to think of one thing that sums up everything wrong with the show and I think this is it:

The extremely unlikable and unsympathetic lead character is played by a pretty unlikable and unsympathetic bald actor, who spent 1 1/2 seasons in a ridiculous wig and will now have stubble painted on his bald head for the rest of the series.

This is the sort of amazingly poor decision making at the base of this show that makes the whole thing horrible television. It is absolutely riddled with nonsense from top to bottom. Every narrative decision is just WRONG. Even things that start out interesting wind up being nothing, forgotten by the writers or written away the next time it is mentioned.And worst of all, nothing ever happens on this show.

The heroes:

  • an old man who first met the head vampire in Nazi Germany
  • an extremely unlikable and unsympathetic CDC doctor
  • CDC doctor’s bland assistant doctor who is maybe in love with him?
  • NYC ratcatcher
  • oh fuck it.

Seriously, this show is so bad I can’t even be bothered to go much further. There’s a Master vampire, who is in league with a billionaire and his nearly all-powerful multinational corporation, tens of thousands of vampires, and they can’t be bothered to break into the basement of a pawn shop to kill and old man, a couple of doctors, a snotty little kid, and an exterminator carrying a piece of rebar into the vampire apocalypse. There’s a side plot that goes nowhere involving a drug dealer and an elderly luchador. There’s ninja commando vampires who look badass, save a nanny for absolutely no goddamned reason, and then are ALL killed the next time we see them. NYPD doesn’t have generators, NY doesn’t have any National Guard, and the rest of the world doesn’t seem all that concerned about an HONEST TO GOD VAMPIRE OUTBREAK IN THE MIDDLE OF NEW YORK.

Nothing makes sense, everything is bad, there’s no real story movement and yet the writers keep losing their place in the non-story. Like a pile of vampire corpses, this show should be burned in a fire and the ground salted.

This is a post about chili (part 1)

I like chili. Shit, I LOVE chili. Meaty, spicy, rich and hot and it cooks in one pot. I’m a fan of soups and stews generally, and chili maybe most of all. So for two of the last three years, we’ve driven to the regional chili cookoff and paid our $5 for all the samples we can eat. Next year or the year after, I might enter the damn thing myself.

There’s rules though. No beans, no pasta. Has to be cooked on-site, with the exception of bottled/canned sauces and the like. You have to chop your veggies and cook your meat with a portable grill or propane stove.Your chili cooks a minimum of 3 hours, judging no later than 4 hours of cooking. So I’ve got to figure out a recipe that’s good enough to be judged, and also exact enough that I can do it with the things I an carry down to the competition site and keep fresh on the drive. I’m not good at following recipes, I like to follow where my taste buds lead.

That’s going to make it a waste of time for me to enter a contest.

So I’m working towards a recipe. So far I know I prefer dried peppers to fresh, and ground beef to chopped steak. I really like using gochujang chili paste over any sort of chili powder. Lots of onion and garlic, a bottle of porter and a splash of bourbon. A nice medium-dark masa roux. So far so good. Once I get the flavors right, I’ll get the timing down. And then I’ll let you know.