Hannibal S01E09 ‘Trou Normand’ episode review

Our review of Hannibal episode nine with spoilers

All is not well with Will Graham. We’ve known this for some time, admittedly, but other people are finally starting to notice. Even if Jack Crawford’s happy as long as Will says he’s fine, Alana’s willing to call him unstable to his face. ‘Trou Normand’ tries to fit too much into its 40 minutes, but what it does is establish that Will is still very much on that dangerous path.

A killer has created a totem pole of victims whose deaths date back many years. Meanwhile, Will is losing time, finding himself outside of Hannibal’s office with no recollection of how he got there. To make matters worse, Abigail Hobbs is considering allowing Freddie Lounds to write a book about her. Will’s worried for obvious reasons, while Hannibal is not keen on the idea that any more attention be drawn to him, especially when the body of Nicholas Boyle appears.

While most Hannibal episodes are split fairly evenly between case and character, ‘Trou Normand’ suffers by trying to develop Will and Abigail separately alongside yet another visually striking murder tableau. As it is, it’s the killer who is the least developed, with a fairly perfunctory resolution that is redeemed by an excellent (if far too brief) performance by genre veteran Lance Henriksen as Lawrence Wells.

But while Wells’ method and madness are hard done by, there is yet more sterling work from Kacey Rohl as Abigail Hobbs. The relationship between Will and Hannibal can be playfully described as a bromance, and it’s interesting to see how they react as a pair to the news that Abigail wants to publish her story. In the best parental tradition they’re not angry; they’re just disappointed. The icy dinner scene in which they and Freddie (Lara Jean Chorostecki, still on excellent form) establish that they all have Abigail’s best interests at heart plays out like parents meeting their daughter’s new lover. Abigail is quick to dismiss Will’s opinion with a “you’re not my dad,” but she’s understandably a lot more cautious when it comes to Hannibal.

Because while Will might worry that he opened a door to monstrosity when he shot Garrett Jacob Hobbs, Hannibal became a monster a long time ago. The final minutes of the episode saw Abigail reveal to Hannibal that she helped her father choose his victims, and the good doctor assures her that she’s not a monster. As he comforts her, the reason why she’s so willing to give him the parental role she’s reluctant to give to Will is all too obvious.

After a run of episodes in which we’ve seen Hannibal grow increasingly violent, it’s good to be reminded of how quiet and still Mads Mikkelsen can be. He’s a passive presence for much of the episode; all we really get is the odd veiled threat and that momentary reach for the scalpel when Will tells him he knows about Abigail killing Nicholas Boyle. But it is only a momentary reach. The relationship between the two continues to develop as Will has now added Hannibal and Abigail’s secret to his already troubled mind.

It’s also good to see Laurence Fishburne continuing to play up Jack’s determination, as he forces Abigail to view Boyle’s decaying corpse. It’s a moment that establishes just how strong Abigail can be, while reinforcing Alana’s faith in Hannibal, but it’s a reminder that Jack is willing to push people if he thinks he needs to. And, of course, he’s right. He just hasn’t been proven right yet.

With just three episodes to go before the finale, ‘Trou Normand’ seems to be acting as a deep breath before the final run. It attempts to do too much, but there’s some execellent stuff in here. It’s also worth taking a moment to applaud Hugh Dancy’s performance throughout the series so far. Will’s instability is compelling and sympathetic and he continues to work brilliantly off Mikkelsen, Fishburne and Caroline Dhavernas.