“Amuse-Bouche” is a shocking and grotesque episode that introduces another serial killer, Mr. Eldon Stammets, who just happens to have a disturbing affinity for fungi.
Because Graham took out serial killer Hobbs in the last episode, as this one begins he’s regarded as a bit of a hero. He is given the all clear to return to fieldwork, and his students give him a standing ovation. Crawford, however, requests a psychiatric evaluation (and understandably so since Graham shot Hobbs not once but ten times). Given that Crawford knows Graham is a little unhinged anyway, I think this is a waste of their time. It does give Graham and Lecter more bonding time, though. Lecter shows his favoritism toward Graham once more by giving him a clean bill of health. I was surprised when Lecter said he felt responsible for Abigail Hobbs. I never considered Lecter as a father figure, or as someone who cared much about other people, but I doubt that he has paternal instincts in mind; more like a Gordon Ramsay recipe.
One of the most shocking visuals came soon via the garden of horror. After seeing that, it may take me a while before I buy any fresh mushrooms. The hideous crop of human fungus hosts was mind-boggling.
The more information we received about the details of the garden and the motives behind the killer, the more I was dually horrified and fascinated. By far, the best shocker of the night was when Graham was grabbed by the gasping victim who looked like he had been in the grave for weeks already. Believed to be dead, the man was, against all odds, still living. It was reminiscent of the recent episode of The Following when Kevin Bacon’s character stumbles into a dark room in which a serial killer had been training on animals, and a butchered dog still clung to life, moving only when the camera caught the perfect shot. Also, the film, Se7en, when the “sloth” victim, who appeared to be dead, began thrashing and choking on air.
There’s a base fear that stirs a primal feeling when we see someone who should be dead, suddenly move. The zombie culture has probably wired us to expect it somewhat. But the shock never really lessens. I made some unnatural noises when that guy reached up for Graham. Come to think of it, I probably sounded pretty similar to him. If I find any fungus on me in the next little bit, I am screwed.
The killer, Stammets, has a chilling and demented way of connecting people to fungi in a way that only a madman can. What was he going to do with all of those mushrooms anyway? His intellect is obvious in the way that he induced the diabetic comas and sustained them long enough to harvest the crop, yet in the end he only wanted someone to understand him. There’s a type of vulnerability in a killer. It’s not the side we usually see, but a small glimpse of it serves to bring the villain back to a human level, even if only for a second. If the villains were all monsters, they would be too hollow and two-dimensional.
Lecter’s dinner with Crawford made me wonder if he’s secretly served long pig to Crawford, and to Graham, in his breakfast of eggs and “sausage.” An indoctrination into the cannibal club? Is there a secret handshake for that, too? A paddling? Thank you sir, may I have another? Ahem.
I can’t leave out the rude reporter, Freddie Lounds. We all know how Lecter feels about rude people. She’s already on his bad side, and she’s also made enemies of the FBI. With the set of steel cojones she has and as plucky as she is, I don’t think she really needs anyone to have her back. It will be interesting to see how she bobs and weaves her way through this show, defying serial killers and cops alike to deliver the real dirt to the masses. I don’t want to like her, but I do.
Lecter’s cool psychoanalyzing and Graham’s intriguing character continue to keep me glued to the screen. The different killers we are seeing keep it interesting, as well. First, impalement on antlers, and now death by spores. What’ll it be next?
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Amber Keller is a writer who delves into dark, speculative fiction, particularly horror and suspense/thrillers. You can find her work on her Amazon Author Page and she also features many short stories on Diary of a Writer. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she contributes to many websites and eMagazines and you can follow her on Twitter at @akeller9.