Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane is a large, Gothic estate that houses a violent criminal known as Dr. Gideon. He’s been a model prisoner during his two year stay, earning him the privilege of lighter security measures in an otherwise high security psychiatric hospital. But that all changes one day when Dr. Gideon fakes being unconscious and, when left alone with a nurse, performs a grisly murder. His method mirrors a serial killer named the Chesapeake Ripper, who is presumably at large and hasn’t murdered in over two years, ironically the same amount of time Gideon has been in the hospital. The question becomes, is Dr. Gideon the Chesapeake Ripper?
One of my favorite moments in this episode is when Crawford and Graham are walking up the front steps to a very Arkham Asylum-like Baltimore State Hospital and Graham is noticeably uncomfortable. He tells Crawford that he doesn’t like going in places like that because he’s afraid they won’t let him out. It’s light humor, but there’s some validity in his statement. For such a successful person, he has a slew of mental problems. Later, when Crawford and Graham meet the doctor who has been treating Gideon at the institution, Dr. Chilton, Chilton is fascinated with Graham and his methods of profiling. It turns out that Graham has been the talk of the psychiatric circles due to his “unique cocktail of personality disorders and neurosis” that allow him to be such a good profiler. I’m not a psychiatrist, but I’m also intrigued by Graham and his ability to enter the minds’ of the killers and see the murders as they occurred. This murder is especially gruesome when Graham relives it. We get to see just what Dr. Gideon did to the poor nurse that Crawford and Graham see after the fact, impaled on various equipment in the room, missing her eyes. This was a more visceral and up close reenactment allowing us to watch as the woman died slowly and painfully. It was a shocking moment when Graham forced his thumbs into the woman’s eye sockets, her voiceless screams going unanswered because he had hit her in the throat, disabling her vocal chords, first. When Graham comes out of the vision, breathing heavily, my own heart rate had shot up a notch or two.
Crawford has a personal attachment to the Chesapeake Ripper case because he had assigned a promising young student, Miriam Regina Lass, to assist. Lass, a bright, accomplished woman, was eager to prove her abilities to Crawford and easily accepted the assignment. Lass was played by a petite, fresh-faced Anna Chlumsky. Yep, the same little girl from the film, “My Girl”, all grown up now. Lass had ascertained that the Ripper was more than likely a surgeon. She wanted to search medical records to help narrow down suspects, but her sharp observations put her in a dangerous spot when she ended up on Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s doorstep. Assumed dead by Crawford, her voice now haunts him as a mystery person keeps calling him, playing snippets of a recording of a frantic and scared Lass asking Crawford for help. Crawford is having a tough time dealing with his wife’s terminal illness, and he is struggling with his wife’s impending loss, and the loss of young Lass.
Dr. Chilton was a character, indeed. His flippant, pompous attitude, and clinical fascination with Graham is pushy and irritating. Lecter has Dr. Chilton and Dr. Bloom over for dinner, and this time he serves tongue. How fitting. After telling Chilton that his own tongue was feisty, Lecter’s best line tonight was, “It’s nice to have an old friend for dinner.” I wonder who, erm, what that tongue was taken from anyway?
Freddie Lounds makes an appearance when Crawford decides to use her and her website to bait the Chesapeake Ripper, if it isn’t Dr. Gideon after all. She agrees, and in a curious scene we see Lecter reading her article, upset as she pretty much claims Gideon is the Ripper. The hints build during this episode, pointing to Lecter being the real Ripper, and when Miriam shows up at his office two years earlier and sees a drawing of a man impaled with different objects, Lecter, the Lecter I think of when I see that name, sneaks up, socks on carpet gliding silently behind her, to strangle her, and render her silent, just as Gideon had done in the beginning.
There were many holes in the logic of Dr. Gideon being the real Chesapeake Ripper, and does Dr. Chilton want to say he is merely for the fame of housing a known psychopathic serial killer? The show seems to be setting us up for Lecter to be the real Chesapeake Ripper. He does fit the profile, and seeing Lecter in his real icy, killer form was a nice turn from the usual. I keep thinking he’s fed Crawford many victims, genuinely enjoying the cuisine while he gets rid of evidence in one fell swoop. There was a short story I read in college where an old woman killed someone and cooked them, later feeding them to the police who came knocking. Good stuff, right there. I hope they reveal who belonged to the disembodied arm in the observatory. Was it Lass?
It’s been a slow build to having Lecter showcase his killing moves; one that I hope keeps building, eventually letting us see him go full-blown. I like his two personas, the smooth and brilliant doctor, and the cold and calculating killer. Please, sir, I want some more.
And you, readers? Would you like us to continue our Hannibal recaps, or shall we go in search of other meat to satisfy your tastes?
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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.