Hannibal Episode 1.02: “Amuse-Bouche”

Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham in Hannibal

“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.

Hugh Dancy as Will Graham in the garden of fungi

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.

Read all posts by Amber Keller for Criminal Element.


  1. lynette barfield

    Would like a copy.

  2. Clare 2e

    I like how pretty it always is, even in its horribleness. I also find a few turns of phrase I like in every episode, like the “broken pony” during the long pig dinner. Freddie has alienated everyone, and somehow feels none will take revenge. Maybe she’s that accurate a judge of character, or maybe not. She served an interesting function in this one, but verging on Freddie ex machina to make the plot spin, so I hope they’re careful. I also liked that one of the team was duped by her, but quietly. Mads is growing on me, and the relationship between him and Will is developing nicely, and by that I mean, sickly and twistedly : )

  3. mosaix

    Hannibal-the cook and host! Yes!

  4. Richard Edmundson


  5. Steven Wilber

    Had mixed feelings about the show. Will character seems a little to strange. But I liked it well enough to give it a few more episodes to grow on me.

  6. Marguerite Beal

    I starting watching Hannibal and thought this is not very good. I watched the second episode and now I am hooked.

  7. paul sproul

    A Grotesque pageturner that has never left me.

  8. Sheila Korman

    I think I will come to crave it, like a nice Chianti or some fava beans!

  9. Aaron Robbins

    My fiance has been watching. She loves the writing, but isn’t liking the casting choices. The Anthony Hopkins Hanibal was very adaptable to different situations, different voices, or accents were easily available for him. This actor seems intelligent to her, but that is it. None of the charisma or adaptability that made people love the character.

  10. Sara frye

    I haven’t had a chance to sit down to the new series yet, but I do plan on starting sometime this week.

  11. Kris Kaminski

    thumbs down

  12. Larena Hubble

    I have been enjoying the show though there are definitely parts that are disturbing. I think the cast is doing a great job with the characters.

  13. Summer

    Would like a copy!

  14. Karl Stenger

    I have not made up my mind whether I like the series or not. Hannibal with a Scandinavian accent is weird. But I would love a paperback copy of the novel.

  15. Cheryl English

    I need a little bit more to see where it is going to go!

  16. Shana Skaletsky

    I can’t get past the first episode–however, I’m willing to try based upon others’ reviews of the second episode. I’d love to win a copy of the book, too!

  17. Don Gentry

    Pretty amazing that they’ve taken this so far. Still miss the original characters though 🙂

  18. Anna Mills

    I do without TV altogether in order to, you know, read more!

  19. Michael Lee Smith

    I like it… I think it’s going to get even better!!!!

  20. Taylor Duncan

    Hear like that

  21. Anita Yancey

    I would love to read it. Thanks for the chance.

  22. John Maline

    I’ve read it before but would enjoy it again.

  23. Heather Johnson

    I haven’t decided yet whether the show will hook me and reel me in. It is creepy!

  24. Mary Saputo

    I, too, am still undecided.

    Either I’m missing the point you’re making, Amber, or I have a different take on the relationship between Hannibal and every other character. First of all, I’m still having trouble understanding Mads. And by that I mean – I can’t understand what he’s saying a lot of time. Second: I believe Hannibal gave Will a bill of health because he wants to play mind tricks on him. He’s an intelligent psychiatrist and would know how to confuse someone with Will’s handicap. Third: His dinner with Crawford. Don’t you think he’s waiting for the right time to let Crawford know what he’s really eaten? Don’t you think that would blow his mind? I think Hannibal is working against everyone and for himself. This whole thing is just a game to him.

  25. caite fitzgerald


  26. Donald Isaksen

    Seriously weirdly-wonderful. Hannibal? What’s for desert?….Really?Hurl.Keep up the fine work, Bravo. (did I win yet?)

  27. Hira Hasnain

    I feel like Lecter is playing the father figure role to Graham, and a mentor of sorts, because he notices and appreciates the tendencies within Graham which could be the makings of a serial killer. We all know Graham knows and recognizes the anti-social and slightly sociopathic tendencies within himself – I think Lecter just wants to play upon those fears, and help give them an outlet. Plus, I don’t think Hannibal Lecter is not sentient being, I think he just experiences emotion in a way that is different from others. Whereas we “feel” our emotions, Lecter merely experiences them objectively – and in that, he is able to experience emotion, but bypass the reactions that come from that emotion. It freaks me out that not only is he a cannibal, but that he feeds these human parts to others without their knowledge (which is really trippy, coz, could it really be that human flesh tastes akin to all other animal flesh?!?!? point to ponder….) – I think that in doing so, he rationalizes his acts. Kind of like “they enjoy it without the knowledge of what they eat, and I enjoy it knowing what it is – ultimately, we all enjoy it” kind of a deal!

  28. Heather Ging

    I am really enjoying this show so far. The mushroom scene I found intriguing. I think Dancy is doing a great job as Grahm, and the new Dr. Lecter is so far living up to my expectations set by Anthony Hopkins in the original film.

  29. William Gardner

    I’m finding this to be surprising, i’m rather a cynic and i knew this could be thoroughly enticing or deliciously disastrous. So far i’m enticed! I’ve also heard the term “Kubrickian” thrown around, and while that shows through in a lot of really compelling moments, i think this telling deserves credit of its own for excellent visceral execution. It’s yet another remake/rehash/reboot, and that doesn’t alone condemn it, but it does mean i intended to give it less of a chance, yet it just keeps pulling me in at every turn. It’s not perfect, and this is no Anthony Hopkins (though this Hannibal himself hasn’t had much time to shine), but i find myself loving it for, rather than in spite of, the interpretation; and that says quite a bit.

  30. L L

    This sounds interesting

  31. Kelley Tackett

    I can’t take my eyes of Mads Mikklesen. He is mesmerizing. Hugh Dancy is much better than I thought he would be in this show. The first two episodes have blown me away! It’s not every day that you see a lung eaten on television.

  32. Melissa Keith

    I’ve never watched HANNIBAL. Tell me, Clarice,….is it good? I will definitely check it out as SOTL is one of my favorite movies. I would love to read the book. Thanks!

  33. jason fiske

    Love the movie, tv show and books.

  34. Leilani Shaffer

    I am enjoying the show. It’s creepy and calm…and I’m hooked.

  35. Chris Noe

    I really enjoying the show. It is creepy cool. I will definitely contine watching.

  36. Tim Anderson

    I am teetering between liking it or not. So far it’s like bad wine with a good meal.

  37. Allison Moyer

    I haven’t yet seen the show. Not sure if I can stomach it (pun intended). But I loved the movie Silence of the Lambs and have always longed to read the book.

  38. vicki wurgler

    I am watching the show the mushroom scene was bad and I wondered about the breakfast, but I’ll keep watching

  39. Heather Martin

    I have mixed fellings. An intriging series, but extreming graphic.

  40. Heather316

    I have recorded the show, but have to find the time to watch. It looks like a good one. Good luck all.

  41. Cindi Hoppes

    I have only seen one episode of this new show. Our youngest son is
    away at college and told me I should check the show out…
    I did find the episode I just saw, very interesting in its’ creepiness.
    Many thanks, Cindi

  42. Kyle Quandt

    Sounds Great! Thanks

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