Hannibal - Entrée
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Let’s talk about this scene for a minute. For one, I was nearly screaming at my screen while this was going on because 1) it’s the first time we ACTUALLY see Hannibal committing an overt act of violence that will lead to the murder of someone and 2) it is so intimate. The first point is relatively obvious - Hannibal is choking Miriam Lass because she just figured out who he really is and she has now become a threat. As such, he strangles her until she passes out, takes her somewhere, makes a recording of her voice to be used later, and then presumably kills her. (Edit: I would like to point out that I actually edited this section of my analysis because I made the mistake of thinking that Hannibal killed Miriam at this point which would not work within the storyline because he made a recording of her voice at some point. Also, I edited the below paragraphs to reflect this so if anyone spots a flaw in logic, let me know.) The second point is a bit more subtle which I will address below.
First, the scene is a flashback - something that is strictly confined to the annals of Dr. Lecter’s mind. No one else knows what happened to Miriam except for the fact that she is now dead. This scene is actually depicted as a flashback while Jack and Hannibal are discussing what kind of person Miriam was.
Second, the state of Dr. Lecter’s clothing indicates how he may feel about murdering his victims. Granted, he probably took his shoes off in order to sneak up on Miriam but he also removed his jacket. This may also be written off as the need for mobility to strangle someone (suit jackets are not known for their ease of movement), but for someone who puts a lot of effort into appearances, this is also telling. Hannibal presents himself as someone who is in control of his physical faculties - whether it is an outward expression of emotion or the polished look of the suit he is wearing. His physical appearance affords him power and when he removes a portion of that manifestation, he is able to assume a different part of himself (i.e. the serial killer).
Finally, the physicality of this scene alone indicates how intimately Dr. Lecter regards his victims. Miriam’s struggle is brief - as he has mentioned before, Hannibal does not believe in inhumane killings (this is an inference from the episode when he is serving dinner to Bella and Jack and he mentions that he employs a “humane butcher.” Obviously, my opinion on this may change if and when we actually see Lecter murdering anyone but for now I think this suits what the viewer has seen and been told so far). It should also be noted at this point that we have not actually SEEN Lecter kill anyone yet - so it remains to be if his victims are actually dead/awake/conscious/unconscious/etc. when he mutilates them and removes their organs. Anyway, based on this scene we see that he dispatches Miriam quickly and does not respond to her violent struggling with violence of his own (besides the obvious strangulation - he doesn’t hit, kick, bite, etc.). He holds her close to his body and even “nuzzles” (I can’t think of a better word for it) her head after she stops breathing. Dr. Lecter doesn’t make any noise as he strangles Miriam Lass - he is calm, efficient, and quick in his actions. That is not to say that the intimacy he is expressing it is beautiful, appropriate, or justified - quite the contrary. It is terrifying. Terrifying because of the context, terrifying because of Hannibal’s demeanor, terrifying simply because it is so intimate.
The entire scene had me nearly shouting because the suspense up to this point has been so great that when you finally SEE who Hannibal really is, you can’t help but freak out because you, as the viewer, know what is coming the minute he descends the ladder, but the characters onscreen do not. Up to this point, everything has been implied; but now, now you really know what is going on behind all of the bespoke suits and well groomed haircuts. The intimacy just ramps up the tension one more notch and drives home the calculating and manipulative character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter.