My Dinner with Abigail

The audience has entered Will’s dreamscape since “Aperitif.” Such scenes predominantly take the shape of either obvious nightmares or liminal visions. “Sorbet” introduces a very different kind of dream. 

An establishing shot shows sunlight fading behind darkened trees as nighttime descends. Cut to a two shot of Will and Abigail seated across from one another in a field. Between them, Cassie Boyle’s dead body mounted on a stag head—the “field kabuki” first seen in episode one. 

“It’s better that it’s just the two of us,” Abigail says to Will. She appears untroubled, an innocent smile on her face. 

A distant “Will?” from Hannibal breaks through the dream. Abigail shudders, a worried expression replacing her smile. “Dad,” she calls. “Yes?” Will replies. “There’s someone else here,” Abigail worries.  

What are we to make of this very brief scene? I still wonder, but it is so unlike everything else both in the episode and from the season thus far that it warrants closer attention. 

Will’s longing for family seems an obvious takeaway. He confessed his paternal feelings toward Abigail in earlier episodes, and here he quite literally casts himself as her father. Not only in name but also appearance—Will dons the hunting garb we have come to associate with Garret Jacob Hobbs. They are father and daughter, contentedly seated around a table as if for family dinner. 

Of course we cannot overlook the gruesome nature of the table. The impaled corpse reminds us that violence brought the pair together. After killing Abigail’s real father, Will sought to become a surrogate. But it is not the corpse of Garret Jacob Hobbs that becomes the visual bridge—it is Cassie. This is Hannibal’s design, his murderous tableau created to help Will think like Hobbs. Without it, Will might never have found Hobbs. Killed Hobbs. Met Abigail. Will and Abigail thus feast at the table Hannibal set, literally and figuratively. He planted the seed of their family tree. 

And yet the dream not only excludes Hannibal but also positions him as an intruder upon their relationship. “It’s better that it’s just the two of us,” Abigail tells Will. They seek to form a family without Hannibal. Even in dreams, however, they find this difficult to achieve. Hannibal’s voice bleeds through, “a distant whispering from the heavy sky” (Final Shooting Script, 34). 

As with the scene between Will and a phantom Angel Maker in “Coquilles,” it is important to remember that Will is the sole author here. Abigail’s remarks and expressions are a projection of his own thoughts and fears. At least subconsciously, Will considers Hannibal a threat to his desired surrogate family. 

In this light, the dream serves as a tragic omen for the murder family. In future dream sequences, Will envisions himself fishing with Abigail—a setting that serves to 1) differentiate himself from Garret Jacob Hobbs, and 2) completely remove Hannibal from the family equation. Hannibal nevertheless still finds a way to interrupt the scene and seize control. Only then it is not his voice, but rather the appearance of the Stag Man. 

Like Venus and her clam shell, the Stag Man emerges from the waters in “Kaiseki”

And as Will fears here, the fantasy of a complete murder family ends in disaster. “A place was made for Abigail in your world. A place was made for all of us together,” Hannibal tells Will in the season two finale before slicing Abigail’s throat. “He gave you back to me, and then he took you away,” Will says to a spectral Abigail in season three. “What if we all left together like we were supposed to?” The dream sequence in “Sorbet” seems to imply that that particular “what if” was never truly possible. 

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