“Trou Normand” begins like many a season one Hannibal episode: at a murder scene. As before, Team FBI suspends evidence gathering to leave Will to his empath vision. In the blink of an eye, however, the episode takes an unexpected turn. Will closes his eyes on a West Virgina beach and opens them in the waiting room of Hannibal’s office—three and a half hours away—with no idea of how he got there.
The loss of time terrifies Will. “Th-there is something wrong with me,” he confesses to Hannibal.
H: You’re disassociating, Will. It’s a desperate survival mechanism for a psyche that endures repeated abuse.
W: No, no, I’m not abused!
H: You have an empathy disorder. What you feel is overwhelming you.
W: I know, I know.
H: Yet you choose to ignore it. That’s the abuse I’m referring to.
This exchange does so much to demonstrate just how unsettled Will feels in this moment. Of course, we must first commend Hugh Dancy’s performance. While the script does describe Will as pacing and “agitated,” on the page his lines betray no real inflection. “I’m not abused” (Final Shooting Script, 9). Period. Clear. Dancy, meanwhile, delivers the line with such raw emotion. “No, no, I’m not abused!” Exclamation. Stammering. Dancy’s Will is defensive and distressed.
The blocking of the scene proves just how distressed. Up to this point, cinematography on Hannibal has remained fairly static. But here, the camera follows Will as he wildly circles Hannibal’s office. His internal spiraling made external. The result is incredibly disorienting, allowing the audience to experience a fraction of the turmoil that Will feels. Like Will, we are unstable. To make the counter-clockwise motion even more discomfiting, the camera cuts between two different perspectives. First, the camera stands just behind Hannibal, trailing Will as he revolves around the room.
As he continues to pace, the camera cuts to Will’s point of view of Hannibal. Hannibal remains in focus as the background blurs.
Back to Hannibal’s perspective. Back to Will’s. Back to Hannibal’s. Back to Will’s. And around and around we go, until Will completes his rotation and grows still. “What, do you want me to quit?” He asks.
H: Well, Jack Crawford gave you a chance to quit, and you didn’t take it. Why?
W: I save lives.
H: And that feels good.
W: Generally speaking, yeah.
H: What about your life? I’m your friend, Will, I don’t care about the lives you save. I care about your life. And your life is separating from reality.
Will, “startled by Hannibal’s passionate concern” (Final Shooting Script, 10), crumples onto the couch, cupping his face in his hands.
When it comes to visualizing the severity of Will’s agitation, this motion seems as significant as his pacing. Before this scene, Will and Hannibal have shared ten one-on-one conversations in this office. In them, Will has stood upstairs. Stood downstairs. Leaned against a column. Perched on the edge of the desk. Sat in a chair across from Hannibal sitting in an identical chair. But he has never—never—sat on this couch. After eight episodes of Will rejecting therapy, of putting physical distance between and turning away from Hannibal, of refusing to specify the purpose of their meetings, Will finally taking a seat on the proverbial psychiatrist’s couch seems as loud a call for help as his later suggestion of a brain scan. Scared and seeking comfort, Will appeals to Hannibal as both a medical professional and a friend. He entrusts himself to Hannibal’s care, relinquishing what little power he still held in their relationship.
Hannibal immediately uses that power against him. Despite already having sniffed out the existence of a neurological disorder, he rejects the possibility of a physiological cause to Will’s symptoms to instead push a psychological one. “Stop looking in the wrong corner for an answer to this,” he urges. “You were at the crime scene when you disassociated … And faced with this killer’s achievements, your mind needed to escape, and you lost time.”
The scene concludes with Hannibal once again trying to convince Will of his tendency towards violence. “You empathize so completely with the killers Jack Crawford has your mind wrapped around that you lose yourself to them,” he says. “What if you lose time and hurt yourself? Or someone else? I don’t want you to wake up and see a totem of your own making.” But, of course, that is exactly what Hannibal wants. And this Will—spinning, literally and figuratively—does not stand a chance against Hannibal’s machinations.