This conversation between Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) focuses on the sense of smell. They actually had similar conversations in the first and in the second seasons: the topic is always Will’s “atrocious after-shave”, “something with a ship on the bottle”, that is Old Spice.
This time there’s something different, though: Hannibal doesn’t know what has happened in Will’s life after their adventure at Muskrat Farm, but his exceptional sense of smell gives him an idea. “Beneath that shaving lotion” he can smell “dogs” (obviously), “pine” (Will lives in a house in the woods) and “oil”. Furthermore, he comments on the person who has possibly given him the after-shave as a gift: a child. Hannibal is right again: Will now lives with Molly and Willy, her son from a previous marriage.
The last part of the conversation is heart-breaking: he tries to uncover Will’s desire to see him again, to “get that old scent again”, but the apparent lack of reaction from Will brings out the spiteful “Why don’t you just smell yourself?”, with which Hannibal emphasizes their similarities, even if Will is not ready to admit it yet.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter has a talent for identifying what perfumes people wear. The jailed version of the character in Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs detects Evyan White Shoulders body lotion and Nina Ricci L’air du temps on Clarice Starling, while his bon vivant version (Mads Mikkelsen) in the tv show by Bryan Fuller smells “something with a ship on the bottle” on Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). Smelling someone and commenting on his/her perfume is a very intimate action; when it comes from a jailed serial killer or from your psychiatrist, it becomes an intrusion into your privacy.
The after-shave Will wears is obviously the classic Old Spice, which Hannibal loathes (this opinion is reinforced in an episode from the second season). Hannibal says he should introduce Will to a “finer after-shave”, which makes me wonder what after-shave he wears and what he would suggest Will to wear. Any thoughts?
Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) recognizes Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) from his aftershave.
Even if Hannibal doesn’t mention it, we know from S01 he’s referring to Old Spice, the after-shave lotion with “a ship on the bottle” that Will always receives as a gift at Christmas.