Tattle Diary Entry #6: Everything Wrong With Abigail Hobbs
Abigail Hobbs was the worst character on Hannibal. Though she wasn’t entirely made up for the show she was given a much bigger role than she should have had. They placed a lot of importance on what was a canonically non-essential character for some reason. Perhaps the poor writing when it came to her can be blamed on the fact that Bryan Fuller is a gay man in his 40s and really has no idea how to write a modern day teenage girl. Maybe it was just that Kacey Rohl is a bad actress and literally only got the part because her dad was friends with David Slade. Maybe it’s a combination of these things. Whatever the case, her character was just an awful mess that made no sense and here’s why.
The show constantly referenced the fact that Abigail was a “very smart girl” however, this was always other characters saying it. They never showed her actually being smart about much of anything. On screen she constantly made poor decisions, was crying, or was upset about stupid stuff. The fact that they had to have several other characters remind us on more than one occasion that Abigail was “very smart” denotes that she wasn’t written well. This is a case of tell instead of show. If she’s actually very smart why does anyone need to say it, and repeatedly at that?
By episode three, Abigail figures out that the man on the phone who called her father and triggered him into killing her mother (and attempting to kill her) was Hannibal Lecter. She somehow sneaks out of this group home/insane asylum she’s been living in to visit Hannibal in his office somehow. She confronts him and tells him he was the man on the phone and seems to think that it will be neat to keep this a secret from everyone because reasons? It’s never explained.
Abigail did stab Nick Boyle, though, and Hannibal is using this to essentially blackmail her into not mentioning to anyone that he was the man on the phone who warned her father. Abigail, who remember, is a “very smart girl”, seems to fail to realize a bunch of things. One of them being that she killed Nick in what could essentially be seen as self defense. That even if she hadn’t, she literally has all the power and information she needs in that moment to turn Hannibal into authorities, but doesn’t for some reason. Not only is he blackmailing her she at very least knows he was involved in warning her dad about the FBI. Instead of considering any of this, after stabbing Nick she just listens to Hannibal and hides the body with him. Very smart girl, right?
Abigail is given dozens of opportunities to say something, literally anything, about who Hannibal is and what he did. From early on when she barely knew anything about him and who he was, til later on when she eats dinner with him and clearly tastes the meat that he’s feeding her is human. She says and does nothing about this, despite the fact that tasting the meat made her seemingly very upset. Instead of confronting Hannibal on this, she sobs about how she’s the monster. What? How does any of that make sense?
When confronted with Nick Boyle’s dead body, once again, she has a chance to say what happened. Get herself out of trouble. She just keeps refusing to answer or stand up for herself. Even though everyone else in the show keeps calling her very smart and very strong, every opportunity she’s given to say anything to save her own ass, she doesn’t take. Some may claim she was just brainwashed by Hannibal but he spent very little actual time with her one on one, there wouldn’t have been a way for him to do this so quickly despite how traumatized she was by what her father did.
Abigail seemed to hate her father, over and over, in the show. Was pretty open about it. However, she hated Will Graham even more for killing her father (to save her life) but was best friends with Hannibal who she full well knew made the phone call to warn her father and send him into a psychotic rage. What was that about? She was difficult with Will until the very end who only ever showed signs of wanting to protect her. Hannibal did the exact opposite by doing what he did with her father. Yet, this very smart girl, didn’t see that for some reason and hated Will in favor of protecting Hannibal.
In episode four, Abigail just goes to Hannibal’s house unsupervised, despite knowing who he is and the fact that he pretty much set the ball in motion to ruin her life for the hell of it. If that’s not bad enough, she willingly takes hallucinogenic mushrooms because he tells her to. This was a man she’d met maybe all of two or three times at that point. He’d done very little to help her and she full well knew he was not only the man on the phone but willing to help her hide dead bodies. Without any consideration for the fact that taking shrooms in his supervision, and only supervision, might be a very bad idea, she does it without hesitation. Doesn’t even question this for some reason. Yeah. Smart.
Nearing the end of the first season, she sneaks out of the insane asylum with Will to go to her father’s cabin in Minnesota or some such place. Will takes her to the attack where they previously found her friend Marissa or Melissa…whatever her name isn’t important. Will confronts her and tells her that if she didn’t kill the girl herself then she knows who did. Abigail, once again, fails to mention anything about Hannibal or what’s going on with that. There’s some weird time skip or jump and Abigail I guess just ran out of the cabin and walked all the way home?
When Abigail arrives back to her actual house, Hannibal’s waiting in the kitchen and she doesn’t even question this or why. She seems to literally never connect the dots to the fact that Hannibal is really super bad. Keep in mind this is after she realized he was feeding her human meat and yet she still trusts him for some reason. Then, of course, he’s like “well going to have to kill you now” and she’s just like okay lemme not do anything about this.
In season one, she had many different opportunities to say something to someone about any of this. Even if she didn’t like Will or Jack because they were kind of intense or overbearing, maybe even intimidating, the show went out of its way to force a very awkward friendship between her and Freddie Lounds and then did a somewhat better job of a realistic relationship between her and Alana. Abigail clearly hated her father, but ran right back to a guy who was by all accounts worse than her father. The show never said anything about her having PTSD and she certainly didn’t act like she had any actual symptoms of that, but even if she did that wouldn’t explain her behavior at all.
PTSD would have actually made her less trusting of Hannibal. Her anxiety would have been through the roof and just on instinct she wouldn’t have trusted him. She’d have been terrified of him because he was just like her abuser, her father. She would not have run to him and bonded with him on her own. It would have had to be forced. Hannibal didn’t spend nearly enough time with her in the first few episodes to do anything like that. However, when she did kill Nick Boyle which was arguably in self defense, when he suggested they hide the body that should have been another red flag to her. That’s what her father made her do with him. The guy she hated and was glad she got away from. What the actual hell?
The show also portrayed her as kind of a sleaze bag on a few occasions, like how eager she was to sell her story and get rich and famous when Freddie approached her. How she thought she was totally edgy and hiding everything so well. Yet, a very smart girl wouldn’t have given away so much information to a tabloid journalist, that the journalist was able to figure out before almost anyone else, that Abigail killed a guy. That’s not what a very smart girl does. She behaves smart, not stupidly, and all Abigail did was act like a moron her entire time in season one.
Season two details that Abigail was living with Hannibal somehow for like an entire year. He had amputated her ear seemingly with her consent (which we learn by season three) because why not? There’s even a scene, flashback, in season three showing how Hannibal punctured her jugular to spray blood all over her kitchen while he also kept her alive. In this scene, well, it’s just a massive contradiction from the season one kitchen scene where she’s terrified. Now, suddenly, she’s super happy and onboard with the plan to fake her own death and trick Will I guess? I mean what did he even tell her that she was suddenly like “OH THIS WILL BE FUN!?”.
Flashbacks in season three denote that he took the time to brainwash her and fuck with her head but when did he have the time? This would have all had to have been done through season two after her death. Keep in mind, season two was all about Hannibal constantly covering his tracks, trying to get Will out of prison by finding another killer to use to say Will didn’t commit any murders, dinner parties, framing Chilton, killing Beverly, messing around with Alana who he was in a relationship with, taking care of Miriam, brainwashing her…I mean there was literally almost no time for him to be doing this. Are we to believe Hannibal just didn’t sleep the entire length of season two? That no one noticed any odd behavior on his part? Why was Abigail so quick to hop on board the murder husbands train when she hated Will since season one? Except now, she’s falling for this lie that Hannibal wants to take her and Will to Europe with him and live happily ever after? But she hated Will. HATED him. Yet this works?
Abigail was a poorly written character. Hands down. I think her popularity really only stems from the fact that she was super easy to cosplay, not hard to copy in behavior, and the fact that there was a gross amount of girls her age in the fandom who either identified with her or wanted to be in a sexual relationship with Hannibal. Except, by Hannibal I mean Mads Mikkelsen because literally none of the Abigail/Hannibal fan fiction I ever saw denoted that what they wanted was Hannibal. They wanted Mads Mikkelsen in a Hannibal Lecter suit.
Abigail would have never been this popular of a character had the main fan base not been from tumblr, a place where 14-28 year old girls run rampant and idolize/sexualize things they definitely shouldn’t. This is also the same reason why Hannigram became such a huge ship but I will talk about that another day.