Mar 24 2014 2:00pm

Hannibal: Macabre Murals, Creepy Courtrooms, and BEES!

Previously on Hannibal: Hannibal looks dapper in his plastic murder suit; Will does not look dapper in his prison jumpsuit; Beverly discovers something she shouldn’t; Bedelia realizes something she shouldn’t; Jack and Chilton get played by everyone; and Bella lives, dies, and lives again. Also, BEES!

S2 E2: Sakizuki
Will continues to push Beverly into investigating his case on the sly, but her quid pro quo involves not-so-secretly consulting on her casework. Using his super-human sense of smell, Hannibal tracks down the human mural killer and they have a heart to heart. He stitches James Gray into his own work of art...after taking his leg (and liver) for a midnight snack. Hannibal gets bolder and more arrogant as he plays God, and clever Bedelia recognizes him for what he really is. She smartly gets the hell outta Dodge, but not before a quick visit to Will to tell him she believes his innocence and Hannibal’s guilt.

S2 E3: Hassun
Will’s court date arrives, and Jack, Hannibal, Dr. Chilton (I can’t decide if he’s really that much of an idiot or if he’s just good at playing one), and Freddie Lounds opine on Will. Each pronouncement is tainted by the speaker’s relationship with Hannibal, and thus how much or little they want, need, or care about Will’s innocence. Jack’s boss, Kade Prurnell, vows retribution for choosing Will instead of toeing the FBI line. And the whole thing wraps up with the judge trussed up to look like a dead Lady Justice. Did Hannibal change his modus operandi for Will’s sake or is another psychopath with a flair for the Grand Guignol on the loose?

S2 E4: Takiawase
As the FBI tracks down a killer turning men into walking beehives, Will continues to bait the Hannibal hook. He finds a new ally in Dr. Chilton by offering himself up for psychological testing in exchange for Chilton cutting off Hannibal’s access to Will. Bella Crawford seeks solace in Hannibal, and instead gets a hint that suicide isn’t such a bad thing after all. Hannibal interrupts her attempt, much to Bella’s chagrin and Jack’s gratefulness. Will wraps the blood knot tighter around Beverly, but this time he might’ve squeezed too hard. Beverly finally takes Will’s advice to ignore what Hannibal says and listen to what he means, which results in her discovering his fridge full of organs and something unspeakable in his basement...and Hannibal discovering her. Not to mention Will finally realizes “Hannibal” rhymes with “cannibal.”

Hannibal is playing at expansive parallels this season, even more so than before. Just as James Gray sought understanding from Hannibal, so too did Katherine Pims with the FBI. Both killers wanted to take people they saw as meaningless nothings and make them into something remarkable, and neither felt any need to keep their whims private through force or violence. The human mural killer didn’t flee when Hannibal found him, nor did the beehive killer when Jack, Jimmy, and Brian turned up at her doorstep. They also make for fascinating contrasts to Hannibal.

While Hannibal doesn’t fear capture anymore than he fears death, he absolutely does not want to get caught, so much so that he constructed an excruciatingly elaborate plan to frame Will involving induced seizures and force-feeding. He killed Miriam Lass and Georgia Madchen, likely killed Abigail Hobbs, tried to kill Bedelia du Maurier, and will probably kill Beverly Katz and future!Jack Crawford to cover his own ass. If Will ever gets far enough out from under his thumb, Hannibal will put his beloved plaything on the chopping block as well. Gray and Pims both saw death as a kind of cure (for Pims it was literal, for Gray metaphorical), but for Hannibal it’s a game he enjoys and is terrifyingly good at. There is no deeper philosophy to his behavior; he is precisely what he is, no more, no less. But where Pims and Gray had no interest in hiding their sociopathy, Hannibal has to keep his under wraps. Hannibal controls others’ perception of him because he revels in playing God and because thems the rules if he wants to keep playing God.

“Your father taught you how to hunt. I’m going to teach you how to fish.”
“Same thing, isn’t it? One you stalk, the other you lure.”
“One you catch, the other you shoot.”

Garret Jacob Hobbs wasn’t the only hunter of the group, and Will isn’t the only fisher. Abigail did a lot of luring herself, intentional or otherwise. It’s interesting to see the lines drawn between Will, Abigail, Hannibal, and GJH. In the literal sense, Will and Abigail are smaller, thinner, and more frail (psychologically, emotionally, and physically) than Hannibal and GJH. They were used by the most important men in their lives, men who manipulated, distorted, terrified, and confused them into submission. The hunters use cunning and brute force to stalk and subdue their prey, while the fishers use subtle trickery to seduce their prey into capturing itself.

But Will and Hannibal are also a lot alike in how they build relationships with others. Will uses Beverly and Alana to play Hannibal, just as Hannibal used Freddie Lounds, Abigail, and GJH to play Will. But where Hannibal feels no hesitation in killing or manipulating his pawns, Will is wracked with guilt over Abigail’s unknown fate, and will most assuredly feel even worse when all is said and done with Beverly. Will is living empathy (which also puts him in Gray and Pims’ vicinity in terms of how they felt a personal connection with their victims), while Hannibal is the polar opposite. Dr. Chilton is aiming at the wrong target, but he’s correct in his analysis of the killer as a man “driven by vanity and his own whims. He has a very high opinion of his intelligence. Ergo, he caught the other killers simply to prove he was smarter than all of them, too. Saving lives is just as arousing as ending them. He likes to play God.” And, up until he gets a peek inside Will’s, head, he genuinely believes him to be guilty. Will plays Chilton just as Hannibal played his own shrink.

Speaking of Bedelia du Maurier, no coverage of Hannibal would be complete without discussing of her, Beverly Katz, and Bella Crawford. Bryan Fuller has always been great at writing intriguing, beguiling, complicated women, and the 3 B’s are no different. They represent a sort of trifecta of womanhood: the woman who flees, the woman who surrenders, and the woman who fights back. In some ways, Bedelia is a lot like Hannibal. She is calm, cool, and collected. She is a vast sea of murky waters, and Hannibal wildly underestimates how deep she goes. Few people outsmart Hannibal, and even fewer live to tell the tale. Bedelia is smart enough to realize she’d never be able to force Hannibal from his shadows without taking herself down with him—though she has no concrete evidence of Hannibal’s destruction of Will, she’s keen enough to read between the lines. I suspect/hope Bedelia will be back by the end of the season.

Bella’s story is utterly tragic, and guided by the intervening hands of men. When she gets cancer, her instinct is to not tell her husband and refuse treatment, partly because she doesn’t want to suffer but mostly to spare him the agony of watching her die. She accepts treatment because Jack convinces her to. She overdoses on morphine in Hannibal’s office to make her death less painful for her husband, but Hannibal can’t let anyone do anything without being directly involved in the decision-making process, so he revives her. None of this is to say Bella is weak. No, she’s simply trapped by a man she loves and another she doesn’t understand. Both use her to get what they want (Jack wants a happy family, Hannibal wants to manipulate Jack). Bedelia fled because she knew that was the only way out of Hannibal’s grasp. Bella isn’t privy to enough of the game to know she’s even in his grasp. Bella will certainly die, but it won’t be from cancer.

Beverly isn’t as shrewd as Bedelia or as trusting as Bella, but she is bolder. The other women must bow to Hannibal, as he holds secrets that could destroy their lives, but Beverly is under no such strictures. She sneaks into his house to find evidence against him, and heads down to the dungeon without hesitation. It will likely be the last thing she ever does (no one challenges Hannibal and walks away unscathed), but at least she did it. Her death/disappearance is going to be a hell of a lot harder to cover up, especially with Will shouting accusations. And no matter Hannibal’s God complex, right now Will is more or less untouchable in the prison as long as he wants to keep his own name clear. The more involved he is, the harder it will be for him to keep the game going. But he also can’t help himself. The more difficult the game, the sweeter the victory. He is convinced he will always win, but Will and Beverly are the cracks in that confidence.

Bonnes Bouches

  • “The traumatized are unpredictable because we know we can survive. You can survive this happening to you.”
    “Happening to me?”
    “I believe you.”
  • “Is Will Graham an intelligent psychopath?”
    “There is not yet a name for whatever Will Graham is.”
  • I kinda wanna know what’s in Hannibal’s creepy dungeon basement, but I also really, really, really don’t.
  • I’m sad to see Beverly go. Not only is Hettienne Park a great actress who breathed fresh life into what could easily be a trope character, but she’s also a big part of Hannibal’s very small amount of diversity.
  • The final scene in episode 4 is a nice reminder that Hannibal isn’t just a handsome man with a great wardrobe who occasionally eats people, but a walking horror movie. Mads Mikkelsen once again nails Hannibal’s brutal physicality.
  • I’m dying to know what the other inmates at the Baltimore Hospital for the Criminally Insane think about Will Graham and his endless parade of visitors.
  • In the scene in episode 4 when Bella dies from a self-induced morphine overdose, Hannibal wears a tie with a yellow flower/honeycomb pattern on it.
  • Also in episode 4, it’s worth noting that Pims conducted lobotomies on her victims before hollowing out their heads to see what was ticking around in there, much like how Chilton pumped Will full of mind-altering drugs to get at the secrets tucked away (albeit it with a less graphically visceral methodology).
  • I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Fuller’s past dabblings in murderous bees...

Alex Brown is an archivist, research librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.

1. VictorianFae
So glad you're doing Hannibal recaps! Speaking of Bryan Fuller's history with killer bees: "Katherine Pimms" is a reference to Chuck's alias in that episode: "Kitty Pimms."
Alex Brown
2. AlexBrown
@VictorianFae: Thanks! I'm covering them in batches. Expect the next one after ep 8.

Ah! I knew Katherine Pimms sounded familiar :)
Jeremy Foote
3. 3SecondCultist
I second Victorian on this one!

I love this show. Everything about how it is constructed, from shot to shot, is artistic. I'm very glad someone at TOR is doing recaps, and a pretty insightful job at that.

I really do love the contrast you've brought up between the different styles of predation in this show. Will Graham isn't a hunter - I couldn't picture him in the opening fight of season 2, let alone Hannibal attacking him so openly - but he is already displaying an apt head for manipulation himself. One of the most interesting things about this new season so far is putting Will and Hannibal almost at par, in terms of how much influence they can wield over the people around them. It raises questions of morality too: what kinds of actions might Will have to take in order to finally defeat his enemy?
4. VictorianFae
@3SecondCultist: "
It raises questions of morality too: what kinds of actions might Will have to take in order to finally defeat his enemy?"

Good point! Something about this episode has been bothering me in regards to this- how much did Will realize he was using Bev as his lure? He was visibly freaked when she said she was investigating Hannibal more closely, but he also knows her. Did he really expect her to let things lie? He just told her to stay away, not anything more concrete like "ok, be super careful and maybe take some more cops or tell Jack." Which, sure, would kind of kill the tension, but would be far smarter of both of them.

The combination of that opening scene with the idea of the named lure, and Chilton remarking on Will's ability to manipulate people is just a bit worrying...
Meg K
5. KittenSwarm
Very much glad to see these recaps!

Takiawase is probably my favorite episode this season. The walkthroughs Brian Fuller has been doing at the AVClub imply that the season ratchets up a notch starting in this episode, and I can't wait to see what is ahead.

Will's discussion of Hunters vs Fishers is likely to be key this season when looking at how Hannibal is eventually caught. Hannibal himself is a skilled manipulator, so he's not going to easily take the bait. I think the end of this episode shows that the hunter approach fails through Beverly, solo and looking for a clean shot to take Hannnibal down. As a side note, I was going "No no no! Don't go into the basement!!" during that last part of the episode. Poor Beverly.

Interesting that Abigail was in a way bait for Will by Hannibal and then Will names the piece of bait after her in the dream. Abigail acted as a fisher with herself as bait when she lured girls for her father.

(BOOK SPOILERS) If Fuller continues to follow his 7 season plan and the books, Jack should survive the season opening encounter as he's in "Silence of the Lambs" as Clarice's mentor. Either way, the confrontation was *not* going in his favor at the end. We'll have to wait and see if he was being a hunter or bait. He might be confronting Hannibal over something that will happen with Bella rather than Will.
Meg K
6. KittenSwarm
I really don't think Will intended Bev to be an overt lure, more like his hands in the outside world. He was VERY clear that he did not want her going near Hannibal and that she needed to take the information to Jack immediately. In Bev's defense, she attempted to do just that before realizing Hannibal was at the hospital with Jack and Bella, leaving an opportunity she decided to take. The lure of the hunt was too strong and Bev went for it
Will even warned her that Hannibal would have seen through her clumsy attempt to manipulate him with the body. Hannibal then set the bait with the bit of information about the stitches, and Beverly bit. She's an investigator and wants evidence, so Hannibal left her a path that essentially led her to that basement. That revealed to him that Bev was a threat and gave him the opportunity to eliminate her.

Chilton is definitely being used as a type of bait! Will knew that there was no way an egomaniac like Chilton would be able to *not* talk to Hannibal about Will's treatment.

I'm sad that Bev is 99% sure to be dead. Fuller turning Alan Bloom and Freddie Lounds into female roles was a fantastic move for more representation, but with this he has eliminated a great female character and POC. I know Bev was the one developed and killed from Team Science *because* we would be so attached to her, and it stings to lose her.
Alex Brown
7. AlexBrown
@VictorianFae, KittenSwarm: Will is definitely using/playing Alana, as evidenced by his shift from crying in front of them to being stoic afterward. And he's using Beverly to quid pro quo her into investigating his case, ergo she's investigating Hannibal whether she realizes it or not. That being said, Will using Beverly and Alana to prove his innocence/prove Hannibal's guilt isn't as malicious as Hannibal's manipulation. Nor do I think Will realizes just how much he really is using them. I think he likes to think he's guiding them in the right direction and protecting them from Hannibal, but manipulation is manipulation. He wants to use her covertly to protect her, sure, but also to keep Hannibal from getting wise. He isn't necessarily aware of his selfish motives, but they're there.
Meg K
8. KittenSwarm
@7 Alex
You're right, the manipulation is there even if he doesn't want them hurt. It's probably not coincidental that he's using Hannibal like manipulation tactics as he studies and tries to catch Hannibal. It follows his normal pattern of adopting some of his target subject's mindset from his extreme empathy.

The question is now how will he react now that Bev has been (99% surely) killed as a result. Is Will going to mentally accept that he shares some guilt for pushing Bev to investigate Hannibal in the first place?
Alex Brown
9. AlexBrown
@KittenSwarm: Friday cannot come soon enough. I have mourned Beverly on and off all frakking week. As much as I want her to live, I just can't see any scenario where she walks away from Hannibal. She's too close to his secret and too good a prize to let go.
Meg K
10. KittenSwarm
@ Alex
Ugh, I know! I can't see her making it. I'm very interested to know what she saw in that basement though. Someone warned me that NBC promo images for upcoming episodes may have spoiled it, so I'm steering clear.

I also want to praise Gina Torres and Laurence Fishburne. Their scenes together are wonderful, and I can't imagine how difficult it must be to act out these scenarios about the terminal illness of a spouse with your actual spouse. I hope we get another episode or two with Bella.

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