Previously on Hannibal: Will aims at Hannibal and misses; Hannibal and Alana knock boots; Gideon disappears; Miriam reappears; Beverly is torn asunder; Jack misses the forest for the corpse-y trees; and everyone says fare thee well to Chilton. And puppies! So many puppies!
S2 E5: Mukozuke
With Beverly’s death and gruesome display playing out as a Damien Hirst homage, Will is pushed to from seeking justice to wanting revenge. It’s a feat easier achieved than you’d think, since, as it turns out, the psychopaths at Baltimore Hospital for the Criminally Insane aren’t just behind bars. Will’s most ardent admirer, an orderly named Matthew Brown, killed the judge on Will’s behalf, and offers to do the same for the Chesapeake Ripper. Hannibal gets ambushed by Brown at the pool, and is trussed up like a bloody Jesus, but before he literally kicks the bucket, Jack and Alana burst in—the two of them having uncovered Will’s dastardly plot. Hannibal is saved, Brown is killed, Jack and Alana turn their anger against Will and their sympathy to Hannibal, and everything is exactly as it shouldn’t be.
S2 E6: Futamono
There was nothing about this episode that wasn’t top-to-bottom crazy town banana pants. Jack corners Will about going after Hannibal, and Will points out that every time Hannibal has a dinner party, the Ripper goes on a killing spree. Sure enough, Hannibal sends out invitations the same time the FBI morgue is inundated with bodies missing key organs. Once again, Jack starts to suspect there’s more to the suave shrink than meets they eye, and once again he’s easily persuaded that there isn’t. He has Hannibal’s appetizers tested, and they turn out to be a variety of non-human meats. Alana, meanwhile, feels the loss of Will a little too deeply. She seeks emotional refuge in the arms and bed of her good friend Hannibal, thus conveniently giving him an alibi just when he needs it most. Back at the lab, Team Sassy Science deals with a man grafted into a tree, with poisonous flowers growing out of what’s left of his vital organs. Hannibal kidnaps Abel Gideon from the hospital, where he was recuperating after a fall broke his back, and he eats his own leg as his last meal. But wait! There’s more! The corpse tree leads Jack to an abandoned cabin where Miriam has apparently been trapped the last two years.
S2 E7: Yakimono
Poor Frederick. Jack continues to vacilate on whether or not he believes Will’s accusations, and this time his pendulum swings toward Hannibal’s innocence. Unfortunately for Chilton, without any other viable suspect and some cleverly placed key pieces of evidence—namely, a couple of butchered FBI agents in his kitchen—the long con comes to fruition with him becoming Hannibal’s fall guy. While Miriam couldn’t recognize Hannibal as her kidnapper, she instead singles out Chilton (likely because of Hannibal’s multi-year manipulation of her psyche) and shoots him with Jack’s gun. She may think she was meant to be the Ripper’s last victim, but Hannibal really intended her to be the centerpiece of his frame job of Chilton. Will takes Alana’s relationship with Hannibal about as well as she took his attempted murder of her lover. Doesn’t look like those nice kids are ever going to get together now. He cleans himself up and takes even Hannibal by surprise by resuming his therapy.
If there’s a moral to these three episodes, it’s that it doesn’t pay to accuse Hannibal Lecter. As Chilton rightly points out, everyone who even vaguely hinted at seeing his true nature has either died or gone missing. All except Will, who has had the misfortune to have fallen in Hannibal’s good graces. This triptych of episodes details the rise and fall of Frederick Chilton. He makes similar moves against Hannibal that Will and Bedelia did, but he’s too selfish and yellow-bellied for there to be any real substance behind it. When Will was framed, he compartmentalized his rage and found a way to use it against Hannibal. But when Chilton woke up covered in blood, he fled in terror. He was the perfect patsy, one who thought he was going to slay the dragon but instead tripped and fell on his own sword. Once the Ripper starts killing again—Hannibal may take a short vacay from carnage, but he’ll never quit murdering until Will stops him—Chilton’s name will be cleared. But that won’t bring him back to life. (Then again, he survived an attack on his life once before. Perhaps he’s not as dead as he appears...)
Hannibal always has a plan. He never does anything without knowing what his moves will be five steps ahead, and what contingencies will need to be made in case someone tries to go off script. Will spent all last season as Hannibal’s puppet, getting pushed and pulled as Hannibal saw fit. This season, Will fights back. Up until episode 7, he put so much faith into Hannibal not wanting him dead yet that he failed to anticipate how long a game he was playing.
Will takes a sharp step to the left at the end of episode 7 by not killing Hannibal when he has the chance. In effect, he decides he wants to know the whys and wherefores more than he wants to stop a killer from taking more lives. It’s an interesting position, one he probably would’ve found intolerable if he hadn’t put a hit on Hannibal in episode 5. Beverly Katz and Hannibal’s blood is already on his hands, so what’s a few more drops? Moreover, Will is as fascinated by Hannibal as Hannibal is with Will. They have spent so much energy trying to suss each other out that whatever resolution comes has to be complete and all-consuming. Yes, he could kill Hannibal in the kitchen and be done with it, but it would be a meaningless death, with no reason why and no justice for the dead. If Will makes it out of this television show alive, he’ll be little better than the man he’s dedicating his life to catching.
Hannibal wants Will alive as long as there are interesting moves to be made, and, as Beverly and Chilton tragically discovered, the board is boundless and the pawns endless. Hannibal has schemes within schemes within schemes, each intertwining in an intensely complex fashion, but each ultimately fairly simple. He has a way of guiding people to an easy answer while making them feel like they’ve solved the world’s greatest mystery. If Jack ever stopped to think about the obvious trail of breadcrumbs leading to Chilton, he might suddenly wonder who left the trail in the first place, and where they lead back to.
On a scale of “Stormtroopers looking for the wrong droids” to “Ripley wishing they’d never let Kane back on the Nostromo,” how badly do you think Alana Bloom is going to regret siding with Hannibal? More likely she’ll die before she really has a chance for that regret to settle in. For her, it’s not that she’s (entirely) blinded by affection for Hannibal—if sexual attraction were all it took, she’d still be championing Will’s innocence—but that she has a deep bond with him, or so she thinks. Hannibal was her academic mentor, and they have a long history of friendship, scholarly respect, and physical attraction. It’s also a way for her to get back at Will, to punish him indirectly for his attack against Hannibal. She’s already expressed her disappointment in him and cut off their friendship, so sleeping with his enemy is her last means of retribution. For her, it seems like a win-win, but, then again, she doesn’t realize her fuck buddy mostly only cared about setting her up as his alibi so he could go after Gideon. If Hannibal considered her an intellectual equal, he might have focused his particularly sadistic brand of friendship on her instead of Will. But she’s too easily manipulated for him to ever consider her a true rival.
As for Miriam, I don’t know how Hannibal tricked her into thinking Chilton was her abductor, but I can’t wait for her, Hannibal, and Will to get in a room together. Her storyline teases at what happened to Clarice Starling in Thomas Harris’ Hannibal. If Abigail hadn’t resisted so much, Hannibal might have converted her the way he did Miriam—or perhaps that’s what he’s doing to her right now. Her corpse hasn’t turned up yet, and he obviously has the means to keep victims alive and relatively healthy for extended periods, albeit minus a few pieces. Somehow, I have a feeling getting her to kill Chilton wasn’t the end of Hannibal’s Miriam scheme. He took her well before Will was ever in the picture, and I suspect Hannibal’s merging whatever his original plan was for her into his new Will-centric one. (Unless she was always going to be part of his Chilton frame job, should the feebs ever catch his scent...)
- “I have appearances to maintain.”
- “I nearly died. I would have if it wasn’t for you.” And in a few short episodes, Jack Crawford discovers first hand the definition of “irony.”
- “And I am grateful I have trouble digesting animal proteins, as the last meals I have shared with Hannibal Lecter have all been salads.” “You believe him?” “Hannibal once served me tongue, and then made a joke about eating mine. It would be narrow to not at least consider it.” Well, at least Chilton wasn’t turned into sushi. Silver linings and all.
- “The Chesapeake Ripper has set you free. Mazel tov.” The losses of Hettienne Park and Raúl Esparza has reduced Hannibal’s sass quotient by a wide margin. Jimmy Price and Brian Zeller better level up.
- Hannibal eats Beverly’s kidneys out of a crust made in the shape of Will’s crazy psychopath mask in Mukozuke.
- The soundtrack/sound design is killing it this season. The Kabuki-esque cacophony is absolutely stellar.
- Let us all take a moment of silence for the loss of Dr. Chilton. Alas, poor Frederick, you never stood a chance.
- That line about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot? Context. Or this, for those of us who survived the 90s.
- Chilton coins the notorious nickname “Hannibal the Cannibal,” while the cannibal himself references the census taker that inspired the film’s most famous line.
- According to Bryan Fuller, Beverly Katz was actually supposed to die last season—Will was supposed to eat her ear rather than Abigail’s. Miriam was also supposed to reappear in the season 1 finale. Will is imprisoned at the same time Miriam is freed.
- Not to get too spoiler-y, but the demises of Beverly and Chilton make for stark deviations from the books, particularly Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs. If anything, this is Fuller reiterating that this may be Thomas Harris’ word, but it ain’t his rules.
- Take a moment and realize the first time Will has smiled, really truly smiled, this entire season was when he was reunited with his dogs in episode 7. And it all melts away when he realizes Alana’s banging his arch nemesis. In case you weren’t depressed already.
- For the Fannibals, this, this, and this. You’re welcome.
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.