Previously on Hannibal: Will goes fishing for the most dangerous game of all; Hannibal goes Shiva for the hell of it; Alana FINALLY gets suspicious of the murder husbands; Jack gets better at being sneaky; Margot gets temporarily preggers; Mason drinks the tears of children; and Freddie plays the phoenix.
S2 E8: Su-zakana
Not one but two people are shoved into the corpses of horses to be metaphorically reborn, and its even grosser than you expect. Depressingly pathetic Peter Bernadorne is framed for a dozen murders by his secretly psychotic social worker. Peter desecrates a victim’s body by sewing a bird into Sarah’s chest cavity and sealing her in the womb of a dead horse in a delusional attempt at funeral rites. Peter couldn’t save Sarah, but he could bring her soul peace in the afterlife. Clark Ingram can’t hide his sharky nature from Alana Bloom and the feebs, but before he can punish Peter for turning him in, Will and Hannibal intervene.
S2 E9: Shiizakana
One of Dr. Lecter’s former patients, Randall Tier, dons a hybrid cave bear-wolf exoskeleton suit and rips people apart. The feds close in on Randall, thanks to some helpful hints from Hannibal, and as a tradeoff he offers up Will on a silver platter. Whether the act is payback for Will using the orderly for murder or Hannibal tying up an old loose end is still up for debate, but I suspect it’s also Hannibal forcing Will to make his first kill brutal and graphic.
S2 E10: Naka-Choko
The last two episodes have given drips and drabs of Mason and Margot Verger, but in this one we finally get a real peek behind the insanity. Hannibal has been steadily leading Margot down a path she isn’t clever or brave enough to escape from, first by suggesting that she should try to kill her brother again, then by convincing her to get pregnant with a male heir and then kill her brother. Margot, an avowed lesbian, takes it one step further by seducing Will. Speaking of which, that scene where the two couples ignore their usual proclivities and rub their parts together while the camera blurs them together until Hannibal, Will, and Alana are having a crazy threeway is one of the most convoluted, sexy, complex, disturbing, and delicious things the show has ever done. Mason, meanwhile, continues to prove he’s the king of cockwaffle mountain by literally drinking his victims’ tears.
S2 E11: Ko No Mono
Margot reveals her impregnation by Will, her plan to bump off Mason whilst keeping her fortune coming to fruition. Will and Hannibal have the most honest conversation they’ve ever shared as they discuss fatherhood. Will and Hannibal both felt like fathers to Abigail, and Hannibal apologizes for taking that from Will. He also sheds a little light on his dead sister, a sibling he raised and who helped him become the man he is today (I shudder to think). Now Will has a chance at becoming a real father, but not if Hannibal has anything to say about it. He spills Margot’s secret to Mason, and her dearest brother retaliates by forcing a hysterectomy on her. Will rages against the death of his unborn child by steering Mason’s viciousness toward Hannibal. Oh, and did I mention Freddie Lounds is still alive and apparently living at FBI headquarters? Because Alana Bloom was sure surprised to find that out.
As interesting as the turducken case is, it is enhanced by the stark parallels between Clark/Hannibal and Will/Peter. The latter are schmucks with social disorders that make it difficult for them to bond with the objects of their affection, while the former are violent manipulators who gleefully use and abuse their weaker charges. But where Peter was incapable of fighting back against his caretaker, Will has moved on to new tactics. Killing Peter is the closest Will can get to killing his nemesis. “Naka-Choko” is another episode functioning as an analogy to the ballad of Hannigram. This time instead of a protégé who fails to live up to his mentor’s high expectations, Randall Tier is a fine example of what happens when the mentor succeeds. Is Will really becoming Hannibal 2.0, or is he just playing the part? If he’s a convert, then the chances of the long pig being Freddie rather than Randall increase exponentially. If he’s an actor, then how does he explain publically displaying Randall’s remains on a cave bear skeleton?
Remember that cold open with Jack and Will ice fishing? Well, this whole block of episodes is either an extended version of the reality in which that metaphor was based or Will enacting his elaborate ploy. If we’re comparing predators, Hannibal, Clark, Randall, and Mason are sharks. They hunt, they’re ruthless, and they’re arrogant enough to believe they are the top of the food chain and proud enough to flaunt their handiwork. Will, Jack, and Margot are prey learning to become predators. Either way, they are clearly out of their depth and in need of mentoring my someone much more vicious. Margot and Jack are still deciding what kind of prey/predator they are. They want to fight back, but so does a gazelle when a lion clamps down on its throat. Will was prey but has evolved (devolved?) to predator through Hannibal oversaturation. Or so Hannibal thinks…
Psychopaths are notoriously self-centered, and Hannibal’s ego and overconfidence is blinding him to Jack’s maneuvering and watchfulness. Hannibal and Will are playing a merry little game with the FBI, but he crucially fails to realize that Will and Jack are also playing him. But is Jack really a predator, or is he more like Freddie and Margot: prey just bold enough to think they’re predators? Either way, Freddie, Alana, and Margot are caught in the middle of a game soon to become a full-fledged battle, and find themselves as unwitting bait.
In another timeline, Alana might have taken Freddie’s place, but she’s too close to Hannibal for Will and Jack to trust her commitment to the role. And as obnoxious as Freddie Lounds is, her dedication to avenging the supposed death of Abigail Hobbs (and her competing feelings of self-preservation and professional advancement) overrides her fury at Will and fear of Hannibal. It wasn’t euphoria Will felt when he killed Freddie, but Hannibal has to think it is. He has to see Will’s journey as exciting self-discovery. Clearly Jack and Will’s ice fishing conversation lasted a helluva lot longer than the glimpse we saw. Will knows now he can’t lure Hannibal out into the open. The only way to catch a predator is to let it trap itself.
Seen in another light, Will himself is the bait and Alana, Freddie, Margot, and Jack are just the unfortunate souls trapped between a vengeful rock and a cannibalistic hard place. Beverly, Miriam, and Chilton already paid for the crime of being the grass fighting elephants trample, and it’s only a matter of time before the others suffer the same fate. Given the season opener, Jack’s comeuppance is headed his way faster than he realizes.
Hannibal doesn’t suffer fools or assholes lightly, and unfortunately for Mason Verger, he is both. The contempt he has for Mason is evident only to the audience, for Mason is so narcissistic that he couldn’t sense or empathize with another person’s feelings if his life depended on it. If Hannibal wasn’t interested in playing Shiva with the Vergers, he’d slice Mason open like a suckling pig. Hannibal may think about what an assbutt his version of God is while he’s killing, but he’s also modeled himself after Him. He’s playing God, a notion reinforced with his conversation with Will in “Naka-Choko” as they enjoy a nice meal of bitter long pig: “Is this meal an act of God, Will?” Perhaps. Or maybe it’s an act of the man who will destroy God.
The conversation about children and fathers is the first time we’ve ever seen any genuine emotion from Hannibal. He may be a sociopath, but he is capable of love, as evinced by his mourning of his sister. Usually he’s able to compartmentalize her death in with the way he thinks about it in relation to everyone else. But when forced to dwell on it, to reconsider her absence, to feel her loss all over again, he’s armor starts to crack. Which is why it’s so fascinating that he betrays Margot’s pregnancy to Mason. He’s punishing Margot for manipulating Will without Hannibal’s permission, but his choices deeply affect Will. Will wants a child, even if it’s with a lesbian who doesn’t love him, and Hannibal realizes in his later conversation that his retribution will hurt Will just as much as Margot. He’s now taken two children from Will, an act Will is certain to repay in full.
Will created a child and destroyed lives, but he isn’t the only one represented by Shiva. Hannibal slaughters lesser humans and creates his own likeness in Will. Alana is right that turning Freddie’s corpse into Shiva iconography is a love note meant for Will, but it’s also Hannibal’s personal declaration of his power over life and death, a point driven home by the exquisite shot of Will seeing himself as Hannibal and Hannibal seeing himself as Will. The thing that keeps tripping me up is just how much Hannibal realizes he’s being played. The audience is privy to Will’s manipulation of Hannibal, although both are unreliable narrators. Up until ep 11, it was just as likely Will really did kill Freddie as a fiery means to an end as he didn’t. We’re in the dark, more or less, to Will’s truth, which leads me to wonder just how much Hannibal has up his sleeve. How much of his behavior toward Will is genuine and how much is pretend? Is setting Mason up to kill Will’s unborn child also punishment for Will’s betrayal? If Will is secretly scamming Hannibal, how much is Hannibal secretly scamming back?
- “You know why Will tried to kill me wasn’t to avenge Beverly’s death. It was to prevent yours.”
- “I don’t want to kill you anymore, Dr. Lecter. Not now that I finally find you interesting.”
- “So it’s not pulling the trigger that you regret. It’s not pulling it effectively.”
- “I’ve never felt as alive as when I was killing him.”
- “You slice the ginger.” Puns are fun.
- “I don’t think Hannibal is good for you, and I think your relationship is destructive.” “Hannibal’s good enough for you.”
- The show suffers without having Beverly Katz or Dr. Chilton to leaven out the darker things. An injection of sass is sorely needed.
- “What happened to Abigail had to happen. There was no other way.” When Hannibal gives an indirect answer, it usually turns out the truth isn’t what it seems. In other words, Abigail may still be alive…
- “Su-zakana” is quite possibly one of the most visceral episodes of Hannibal yet. Visceral as in viscera. As in really frakking gross. I think I spent at least a third of it with my hands over my eyes.
- Freddie has a painting of a doe in the forest over her bed. Irony! She also has a photo of Bedelia Du Maurier over her desk. Foreshadowing!
- In “Naka-Choko,” was Hannibal washing Will’s hand in a cooking dish?
- Man, the cinematography is frakking gorgeous, particularly in “Ko No Mono.” Every extreme close-up was a work of art.
- That line about only humans kill for the pleasure of killing? So not true.
- I’d have given anything for Randall’s last name to have been “Mann.”
- Speaking of Pushing Daisies…
- Let’s give a warm welcome to Dickey Bennett and his awesome hair.
- Is it too early for #SixSeasonsAndAMovie?
- Bryan Fuller did a great podcast with Nerdist Writers Panel back in January that is sooo good
- No matter what gross, awful roles Michael Pitt takes on, to me he will always and forever be Charlie.
- Lastly, if you still aren’t following Bryan Fuller on Twitter, get on it! He regularly tweets behind-the-scenes stuff for each new episode, and is hugely supportive of Fannibals and Hannigram. In short, he’s the most wonderful man there ever was.
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.