It’s Will’s (Hugh Dancy) day in court , but an “acolyte” doesn’t want to let him go as Hannibal sets up a courtroom farce.
Let’s bitch it out…It’s relatively clear early on what Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller thinks of the legal system when Will’s lawyer, Brower (Shawn Doyle), suggests that they’re not trying to do anything other than sell a not-guilty plea via advertising. For an episode that spends the majority of its run time in a courtroom, this is a pretty damning statement, although to be fair, the case does end with a hung judge (stringing up the entire jury would have been too on the nose, I suppose).
‘Hassun’ is the weakest episode of Hannibal so far this season and it feels less meaty if only because we – the audience – already know everything about these events. It’s less fun watching the characters stumble around in the dark, trying to put together the pieces we’ve known for ages (this is the same reason I’ve always hated Colombo – because we already know who committed the crime). In places this episode feels like an exposition dump to catch new viewers up and that also feels like an oversight. “Miss S1? Here’s a recap of what Will Graham is accused of.” It’s not as simple and facile as I make it sound, but it’s not far off.
I can’t honestly say that ‘Hassun’ proved to be the most engrossing hour of Hannibal. I’ve always appreciated a serial mythology over an individual case of the week, but with nothing but Hannibal’s (Mads Mikkelsen) “love poem” to Will to distract from the “advertising” and politics playing out in the courtroom, things just feel less engaging. Perhaps it’s my low tolerance for lawyer shows (aside from The Good Wife which frequently vacates the courtroom or piles on the twists to keep things interesting).
The best aspects of this episode are the quieter moments:
- Hannibal realizing that he’s lost control of the courtroom circus is conveyed in a simple, gorgeous slow push in on his face, followed by a cut to a long shot of him sitting in front of the empty chair Will used to sit in.
- The close-up images of the bomb components before Sykes’ house is engulfed in slow-motion flames is reminiscent of Hannibal’s murder of Georgia Madchen in her hyperbolic chamber in 1×12 ‘Relevés’, and
- Will grasping Alana’s (Caroline Dhavernas) hands in a romantic (if ill-advised) gestured.
On the whole, ‘Hassun’ is an episode that has to happen to get some of these issues out in the open and addressed, but I’m looking forward to Will actively trying to prove his innocence through Beverly (Hetienne Park), as well as Jack’s (Laurence Fishbourne) discovery of Hannibal’s true nature. If, as Fuller suggests (SEMI-SPOILERS), this is an episode that will pay off later, I’m willing to settle for a less than stellar set-up now. We’ll see what unfolds in the weeks to come.
- I’m still enjoying Cynthia Nixon because she’s bringing an icy ruthlessness to the show, but thus far the character of Kade Prurnell keeps hitting the same beats over and over again. We get it – she’s looking out for the FBI and wants everyone to throw Will under the bus or suffer the consequences. Is there anything else to this character?
- I’m glad that we got a reference to Jack’s ill wife, Bella. The inclusion of Gina Torres last season was great, but her illness hasn’t been revisited and it very much needs to be. Here’s hoping we’ll see more of her shortly.
- Two minor recurring players show up on the stand: Lara Jean Chorostecki’s Freddie Lounds and Raúl Esparza’s Dr. Chilton. Guess which one I missed? (Hint: it’s not the redhead). Freddie is barely even present (and hilariously taken down a peg in just two lines of questioning), while Dr. Chilton is as vain as he believes Will to be. At least Freddie can rock a hat.
- Will has two dreams (nightmares?) that bookend the episode and reveal a great deal about his mental state. During the trial we see him in his mind palace fly-fishing (thankfully sans bodies), but as the episode opens and closes he’s imprisoned. At the start, he is responsible for his own death as he electrocutes himself (the visual aesthetic employs the hypnotic backwards clock effect Will uses when he’s reconstructing murder scenes) and at the end Will daydreams that Hannibal – as stag and person – leads him out of jail, while simultaneously guards over his cell. This suggests that Will is uncertain if he will be his own undoing at the start of the trial, whereas that responsibility has shifted to Hannibal by episode’s end. In my mind this signifies a breaking point: from now on, Will is going full-on after his adversary.
- Finally, kudos to Mads Mikkelsen for selling the creepiness and the unflinching child-like desire for friendship in the lines “This killer wrote you a poem. Are you going to let his love go to waste?” Oh Hannibal…this isn’t friendship.
- Kade (to Jack Crawford): “It’s easier to be a man who’s missing his friend than being the head of Behavioural Sciences at the FBI who missed a murderer standing right in front of him.”
- Jack (when Hannibal suggests Will’s belief there’s another killer might be correct): “He said it was you.”
- Brower (to Alana, commenting on her “smitten” affection for Will): “And [the prosecution] will smell it like you stepped in Young Adult and tracked it into the courtroom.”
- Hannibal (to Will, disappointed): “I want you to believe in the best of me.”
What did you think of Hannibal‘s courtroom episode? Are you convinced that the murders were done by Hannibal to get Will off the hook? Do you think Jack truly feels badly about sticking up for Will? Is Alana really prepared to get romantic with Will? Speculate below in the comments.
Hannibal airs Fridays at 10pm EST on NBC