It’s a week of suffering on Hannibal as the case of the week intersects with the return of Jack’s (Laurence Fishburne) wife, Bella (the always welcome Gina Torres).
Let’s bitch it out…Alright, I know the majority of the episode is about illness and suffering and when is it better to embrace death instead of pretending that a life in pain is a life worth living…but first we have to talk about Beverly (Hetienne Park).
She’s totally dead, isn’t she? The ending is a total F-U on top of a depressing hour of television – which is a roundabout way of saying that I may have flipped my sh*t at the cliffhanger. There’s no getting around the fact that Hannibal likely just murdered the only significant female character on the show.Yes, obviously we still have Alana (Caroline Dhavernas), but she’s not even present in this episode – that’s how far removed she is. Plus, Alana’s passivity and Bev’s agency aren’t really comparable. Reality check: out of all of the supporting characters from the “good guy” team, Bev is the only one who is genuinely interesting.
The sad part of Bev’s likely murder (and consumption judging from the promos for next week) is that she was juuuuust starting to believe Will (Hugh Dancy). Early on it’s not hard to read her disdain when she warns Will not to suggest Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) is the perpetrator, and yet when Will realizing that Hannibal is “baiting” her with evidence in the latest murders, she takes note. It’s a little too “convenient TV trope” that when she finally takes Will’s advice to go speak to Jack he’s unavailable and that Hannibal comes home from the hospital just as Bev discovers his secret murder room under the kitchen, but frankly I don’t care. I was too busy watching with mounting panic as Hannibal appears behind her when she clicks on the basement light (what a perfect horror movie moment!*), followed by gunshots and that agonizing cut to black.
*AV TV Club rightfully acknowledges that this moment bears more than a passing resemblance to the climax of Silence of the Lambs. Damn Fuller and co. are good at this revisionist game!
Yes, I may have howled my displeasure at that particular moment.
Backtracking through the rest of ‘Takiawase’, this is very clearly an hour in which the case of the week exists primarily to comment on the emotional beats of Jack and Bella’s personal lives. The whole reason that Katherine Pimms (Amanda Plummer’s acupuncturist killer) acts is to relieve the suffering of her patient, which is pretty clearly highlighted in the way that Hannibal reacts to Bella, at least until the flip of a coin convinces him to save her life and give Jack a chance to say a “painful goodbye” to his dying wife.
If you don’t care as much for Jack’s personal life, this episode may have felt slow and ponderous. Personally, I think that these kinds of personal details, while not nearly as “exciting” as more action driven episodes, offer a great deal of insight into our characters. Obviously it’s great to see Gina Torres back (we haven’t seen her since 1×05 ‘Coquilles’), although it’s hard to see Bella talking so candidly about accepting death when she meets with Hannibal (Side Note: has any other show approached euthanasia is such an eloquent fashion?). The domestic scene between husband and wife is great: not only do the jokes about medical marijuana provide some much needed levity, it complements the following moments when Bella confesses how terrible it was to watch her mother die, even as Jack tries to reassure her that he’s holding out for a future with her. It’s easy to lose sight of what drives Jack because Hannibal focuses so much on his responsibility for Will’s condition. That makes this kind of private insight into his personal life so invaluable; not only does it round out Jack’s character, it suggests how much he has weighing on his mind in both his work and his home life.
- Another week, another scene that I’m forced to look away from. As though all of the needles aren’t bad enough, watching Pims lobotomize a patient is barf-tastic. It’s not like anything is even shown – it’s all left to our imaginations (then amplified by the score and the disgusting soundtrack)
- This has to be one of the least significant murder cases the team has ever dealt with. Has any other killer been so easily caught? It’s like the team doesn’t even need Hannibal and Will!
- The presence of Abigail Hobbs in Will’s mind palace allows a welcome return for Kacey Rohl. Their father/daughter relationship is couched in fishing metaphors, but this clearly reads as a mental strategy for Will to deal with his residual grief about what happened (or what he thinks happened) to Abigail.
- Most cinematic scene goes to Will’s drug-induced montage. The carnival-inspired soundtrack perfectly complements the strobe lighting effect during Will’s montage, which explores the time Hannibal asked him to draw a clock in 1×10 ‘Buffet Froid’ (it turns out Hannibal was actually hypnotizing Will and injecting him with medicine to induce seizures). This whole audio-visual/sensory experience is overwhelming, terrifying and gripping.
- The scene when Will enters the tableaux in his memory of the night Hannibal entertained Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) in 1×11 ‘Rôti’ is a close runner up.
- I’m enjoying the increased role for Raúl Esparza’s Dr. Chilton, though I hope that Will recognizes that he can’t be trusted. Almost as soon as Will admits his suspicions that Hannibal drugged him, Chilton mentions it to Lecter. Our experiences from the film series informs us of Chilton’s untrustworthiness and Esparza’s performance is really reinforcing it (he’s just so slimy).
- Bev clearly sees something that stops her in her tracks in Hannibal’s basement. While we don’t see what it is, my guess is that it’s Abigail’s body. (I suppose it could just be any reinforcement that Hannibal kills and eats people). Whatever it is I hope it has the same impact on us as it does on Bev when we finally see it.
- Finally, it took me this (VERY SPOILERY) interview with Bryan Fuller to remember that Katherine Pimms is the name of Chuck’s nom de plumme in the late, great Pushing Daisies. While I wouldn’t give up Hannibal for more Ned and Chuck, I sure do miss that show (perhaps now is the time to start discussing a Kickstarter or Netflix-backed reunion flick, a la Veronica Mars?)
- Will (when Bev demands he not say Hannibal Lecter): “I’m saying Hannibal Lecter.”
- Hannibal (to Beverly after she speaks about a victim): “So often you open your mouth and I hear Will’s voice come out.”
- Jack (when Bella talks about her treatment): “Oh you’re harshing my buzz right now.”
What’s your take: is there a chance Bev survived her encounter? Were you happy to see Bella again? Did the episode make you feel more sympathetic for Jack? Did you expect Hannibal to save Bella’s life (with the flip of a coin)? And what did you think of Will’s vivid hallucinations? Sound off below
Hannibal airs at 10pm EST on NBC.