Hannibal celebrates the holiday with an episode focusing on rebirth, as Will (Hugh Dancy) makes a connection with a potential killer. Plus: a key character from the novels is introduced.
Let’s bitch it out…
‘Su-zakana’ is a transition episode that sets up the back half of the second season. Jeremy Davies guest stars as Peter, a man suffering from an injury after being kicked by a horse. Will makes a connection with the man, bonding over their wounded frames of mind (like Will, Peter’s disorder is visually and aurally represented: it’s a frenetic shaking that distorts the sound). Will’s other reason for connecting with Peter is because they’re both being manipulated by a figure of authority. In Peter’s case, it’s his social work Clark Ingram (Chris Diamantopoulos) – a psychopathic killer of women. For Will, it’s Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), with whom Will has entered into a psychological battle.
The episode is inherently about rebirth (cleverly conveyed by the Russian doll imagery of the murders), and we’re clearly intended to connect them to Will’s mental recovery. His return to therapy with Hannibal, their declaration to one another about no longer lying, as well as Hannibal’s final speech in the barn about Will’s caterpillar status are all indicative of this new found perspective. We can expand this to include the show as a whole; clearly we’ve entered a new chapter of the series that will take us up to the moment when Hannibal is discovered. For now there’s a bit of a temporary stand-off as Will and Hannibal returning to a holding pattern somewhat akin to the first season, but with the knowledge of everything that has passed between them out in the open. Will is full of barely controlled rage, but the way Dancy plays it, there’s a weariness to Will’s anger. He still very much wants to kill Hannibal, but he’s also unwilling to descend to the depths to do so, even if he has discovered the pleasure inherent in “doing bad things to bad people”.
For the series to continue as more than a simple game of cat and mouse (something one gets the impression Hannibal is completely uninterested in doing), these two need to be function around each other without one of them trying to kill the other. It would be easy to have Will plot Hannibal’s death, but he’s already done that and failed. The psychological battle (and the wounds they can inflict on one another) and what that does to Will is far more interesting. That’s where the rebirth lies.
- The episode introduces Margot (Katharine Isabelle), a character from Thomas Harris’ final Lecter book, Hannibal, who has an abusive relationship with her brother. We’ll meet him shortly, but for now he’s remains one of Will’s “men in the shadow” – a manipulative figure who hurts his sister, collects her tears and drinks it in a martini. That feels like a James Bond villain kind of characteristic (reminiscent of Mikkelsen’s turn as Le Chiffre in Casino Royale wherein he cries blood tears).
- It’s hard to make sense of Margot. Due to her broken arm, her physical presence is the literal definition of wounded. This is starkly contrasted by the non-victim characteristics in her dialogue as she casually discusses the desire to kill her brother with Hannibal. Naturally he advises her to wait until she can be sure she’ll get away with it…or find someone to do it for her (both methods are effective, he would know).
- Alana (Caroline Dhavernas) is clearly uncomfortable with the idea of Hannibal and Will resuming their therapy. It’s interesting that she expresses this during post-coital pillow-talk. The interconnectedness of sex, intimacy and death is strong on this show, even if so much of the imagery leans more towards visceral rather than evocative.
- Side Note: As shot by director Vincenzo Natali (Cube, Splice), the sex scene between Alana and Hannibal is a thing of beauty. Between this and Margot’s introduction (her face pressed against the fish tank dissolves into a close up of her eye as she stares out Hannibal’s window), there are a number of striking scenes in this episode. With that said, Alana and Hannibal together still makes me vomit in my mouth.
- I’ll readily admit that I’ve never had much use for Brian (Aaron Abrams) or Jimmy (Scott Thompson). I had hoped that following Bev’s death these two would be developed more, but so far that hasn’t been the case. Here Brian makes a bit of an impression when he apologizes to Will for believing he was a murderer. It’s a start, but this character has a long way to go before he’ll really become memorable.
- I appreciate a good metaphor as much as the next reviewer, but the fishing stuff has gotten a little obvious / stale.
- Su-zakana is, according to Webster’s dictionary, a small dish used to clean the palate. That pretty much describes this mid-season episode to a ‘t’.
- Finally, rebirth in theory is beautiful, but watching a man crawl out of the innards of a dead horse is anything but. <Gag>
- Will (when Hannibal congratulates him on the fish): “It was my turn to provide the meat.”
Your turn: what do you think of the developing Will/Hannibal relationship? Are you still turned off by Alana and Hannibal’s sexual relationship? What are your impressions of Margot? Did you think it was unusual that we haven’t met her brother? Sound off below.
Hannibal airs Fridays at 10pm EST on NBC