Hannibal explores life, death and rebirth, with a smidget of fatherhood thrown in just for good measure.
Let’s bitch it out…
First off, big thanks to TVAngie for covering that extremely symbolic episode of Hannibal last week. Of course the week I take off would be the one that features a five-way sex scene!
Second, let’s all do a quick Snoopy happy dance at the news that NBC has renewed the series for a third season. Considering the numbers, that’s pretty ballsy (even with the international financing those ratings are killer bad).
There’s nothing quite as captivating in ‘Kō No Mono’, which, despite the return of pilot director David Slade, feels like it suffers from a lack of style (compared to other episodes we’ve seen this season). No, this episode is far more interested in exploring the cerebral elements of the creation of life. This comes across loud and clear in the opening scene when we see stag Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) witness the birth of stag Will (Hugh Dancy). This birthing imagery ties the episode’s Verger components into the progressively “unhealthy” aspects of Will and Hannibal’s relationship, which is given a healthy dose of sexual intimacy in what AV Club refers to as a gourmand rite of passage: the ortolan bunting – aka grotty, liquor-drowned whole songbird. Just in case that fluid, confusing sexual imagery from last week’s sex scene didn’t make it clear enough, tonight Will and Hannibal share a meal that is framed in orgasmic close-ups of open mouths and eyes rolled back in their sockets. Considering the twisted presentation of Hannibal as Mentor/Father to Will, there’s some deeply unsettling stuff coming out of this show these days. (On the plus side, slash fiction authors now have a whole lot more new material to work with).
Unfortunately the remaining parts of ‘Kō No Mono’ fails to capitalize on this sensationalism. A contributing factor for this is the substantial amount of time spent on Freddie Lounds’ (Lara Jean Chorostecki) “death” and Alana Bloom’s (Caroline Dhavernas) increasing paranoia. Neither of these elements work for me. I never truly believed that Freddie is dead, because it feels so obviously part of the long con that Will and Jack (Laurence Fishburne) have cooked up to ensnare Hannibal. Even when creator Bryan Fuller and his team throw in the burned body in the wheelchair – a tip of the hat to Red Dragon fans – I still didn’t believe that Freddie’s death was anything but a red herring.
The faux immolation of the series’ least liked character prompts a spiral of sorts for Alana, who’s the only one aside from the squints who is on the outside looking in at this point. She has a number of increasingly difficult conversations with Will throughout the episode, finally confessing to Hannibal that her paranoia is taking over. She no longer knows what to believe, prompting a confrontation with Jack wherein she yells at him to stop lying. At this point the Alana/Freddie stories converge and Jack reveals the truth about Freddie’s faked death. The problem is that this is merely a confirmation of things we already suspected or know: Jack and Will are playing Hannibal and Alana didn’t know. I appreciate the effort to catch Alana up and help us to see things from her point of view, since we already know all of this, it comes off feeling redundant (Side Note: it also makes Alana seem a little dumb, which is something we’ve been saying ever since she fell into bed with Hannibal and became his alibi a few episodes back).
Far more successful is Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle) and Mason Verger’s (Michael Pitt) abusive relationship. After finally appearing last week, Mason really waves his freak flag this week, and Pitt rises admirably to the occasion. Whether he’s telling a series of wacky stories of his upbringing around the pig farm, forcing a child to cry to capture his tears for a martini and – in the most reprehensible act of the episode – removing Margot’s ability to produce an heir, Mason is an incredibly memorable addition to the show. He’s a fascinating character not only because he’s a barely functioning psychopath, but because he has somehow managed to wrangle so much attention in such a short amount of time. With only two episodes left in the season, Mason has slowly but assuredly come to dominate the narrative: Margot’s pregnancy is in direct response to her inheritance of the Verger fortune, but it brings both Will and Hannibal into Mason’s orbit. Following Margot’s car accident, Will uses one of Hannibal’s tricks and provides Mason with information that puts Hannibal squarely in the cross-hairs. While I’m unconcerned that Mason will actually be able to hurt Hannibal (the guy’s a bit of a wimp. Did you see how easily Will managed to beat him up up?), the sole heir to the Verger pig fortune is now completely caught in the mind games between Will and Hannibal…and they are ensnared in his familial obsessions.
- I love that the issue of fatherhood prompts Will and Hannibal to discuss Abigail Hobbes. Ever since her disappearance/presumed murder at the end of last season, I’ve been waiting for these two to address what happened. Still it’s sad to hear a confirmation that Hannibal did indeed kill her; I’ll admit that I had hoped he still had her locked away like Miriam Lass somewhere.
- While I don’t think this is David Slade’s best directorial effort on the series, I did enjoy how Hannibal and Will see themselves in the other’s place during their conversation about parenting. Hannibal’s line about hoping for a shattered teacup to repair itself, followed by a visualization of that very idea, is also simple and evocative. Is it fair to consider this an image of how Hannibal perceives his relationship with Will? He shattered Will and then rebuilt him in his own image.
- I know TVAngie challenged me to address the religious elements in the show a while back, but I’ll profess that I’m at a loss about what to say about Hannibal’s (lack of) belief in God. My surface analysis is simply that Hannibal believes he controls his own fate, which is part of the reason he has no fear in messing with the lives of others to produce the outcomes he desires.
- Finally, I’m a bad Canadian for not connecting Mason’s red scrubs and horrifying gynecological surgery as a homage to David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers (good pick up Interwebs comments!). In penance, let’s watch the film this week and then never send anyone we love near twins or gynecologists again.
- Hannibal (when Will suggests the songbirds are endangered): “Who amongst us is not?”
- Margot (suggesting she’s open to a male influence): “As long as it’s not my brother. He’s not good with children.” Cut to Mason forcing a child to cry. It’s a little obvious, but still effective.
- Will (when Alana shows up at his door): “Do we do friendly visits anymore?”
- Mason (when Margot suggests she doesn’t have a bloom, that she’s simply chilly): “You’re frequently chilly, Margot.”
- Mason (meeting Will): “You must be the baby-daddy.”
Your turn: why did Hannibal deify Freddie’s “corpse”? Do you see Will’s visit to Mason at the end of the episode as an imitation of Hannibal’s tactics (similar to how Hannibal used Randall Tier in 2×09 in ‘Shiizakana’?) Is Mason’s surgical solution for Margot’s child the most reprehensible thng we’ve seen on the show? And now that Alana is caught up on the plan, is she the next to die (Hannibal’s already clued in about her time at the gun range)? Sound off below.
Hannibal airs Fridays at 10pm EST on NBC