May 12 2014
Well, to start off, that was one of the strongest cold opens we’ve seen on the show so far. It scores the hat trick of classic Hannibal: a dream sequence, a meal, and a crime scene, and it hits them in mutha-flippin style.
Between Will’s symbolic birth from the stag, the rare delicacy of birds swallowed whole, and Freddie Lounds’ burning corpse speeding in via wheelchair, “Ko No Mono” could have ended with the main titles and I’d feel like I got my money’s worth.
Fortunately, and obviously, it didn’t end there. Season 2’s been slow-burning more than it hasn’t, but things are really starting to pay off. It almost seemed like an episode of a different, more plot-driven show than Hannibal typically is. Thank whoever you need to thank that the show got renewed, because it seems like we’re in for some crazy stuff as we hit the end of the season.
One thing I’ll say about this week: It was really nice to see Alana return to form. She’s been largely sidelined this year as the middle of a tug-of-war between Will and Hannibal, but her role this week showed her sense of agency coming back to life. In particular, her confrontations with Will and Jack mark two of her better scenes in a long while.
Elsewhere, the episode is pockmarked with the twin themes of fatherhood and birth. There’s the stag birth cold open, Will fathering a child with Margot Verger, and Mason Verger rattling on and on about his old man… before engineering the death of Will’s potential son. Given how much time Hannibal’s had to work on Will’s brain, Mason should consider himself lucky to be alive as the credits rolled.
Doesn’t make him any less of a sick bastard. Massive love to Fuller, or whoever it was who came up with that Dead Ringers allusion (for those who don’t know, I’m talking about the red scrubs). Aside from a shoutout to David Cronenberg’s absolute most underrated movie, the nod to Dead Ringers ratchets the ick factor of that sequence up to about fifteen if you’ve seen the movie. If you haven’t, find a copy and watch it ASAP.
Anyway… poor Margot. It obviously makes total sense why she’d try and circumvent her brother, and sadly even more sense why she can’t ever succeed. Mason’s just one of those guys, it seems, who gets what he wants. Presumably this will be put to the test in the coming episodes, now that Will’s pitted him against Hannibal Lecter himself.
That Mason Verger is a messed up dude. I suppose this is what happens when your boyhood education involves learning how to test the depth of pig fat with a knife, but Mason’s a pretty beastly dude even by messed-up-dude standards. Like, he’s literally drinking the tears of children (I know you saw the episode, but I just had to say that out loud.)
And now Will’s teamed up with him, which just shows you how much the usual messed-up-dude standards are getting thrown out the window these days.
This was a wild episode across the board, and we’ll get to some of the big reveals in a second, but briefly: the Will/Hannibal exchange regarding Abigail Hobbs was… a bit unexpected, actually. It’s not out of nowhere or anything, but Abigail references have been in short supply since the first handful of episodes from this season. Furthermore, Will’s reactions to the conversation were genuinely moving; he’s been a calculating guy but that sorrow read as one of his less calibrated moments of late.
Of course, the revealing emotional callbacks had to take a backseat to the major bombs dropped in the final minutes of the episode. There’s the aforementioned Will/Mason teamup, but the headline story has gotta be Freddie Lounds. I don’t know that I ever totally bought her death, but at the same time I honestly thought they might go there. Fortunately (I guess?), she pulled a Jim Gordon; faking her death with the help of Jack Crawford.
I wonder if this new narrative honesty will necessitate a reduction in the use of the disruptive “dream logic” imagery. It was really revving up for a while there — even in this episode, Hannibal and Will appear to be talking to themselves in that therapy session. Now that the cards are being laid on the table, will the show maintain its elliptical approach to storytelling? I suspect it will. As Alana says, “I’m questioning everything. It’s all blurry and subjective.”
All this stuff marks a bold step forward for a show that likes to take its time setting up the pieces. I can’t wait to see what Fuller & Co. have in store for us over the next two hours. We may know the deal with Freddie Lounds today, but that’s not the half of what we didn’t know yesterday. Hannibal will likely remain vague and evasive to the death. Or at least until the finale.
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