Hannibal Review: “Naka-Choko”

Hannibal - Season 2

Last week, I complained that Hannibal had turned in an episode that was a bit square. The killer didn’t really work, the plot felt a little static, and it was generally more interesting to talk about than to actually sit and watch.

No such complaints this week.

We pick up at the end of our last episode — or more accurately, with its second-to-last scene. will’s act of murder was left offscreen last week, but this week we see it in full, somewhat disturbing detail. this guy’s psyche is clearly fractured; possibly beyond saving. After wrapping up the Randall Tier storyline with an insanely cool death installation, the rest of the episode sets about turning the heat up on its various subplots. Man, there’s some crazy stuff going down in Hannibal these days.

 One of the biggest pennies to drop in this episode was the long-awaited introduction of mason verger. His eventual appearance has been teased out for a handful of episodes; longer if you follow casting news and know the source material. “Naka-Choko” takes him from figment of legend to central player with incredible style.

Mason is, quite simply, an awesome addition to this TV show. it’s hard to walk onto an ensemble of this quality; even harder when the past several episodes have been talking you up as some sort of abusive meat-packing maniac. but Michael just freakin’ demolishes his introduction, playing Mason Verger with a sort of detached loopiness that seems both novel and familiar to the rest of the Hannibal tone.


Simply put, this is a guy to be skittish around. As Hannibal says, “Better the devil you know…”

Meanwhile, things get more and more complicated with his sister. Margot Verger manages to get closer to Will than anybody has to date (except, of course, Hannibal Lecter). The sequence where they get under the covers, intercut into a grotesque threesome with Alana’s fling with Lecter, ranks pretty high up in terms of most unnerving “love” scenes I’ve come across in a network TV show. After that metaphorical and bizarre and unpleasant threesome, I’ll never be able to look at jet-black elk/human hybrids the same way again.

It’s rather interesting to see the two psychologists set opposite the two broken patients. There’s a perverse sense of appropriateness to the whole thing; there’s a clear separation between those who wield power over others and those who do not. Hannibal compares working on the mind of another human to making music on a theremin. It’s not hard to make the connection that a theremin’s music comes entirely from the whims and motions of the player. The show seems to be pointing out how helpless Margot and Will ultimately are while caught in this spider’s web.

Also, I’m pretty sure that neither of these trysts is going to end on a positive note.

Hannibal - Season 2

Elsewhere in the episode, we get our first scenes with Freddie Lounds in what feels like quite a while. She’s in an interesting place here; Will has a new ally in the sensational reporter. Freddie stirs up more trouble than she can handle, however, when she decides to go looking into Will’s padlocked barn. There, she finds a very Lecter-esque lab of sterile equipment and plastic sheeting. And, you know, a human jawbone.

And then… Will Graham.

Will’s allies never last long, and as the episode closes it appears this one fares no better. Technically, of course, he might be duping Lecter into merely THINKING he’s eating Lounds, but given the places this show has already gone to I think it’s just as likely that Will actually did the deed.

I love how the scene with Freddie snooping around Will’s barn mirrors the scene where Beverly gets caught snooping around Hannibal’s basement. Truly, this is the episode where ‘Will Graham” and “Hannibal Lecter” become interchangeable terms. And that final shot says it all.

final pic sm

Also, a special shout-out has to go to what I assume is Hannibal Lecter’s driving philosophy in life. It appears in the exchange where he talks about farmers who love the animals they send to slaughter:

“They love, and kill what they love.”
“And eat what they love.”

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  1. Has the show actually addressed the current status of Dr. Chilton? Maybe I’ve missed something, and people don’t usually survive getting shot through the head…but that scene seemed ambiguous enough to me that I’m left with the idea that he possibly survived.

    Just seems odd that neither Will or Jack have addressed how Frederick was setup as the patsy, or how Hannibal was able to convince Miriam that he was The Ripper.

    1. Short answer: No. It’s pretty much SOP on Hannibal to leave a lot of stuff purposefully opaque. Sometimes I think it’s unwarranted, but them’s the breaks it seems. I’m starting to wonder if Chilton and Lyons are gonna figure into some major reveals at the end of the season.

      Now that I think about it, where’d Miriam go?

  2. Hmmmm… I’ve agreed with all your reviews so far this season, that said this time we disagree a little.

    Warning now for minor spoilers in the episode BTW.

    Mason Verger felt hammed up to the point of being borderline hilarious (though he has only had 2 scenes so that could all change), but he’s far too camp for my liking at the moment & doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the intellectual equal that Lecter deserves. I hated this episode at first & thought the idea of Will turning killer was a step too far, even given where this show has been previously, then I had a theory…

    Freddy Lyons isn’t dead. Will hasn’t killed her, he’s saved her. First off we never actually see Will kill her & secondly the meat was alluded to, but never confirmed, as Lyon-meat. Just before Freddie went to see Will we caught a shot of Lecter sat in (presumably) her bedroom wearing his clear plastic murder suit. Had she gone home he would have killed her. Instead she is now part of an elaborate sting that started when Lecter sent Randall Tier to kill Will. What we didn’t see (I think) was Will phoning Jack after killing Tier (in semi self-defence) & telling him what had transpired. Jack and Will then decided the best way to prove Lecter was the Chesapeake Ripper was to make him think he had turned Will into a murderer & let his guard down. Like Jack said “if you can hook him, I’ll reel him in”. Well the bait has been set…

    It’s also the only conceivable reason I can think of to explain why Will is still being employed by the FBI and not locked up in prison (again) when the Red Dragon storyline comes about in future seasons.

    I could of course be wrong, but there are only 3 episodes left so I wont have to wait long to find out. Either way for the most part this season has been a HUGE improvement over the first and your reviews have been great too. Keep em coming. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the props and the excellent response! I’m curious to see what they wind up doing with Mason Verger; as I’ve indicated before I don’t have any familiarity with his character in the books or movies.

      My friend suggested that Will was actually serving Lecter pieces of Randall Tier, which is something that makes a lot of sense (at this point, at least). Looking at this review in the cold light of day, I’m probably being a little too alarmist about Will actually having killed Freddie, but this is also the one show on television where that could actually have happened.

      Agreed on the improvements the show has been making. I loved the first season but I EXTRA-love this one.

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