tv review – NBC’s Hannibal, episode 2.3

The meaning of “hassun”, the title given to Hannibal‘s third episode of its second season, is a second course set to a seasonal theme. That’s exactly what we got: two murders, one of which was a clear pastiche of the murders Will Graham is being accused of. The season’s theme of course is Will’s innocence, the lengths he’s willing to go to to prove he didn’t commit the heinous crimes he’s facing trial for, and then there’s his twisted relationship with doctor Hannibal Lecter. ‘Hassun’, an episode that flirted with the genre of the courtroom drama, was another wonderful outing, furthering the plot and complicating it all at once, an intricate dish prepared with seasonal ingredients and great care.

‘Hassun’ had a lot to show us before we even got to its opening credits: Will dreaming of being electrocuted by himself, the start of the trial during which Jack Crawford showed his true colors, sort of coming to Will’s defence, and Will’s lawyer opening an envelope with interesting contents: a severed ear and flakes of dried blood. The rest of the episode was about the continuation of the trial and the investigation of Will Graham’s fan mail, which both intertwined more and more and led to some interesting results. It turned out the ear belonged to a bailiff, whose ear was cut off by the same knife that cut off Abigail’s ear. The weapon was checked out of the evidence locker and the combined trail of breadcrumbs led Crawford and crew to the bailiff’s house, where they were greeted with a warm welcome: an explosion upon opening the front door. What they found there was a greatest hits of sorts: the bailiff’s body mounted on a stag head like what was done to Cassie Boyle and Marissa Shore, the mouth cut open wide like dr. Sutcliff’s, the flesh burned to a crisp like poor Georgia Madchen’s and, like mentioned above, the ear cut off just like Abigail Hobbs’ was. Surprisingly this murder wasn’t the Ripper’s/Hannibal’s doing, instead we have another copycat on our hands, a killer who shot his victim before he mutilated him. Despite this important modus operandi deviation Will had to choose if he would point to this new killer as the one who’s committed the murders he’s been accused of, knowing full well this is not the intelligent psychopath the FBI is looking for. Eventually Will decided to use the recent developments to try and cement his defense and even had Hannibal speak for him. The judge however decided to rule all of it invalid which didn’t please doctor Lecter one bit: he constructed a gruesome tableau with the judge at its center.

Like you can tell by the summary a lot happened this week, despite the episode’s seemingly static setting. Fuller and company kept all the pieces moving all the time and have constructed a brilliant episode that, while being mostly setup for what’s to come, kept viewers on the edge of their seats all the way through. Will and Hannibal’s battle of wits continued, with Hannibal once again telling Will he absolutely cares about his fate. Lecter keeps getting more fascinating with each episode, his abuse of Will seemingly a form of tough love, a way to, to his thinking, elevate Will to his level. Mads Mikkelsen showed us the good doctor at his most vulnerable in a conversation with Will about the new copycat, which was a medium for Lecter to be as honest about his own agenda as he possibly could. Will’s reaction was one of disbelief, fear, caution and gratitude. Hugh Dancy, like every week, did a fantastic job, but then the quality of the cast’s acting was always one of the show’s main draws, in addition to the top-notch writing the actors have at their disposal and the strong visual identity of the series. A lot of smaller scenes rounded out the episode, some moving (Crawford talking with Hannibal about his dying wife), some infuriating (Freddie Lounds’ and Frederick Chilton’s court moments) and some food for thought (a dream sequence in which Will was torn between following the ravenstag or doctor Lecter).

‘Hassun’ was another great episode chock-full of intriguing developments, surprising turns, TV tropes dipped in Hannibal‘s unique sauce and twisted to great effect. 9/10

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