tv review – NBC’s Hannibal, episode 2.5

A sliced dish of seasonal sashimi is what the title of Hannibal‘s latest episode refers to and in the case of ‘Mukozuke’ the title’s relevance was obvious: it was a direct nod to the Chesapeake Ripper’s new tableau, a grotesque display that involved Beverly Katz. It was as theatrical as many of Hannibal Lecter’s other murders, but the emotional impact it had on the show’s characters and viewers was new. Beverly was well-loved and respected, what was done to her sickening, humiliating and cruel. It was Freddie Lounds who found Beverly’s body, reduced to slices encased in glass after her run-in with Lecter. Rest in peace, miss Katz, you will be missed.

We saw Freddie gasp when she first saw the Ripper’s new work and moments later she warned Jack Crawford, told him he should send someone else in to have a look at the crime scene. Jack being Jack he didn’t listen and broke down when he witnessed what was done to another one of his own. Take note, Jack: a shocked and compassionate Freddie Lounds should be a sign of how messed up a murder really is. But not only was Beverly’s fate gruesome, it also had severe consequences for her friends and her killer: Jack brought in Will who of course knew this was Hannibal’s doing and spent the rest of the episode plotting his revenge.

Will offered Chilton the possibility of catching the Chesapeake Ripper after all, dangled it in front of him like a juicy carrot, and Chilton took the bait. Because of it Abel Gideon returned, a way for Will to get confirmation regarding the identity of the Ripper and clarity about what transpired on the night he shot Gideon. Eddie Izzard’s performance once again captured the humor, intelligence and madness of his tragic character, his conversations with Graham a deliciously deranged tête-à-tête. Furthermore Will also established a line of conversation with his copycat admirer from ‘Hassun’: he used Freddie to get a message out and it was received loud and clear. The admirer turned out to be a man working at the asylum and Will asked him for a favor: to kill Hannibal Lecter. The copycat almost succeeded, stunning Lecter, hanging him and having him bleed out near his favorite swimming pool. But the act was interrupted: Gideon alerted Alana to Will’s plan and she and Crawford showed up just in time to save Lecter. By the way: Jonathan Tucker’s copycat turned out to have only killed the bailiff during Will’s trial, not the judge: that was Hannibal’s doing (as I suspected).

‘Mukozuke’ was a terrific episode that tied up the loose ends from ‘Hassun’ and ‘Takiawase’. One of the season’s themes was also heavily underlined: “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster,” to quote Friedrich Nietzsche. An exceptional scene saw Will grow antlers from his back, another saw his sink overflow with blood, signifying that Graham is turning into the viscious and ruthless man he’s accused of being. The tragedy is that he tried to avenge a woman he cared for by becoming much like her killer, a woman who died fighting for Will’s innocence and its preservation. In opting for revenge, Will committed the ultimate betrayal and handed Lecter his victory: he tried to mold Will in his image and he has succeeded. Thematically the inclusion of Gideon also made perfect sense: a lost man devoid of identity after how he’s been treated, an empty shell remodelling itself in a desperate effort to give meaning to its existence. Layers pulled apart and reassembled; mukozuke.

The fifth episode of Hannibal‘s second season was hard-hitting, pulse-pounding and terrificly terrible. 9/10



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