tv review – NBC’s Hannibal, episode 2.6

‘Futamono’, the word for a lidded dish in Japanese cuisine, focused much more on Hannibal Lecter than last week’s episode ‘Mukozuke’ did and it was a treat. Despite his twisted scheming and horrific acts, Hannibal is such a strangely alluring character because of Mads Mikkelsen’s charismatic portrayal and the layered writing of the show; you just can’t keep your eyes off him. Hannibal is refined, an artist and a strategist, giving all he enjoys in life the same amount of dedication and attention, be it turning a politician into a gruesomely beautiful tree man, writing his own harpsichord compositions or throwing the town another one of his fabulous dinner parties. Cruel elegance is the name of the game Hannibal excels at, Mikkelsen’s Lecter a man who revels in his own creations and ploys, evident by his signature smirk. Yes, Lecter is mad, but he looks so good doing what he does, a showcase of calm determination and devilish delight.

“I need to get my appetite back,” Hannibal told Alana Bloom, which not only kicked off a string of new Ripper murders, but also saw Lecter put together one of his renowned soirées. He told her it was his way of coping with the attempt on his life, just like writing a new piece of music was, but this act of opening up to Alana was another one of Hannibal’s charades to keep someone firmly in his corner. A game of chess is won by using the right pieces at the right time, something both the good doctor and Will are utterly aware of. While Will’s attempt to kill Lecter drove Alana away from him, Will got the attention of Jack in return: Crawford questioned him, but Will of course denied having given the order to his admirer Matthew Brown to murder Hannibal Lecter. Instead Will tried to get under Jack’s skin. “If the Ripper’s killing, you can bet Hannibal’s planning a dinner party,” he predicted and his prediction came true, which partly opened Jack’s eyes. Another pawn Will moved was Abel Gideon, who admitted visiting Hannibal’s home, a confession which was recorded by Chilton. When Crawford later confronted Gideon, Abel played dumb, but Chilton sided with Will, convinced Jack Hannibal fits the profile of the Chesapeake Ripper, which led Jack to bag some of the beautiful food Lecter had prepared for his dinner party guests to have it examined. “Unfortunately” there was no man in it, leaving Jack unable to help Will, but the Ripper himself had different plans.

Like Will had also predicted, Hannibal was after Gideon to shut him up and keep him from talking. Because dumb Abel had antagonized two asylum guards, they had put him in the hospital with a broken back, which gave Lecter easy access to the man. Hannibal only had to kill one guard, who he then strung up using fishing lures, and decided to take Gideon home with him, for another feast, a special one served the next evening. Smart like he is, Lecter had made sure he had an alibi: Alana Bloom slept over and he had slipped out while she was fast asleep. Hannibal‘s first season made it clear Alana and Hannibal had a history, that they were close and that she even had feelings for him, and ‘Futamono’ saw the right moment for Lecter to capitalize on that. When Jack came over the morning after Gideon’s abduction, she told him Hannibal had been with her all night, which ruled out Hannibal as a suspect. It was a simple and elegant plan, but also cruel of course: Alana thinks Hannibal is a victim, the sanest man she knows and a mentor she looks up to. Last season she didn’t hook up with Will because he was unraveling and now she abandoned him because he tried to avenge a friend and tried to stop a deranged serial killer. It will be hard on her when she finds out she’s being used and learns how wrong about Will and Hannibal she actually is. If she makes it out alive that is: when Will asked Jack “Who does [Hannibal] have to kill before you open your eyes?” the show cut to a close-up of Alana, hardly a good sign.

But the tail end of the episode was where it got truly horrifying: suddenly the episode title made sense. The lidded dish was Gideon’s leg cooked in clay, served to him by Lecter as his last supper. It was a stomach-churning moment for the show when Lecter both physically and psychologically mutilated Abel Gideon. Hannibal insisted Abel ate what he was served and Gideon eventually did. “My compliments to the chef,” Gideon replied, which left a satanical smirk on Lecter’s lips. We were treated to the same smile later: the lures Hannibal had used to string up the guard from the hospital contained evidence proving Will didn’t kill any of the victims he was accused of murdering. Additionally it led Crawford to an abandoned cabin where he found a special someone locked up in the basement: Miriam Lass, Jack’s old trainee and Ripper victim, missing an arm but alive. On that note the episode ended, once again raising the stakes in Hannibal’s game of cat and mouse.

‘Futamono’ was another terrific outing: tense, elegant, horrifying. 9/10

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