Hannibal‘s latest episode was titled ‘Yakimono’, named after a grilled or pan-fried dish in the Japanese kitchen, and all about the non-culinary definition of the word “grilling”: to torture or afflict, or to question something relentlessly, to cross-examine. Following the discovery of Chesapeake Ripper survivor Miriam Lass, Jack Crawford’s hunt for the Ripper continued: after apologizing to Miriam for being careless with her life, he immediately tried to find out what she knew about the Ripper and his identity, which, of course, was very little. Lecter deliberately led Crawford to Miriam, so, as viewers, we knew we were in for some twists and surprises. There had to be an agenda to Lass’ release, and much of the joy of watching ‘Yakimono’ was finding out what it was. The eventual kicker didn’t disappoint: it was a shocker, a daring deviation from canon which proves Hannibal is not afraid to take risks. Well played.
Not one, but two Ripper victims got set free this week: Will was let go thanks to the Ripper’s version of a Get Out of Jail Free card. With Will’s release the episode opened up; it felt like a breath of fresh air after having spent so much time inside Chilton’s gloomy asylum, a feeling Will and Hannibal‘s audience effectively shared. Instantly the show was more like its first season because of its change of scenery and its change from mostly interior settings to more exterior ones. The divide between in and out seemed significant this episode: Miriam was never shown outside symbolizing just how firmly she was still in Hannibal’s grasp, while Will is still part of Lecter’s game but he’s trying to turn it around on him, heading back inside on his own volition. We got a sense Miriam never really escaped that pit she was found in, that she was still and will always be the Ripper’s captive without knowing it: she wasn’t able to identify Lecter, to remember anything, programmed to be no more than an extension of Hannibal’s murderous hands.
Frederick Chilton’s goal this week was simply to survive. Everyone who’s onto Lecter dies, or at least suffers a horrible fate. After Beverly and Gideon Chilton feared he was next on the list, which Will confirmed, so Chilton tried to work with Jack to help Miriam recover some of her memories, so she could possibly rediscover the fact Lecter is indeed the Chesapeake Ripper. Jack had none of it, telling him Lass was not his patient. While it’s understandable Jack would rather not let Frederick Chilton treat Miriam (with Gideon Frederick had proven himself and his methods to potentially be quite harmful), it was strange to see Jack give Hannibal the okay in treating his trainee. Both Will and Chilton had Crawford’s ear (no pun intended) last week, but to put Lass in Lecter’s care now seemed contrived and didn’t really make sense. Did Jack hope that Lecter’s treatment would spark some sense of recognition in Miriam? Who knows, it wasn’t expanded upon. What’s safe to say though is that, once again, Hannibal played Jack like a fiddle, pulling his strings with ease. Hannibal framed Chilton (a nightmarish scenario unfolded which included dead agents and what was left of Gideon’s corpse planted in Chilton’s basement) and had Crawford fully believe Frederick was the monster he had been tracking down for so long. After a chase through the woods and snow Jack almost shot Chilton, Crawford’s face a display of burning rage and violent hate, but then it sunk in: what if this is what Lecter wants me to do? In that moment, when Jack faced the terrified Doctor Chilton, Fishburne’s acting was phenomenal: first rage and then suddenly a shimmer of doubt and fear, the question “Am I being used?” in the back of his head.
But he couldn’t save Frederick. Seeing Chilton and hearing his voice triggered something in Miriam, unwrapped the memories put there by Lecter, memories she didn’t know she had up until that point. She broke down, grabbed Jack’s gun and shot Chilton, ending his life. Once again Hannibal Lecter’s intricate design was executed to a T, the manipulation and destruction of Lass’ mind perhaps his cruelest act yet. Anna Chlumsky delivered a powerful performance as a woman completely destroyed for the Ripper’s sadistic pleasure, the ultimate example of his power over man. Chlumsky captured the anguish, pain, confusion, even a sense of vacancy with her acting, which was both mesmerizing and hard to watch. Let’s hope the other Ripper survivor fares better: the end of ‘Yakimono’ saw Will resuming his therapy with Doctor Lecter, a sign of things to come.
‘Yakimono’ was another intense no-holds-barred Hannibal episode, with dazzling results. Rest in peace, Frederick, you will be missed. 9/10