tv review – NBC’s Hannibal, episode 2.12

Tome-wan is miso-based or vegetable soup served with rice and also the title of the penultimate episode of Hannibal‘s second season. And was it a doozy. Despite last week’s reveal the lines are still very much blurred and it’s unclear as ever whether Will is firmly on the side of Jack Crawford or if he’s actually under Lecter’s influence like Gillian Anderson’s Bedelia Du Maurier suggested. Speaking of Bedelia: what a fantastic return of the character. We were finally told what caused the death of her patient and it made perfect sense: Hannibal influenced Bedelia resulting in her patient swallowing his tongue that, as she put it, wasn’t attached at the time. “I killed him. I believed it was self-defense, and to a point it was. But beyond that point it was murder.” Once again it was illustrated that Lecter has been playing most of his patients, that he plays most of the people he knows. In addition Du Maurier’s confession echoed Will’s murder of Randall Tier, which started as self-defense but ended with Randall’s mutilated corpse on display in a museum. Finally Bedelia warned Will, saying Lecter will make him kill somebody he loves. “And you will think it’s the only choice you have,” she added. This doesn’t bode well for Alana’s fate at all, the only person Will has romantic feelings for and he has always tried to protect. Du Maurier also warned Crawford: “If you think you’re about to catch Hannibal, that’s because he wants you to think that. Don’t fool yourself into thinking he’s not in control of what’s happening.” Anderson’s steely and quiet portrayal of Bedelia was once again powerful and mesmerizing, and it were her words that once again raised the stakes for next week’s season finale.

The fascinating interplay between Will and Hannibal also continued this week, not only through the conversation’s the two central characters had, but also because of a stylistic choice the show made: after Hannibal was preparing a dish for Jack and we were shown one of those magnetic cooking montages Hannibal excels at, we were shown another montage of Will preparing a meal for his dogs, the show’s first. Will’s actions lacked the finesse of Lecter’s, lacked the intricacies of the dishes Hannibal prepares for himself and his guests, but it was another clear signifier that Will’s becoming much like his psychiatrist. Additionally it illustrated a parallel: Will made the food for his dogs, put effort into it and thereby ensured their needs were met in a way he saw fit, simultaneously caring for them and having them act in a way he wants them to. The connection between Will’s pack of strays and Hannibal’s flock of outcasts and misfits was clear, as was the allusion to the religious themes present in the show. There’s always someone in power pulling the strings, someone whose influence molds those under him into his image. It’s easy to describe Hannibal’s actions as acts of perversion or cruelty, which they are to us, but to him these acts are a means to elevate those under his care and bring out in them what Lecter considers beautiful. During Will’s montage the camera lingered for a while on a dozen of broken eggshells, once again hinting that to make an omelet you have to break some eggs. Destruction, creation, transformation. Another thing Will pointed out in ‘Tome-wan’ was that Hannibal is “fostering co-dependency”, which was later beautifully illustrated by two characters from Homer’s Iliad, Achilles and Patroclus. It also showed us Lecter’s “whimsy” and hubris which Bedelia said would be Hannibal’s downfall, perfectly in line with the Greek myths and tragedies he’s himself now brought up. Patroclus did anything for Achilles, wanted to be with him and be him, which got him killed and drove Achilles mad with grief. Lecter’s interpretation of their bond is telling: Hannibal thinks Will views him as an example and (spiritual) leader, or at least he wants Will to see him that way. Will, unfortunately for him, doesn’t.

Lastly, the Vergers. Mason found himself between Will and Hannibal this week; the latter wanted him dead, and the former wanted Lecter to try to kill Mason and fail, to ensure that Hannibal could finally get caught. Everything worked out differently though: Mason took Lecter (who put up one hell of a fight, killing one of Verger’s henchmen) and invited Will over after, so that both men could watch Hannibal being eaten by Mason Verger’s special breed of pigs. Unfortunately for him, Mason had not foreseen that Will would free Lecter instead of killing him, which led to one of the show’s most gruesome moments: Hannibal, with the help of some drugs, made Mason cut off his own face and feed it to Will’s dogs. Oh, and Mason also ate his own nose when Hannibal suggested it. Tasty. It was a playful, terrifying and darkly comical take on the scene from Thomas Harris’ 1999 novel, mostly because of Michael Pitt’s deranged and maniacal acting juxtaposed with the subdued nature of Hugh Dancy’s performance and Mads Mikkelsen’s acting. Eventually Lecter broke Mason’s neck, not killing him but rendering him a cripple, which made sure Margot got the closest thing to a happy ending: she’s now the one in control of her brother and the family fortune. But… it’s only a matter of time before Mason decides to strike back.

‘Tome-wan’ was insanely entertaining and boundlessly intriguing. Next week’s ‘Mizumono’ has got its work cut out for it. 9/10

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