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Hannibal — TV review (S2E4, Takiawase)


This is going to be my last ‘on-the-night’ review as S2 of Hannibal unfolds because over the next few weeks I’m going to be away with work rather a lot, so I’ll switch to posting reviews on the weekends, ahead of the Saturday repeat. I like to watch the repeats, anyway!

The A.V. Club reviewer gave this episode an A, but I’m not sure it is quite that spectacular. If you haven’t read it already, Bryan Fuller’s walkthrough is also up on the A.V. Club website.

Spoilers below.

So that’s it for Beverly. Oops!

Fuller explains that her presence in S2 at all was a bit of a silver lining, as she was initially down to be axed in S1, so it is nice that we got some extra Hetienne Park, but I do still feel she was under-used, and her relationship with Will under-developed.

Perhaps it was simply a lack of meaningfully shared screen-time between them, but the relationship of trust they began to develop in S1 (e.g. when she helps Will with his target practice after shooting Hobbs) that was shattered and needs rebuilding never really gets going. There is a shade of difference between subtle and perfunctory, and I think that the show sadly falls on the latter side. The episodes are beginning to have shades of fanfiction about them: the plot obviously wants to go somewhere interesting with only a fraction of its characters at a very quick pace; everything and everyone else are simply necessary adjuncts, subplots always doing something for the main plot without any really weight behind them. Which is fine, but I do so want this show to be a proper masterpiece.

The weekly case has the air of a repeat about it, resonating with the mushroom killer in Amuse-Bouche (S1E2, review), although with a kooky alternative healer in place of the murdering pharmacist, and slightly less impressive visuals (the gruesome lobotomisation excepted!). It is actually better done than the Amuse-Bouche killer-of-the-week, but to be honest, the episode could have done without it, as it provides only a trite mirror to the far-more-interesting almost suicide/mercy killing of Bella by Hannibal. (Although for Fuller it is also a link to Pushing Daisies, so probably has more resonance and justification for being in this show.)

Gina Torres is fantastic again, as in all her other episodes. She evinces wonderfully controlled anger when she first confesses to Hannibal that she wants to surrender to the “occupying force” of cancer and justifies her urge for this “valid solution” that makes her feel alive. A sympathetic Hannibal suggests Socrates’ interpretation, that death is a cure, and Bella is utterly joyful at taking it. Her ‘payment’ of Hannibal with a memorial coin is touching and makes his flipping of it to decide whether or not to let her die utterly cold. It’s one of the few moments so far that I have found Hannibal chilling, and it’s tricky to know how to interpret it. Perhaps it is an entirely amoral, whimsical flip of the coin, but it can only be thus if Hannibal is willing to be utterly cruel to Bella. Fuller seems to intimate that Hannibal’s decision to revive Bella was already made, in order to distract Jack, but that end would have been achieved either way, and I think Hannibal’s action really is a flip of the coin about the means to it, given the sincerity of his goodbye to her.

The first few episodes of this series have done a great job of keeping Will in investigative mode, either using the mode set up by Thomas Harris — consultation by the FBI — or through his machinations in seeking to lure/catch Hannibal. His new focus and confidence in his own mental faculties has certainly made him more interesting as a character (as Hannibal intends), and his all-round boldness makes the reappearance of Abel Gideon (hurrah for more Eddie Izzard!) utterly smooth. As combative as Will’s relationship with Chilton remains, there is the prospect of a certain functionality, as though they are both trapped in the asylum and forced to rely on the other, but this possible equilibrium is immediately undercut by Chilton’s hubristic sharing of details with Hannibal and Gideon’s return. I expect the relationship between Will and Chilton will simply get more and more interesting as the series continues, which is nice, given that his relationships with almost everyone else (Alana, Jack, Beverly) seem to have stagnated.


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