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Home » media studies » film and TV » Hannibal — TV review (S2E9, Shiizakana)

Hannibal — TV review (S2E9, Shiizakana)

We’re now counting down the weeks until Hannibal is off our screens again. There are only a few episodes left, and we’re starting to get a good sense of just how far the series is going to allow itself to deviate from the Thomas Harris world.

The A.V. Club review and Bryan Fuller’s walkthrough for this episode are up online. If you’ve already seen the whole of S2 (following the US airing schedule), you might also find Bryan Fuller’s interview about S3 interesting! Spoiler alert for that, as well as for the below. I’ll do a post about the first two series and what I hope they can achieve in S3 after the UK run has finished.

This episode is more properly scary than any other, I think. I don’t find Hannibal’s brand of evil particularly terrifying, but Randall really rather was!

It was nice to see Jeremy Davies back for another episode, even so briefly, as he plays oddballs so well, and I absolutely loved him as Daniel Faraday in Lost. On the flip side, I am still struggling to warm to Katharine Isabelle as Margot Verger (my issues with her casting are set out in my review for E8). Her characterisation bears more than a passing resemblance to the series’ Freddie Lounds than the Margot of Harris’ Hannibal.

The idea of growth, evolution and cross-breeding dominates this week’s episode, and the friendship between the wolf and the bear that are Hannibal and Will. The killer-of-the-week is seeking to dehumanise himself, becoming an animal through an elaborately constructed mask/suit, seeking what Hannibal calls “transformation”. Naturally, Randall is a former patient of Hannibal’s (he appears to have treated everyone!), and it appears that Hannibal’s latest drug is seeking to outwit the FBI. He offers Randall his counsel, appreciative of how much Randall has achieved in fulfilling his delusions, and is offering Will the same encouragement to develop his inner “monster”; Will must “adapt” his behaviour to avoid ever feeling regret at not killing again. In Will’s dream, Hannibal speaks of love, and this is where Will’s conflict lies: he thinks Hannibal is capable of friendship and love, in his own way. The question is whether that is close enough to ‘human’ for Will to feel that Hannibal should be allowed to live. As he says to Margot, he’s not sure whether Hannibal deserves to die.

That Hannibal sets Randall on Will, after all this, is really rather terrifying. Perhaps Hannibal acts with good reason, but the stakes are incredibly high; the therapeutic value for Will of killing a monster like Randall must be balanced with the real risk that Randall will succeed in tearing Will limb from limb. But Hannibal has made his approach clear. He does not fear regret and when he acts, it is with good reason. He seems comfortable with the risk of Will’s death, in order that the high stakes might enhance the therapeutic effect.

Will phrases the death of Randall in terms of “even stevens”, balancing the books between him and Hannibal, both having sent someone to kill the other, but the final scene is too short to be able to tell whether he has appreciated the second way in which those books have been balanced, with Hannibal giving him a second chance to kill a killer, after taking away Will’s “opportunity” to feel the “quiet sense of power” he felt when he killed Garett Jacob Hobbs. I rather hope that in the next episode we’ll find that he does, as I think the depth of their ‘friendship’ lies in Will’s conflict about how Hannibal can be both a monster and a ‘good’ friend/therapist!

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