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Hannibal — TV Review (S2E10, Naka-Choko)

This is the last week when I’m blogging about the repeat, as I’ll be doing less travelling now over the summer, so Tuesday will see my review of S2E11.

In the meantime, though, spoilers below! Plus the A.V. Club review and Fuller’s walkthrough, if you like that sort of thing.

I think this is hands down the best episode of the series thus far, although the A.V. Club only gave it a B!

The episode opens with some ‘missing scenes’ from E9 (my review), in which Will kills Randall, reminding us that there is a great deal below the surface of this series, to which we are not privy. The scenes didn’t seem to have the monochrome colouring of other flashbacks (and Will’s dream from the last episode), so it was hard to tell initially whether it was a flashback or a fantasy/dream of Will’s. It seems that this is the therapeutic murder — with his hands — that Will has been looking for and Hannibal has been seeking to guide him towards because “murder deserves intimacy”, and that is what it creates, between them and between Will and his victim, Randall. Hannibal asks Will how he will “repay” the debt he owes to Randall, and for a moment cannibalism, “honouring every part”, seems to loom large, but instead we find that Will’s repayment is through mutilation, mounting some of Randall’s remains on one of the skeletons he had tended so carefully; he is finally made into the animal he wished to be.

Will and Hannibal become a dangerous double-act during this episode. They seem to flaunt their new-founding understanding of one another. Whilst Hannibal attempts to cover Will’s tracks, present Jack with a profile that would not fit, Will rejects the deception and in doing so shares something more with Hannibal about his own monstrousness, the envy that he felt for Randall. Every moment now seems an extension of their therapy. Their dinner with Alana — in which she confronts them with Freddie Lounds’ theory that the two of them together might be the Chesapeake Ripper, rejecting the attribution of those crimes to Chilton — indicates just how much they have come together across boundaries without “violating” them.

Freddie Lounds was back in this episode, but her warning to Alana that “you can only learn so much and live” (a quote from the end of Harris’ Hannibal) appears prophetic. Having stumbled upon Randall’s remains in Will’s barn, there seems to be a good chance that she is dead. Will’s attack of her seems to mirror how we imagine the fight between Hannibal and Beverly, but he is less skilled. She manages to get away and ring Jack, but only her screams are recorded on his answering machine, and the suggestion is that she is the “slim and delicate pig” (eventually confessed to be “long pig“) whose meat Will presents to Hannibal for what might be the most romantic dinner of the whole series. (Incidentally, I’m not 100% convinced. I think that Will remains an FBI-man at the core, and so she might be in witness protection, although I’m then not sure how he would have fooled Hannibal into believing he was eating “long pig”! We are being invited to see Will as descending into Hannibal’s world, as at the moment she and Will are fighting, Hannibal is waiting in her home in his killing suit, but this is almost certainly a formal double-bluff by the show.)

The series is wonderful in the way it has allowed love to develop slowly out of fear and hate between Will and Hannibal. (The A.V. Club reviewer seems put off by the sexualisation of so much of Hannibal, but I think that’s rather prudish in the wider sense, even while I agree that the reduction of Alana to sex object — see below — is a real shame.) Of course, the implication is that this love — which Hannibal seems desperate to feel — will prove a danger to him because, as he says to Margot, “in love, you take leave of your senses”.

“You can’t reduce me to a set of influences”, Will warns Hannibal. “You can’t say that I’m evil.” “You’re destructive. The same thing.” Will is shaking as he eats. The meal might well be “an act of God”.

The other superb element of this episode is the introduction of Mason Verger, played by Michael Pitt. When we first meet him, hair askew, a fur-trimmed coat on, clutching a piglet, he has an air of utter insanity about him (and a resemblance to Philip Seymour Hoffman). Here he is already training pigs to eat a live person as a method for intimidating Margot. He shows her the pigs being fed meat packed into her clothes, sprayed (presumably) with her perfume, to the sound of a woman’s screams (possibly even Margot’s own, recorded during one of Mason’s attack). The mirror framed about the feeding pen is rather terrifying and drives Margot to Will’s door to compare scars. Despite having made her “proclivities” known, Will and Margot end up in bed together but the scene is interwoven with a sex scene between Hannibal and Will, transformed into an imaginary threesome (in Will’s mind, but perhaps also in Alana’s…). 
Lecter and Mason also have their first encounter, laced with threat from Hannibal’s side, and he invites Mason to undertake therapy himself. I’m looking forward to seeing that in the final few episodes! 
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