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Hannibal “Su-zakana” 

Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC

After the big OMG Chilton moment, last week’s episode ended, well, very awkwardly.  Up until that point, Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) had been in complete control of everything and everyone in his surroundings.  But, Will (Hugh Dancy) showing up wanting to resume his therapy?  That was something that was very unexpected, and it certainly wasn’t part of Dr. Lecter’s “design”.  Just looking at Hannibal’s face, we can see his uneasiness with the situation.  But, it is what it is, and  Hannibal ultimately decides to accept Will’s offer…uh, I mean accept his challenge. So, let the games begin.

Last week’s episode was action-packed and super-intense and really didn’t leave any questions  about what had happened (well, except for the possibility that Chilton is still alive — see my discussion on that at the end of this review).  But, last night’s episode is a complete 180, very little action and 80% of the episode being one big metaphor.  There’s a message at the end, and the key to understanding that message is in the details of the murder investigation this week.

Hannibal is well-known for being very “creative” with the murder cases that are handed to Jack’s (Laurence Fishburne) team.  There have been some very strange ones, but the writers really out-did themselves with this one because it’s a doozy.  A horse is found dead at a stable, and when the horse is opened up, there’s a big surprise.  A dead woman is found inside, and it seems she had been suffocated and then, sewn inside the horse’s womb.  It gets even weirder when they begin the autopsy on the woman.  When the heart of the woman is cut open, a live starling (and, yes, a very cool nod to the Clarice Starling character!)  flies out, and what’s more, the soil found in the woman’s throat leads them to a dumping site where 15 more bodies are found buried.  They officially now have a serial killer on their hands.

This is the cue to bring Will in on the investigation because Jack is clueless, and Hannibal isn’t helping much either.  Of course, as always, it takes Will all but five minutes to figure it all out.  The entire scene — the horse, the woman being sewn in, and the starling in her heart — all represent re-birth.  The woman had died, and everything the perpetrator had done was a very labored attempt at bringing her back to life.  The big message from this is the person who staged the scene is probably not the killer, but someone who knows the killer and what he had done.

This leads Jack and Will to Peter Bernardone (Jeremy Davies).  Peter is a strange but soft-spoken guy who loves all animals (note Peter’s name and how it is derived from Giovani Pietro Bernardone, the patron saint of animals. Nice touch).  He had worked at the stable but had to quit after being kicked in the head by a horse.  Up to this point, I had been WTF like most of the viewers, but this scene set off alarm bells for me.  Peter loves animals.  So does Will.  Peter had a head injury.  So did Will (remember the encephalitis?).  And, Peter had sought the help of a therapist by the name of Clark Ingram (Chris Diamantopoulos) and so did Will.  Deja vu anyone? It becomes increasingly clear that the Peter/Ingram situation is a mirror for Will and Dr. Lecter’s relationship, and Will is very quick to identify with Peter, even though Peter hadn’t been eliminated as a suspect.

However, all questions about whether Peter is the killer is put to bed when Ingram is interviewed.  He is creepy and cocky and Will immediately notes Ingram’s “dark empty eyes.  The eyes of a predator”. Ingram is their killer, but unfortunately, they don’t have enough evidence to hold him.  They have to release him which is a really bad deal because Ingram now knows that Peter knows his secret.  And, unless Dr. Lecter and Will can get to Peter first, it is likely Peter will be Ingram’s next victim.  Hannibal and Will make it in time, and Peter is very much alive and sewing up yet another horse.

     Is your social worker inside that horse, Peter — Will to Peter

There’s not much humor in this episode, but I had to laugh at this line.  There’s only about 8 minutes left in the episode at this point, but these 8 minutes are by far the most important.  The conversation between Will and Peter really seals the deal that in Peter’s world, Will represents Peter and Ingram represents Dr. Lecter.

      I used to have a horrible fear of hurting anything, but he helped me get over that.  It feels so abnormal. — Peter

     An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior — Dr. Lecter

     I think he deserves to die — Peter

    But, you didn’t deserve to kill him, Peter — Will

    I think I hate him — Peter

    I envy you, your hate.  It makes it easier when you know how to feel.  — Will

    How you feel doing what? — Peter

    Killing him — Will

    I didn’t kill him.  I just wanted him to know what it feels like to suffocate, like he did to all those people — Peter

We are then directed to the grotesque (but actually funny) scene of Ingram clawing his way out of the horse. And, he meets Will pointing a gun and ready to kill him.  Will couldn’t kill Dr. Lecter in his kitchen in the last episode, but he was ready to kill Ingram.  Hannibal quickly sees that Ingram is just a surrogate for himself and steps up to point this out to Will.

      You did the best anyone could do for Peter.  Don’t do this for him.  If you’re going to do this, Will, you have to do it for yourself.  This is not the reckoning you promised yourself — Dr. Lecter to Will

Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC

At least now everything is on the table, and Dr. Lecter and Will are on the same page.  Will knows Hannibal is the Chesepeake Ripper, and it is clear that if he could, he would kill Dr. Lecter.  And, Hannibal knows that Will knows and is very careful not to admit anything but also not deny anything either.  So, ends Round 1.

Besides this, the other major development in “Su-Zakana” is the introduction of Margot Verger (Katherine Isabelle), the sister of the pivotal character from the novels and Hannibal films, Mason Verger (Michael Pitt has been cast as Mason and will appear before the season’s end).  I’m not going into the backstory of Mason Verger from the Thomas Harris novels, but so far, there are a few similarities.  Just like in the books, Margot is being abused by her brother, but at this point, we really don’t know why.  And, one of Mason’s signature moves is capturing Margot’s tears as he abuses her and mixing them in his own martinis.  The one thing we do know is the abuse is so severe that it’s prompting Margot to consider killing her own brother (which is what happens in the books).  However, don’t count on this playing out exactly it does in the novels because the one thing last week’s Chilton shocker showed us is Bryan Fuller is making strides to develop the television series as a standalone project.  Chilton’s death was the first major deviation from the Hannibal source material, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Mason Verger storyline is the next one.

Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC

The last thing I want to comment on is the question of whether Dr. Chilton is really dead.  And, the only reason I’m bringing it up is because the Hannibal Twitter account posed the question right before the episode aired last night. So, as a result, fans are all up in arms now speculating that maybe Dr. Chilton survived and is still alive.  That said, if the Hannibal writers are reading this review, hear me when I say please keep Dr. Chilton dead!  This may come as a big surprise to those who know me, because I’m a huge Raul Esparza fan.  Esparza is an extremely talented actor, and it’s been fun watching him play a Dr. Jekyll character on Hannibal and then turn around and do a Dr. Hyde as ADA Rafael Barba on Law and Order:Special Victims Unit. The fan side of me wishes that Dr. Chilton is alive to return and finally see Dr. Lecter captured.  But, the critic side of me knows full well that would not be a good idea.  It was a brilliant move to mix up the storyline of one of the major characters in the novels, because now, the viewers know they can’t count on the films and the books as a kind of cliff notes for the television series, and that will keep everyone guessing.  Don’t mess up a good thing. So, please — accept the A+ grade you got from most of the critics for last week’s spectacular  “Yakimono” and leave the dead Chilton dead.

Hannibal airs on Fridays at 10/9c on NBC.

Other memorable quote and random thoughts

It was my turn to bring the meat — Will to Dr. Lecter

I’m much weirder that you’ll ever be, Margot — Dr. Lecter

The only thing stranger than finding a corpse in a horse is seeing Will back in therapy with you — Alana to Dr. Lecter

— There were lots of gore in last night’s episode, but I almost hurled not from seeing all the horse guts spill out but from witnessing that totally disgusting Alana and Hannibal sex scene.  If this continues, I’m going to need a barf  bag every single week.

— So, I wonder what became of Miriam Lass?  She’s served her purpose of pointing the finger at Chilton, and really, Hannibal has no other use for her.  It wouldn’t surprise me if she ended up dead (and I mean really dead this time) because as we know, Hannibal doesn’t like to leave live witnesses.


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