A review of tonight's “Hannibal” coming up just as soon as my demographic is murderers and people obsessed with murderers…
Early in “Mukozuke,” Will Graham gets trussed up in perhaps the most iconic cinematic look for Dr. Hannibal Lecter, with a straightjacket to restrict his movement, a dolly to move him around and a bite mask to cover his mouth. He has been playing the classic role of Hannibal the Cannibal, and here he gets to wear the costume.
Yet so much of this fantastic episode is there to show us the ways in which Will Graham is not like Hannibal Lecter. You can put him into the psychiatric hospital, have him advise the FBI on cases, joust with Dr. Chilton and smile creepy smiles, but he is not the man he has been framed to seem like. It's not just that he does not enjoy the thought of consuming human flesh, but that he's not as cold and calculating as Dr. Lecter is.
What he does with crazy orderly Matthew Brown(*) – who is revealed to be the copycat from the trial episode – isn't that far removed from some of the antics Lecter pulls in the books and films, when he reaches out into the world to take advantage of people who are impressed by his crimes. But it's Will's motive for doing so, and the obvious repercussions of it, that so clearly distinguishes the two of them.
(*) Played by Jonathan Tucker, whose rampant evil in this episode makes me wonder if the scriptwriting involved anyone on the “Parenthood” staff who want to make sure we understand just how awful Bob Little is.
Lecter is ruled at times by his desires, but he is for the most part a very cold and calculating individual. He can improvise when needed – as both Miriam Lass and Beverly Katz found out, to their misfortune – but he has one overruling plan, and that is to maintain his secret so he can continue his fabulous cannibalistic lifestyle. Even if he desired revenge on someone, as Will does for Katz's murder, Hannibal wouldn't seek it in a way that could cause him to lose so much in the process. It's not just that there are so many ways that Brown could lead back to Will – which is what happens, once Alana realizes that Will wants Lecter dead – but that killing Hannibal will make it that much harder for Will to clear his own name. We know more than he does about how much evidence there is in the kitchen and basement (and that would probably be discovered by the FBI in the aftermath of Lecter's death), but without Lecter alive to say that he was acting alone and that he framed Will for his crimes, Will could well spend the rest of his life in that hospital.
The contrast between the slow, icy plotting of Dr. Lecter and the overwhelming passion of Mr. Graham has been one of the strongest elements of “Hannibal,” and it was on especially strong display here. Dr. Lecter's method of displaying Beverly's coprse – sliced into component parts and presented on a series of human-sized lab slides – is among the more macabre and elaborate(**) the show has every deployed, and the fire it lights in Will is scary to behold. Will did this to her by involving her in his mess, and now he is going to clean that mess up from behind his cell bars, without benefit of the FBI or any of the other methods of justice in which he once believed. Even though we know that Lecter isn't going to die, or even be caught at this point, there's such tension in the episode because Will has gone so far off the rails, and seems capable of doing anything he can to Hannibal, to the returning Abel Gideon, or anyone else who draws his wrath.
(**) This week in Alan Wants A Web Series: “Slip and Slide,” in which we see every step of the process, not so much because I want to watch Beverly sliced up in that way, but because I want to watch Hannibal order those giant pieces of lucite and then go to the trouble of transporting Beverly from his basement to the observatory without anyone noticing. A fine opportunity for Mads Mikkelsen's gift for minimalist comedy.
Will seems to recognize his error – or, at least, he feels guilty for setting these things in motion, which is why he begins seeing blood pouring into the sink of his cell, even as Lecter is in danger of bleeding out at his local pool. Jack and Alana are in time to save Hannibal, but I have to imagine things are about to get a lot uglier between Lecter and Will, and between Will and the former friends whom he was thisclose to turning to his side only an episode or two ago.
So intense, so beautiful to look at, so eerie to listen to, like always. I have access to several episodes past this one, but I'm trying to stick to one episode at a time, both because I don't want my reviews to be too influenced by what I know what's coming, and because this is a show worth savoring, and building up a hunger for over the course of each week.
What did everybody else think?