Review: ‘Hannibal ‘ – ‘Naka-Choko’

05.02.14 3 years ago 101 Comments


A review of tonight's “Hannibal” coming up just as soon as I build a pig maze…

“I've never felt as alive as I did when I was killing him.” -Will

One of two things is happening between Hannibal and Will Graham right now: either Hannibal is succeeding in turning Will into a cannibal killer just like him, or Will is succeeding in tricking Hannibal into thinking that's what he's become.

My money would be on the latter, if only because it would be a vastly bigger deviation from the source material than if Chilton turns out to be dead, or the change in characterization of Margot Verger. But it's a credit to what Bryan Fuller, Hugh Dancy and company are doing with the character that I'm at least willing to consider the possibility.

Watching “Naka-Choko” felt a bit like attending a performance by a great magician. Even if you go in knowing it's fake, and determined to find the truth behind the illusions, you're damned if you can actually identify how the trick works. If Will is running a long con on Dr. Lecter – which was implied in the ice fishing conversation with Jack a couple of episodes ago – then he's covering his tracks brilliantly, for both Hannibal and us. It's entirely possible that once he had custody of Freddie Lounds, for instance, he laid out the actual plan for her, and she agreed to play along, but the mutilation and display of Randall's corpse at the museum seems the kind of thing that would be harder for Will to get out from under, legally. (It's also among the show's creepiest murder tableaux so far, and also strange to see Will inserting himself into a crime scene in which he played some kind of role.) And given Dr. Lecter's superhuman powers of smell and taste, how is he convincing him that he's brought human meat as this week's protein?

Again, I imagine there will be explanations for everything – note that we still haven't seen a non-dream depiction of how Randall died, for instance – but it's exciting to at least imagine the possibility that this isn't a feint, but Will getting sucked too deeply into Hannibal's worldview. It's an episode about the merging of their two psyches. Will imagines himself in bed with Alana while she's in bed with Hannibal, and when Freddie spots Will lurking in the barn, it's presented in a very similar way to Beverly Katz spotting Lecter in his dungeon. And, of course, their faces blend together in the final shot. I think Will Graham is still probably a hero, but both he and the show want us to feel otherwise.

Some other thoughts:

* After hearing talk of Margot's brother Mason for several episodes, he finally appears in the form of Michael Pitt, all but unrecognizable from his days on “Boardwalk Empire” as Jimmy Darmody. It's a strange performance, and a strange look, that fits right in with the epic weirdness of this show. But as with so much of the Verger family story, I feel it's being presented in a very fragmented fashion, like Fuller expects us to understand more about Mason and Margot – why, for instance, Mason is training his pigs to eat live humans – than he's told us so far.

* Hannibal Lecter owns and knows how to operate a theremin, because of course he does.

* Fuller has said that Katharine Isabelle, who plays Margot, was the runner-up to play Jaye on his “Wonderfalls” – a role that instead went to Caroline Dhavernas, who now plays Alana Bloom. It's a minor piece of “Hannibal” trivia, until you get to the sequence that cuts between the actual Jaye sleeping with Dr. Lecter while the would-be Jaye is having sex with Will Graham. Given Margot's proclivity for parts that Will does not possess, Will's interest in Alana and Hannibal's asexual affect, it seems as if Alana is the only one of the four who's genuinely excited to be with her partner that night.

* The hazy editing style of that sex sequence – similar to what we saw with the introduction of Margot a few weeks back – is not my favorite of the show's many stylistic devices, in that it winds up calling attention to itself in a way a lot of the show's other visual tricks do not, in part because it doesn't feel illuminating of anything about the characters or the world.

* Hannibal mentions a sister, in the past tense. Has this come up before and I've forgotten, or is it a mystery to be dealt with down the road?

* Another reference to lambs, this time in the context of lamb farming, as Fuller keeps teasing the idea of one day getting to “Silence of the Lambs,” even as that book is the one part of the Lecter canon he doesn't have access to.

What did everybody else think?

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at

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