‘Hannibal’ Recap: Broken Friendships, Broken Men, And The Blood That Flows From Both

Senior Contributor
04.20.14 51 Comments
hannibal su-zakana


Hannibal launches a new arc this week, and seemingly it’s one where everything is back to normal: Will’s consulting for the FBI, Hannibal is free of suspicion, and nasty deaths are commonplace. But the episode quickly reveals what’s happening is anything but the status quo; a new game is afoot.

This episode opens with Will and Jack ice-fishing, and having a meaningful conversation about how you get a sated predator to take the bait. And then they take the fish to Hannibal’s, in an attempt to mend fences. Well, that’s the supposed intent, anyway; the subtext is something far different, of course.

The episode is anchored by a powerhouse performance by Jeremy Davies as Peter, a gentle, broken man who genuinely cannot process what’s happening around him. The bizarre, gory opening of the episode turns out to be a head-fake; Peter is trying to make up for the crimes of someone else, but just doesn’t have the capabilities to do anything effective. Davies is heart-wrenching here, especially when a person he’s supposed to trust hits him in the worst spot emotionally towards the end of the episode.

This is contrasted with Hannibal’s new patient, Margot Verger, introduced with a suggested but painfully brutal scene that makes you hate her brother without even seeing him. Played by Katharine Isabelle (who you might remember from the cult horror classic Ginger Snaps), she’s in Hannibal’s sphere of influence… and apparently Mason’s problems come from Margot snapping. It also offers up one line from what’s a surprisingly quotable episode, with Hannibal commenting that “Doing bad things to bad people feels good.” Much like Hannibal’s observations on religion, it’s a remark that tells us much about the character.

Similarly, Will forces Lecter to drop all pretense, and tellingly takes murder off the table by saying “I’m not going to kill you, Dr. Lecter, not now that I find you interesting.” More telling is that for the first time, Hannibal is genuinely taken off-guard by Will. He genuinely doesn’t know what’s going to happen next.

Interestingly, this episode’s theme is whether or not vengeance is a substitute for justice: Will, Margo and Peter are all victims. More to the point, they’re victimized by people who they tried to fight back against, in their own ways, and failed, only to see their victimizers walk away, even applauded, and keep the power they have. So what happens next? Do they kill their victimizers… or try again for justice?

It’s a great start to the arc, and as we swing into the final five episodes, we can’t wait to see where it’s going.

Some more thoughts:

  • Margot’s introduction, which can only be called a rape scene, has some disturbing parallels with this episode’s abstract sex scene between Hannibal and Alana.
  • Speaking of which, approaching a character like Mason Verger, who is an unmitigated monster, through his victimized sister is a fascinating choice, especially since the show makes you hate the guy without even seeing him.
  • Vincenzo Natali, probably best known for movies like Cube and Splice, is an interesting choice of director and truthfully it feels like it takes him about ten minutes of the episode to get warmed up. But he does a great job with the finale, even referencing Sam Fuller, of all directors.
  • Aaron Abrams rarely gets much to do on the show, but his heartfelt apology to Will is both a nice touch and a hint that Will may have more allies than he thinks.
  • Some fun trivia: The episode’s title “Su-Zakana” is, in Japanese cooking, a vinegar dish meant to cleanse the pallet.

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