‘Hannibal’ Recap: The Slasher Film, Exquisitely Dissected

Senior Contributor
04.27.14 26 Comments
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NBC/Living Dead Guy

Hannibal is building up to its final four episodes this season, filling in the gaps and building to that fight scene that opened the season. But this episode, in the meantime, offers a witty and troubling riff on, of all horror genres, the slasher film.

The episode’s fundamental plotline is full of nods to and riffs on slasher tropes. Randall Tier, which appears to be Hannibal‘s take on Francis Dolarhyde, has a mask, a distorted look, and a gimmick. He kills a young couple going away to make out. His chosen employment is a riff on that most archetypical of all slashers, Norman Bates. Even the finale of the episode is a classic slasher moment, truncated, subverted and made oddly beautiful. It’s a bit of an odd choice for such a careful, elegant show as this one, but, just like the climax of the last plotline was a witty subversion of the psychological thriller, this one is about filling in the gaps, the why of the killer instead of the how.

This episode is essentially themed around the nature of man; how much of us is rational, and how much of us is instinctual? Tellingly, the episode opens with a nightmare; Will has Hannibal tied to a tree, and the Ravenstag is slowly tightening a noose around Hannibal’s neck. If Randall is at one end of the scale between man and animal, Will and Hannibal are at others, the question being how much they overlap. Much of this episode is about Hannibal and Will engaging in head games. Can Hannibal push Will to become a monster… and can Will trick Hannibal into revealing his true nature?

And the game seems to have a third player. One of the surprises, this episode, is that Margot Verger seeks out Will Graham, and the two of them have an honest, cathartic moment with each other. Combined with the case in question, it leads Will to the chilling realization that Lecter, as a psychologist, has been pushing his patients towards questionable ends for years, and that Will’s just one in a long line of victims.

Next week brings Mason Verger and, we suspect, a blowout of an arc. We can’t wait.

Some more thoughts:

  • “What do you think about when you think about killing?” “God.” Oh, Hannibal.
  • Will’s reveal of Randall’s “design” this episode was fairly disturbing, even for this show.
  • Despite all the violence, gore and general terror, this show won’t sink to killing a dog. Poor Buster, either way.
  • Clearly the team found something they liked in Jeremy Davies, because his brief scene here was clearly written solely to bring poor Peter back and let us know that yeah, even though he put his social worker in that horse, he’s going to be OK.
  • This week’s obsessive fan link: Somebody who breaks down all the artwork and other stuff you see in the sets.

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