'Hannibal' Recap & Discussion: Beehives, Lung Cancer, And Psychological Chess Matches

Senior Contributor
03.24.14 77 Comments


Let’s see here: An exploration of an emotionally complicated subject, a nerve-wracking mystery slowly being unwound… and some absolutely cringe-inducing gore. Yep: This is an episode of Hannibal.

This episode largely hinges around three plot threads: The FBI chases down a creepy apiarist setting up beehives in people’s skulls; Bella Crawford struggles with her lung cancer; and Will Graham continues his chess match with Hannibal.

First off, this is one cringe-inducing episode just on the level of body horror; if this and the “human mural” scene that opened the second episode is any indication, they’re really upping the nightmare fuel this season. The human beehive that opens the episode is creepy enough, but then there’s the goreless yet profoundly disturbing scene where an acupuncturist, played by Amanda Plummer, lobotomizes some poor bastard while all he can do is quiver there paralyzed. Even for this show, that’s one hell of a disturbing moment.

Plummer doesn’t get much screen time, but she’s one of this show’s most troubling psychopaths not least because of her quietly proud monologue at the end about easing pain and end of life. This plotline is lightly touched on, but it’s a superb demonstration of how this show can twist the knife.

Bella, meanwhile, struggles with her need to control her life versus helping Jack say goodbye. It’s anchored by a great scene between Jack and Bella as Bella tries the ganja for the first time in a long time, and she and Jack talk about end of life. It’s some quietly powerful acting, and it’s good to see the show finally pick up on this plotline again; it’s what makes Jack more than the loud bossy guy. It’s also surprising in how this show treats the topic with such elegance and sensitivity, even though it devotes maybe fifteen minutes total to it; there are “serious dramas” that don’t show nearly the class this does around a tough topic.

Finally, there’s Hannibal, who seems to be getting a thrill out of just how far he can push teasing the FBI, even as Will shows a surprising ability to match Hannibal at his own chess game. Hannibal’s games may, however, have come back around to bite him: Beverly breaks into his house and uncovers his larder… right before Hannibal himself shows up. We know what ultimately happens in his kitchen, and a large piece of how it comes to that fight just locked into place.

Some more thoughts:

  • The show does a really clever job of incorporating last season’s footage into Will’s recovered memories.
  • Watching Jimmy and Brian odd-couple it through a horrifying murder really shouldn’t be this entertaining.
  • If Gina Torres doesn’t get an Emmy nomination for her work in this episode, it’ll be further proof the Emmys suck.
  • The episode’s opening is a real tear-jerker as well: Poor Will seems to blame himself for Abagail’s death, even as the show uses his love of fishing as a metaphor for the games he’s playing with Hannibal.
  • Either Chilton is firmly convinced Will’s insane and is trying to game him… or he’s a bit slicker than anybody, Hannibal included, is giving him credit for.
  • Oh, and good news for those wondering if Hannibal will get a third season: The ratings are up. The fact that all thirteen episodes will air in an unbroken streak through the end of May is probably going to help.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.

NOTE: Future recaps will run Sunday, so keep an eye out there.

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