Hannibal Review: Episode 2×09 – “Shiizakana”

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HANNIBAL - NBC

Will is more in control than ever in this weeks Hannibal

We left off last weeks episode with knowledge of what Will is capable of, and knowledge of Hannibal’s control of him. While Will knows exactly what Hannibal did, he’s still fascinated enough to continue his therapy, and it’s a careful balance. Maybe Alana was right in being careful around Will. This time, Hannibal has a new patient, Margot Verger, and he’s trying to lead her towards murder the same as he did with Will. What will happen when Margot and Will meet? Can Will control his murderous tendencies? What happens when he continues working with the FBI? Let’s take a look!

Hannibal - Season 2

Engineering a killer

This weeks investigation centered around a killer who engineered an animal suit to give in to his dysphoria. At first, it’s unclear what exactly is going on, as we can’t see the killer, only the havoc he wreaks. The first murder wasn’t what we’ve come to expect from the show. The whole scene is eerie and dramatic, but a man gets pulled onto his truck, and we hear screaming and crunching, but only see the shaking of the truck and the blood running down the sides. It was pretty cliché, especially when panning to the cloudy moonlit sky. It’s not what we’ve come to expect from such an artistic show, but, thankfully, it’s the only instance.

“Your killer could have built a bridge between who he appears to be and what he now knows he has become.” – Hannibal Lecter

As the FBI investigates further, they realize it’s a person controlling a beast. Hannibal comments that he’s “not denying his natural instincts.” It’s really interesting to learn more about killer as the FBI is finding out rather than seeing the whole picture at the beginning. We see another murder from the killer’s perspective this time, and any other shots are carefully crafted so the killer isn’t visible. It’s a really cool decision, especially effective given the themes of the innocent becoming killers. This murder gives more for the FBI to discover, and they realize there’s a pneumatically powered jaw involved in these murders. However, it’s the psychology rather than the method of this killer that make him so interesting. Hannibal comments on the similarity of humans and animals, saying the murder built a suit to seek transformation. It turns out he treated a boy who fits the profile, and sends the FBI on the killer’s trail.

Before the FBI can catch him, Hannibal finds him. The killer’s name is Randall, and him and Hannibal have a lot of history. Hannibal apparently guided Randall to murder during his therapy, and blatantly discusses the same subject now. The way he speaks of it, he’s incredibly proud, and glad to see that a former patient ended up a successful killer. He refers to the murders as progress, there’s a gleam in his eye as he discusses the beauty of it all. It’s a great scene, and it really shows the man that Hannibal is when he’s not pretending for the rest of the world. He recruits Randall for help, but we don’t get to see exactly what he had in mind.

The themes of the killer in this weeks episode were as interesting as they always are, and it was even better to be able to see the side of Hannibal that appreciates these murders. The themes of savagery, how we see animals as murderous, but murder being a truly human trait; they were a great addition to the episode, especially with Will’s struggles with his desire to kill.

Hannibal - Season 2

Will and moral ambiguity

Will is very far away from the innocent victim he once was. The very first scene sets us up for this quite well. It’s some kind of fantasy world of Will’s. It’s a snowy outdoor scene, and Hannibal is tied to a tree, with Will standing in front of him. He wants Hannibal to admit to who he is. Hannibal points out that they are no longer that different, that there is a monster growing inside Will, the potential that Hannibal can see is becoming realized. Though it’s hard to grasp, Hannibal speaks of love as seeing potential in others and showing it to them. Hannibal honestly does care for Will, but it’s so twisted that isn’t different than any love we could understand. This apparently was not the answer Will wanted, so he whistles for his stag to pull on the ropes, killing Hannibal as tears well in Will’s eyes. The whole scene is beautiful, incredibly well-shot and thematically resonant. He has power over the stag which previously symbolized the chaos of his own murderous empathy, and he uses it to kill Hannibal, which betrays his true attitudes. It’s strange to see that Will still hates Hannibal even after he’s been turned so thoroughly into a murderer. Weirder, still, to remember Hannibal’s attitudes about Will.

“[Killing] made me feel a quiet sense of power.” – Will Graham

Will flashes back to his memory of nearly shooting the social worker during his therapy with Hannibal. He say he’s riddled with regrets, not at sparing the mans life, but allowing Hannibal to stop him. He’s adamant about the fact that he wants to kill Hannibal, but is more distraught than he is normally. It seems like his self-control doesn’t extend to his perceptions of his shortcomings, but it’s surprising for us to see him show it around Hannibal. He re-imagines a version of events he wouldn’t regret, shooting the social worker. It’s a really interesting use of Will’s mental landscape, but it’s surprising to see him still letting Hannibal in after all that’s happened. Hannibal might still be trying to push Will to murder, asking Will to describe his feelings at killing the man. . It’s so frustrating, now that Will’s free, to see him controlled again! Or is Hannibal’s statement in the last episode right; he set Will on a path that he no longer has control over? It’s terrifying, but very interesting.

Hannibal - Season 2

Peter seems to have caught on as well. When Will asks for Peter’s help in the murder investigation, Peter talks about training bears. “With enough time,” he says to will, “there’s plenty I could train even you to do.” It’s a significant statement, how the man who’s living through Will’s situation sees that Will was being trained. He asks Will not to blame the animals, saying that man is the only creature that kills to kill. This statement affects Will greatly, and it’s easy for us to see why. Peter represents the innocence in Will. Will’s compartmentalized his tendencies into Matthew and Peter; Matthew is the murderous side Hannibal has cultivated, and Peter is the peaceful man he wants himself to be. So when even Peter sees the darkness in Will, it’s a sign he’s gone too far. They’ve really infused all of Will’s interactions with a lot of meaning, and, while sad, it’s still engaging to watch it play out.

Will doesn’t seem to be very in control in his therapy with Hannibal. Though previously it seemed as if the choice to continue therapy was calculated, it seems to have taken a turn that Will did not expect. He’s experienced what it feels like to kill someone, and that power is something he wants just as much as he wants Hannibal dead. Hannibal asks how Will prefers to kill. He points out that Will lived vicariously through Matthew when he sent him to murder Hannibal, but that Will was “hiding behind a gun.” Will says guns lack intimacy, and Hannibal pushing him to find his own brand of killing, to be intimate with his instincts. There are no more subtle suggestions at this point; the two men are discussing murder out in the open, and Will is becoming more and more like Hannibal as time goes on.

This is evident in his imagining of the murders. Rather than putting himself in the position of Randall, as he usually does, he sends the stag to kill in his mind. After the brutal murder, Will rises covered in blood, screaming with the antlers of the stag behind him. He’s truly transformed by this point, unable to focus on investigating a murder without fantasizing about committing his own.

Hannibal - Season 2

Hannibal’s been raising up killers

It’s clear to us that Hannibal and his “unorthodox therapy” lead Will to the state he’s in now, but this episode hinted at even more of such actions. One prominent example is Margot Verger, a new client of Hannibal’s. She attempted to kill her brother, and he’s been encouraging her to do so, even offering to help. Margot catches on to this quickly, bringing up Will, and how Hannibal could have supported Will’s murder as well. They dance around each other, neither trusting the other, but developing a strange camaraderie all the same. Margot is a very well-done character thus far, and it’s interesting to see someone challenge Hannibal who’s actually in therapy.

It turns out that Hannibal had a lot of influence on Randall too. It’s heavily suggested that Hannibal was the one who lead him to become a killer, allowing him to become his “true self.” He’s becoming more and more bold, going to meet Randall, talking to Will and Jack of a transformation, even leading the FBI to the killer he prepared. How on earth does he get away with this?

He continues pushing Will along that path, with the visualization of the social worker’s murder and discussion of intimacy in killing. At any moment Will could record their conversations or report Hannibal, but he doesn’t, and Hannibal somehow trusts this enough to continue. It’s amazing that he gets away with it. Maybe it’s because he has enough control over his own patients that he knows he can.

“What would happen if your patients compared notes?” – Will Graham

Hannibal - Season 2

But that doesn’t mean they haven’t caught on. Margot points it out to Hannibal, but goes even further by showing up at Will’s house. She asks him about his therapy with Hannibal, and tells him why she’s in therapy. They swap stories, and he tells her he tried to kill Hannibal. Even though neither can be fully honest with the other it could really be a great alliance, and they work well onscreen together. With the introduction of Mason in the next episode, there could be a lot more of this to come. Will, of course, confronts Hannibal, says he’s not an isolated case. “You can be persuasive,” he says, “how many have there been?” When Hannibal refuses to answer, Will brings up Bedelia’s visit, saying she “knew there were others like me.” Extremely bold on Will’s part, and not necessarily wisely so; we know Hannibal can be exceptionally good at covering his tracks. At least he was smart enough not to mention Margot. But, if he knows what Hannibal is trying to do, why is he staying in therapy? We might never find out.

Hannibal’s response to Will’s questioning was quite dramatic. He recruits Randall to kill Will. At first, it was hard to tell what was happening, but it quickly became clear. It was an incredibly well-done scene, as Will chases his dog into the woods, back into the house, and shooting Randall as he leaps through the window. Definitely the most intense scene in the episode. It was interesting, too, that Will’s dogs were involved, reminding us of the parts of Will that are innocent right before he takes a life. He immediately brings Randall to Hannibal. “I think this makes us even,” he says. I think that it’s barely begun.

Hannibal - Season 2

The Final Verdict

The investigation and Randall were interesting, but only as much as they applied to Hannibal and Will. That’s the true story now, how they try to control and yet are fascinated with each other. The themes of the episode were done very well, as always, with the exploration into Will’s mental landscape a particularly effective artistic decision. In terms of the story, not much is happening, but I suspect it will ramp up very quickly.