If this week’s serving is just an appetizer, then we’re in for one hell of a season. “Sakizuki” is Hannibal at its best–both lean and sumptuous. Every scene has purpose, but it’s all so twisted and beautiful. Also, pretty sure my heart stopped a few times.
Le quois? Sakizuki (n): an appetizer similar to the French amuse-bouche. (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaiseki)
If you can’t remember the first episode of the season, but are too lazy to read my recap, this sums up the status quo pretty well:
Now, come to the table and stuff yourselves.
WARNING: THERE WILL BE HELLA SPOILERS PROCEED WITH CAUTION
The FBI team finds another body seemingly discarded by the Human Mural killer, and work with both Hannibal and Will to find the Mural itself. Unfortunately, Hannibal gets there first, has a nice killer-to-killer chat, and picks up a juicy leg for dinner.
Will, reinvigorated by his newfound memory of Hannibal jamming an ear down his throat, begins to play Dr. Lecter at his own game, putting the pieces in place to secure his freedom and Hannibal’s downfall. Meanwhile, Jack unofficially sanctions Beverly’s visits to Will, suggesting that he’s not totally sure what to believe about his friend. Dr. du Maurier severs her ties with Hannibal, having realized that beneath his “carefully-stitched person suit,” the man is dangerous. More importantly, she believes that Will is telling the truth.
Well, I take back everything I said about the killer-of-the-week stuff in my previous recap. “Sakizuki” starts off with a scene that’s both horrifying and really, really tense. Remember how “Kaiseki” ended with the victim waking up in a mural of bodies and screaming? Well, that’s where this episode picks up. Dude’s got his wits about him, so he doesn’t waste any time ripping flesh from his own body in order to escape. Unfortunately, the killer comes back at just the wrong time, leading to a legitimately scary chase through a cornfield. The stalwart victim comes to a cliff and makes a jump for the river below, but, uh, comes up short.
It’s an incredibly effective scene, both in terms of gore and expertly mounted tension. That quote at the beginning of this section may be something that I said out loud while watching this.
This episode finds Will, as I said, reinvigorated. Now that he’s certain of his own innocence, he’s finally starting to take on Hannibal the smart way. He knows that nobody, not even Alana or Jack, believes him, so he’ll have to play the game the way his nemesis does. Seeing him fake cry in front of Alana and Hannibal is a great moment, because it means that he’s back in control, but it kind of hurts that he has to manipulate Alana in order to get to Hannibal.
“I Needed to Trust You”
A big theme in the last season was psychological violation. Will trusted Hannibal with his mind, and had it broken in return. Now that he’s found his footing again, mental-wise, he can only trust himself. It’s great to see him in action, turning on the waterworks to play the room like the intelligent psychopath he isn’t, but it’s also kind of sad. He’s alone, fighting for his life. Not even his friends trust him. Alana is doing her best to save him, and Jack is plagued by guilt, but nobody’s really on his side. Beverly won’t even let him use his empathy power without her close observation.
Still, this episode has some great moments as Will starts to play the game Hannibal’s way. A meeting between the two is full of brilliant subtext. “I’m not interested in a pissing contest with you, Dr. Lecter,” works both as a comment on the power imbalance between therapist and patient and a statement of Will’s intentions. Hannibal may only be interested in testing Will’s mind, but Mr. Graham is out for “a reckoning.”
The best moment of Will’s storyline comes at the end of Dr. du Maurier’s. She’s cut off “social ties” with Hannibal and the FBI, and the last thing she does before leaving town is pay Will a visit. She’s scared of Hannibal. We’ve seen him manipulate her as well, and that experience has given her an understanding of Will Graham not shared by many. She tells him that he can “survive what has happened” to him, and the look on his face when he realizes that she believes him his heartbreaking. After watching Will be cunning for an episode, it’s good to be reminded that beneath his clever exterior he is still achingly alone.
“Killing Must Feel Good to God, Too”
Hannibal is evil. He’s ruthless and cunning, driven to kill and clever enough to get away with it. So far, we’ve seen him totally in control, coldly manipulating everyone around him to the extent that those most hurt by Will’s “crimes” are defending him. It’s always great to watch him be the calculating bastard that he is, but the moments where he interacts with other killers are always fascinating. Last season had him tipping off Garret Jacob Hobbs and going toe-to-toe with a murderous musician. Both of those encounters reminded us that Hannibal is the Alpha killer, which makes his encounter with the Human Mural killer all the more interesting.
Using his smell-o-vision power, Hannibal gets one step ahead of the FBI. He heads to the killer’s hideout, and views his masterpiece from above. An angelic chorus plays as Hannibal admires the man’s artistry. When the killer walks in to maintain the mural, Hannibal announces himself: “I love your work.”
Of course, Hannibal ends up killing him and taking half of a leg as a souvenir, but he’s clearly impressed. The two have a conversation about God that I didn’t quite follow—is the killer having an existential crisis, or is the Mural supposed to be a of reflection humanity as seen through God’s eye?—as Hannibal sews the artist into his “painting.” Cultured man that he is, it seems like Hannibal understands the killer’s work better than he does. Dr. Lecter has come to terms with his vicious nature and his place in the universe. He uses this knowledge to comfort the man in his final moments: “Killing must feel good to God, too. He does it all the time. And are we not created in His image?”
I’d never really thought before of Hannibal as a religious man, so it’s interesting to hear this coming from him. Does he really see himself as a reflection of God? Does he view his killer nature not as an aberration, but as a true reflection of a higher power? Not nature or nurture, but something elemental. Oooor maybe he’s just waxing philosophical while he kills a guy.
The fact that he does kill the Human Mural artist does raise an interesting point. He knew that the FBI was consulting Will on the case, and of course Will would recognize that the man didn’t belong in the mural. So is Hannibal getting cocky? Maybe that’s not the right word for it. He certainly seems less…careful. He’s won. He’s landed Will in prison and gotten so close to the FBI that they’re bringing him along to solve crimes. Hannibal is a wolf that’s constructed the perfect sheep suit. Only the seams have started to show to a few of the more observant sheep, and sooner or later one of them is gonna get to talking. Still, it’s a really good suit, and he’s a smart wolf.
Going back to the sheep/person suit thing. There’s a moment where Hannibal keeps getting in everyone’s way in the lab. It’d be adorable if he weren’t, y’know, Hannibal.
There’s two ways to read that: one, he’s actually out of his element, and the show is giving us the barest of hints that he might eventually lose control. Two: he’s continuing to fool everyone around him; it’s just another stitch in his person suit. The first time I watched the episode I was convinced that it was the latter, but now I’m not so sure. Maybe I, like Hannibal, have gotten too used to seeing him be in total control. Which brings me to Dr. du Maurier’s arc, another indication that Hannibal isn’t quite as on top of things as he’d like to think.
“The Conclusion That I’ve Drawn Is That You Are…Dangerous”
Hannibal’s relationship with Dr. du Maurier has always yielded more questions than answers. He’s clearly the one in power, but what exactly is their history? Did he kill for her? How much does she know about him? Not everything, I think, but enough to be afraid. Her first scene in the episode is just as tense as that chase through the cornfield. The way she backs away from him as he walks across the room to her is chilling. She knows he’s capable of murder, and as the end of the episode shows, she suspects he’s done a whole lot more than that. Everything she says in this scene is so carefully phrased and spoken. It’s like she’s tiptoeing around a half-awake tiger. Terrified though she may be, she’s one of the few characters we’ve seen stand up to Hannibal. Dr. du Maurier is a strong, complex character, and I hope we get to know her better before she’s either brutally murdered or safely hidden beyond Hannibal’s reach. If she makes it through this season, maybe she’ll come back when he’s safely behind bars. Come on, we all know it’s coming.
I talked about her interaction with Will earlier, but she’s also got a scene with Jack that is, perhaps, equally important. The fact that she’s leaving so abruptly, and the way she phrases her reasons for doing so—“I’m not feeling secure right now—seems to arouse Jack’s suspicions. He’s already having difficulty reconciling the idea that either he turned Will into a murderer, or that his judgment was so off he worked closely with a killer for months without realizing it. Dr. du Maurier may have just been meeting with him to officially end their conversations, but I have the feeling that she’s aware of how obvious it is that she’s afraid of something. She can’t come outright and say that Hannibal is the intelligent psychopath they’re looking for without proof, not to mention the fact that it would further endanger her own safety. Here’s hoping that Jack starts to put the pieces together, and that whatever Will is planning works. I mean, I guess we all know it will.
Recap of the Recap:
The beginning of this episode is, like, super gross. The rest of “Sakizuki” is filled with the well-crafted tension, twisted beauty, and occasional poignancy that we’ve come to expect from Hannibal. My recap might not have done it justice, but I think that this is one of the best episodes yet.
What about you guys? Do you think Hannibal is getting cocky? What’s going to happen to Dr. du Maurier? What will it take for Will to convince everyone else of his innocence?
Tune in at some point after today’s episode and before the next for my recap of episode three.