Well Hannibal, that was a hell of a thing. As Hannibal himself says to Will, the theme of hiding and revealing identity is a constant in Greek drama. It’s also a constant in this show, as Hannibal chooses when and how to show himself to Will specifically and others generally, while Will illuminates certain aspects of his own personality to suit the situation. Will is playing a game between Hannibal and Jack, but just as things seem clear-cut, the show finds a way to throw us completely off. Hit the just for how “we’re maintaining our position on the event horizon of chaos.”
Hannibal’s aspic dish summed it all up best: the eternal hunt is unclear as to whom is chasing whom. Though DuMaurier advises that Hannibal is one who becomes lost in self-satisfaction, it’s Jack who enjoys his moment with Hannibal during dinner a little too much. Hannibal’s smile about eating the one chasing him though showed he’s always a few steps ahead of Jack. The eternal hunt here is clear. This much we’ve known since the premiere. But where, exactly, does Will stand?
Frankly, “Tome-Wan” made me question Will’s fishing abilities. He goaded Hannibal so hard so many times to kill kill kill! in front of him. His plan to cut Hannibal free and then arrest him while he was attempting to kill Mason was also fraught with flaws, as Jack points out. And so it was — Will cuts Hannibal free, and gets a bump to the head that makes him a useless witness for anything. Hannibal, always thinking outside of the box, then drugged Mason up and suggested he cut off his own face. Which he did. Oh my GOD. Advantage: Hannibal.
Not having read the books, I understand that this was all a visual very close to what Harris wrote about with Mason’s story. Except there it was merely alluded to. Here, it was incredibly visceral. It also wasn’t without foreshadowing: Will feeding his dogs the jaw bone and other pieces from his kill set the tone for their carnivorous desires for human flesh (much like the pigs). Indeed, the metaphors and visual similes were flying fast and furious in “Tome-Wan.”
Never have Hannibal’s powers of persuasion been on such display as with Mason, though. It takes a special kind of person (and a special class of drug) to get someone to cut off their own face and feed it to the dogs, not to mention cutting off their nose and consuming it (an extra horrible twist on the original tale). We didn’t really need to go that far with it — it’s always been clear how Hannibal influences those around him. DuMaurier’s own killer instinct (as cultivated by Hannibal, of course) is only one more piece of a very clear puzzle about Hannibal’s personality. Motivation we may not know, but modus operandi we definitely do.
The real question is how much he knows about Will’s truth, and how much Will understands about Hannibal. When he suggested to him to reveal himself to Jack, surely he understands this means Jack will die? Not having confidence in Will’s entrapment abilities, it would seem that he’s essentially set Hannibal up eliminate Jack. Will is torn between his desire to punish Hannibal, even kill him, and yet, he also clearly gets some pleasure from gaining Hannibal’s approval, and playing his game.
It has been a twisted season, but one that has really gone whole-hog (pun definitely intended) on dreamy visuals, nightmarish gore, and the intensity and nuance in the relationship between Will and Hannibal. The Cases of the Week have long disappeared (save for one episode), and instead, this elaborate and horrifying chess game has taken center stage. Next week’s finale should reveal some more truths, but the ultimate truth is that Hannibal’s real triumph is in persuading us to come back week after week to face the horror with, as Will explains for himself, a distinct curiosity.
Episode Rating: A-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— First of all, thanks to Dave for filling in for me last week while I was out of town! That was another heck of an episode …
— “I am out on a limb here and the limb is about the break” – Jack. You have no idea.
— Will: “The report said he swallowed his own tongue.” DuMaurier: “It wasn’t attached the the time.”
— DuMaurier, so crafty to confess only after immunity.
— “What Hannibal does is not coercion, it’s persuasion” – DuMaurier.
— The best comment I saw about Michael Pitt‘s Mason, who I personally liken to Andrew Scott‘s Moriarty, is “if Master Shake and the Joker had a baby …”
— “What game of chicken are you and the sperm donor playing?” – Mason.
— I feel like Will will always be anti-Hannibal because of Abigail Hobbs issue. I don’t think he will ever be able to get past that.
— That scene with Mason in Will’s house was essentially: “I think you should kill him.” “No, you.” “Truly, I must insist.” “But indeed, you really should kill him,” and so forth.
— Hannibal getting tased was a top moment for me. Especially because it cut short his beautiful defense routine. Such a vulgar interruption!
— “I’ve muzzled the dog. Now it’s time for you to put him down” – Mason.
— This episode was full of great small moments, and some of the best Hannibal faces yet. I can’t decide which of Hannibal’s expressions I preferred: the look he gave Mason when he stabbed the furniture, or his nonplussed expression whilst in the straight jacket.
— Mason’s viewpoint while drugged may also be one of the best and strangest visual sequences the show has yet done.
— “He fed his face to my dogs” – Will. How did he not die from blood loss??
— Hannibal knows just how to kinda break somebody’s neck.
— “We’re maintaining our position on the event horizon of chaos” – Hannibal.