“Su-zakana” revealed many interesting things about Hannibal, regarding where the show is headed. It shares one major facet with FX’s The Americans, in that it has gotten a lot tighter, narratively speaking, in its second season. In both cases, the shows’ first seasons featured a lot of one-off Cases of the Week that often operated completely apart from drama and emotions that were being faced in the season-long arc. For Hannibal, only the bee keeper episode has been disconnected from the major story this season (that being the stand-off between Will and Hannibal). It’s been to the show’s benefit. Hit the jump for why “there’s a good chance everyone in this room has absorbed their twin.”
“Su-zakana” was interested in themes of rebirth, which worked on several levels. The hour kicked off with (potentially) a new start. Jack, Will and Hannibal appeared to leave everything on the dinner table (with meat provided by Will via his fishing, not his corporal person), starting afresh. Later, Will tells Hannibal he’s fantasized about killing him, but finds him too interesting at the moment to go through with it. He’s also back in therapy, which makes Hannibal nearly giddy with pleasure. Everything feels reset.
But “Su-zakana”‘s main murder mystery proved that’s not the case. At first it felt like a one-off, but as it developed, it became clear that it mirrored the themes in Will and Hannibal’s story. The rebirth here was tactile, and only partially symbolic: Peter Bernardone (Jeremy Davies) put a bird inside of a woman (put a bird on it!) inside of a horse, in order to give her death “poetry,” as Will put it. Later, he also sewed his psychopathic social worker Clark Ingram (Chris Diamantopoulos) into another horse, but left him alive. His “rebirth,” as he ripped his way out of the horse’s stomach, was a truly horrific feat to behold, and it also allowed Will to come to terms with the killer inside him. What do we hold within ourselves, a bird or a psychopath?
Earlier, he told Peter he envied his hate. Throughout his investigation of the murder, Will was desperate to align his own relationship with Hannibal, and the betrayal he suffered, with Peter and Clark’s relationship. Though Peter denied it, Will saw the reflection clearly: Clark, in a position of power, befriended and then betrayed Peter’s trust, toying with him cruelly for the sake of it. Clark even attempted to pressure poor, kicked-in-the-head Peter into believing he had committed the murders, a la Hannibal and Will, and when Peter pointed to Clark as the murderer, no one initially believed him.
All of this led to Will nearly killing Clark, his surrogate for killing Hannibal. Hannibal tries to talk him down, saying it wouldn’t feel as good (even though he repeated twice in the episode about “doing bad things to bad people makes you feel good”), and ultimately physically stopped him. His reaction afterwards was typically weird. Pleased beyond belief at Will’s desire to kill against all reason, Hannibal thrives on the fact that he cannot predict Will’s actions, no matter how much he feeds and coddles him towards a certain outcome. The science experiment has a life of his own, and Hannibal loves it.
“Su-zakana” proved that Hannibal is still interested in using the weekly murder cases to tie in or otherwise illuminate aspects of the central Will/Hannibal relationship, and so it stands to reason that Hannibal’s new patient, Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle) will also offer some further insight. The show needs to keep expanding the story beyond the borders of Will and Hannibal while still keeping them at the center of the story, so having reflexive weekly arcs that feed into that is the perfect way to go about it.
On the other hand, “Su-zakana” was also an extremely gory, horror-driven episode, and visually trippy (particularly in regards to Margot and the abuse suffered at the hands of her brother). Sometimes Hannibal relies too heavily on style over substance (last week was a good example of that), regressing to horror cliches (like ripped stitching) instead of developing its world.
However, this hour also gave the lab techs a lot more to say and even do — Brian (formerly known as Click or Clack, I literally had to look up his name just now, because he was so unmemorable) apologized to Will for not believing in him before. If the show is going to up the roles of the techs to create more depth, great. Unfortunately, they killed off the most interesting one. Sometimes Hannibal appears to have its design all figured out. Other times, it feels like it’s hastily sewing up horse corpses in the hopes of getting poetry from it.
Episode Rating: B+
Musings and Miscellanea:
— What a bizarre episode.
— The bird being a starling … Clarice reference?
— “Peter … is your social worker in that horse?” Possibly my favorite line of all time from the show. Bryan Fuller tweeted that his favorite was at the end of the episode, but I’m unsure which one. Possibly “If you knew what was good for you, you’d crawl back in there”?
— Hannibal and Alana sex … damn.
— “They think I’m weird” – Margot. I’m intrigued by this storyline. Especially because, once again, Hannibal is goading his patients: faster pussycat, kill, kill!
— Hannibal was of course listening to choral music in the car. Can you imagine him listening to Top 40 radio?
— “Will, this is not the reckoning you promised yourself” – Hannibal.