HANNIBAL Recap: “Kaiseki”

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A very strong start for the much-anticipated return of NBC’s Hannibal, which surprised just about everyone last year with the depth and breadth of its artistic palette and emotionally involved, nightmarish plots.  Its second season premiere included all of those elements and then some, catching viewers up on the current state of things through a series of prison visitations, and one very freaky ear.  Hit the jump for why it’s a real shame when “my bloodhound went mad.”

hannibal-season-2-posterThere were three key things at play in “Kaiseki,” each tied in with the past, present and future.  Through flashbacks and exposition (through the prison visitations by Jack, Beverly, Hannibal and Alana — each of which illuminated some aspect of the story), we were reminded of where things stand with Will.  Locked up and anticipating a trial for Hannibal’s crimes, all pegged on him, he’s unable to recall the details of these murders, or just about anything, thanks to Hannibal’s manipulations and his, y’know, Will’s brain inflammation.

But things are coming back, like the ear (which he quite literally regurgitated in the first season finale), and as they do, “there will be a reckoning.”  Hannibal could have killed Will, and still could, but he feels a connection to him, as he explains to Du Maurier.  Has Hannibal ever looked more positively giddy than when Beverly referred to him as “the new Will?” “I looked through Will’s eyes and saw death as I imagine Will sees it.”  While Will is trying to connect with the black stag of his nightmares — Hannibal, of course — Hannibal is missing his … friend isn’t the right word.  Perhaps Du Maurier said it best: obsession.

There’s plenty else happening in the present: Jack is being investigated, begrudgingly, by the FBI, after Alana made a claim about his irresponsibility regarding Will.  Frederick, Hannibal’s ally, spies on Will, and confirms that his main topic of conversation is Hannibal.  And Hannibal’s, of course, is Will. “My inner voice sounds like you. And I can’t get you out of my head,” Will tells him.  In any other context that might nearly be romantic.  Here, it’s terrifying.

hannibal-season-2-mads-mikkelsen-laurence-fisburneOne of Hannibal’s strongest suits is its incorporation of the surreal, and its luscious production design.  Will’s “mind palace,” to borrow a phrase from Sherlock, is always both beautifully and hauntingly rendered.  Alana represented as an inky figure, the rotten feast with the stag beast who, earlier, arose from the water … all of it is a lovingly crafted look inside a mind, in a way that actually captures the strangeness of the subconscious, while still tying it to reality (through the repetition of the stag, and what it means in Will’s life).

One plot moving from present to future is that of the Case of the Week, a killer who preserves models of a human color palette in an abandoned silo.  Next week it looks like the case progresses, at least in that they find the bodies, and the fact that the show is taking longer than a week to solve it is a good sign.  It’s a freaky case with, obviously, deep psychological implications that are worth exploring.  The fact that both Hannibal and Will are consulting on it — one overtly and one secretly — is also a fresh approach to how the show goes about its crime solving.

And of course, the biggest reveal in “Kaiseki” was the cold open, where, twelve weeks in the future, Jack has apparently changed his tune about Hannibal’s guilt, and so naturally Hannibal throws a knife at him, and they fight to the death.  When it comes to Hannibal, there’s very little that’s unexpected when it comes to the future — we know from the source material where the story leads.  The cold open reminded us of that, but also the fact that that doesn’t really matter.  Seeing how the show gets from point A to point B, and the artistic gore that accompanies us on the journey, is the raison d’etre.

hannibal-season-2-hugh-dancyEpisode Rating: A-

Musings and Miscellanea:

– Jack: “I can’t quite place the fish…” Hannibal:  “He was a flounder.”  Trolololol!

– Even as a vegetarian, I swear, I would eat any meal Hannibal put in front of me completely willingly.  Scrumptious human flesh … or something.  Although he does provide vegetarian meals (like to Frederick).

– Happy to see that Alana is taking care of Will’s dog pack!  Also that she has remained on his side as his champion, even though she thinks him literally guilty, just not mentally responsible for it.

– Beverly collects Hannibal’s DNA, but he’s more concerned about his suits being commandeered.

– “I am not the intelligent psychopath you are looking for” – Will.

– D’aww, Will made a little joke!  “Gone fishin.’”

– The bodies in the silo was a legitimately sick and creepy plot.  Eeesh.

– Where are Hannibal’s trophies?  He’s eating them!!




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