Hannibal has truly taken on a new dimension this year, expanding its stories and building off of last year’s setup beautifully. It’s not taking a lot of time to integrate new viewers to the series if they didn’t catch up on the first season, but kudos to it for knowing its purpose in a way that just presses forward regardless. You’re either on this train, or you’re not (and you should want to be).
The writing and the staging in “Sakizuki” were beautiful (and occasionally horrible), and Hannibal continues to find new ways to approach and keep fresh its central conflict between Will and Hannibal. For what is the show about if not therapy and friendship? Oh, gruesome murder. Right. Hit the jump for why “I am the unreliable narrator of my own story.”
There are a lot of shows about murder on TV. Most of them trade in being gory — Bones, for instance, has always been a difficult show to stomach, visually, because of how it jumps right in to some of the most gruesome details of death. Last year, Hannibal showed it was different by presenting its corpses in an almost aesthetically sterile light. There’s really no other way the show could reasonably get away with a totem of corpses, say, or a color palette of humans sewn together without becoming a schlock fest.
The cold open of “Sakizuki” was a change from this though, trading in the most gruesome, the most disgusting, and ending with pure horror. It’s a trope that if we see a potential victim wake up and try to escape to start an episode, they’ll probably make it out. That’s how the killer gets caught, or at least the police start to get a clue. Not here. The fact that poor Umber (interesting choice there) ended up jumping to his death only added to the mini-horror-film’s terror. Depending on your tolerance for it, it was either the highlight or the lowlight of the episode.
Personally, I found it to be the latter, especially since “Sakizuki” showed such restraint later when it allowed us to figure out that Hannibal had killed the murderer and taken his leg as a souvenir. That’s about as grotesque as things come, but Hannibal‘s strength is in its packaging. Him cooking up the bit of leg looked delicious, frankly, and discarding the foot was a dash of black humor to pepper it with. It was horrifying, but removed. No one was running through a corn field, thank God. Just sniffing one.
The absolute best thing the show has going on right now though is its writing. Will, in his cage, is hitting every note when it comes to the conversations he has with his constant stream of visitors, each of whom reveals or adds something about the narrative. While Alana and the FBI’s internal investigator battle out whether or not the FBI turned Will into a killer, Du Maurier is convinced he is not (and acting in total self-preservation, runs for the hills).
But the most interesting triangle is the one with Hannibal, Will and Beverly. Both consult Will about the case for different reasons — Beverly to solve it, and Hannibal to see if, well, Will still has it (he does, and Hannibal looks pleased when Will puts together the fact someone else killed the killer). But Will plants doubt for Beverly about his guilt, urging her to investigate and regard him with a clean slate. Next week, this already looks to pay off.
In the immediate world, the killer introduced last week was taken care of, by Hannibal, in short order. It would have been hard to keep the palette killer viable for another episode, but it seems like the show is perhaps taking a slower approach to its weekly cases, allowing time for both Will and Hannibal to become involved with them (making them more relevant to the overall story).
“Sakizuki” also found time to portray a Round-robin of therapist stories, from Du Maurier (wisely) removing herself from Hannibal’s world, to Jack fearing he has caused Will’s downturn. Will even speaks casually to Alana and Hannibal about his own feelings, yet his calmness at the fact the man who framed him and is responsible for so much death is daring to counsel him was odd, but probably calculated. There were a lot of things in this vein about “Sakizuki” that felt like the HBO series In Treatment, and I suppose that it really is a somewhat surprising key element to Hannibal, along with the idea of friendship. The exploration continues.
Musings and Miscellanea:
— God, when Umber hit the rock on his way to hitting the other rock … that guy had the worst luck (also that he would be the one person who couldn’t be knocked out with that many opiates).
— “This is my design!” – Will. Glad to have that back.
— Hannibal is still messing with Will, trying to cast doubt upon the distortion of the memories he’s dredging up.
— “From what I have patched from the person suit that you wear … you are dangerous” – Du Maurier.
— Seriously, how delicious did Hannibal’s meal look? I was salivating.
— Poor Beverly, no one believed she could have come up with the theory of the color palette on her own, hah.
— Oh the bodies in the river of Will’s mind palace … a place I’d never like to visit.
— So Hannibal is surprisingly a man of faith? Or something. It takes all kinds!
— I believe Gillian Anderson is headed elsewhere from the show now — she’s on another NBC series that’s about to start, and still a lead in The Fall. Sad to see her go, but a great exit. Du Maurier was right to think Hannibal would come for her. Who will he confide in now?
— The staging in this episode was particularly great. Fuller’s productions are always so visually dense.
— The sequence of Hannibal detecting the corn was awesome, as was Du Maurier’s move of leaving him her perfume.
— Only Hannibal could make a full-body plastic suit look dapper.
— “Hello. I love the work” – Hannibal as Ceiling Cat.