Hannibal took a break (kinda) in “Hassun” from being a crime show to being a legal one; things moved into the courtroom as Will began the trial to save his life. With the reality of an impending death penalty weighing on the real killer (cough cough), the killer becomes an “admirer” of Will’s, and attempts, in escalating ways, to prove Will’s innocence. An ear, a charred corpse, an artistically displayed brain on scales — what is it going to take to get through to these people?? But there are many vying for Will’s affections, and this suitor is but one in the throng. Hit the jump for why “this ear you were sent is an opportunity,” and how many people can ever say that?
There are many reasons to admire Hannibal as a production: its set pieces, its costuming, its artistically gruesome corpses, the great acting, the new take on an old story, its twisted humor. But these factors that make the show so colorful also can cause it, if overdone, to be too gaudy. “Hassun” definitely went over the line, throwing in every trick the show had, much in the way that Hannibal used “every trick of Will’s” on his fresh kills to cast doubt for that Will is the Ripper. The strategy ultimately worked for Hannibal, but not so much for “Hassun.”
An enterprising viewer of the series made a bingo chart this week, which is funny, but also illustrates how predictable the show is getting. Hannibal has seemingly done everything it can to break out of the mold of a network murder procedural, with its arty settings and quirky characters, but at its core it’s becoming very repetitive. There are things about Hannibal‘s reflexivity that are really great: the Hobbs showing back up this week ties the story together from its very beginning. The fly fishing is gorgeous. The crime scenes are heinous. Everyone loves Will. Nobody suspects Hannibal. Anticipating Hannibal’s next suit and tie combo is exciting. The antler motif is tiring.
Again, used sparingly, each of these things really enhances the series and makes it distinct. But “Hassun” laid everything on as thick as it could, from Will’s visions to the fact that everyone wants to save poor, fragile Will so overtly that even Hannibal is publicly declaring his love for him both to him and on the witness stand. “Hassun” not only brought things back to the Hobbs, but also found time to throw in Jack mentioning his wife’s illness (addressed in one episode last season). Even Alana being “smitten” with Will became a topic of public discussion and, apparently, obvious knowledge, as they stared into each other’s eyes, defying the world! (Alana, anyway. Will just seems catatonic).
Which is why, ultimately, “Hassun” felt like gorgeously produced fanfic. Each of these things mentioned in the above paragraph are a great seasoning to any episode, but put altogether it was overwrought and a little ludicrous. And sure, these detectives have pretty much seen it all when it comes to grisly murders. But could not one even look surprised that their presiding judge had been gutted and displayed, his organs put upon scales in a grotesque mockery of him throwing out Will’s latest defense? Um, I guess this would be a mistrial?
The show also continues to push hard the idea that Hannibal wants to be discovered, or at least, wants to save Will (who doesn’t?) and in doing so, will continue to reveal his true self to him. We’ve seen that Hannibal kills Jack Crawford eventually — presumably, as Hannibal changes the game to keep Will off Death Row, and also keep himself from being discovered, those around him become increasingly suspicious to the point of (unwisely) confronting him. But that seems to really speed through the show’s timeline — it’s too fast for the dots to connect like this. Though the Will/Hannibal dance is the core of the series, the show has not yet found a way to create other compelling narratives to take some of the focus off of it in order to drag it out some more (without it feeling like it’s dragging). There was promise in the first two episodes, when we met a new killer that both Will and Hannibal helped the police find, and it took longer than a week for it to be solved. The killer and that story also helped augment the Will/Hannibal story.
Granted, “Hassun” took a chance by moving to a courtroom setting, and it was different if not necessarily successful. Hopefully in future weeks the other characters will start to build up more (looks like we’re getting a sense of that with Beverly), and new people will be introduced for Hannibal to play with. Allowing for more of that duality with that narration (“Hassun” was a really singularly-focused episode) will help that balance of the strange and mystical that is Will’s mind palace versus Hannibal’s games.
But what “Hassun” definitely succeeded in doing was cementing Hannibal’s affection for Will. Last season, he worked tirelessly to implicate him for his crimes. Now that he’s achieved that, he wants to take it back. Only Will can really understand him, and Hannibal wants to keep him because he understands who Hannibal is on a level no one else can. In the wake of his killing of the bailiff, Will notes that the killer’s techniques were different, and that Hannibal overlooked it, “hoping no one would notice.” “You noticed,” Hannibal said, with affectionate eyes. This central relationship is the best thing the show has going for it, but the desire to create dialogue that will launch a thousand Tumblr gifsets needs to be tempered. “This killer wrote you a poem, are you going to let his love go to waste?” Maybe just wait a few days before calling.
Episode Rating: B-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— I didn’t dislike this episode, it just has me worried that the show is going to turn into too much of a farce.
— Hannibal’s suits are just unbelievably fantastic.
— Did Hannibal smile at Will being called the smartest man in the room because he approved, or because he was jealous that Will was getting all of the credit for his genius?
— Everything that fraud Dr. Chilton said about Will was actually an exact description of Hannibal. Nice writing there.
— Speaking of frauds, good to see Freddie still libeling her way around. Too bad there hasn’t been a use for her lately except this.
— “I think I opened your mail” – Will’s lawyer, who was fantastic (and played by the great Shawn Doyle, who was also on Big Love).
— “Field kabuki” – Jack, quoting Will. I had forgotten that turn of phrase.
— I couldn’t help but feel that Hannibal’s subtext to the judge being opened up like that was, “Who says my defense doesn’t work? I called him my friend!!!”
— “And now death has followed you home” – Hannibal to Jack.
— “I want you to believe in the best of me” – Hannibal to Will.