Hannibal Review: “Takiawase” (season 2, episode 4)

“Oh my God…”

Three words: Oh my God… The three final words we hear spoken at the end of this episode. Likely crime scene investigator Beverly Katz’s three final words ever. And they would have been the three words coming out of my mouth were I not such a concisely profane heathen (“Shit…”). But we’ll get there.

“Takiawase” opens on what we’ve come to know as Will’s happy place — the tranquil stream he visits in his mind to find peace while his body sits in his dark, solitary cell in Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. He’s fly-fishing as usual, though this time instructing murder victim Abigail Hobbs. Abigail, remember, was daughter of serial killer Garrett Jacob Hobbes. Will rescued Abigail literally from the clutches of her father only to inadvertently introduce her to another serial killer (Hannibal) who would ultimately finish the job her father couldn’t. As I watched Will teach her how to bait the hook, all of the questions I raised last week about whether or not Will was faking his doubt about Hannibal’s guilt were resolved: He has been faking, or more accurately fishing, patiently luring Hannibal onto a hook from which he will not escape.

Interestingly, takiawase is a mixture of vegetables cooked separately and combined with tofu, fish, or meat. If you consider Hannibal the cook, he does seem to be working his games on several characters separately. Or better yet, the writers are the metaphorical cook, and Hannibal is the meat (definitely NOT tofu) — or fish, swimming around Will’s hook.

One of the things that unites these separate characters in this episode is the theme of chance, as illustrated by my favorite scene of the night. Jack Crawford’s wife Bella, cancer-ridden and dying, returns to Hannibal’s office and confesses she has taken “every bit” of her morphine, welcoming death as “not a defeat but a cure” (repeating Hannibal’s words to her in an earlier scene). Hannibal observes her curiously as she expires right in front of him. Will he save her or watch her die? He waits a moment, tosses a coin high into the air, and decides her fate by chance: life.

Unlike Bella who needs to control the timing of her death, unlike Jack who needs to save the people he loves, unlike Will who needs to catch the killer, and unlike all the criminal justice professionals who need Will to be guilty so that the world can make sense again; unlike all of them Hannibal is comforted by randomness. He embraces it, encourages it, and even introduces a little here and there like extra spice in the recipe — BAM!

Will takes his own big chance and ups the stakes of his game, essentially going all in psychologically when he makes his devil’s bargain with Dr. Chilton to let the doctor use sodium amytal (truth serium) to interview him. In return, he asks Chilton to cut Hannibal out of the loop concerning Will and his treatment, something which is sure to antagonize Hannibal. More bait on the hook, but to what end, exactly? Maybe it’s enough just to put Hannibal off guard and keep him guessing.

Unfortunately, for the first time this season, the storyline does stumble in a few spots. As fun as it is to see “Honey Bunny” Amanda Plummer show up as the serial killer of the week, that whole subplot felt extraneous and its resolution unsatisfyingly abrupt, as if its sole raison d’etre was to get Beverly to have her “ah ha” moment and find the clue that links a murder victim from two episodes ago to the Chesapeake Ripper. But much more egregious than that are the series of stupid “horror movie character” choices Beverly makes at the end of the episode. Yes, it was thrilling to watch her discover Hannibal’s secret “kitchen” and his basement. But not at the expense of the intelligence of the character. You find a human liver in a secret refrigerator, YOU CALL IN BACKUP. You don’t go snooping in the basement!

Relatively small gripes, though. This was another great chapter in a story that’s getting more and more exciting each week. Assuming Beverly Katz doesn’t make it out of Hannibal’s basement alive, that alone should hip Crawford and the gang to the fact that Will is not the killer they’ve been looking for. And just what was it that poor Beverly saw that made her exclaim those three final words? Oh my God, I can’t wait to find out.


samson 3/24/2014 12:31:30 PM

I love this show. It seems like something that should be on HBO or the like. I’m surprised they get away with as much as they do, imagery wise, on a major broadcast network.

But, then again, it’s NBC. No one’s watching anyway. …lol

CalamityJohnson 3/24/2014 12:50:55 PM

Wow, it’s coming down to it. So loving this show. It is so quietly becoming one of the very best of the last few years. Yes, I have to bunch it with the likes of Walking Dead, GoT, Mad Men now. It’s. That. Good.

Also have to echo the sentiment about the gore. Really? It’s permissible on NBC? Exactly, I would have expected some of these scenes on HBO, but not on network television. Not going to complain though, because on this show it works, abeit my squeam boundaries have been challenged several times this season.

PussNHikingBoots 3/24/2014 3:41:29 PM

Curtis, you are so good at identifying the underlying threads, whereas I am more of a details gal.

That opening scene rings slightly untrue for me- a little too saccharine a daddy/daughter scene for this show, saved perhaps by the fact that they are bonding over a “blood knot.”

Hannibal’s expert manipulation of his “person suit” continues to amaze, confuse, and seduce me. The variety of emotions that play across his face as he watches Bella die are so completely complex and believable that once again, I am convinced he can feel human emotion…right up until the moment he flips the coin. These are the moments when I can’t sit still on the couch anymore, and I stand up and walk around the room with my hands to my mouth saying, “This is so good! This is sooooo good!”

The results of that coin flip will benefit him, of course, as Jack now has even more reason to be in his debt and not suspect him.

I had the chance to see the movie, Silence of the Lambs, over the weekend (again after seeing it’s original release in the early 90’s), and found it very interesting to compare and contrast what I’m now seeing in the TV series. The TV series plays Chilton almost identically to the movie’s Chilton–swarmy and narcissistic and willing to do just about anything to make a name for himself. The two actors even have a similarity in look. I have no doubt that Chilton’s revelation to Hannibal against Will’s will, is some kind of manipulation in Chilton’s favor. I also noticed the “Gotcha” from Clarice that has been mimicked in Beverly’s “Gotcha” as well as the guard strung up in Anthony’s Hopkin’s cage so reminiscent of the Angel Maker (or vice versa!).

I agree wholeheartedly both about the strangely out of place serial killer of the week (I guess they needed to throw in some gratuitous gore so that the entire show would not just be psychological, which would’ve been fine with me) and Beverly’s maddening stupidity where the whole audience is chanting “Don’t do it!” and we know the outcome even before it happens from hundreds of boilerplate horror movies that came before. As I was watching this episode on TV, I was unable to pause to verify if Hannibal was in his socks–damn, he is one stealthy predator. And I love the lightning fast motion he makes right before presumably attacking her, or did he just lock her in to whatever that cell in his basement is? It seems there was some heavy breathing in that room that was not coming from her and I too am waiting with bated breath to see what or who he has in there.

Anthony Hopkins was undeniably perfect in his role as Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs, with his teeth-sucking bat’s noise, and his “Good evening, Clarice.” Likewise, Mads Mikkelsen is just as undeniably perfect in his role as TV’s Hannibal, with his impeccable acting and his impossible cheekbones.

Nothing here is vegetarian, and yes, Curtis – Hannibal is the meat. Mmmmm….

Dodgyb2001 3/24/2014 6:37:54 PM

I loved the look on Will’s face when he figured out what hannibal had been doing with his trophies, and where his meat for his equisite meals had come from! Priceless. Still, you’d think they’d have Beverly be a bit more circumspect when she started taking Will more seriously and actually searching Hannibal’s house. I mean, tell SOMEONE! Still, they couldn’t stretch it out if she’d let the FBI know…

domino2008 3/24/2014 9:34:34 PM

Thanks for that good review , Too bad this shows on a friday night an doesnt get any promtion to get People to watch it . I only heard about it by chance . I have ON DEMAND an watched the first 2 shows an friday the one that was reviewed here.Yeah Hopkins perforamce made this role His , but Mad Mikkelsen take on the role an goes a step futher .His manners are so perfect , stone face , always 2 steps ahed of the others an His relationship to Will , is like they are the same Person . The freaky serial killer of the week , with plots like putting a bee hive inside a Person head and another making a orgy of dead bodies sewn together an silconed . Cant wait to see what next week holds for us . I had to do a double take on Anderson , now a blonde You would never know it was Scully from the X-Files.

CurtisLovesMovies 3/25/2014 5:23:36 AM

Domino2008, welcome to the party! Season 1 is definitely worth checking out if you’re liking this season. I’ve wondered if the show is accessible to new viewers, so it’s great to have your perspective. Thanks!

isgrimner 3/25/2014 10:17:48 AM

Found the show through season one being available on Amazon Prime streaming. Now its one of the shows I look forward to the most.

Regarding NBC getting away with pushing the limits as much as they do, I believe I read that some of their affiliates have dropped it or moved it to an even later time due to complaints.   I believe those were in Utah with the large religious populations out there.

PussNHikingBoots 3/25/2014 4:48:26 PM

Criminal Minds (also NBC) has done things just as shocking and gruesome, just not every single show.

samson 3/26/2014 1:13:19 AM

Criminal Minds is on CBS. Also, it feels like the standard broadcast network police procedural. Not knocking it. It’s just that Hannibal has something that puts it a cut above the rest. It really should be on HBO. It’s not just the gore, but the quality of the writing, direction and cinematography.

CurtisLovesMovies 3/26/2014 5:07:50 AM

You have to hand it to NBC for recognizing that network television is quickly becoming irrelevant to the intelligent TV watcher (oxymoron???). I forget where, but I read a statement from one of the executives at NBC that admitted Hannibal’s ratings were really not enough to warrant a renewal for Season 2, but she said that it’s an investment. They want to show that they’re capable of producing shows on the level of HBO and AMC. Will that buy us a Season 3? I sure hope so!

CalamityJohnson 3/26/2014 10:07:15 AM

please please please please please

PussNHikingBoots 3/26/2014 10:20:06 AM

Samson: My bad! CBS….

And yes, Hannibal is a huge cut above the rest. I’m just remembering the human marionette episode on Criminal Minds as an example.

So thankful Hannibal IS on NBC as I do not get any non-broadcast channels. Curtis: glad to hear NBC thinks of it as an investment and are finally rivalling the quality of non-broadcast channels. I believe this investment will pay off big for them in the long run, as every good investment should.

Wondering if Hannnibal will be at Comicon this year?

CalamityJohnson 3/26/2014 10:51:16 AM

I just wanted to copy and paste the comments of Andy Greenwald of Grantland. I think these words should have the television community up in arms! This show deserves our attention!!

“Bryan Fuller has spoken of a seven-year plan for Hannibal, elegant in design and radical in scope. (Characters are rebooted in Hollywood constantly, but to my knowledge this is the first time anyone has ever rebooted an author’s entire career with the express intent of improving upon it the second time around.) The first three seasons, though laced with familiar faces and ideas, would tell an entirely new origin story for Harris’s playthings. The events of Red Dragon would be dramatized in Season 4, The Silence of the Lambs in Season 5, and Hannibal in Season 6. Season 7 would be an original finale — a digestif, if you will.

Except you probably won’t. If you’ve forgotten or just can’t quite wrap your head around it, let me remind you: Hannibal is on NBC. That means any grandmother who dozed off during Brian Williams last Friday night and came to at 10:45 p.m. would have been greeted with the sight of the sexiest man in Denmark running a human leg through a band saw. NBC, to its credit, hasn’t blinked at the gore — let’s face it, the network is no stranger to bloodbaths — but it has wept over the ratings: They’re lousy. And while the network is grateful for the show’s critical acclaim, acclaim doesn’t pay for what looks to be an awfully expensive production budget. The most original series in TV history were born of an alluring cocktail of creativity and desperation, but NBC, unlike, say, AMC in 2007, actually has a great deal to lose. Which is to say, I wouldn’t start dream-casting a new Clarice Starling any time soon.7

It’s a shame. Because while television doesn’t need more shows like Hannibal, it definitely needs Hannibal. The arterial spray that began gushing into the cultural mainstream around the time Buffalo Bill started tucking his junk is still misting down on us today, particularly on TV. It’s left a bright red, easily recognized stain that can sink promising shows and can elevate mediocre ones far beyond their station. (This past Sunday night, HBO’s True Detective ended with what was essentially an extended homage to the immortal Jame Gumb. It puts the lotion in the Big Hug Mug.) It’s ironic that the franchise most responsible for all the pervasive tropes of serial killers — the evil-genius-speechifying; the backwoods creepazoids; the fucking antlers — has also provided the first essential take on it in years. Strange, stylish, and deeply disturbing, Hannibal isn’t a bloodletting. It’s a transfusion.

7 years of this show? One can only dream that NBC and “intelligent” TV viewers will keep this afloat…

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