Hannibal Review: “Mukozuke” (season 2, episode 5)

“Every permutation of crazy”

Confession: If Hannibal cooked it, I’d eat it. No matter what (or who) the “it” was. “Hi, my name is Curtis, and I’m a cannibal.” That kidney pâté de Beverly looked dee-lish.

So, yes, what we all feared is true. Beverly Katz did not survive her visit to Hannibal’s house of horrors. The reveal of her corpse is wonderfully paced, set to such beautifully jarring yet somehow perfectly poignant percussion. The presentation of her “body” (as it were) is as poetic as we’ve come to expect. Hannibal dissects her “layer by layer like she would a crime scene.” Though, I have to admit, his elaborate murder set-pieces are really starting to strain believability. The amount of glass and specialty hardware needed for such a presentation would surely leave a trail the FBI could trace. I mean, my local WalMart doesn’t sell Body Worlds display cases, does yours?

The writers’ decision to kill off a strong Asian female character has caused quite a stir on the Internet, attracting accusations like “racist” and “sexist.” Hettience Park, the actor who portrayed Beverly Katz, has even weighed in on the debate. I, for one, think she WAS the right character to sacrifice. Price or Zeller wouldn’t have evoked the same emotional resonance, nor would their deaths have recalled the death of Abigail Hobbs the way Beverly’s did. You could feel how big a blow this was to all of the characters who cared about her, not the least of which is Will, who in effect got her killed by enlisting her as his agent against Hannibal.

And as a direct result of her death, we get one of the biggest dramatic turns of the season, maybe even the whole show: Will turns to the dark side and commissions his homicidal “admirer” to kill Hannibal. For those familiar with the source material, you’ll recognize this as a clever spin on Hannibal’s attempt to use his own “avid fan” (the Tooth Fairy) to kill Will and his family. This episode offers another delicious reversal with Will in the face mask and straight-jacket being wheeled around on a hand truck a la Silence of the Lambs. (And did you catch the “face mask” on Hannibal’s dinner plate later in the episode?)

The actual path to murder for Will Graham is comprised of a series of one-on-one conversations between the various characters, like carefully crafted wine and cheese pairings. To put it another way, we get every permutation of crazy:

Will plays to Chilton’s vanity to get a face-to-face with Dr. Gideon, who you remember from last season was the wife-murderer that Chilton brainwashed into believing he was the Chesapeake Ripper and who Will shot in a drama orchestrated by Hannibal. Will then tries to cajole Gideon into revealing the Ripper’s identity, but it’s Gideon who plays to Will’s murderous impulse. Hannibal and Chilton play their games with each other, but as in the scene with Will, it always seems like Chilton is bringing checkers to a chess game, and he agrees to let Hannibal meet with Gideon. Amidst some verbal sparring soaked in subtext, Gideon all but warns Hannibal that Will’s primed for his murder. Next, Will makes another devil’s bargain, this time with Freddy Lounds, offering her exclusive rights to his story if she’ll help him contact his “admirer” through her tabloid website. And it works: Nurse Brown, his admirer, reveals himself, culminating in a line of dialogue from Will that had me giggling with glee, “I want you to kill Hannibal Lecter.”

And so it is. Will becomes what everyone has been wrongly accusing him of all season — a murderer. But Hannibal didn’t die, you say? Therefore Will didn’t actually murder anyone, you say? A technicality. Will pulled the trigger with murderous intent. The fact that the gun misfired does not undo the intent. Will knows this, as demonstrated by his delusion of metamorphosis into the stag.

The episode climaxes with Nurse Brown shooting Hannibal with a tranquilizer and stringing him up in mock crucifixion. Here we see Hannibal truly vulnerable for the first time. It’s an interesting glimpse into a complicated character that also holds the key to understanding what he really is. Not a sociopath or psychopath, Hannibal in my opinion can best be understood as a pure philosopher. Earlier, when Jack Crawford thanks him for saving Bella’s life, Hannibal responds, “As a doctor I had no choice; as a philosopher I had too many.” And then in this climactic scene, he confesses to his would-be killer, “Life is precious.” This is truly revelatory: Hannibal’s choices, including his choices to murder, are driven by his philosophical need to answer the question, “What would happen if…?”

Which is the same question that drives a writer. No wonder this show is so fascinating.


isgrimner 3/31/2014 10:54:26 AM

I, too, was thinking about all the glass and hardware to create the display. Along with the transporting of the materials and time to create it. Hannible doesn’t strike me as someone who owns a truck.   Its probably time for the FBI to install some remote closed circuit cameras on that observatory.    I let the logic of the set up slide as slightly lazy writing, because the rest of the episode was pretty good.

I really hope they get to stay on air long enough to at least do Red Dragon.

CurtisLovesMovies 3/31/2014 12:46:17 PM

Haha, you’re right about installing the cameras at the observatory. How much shit has to go down there before they get a clue? 🙂

moviefan71 3/31/2014 2:10:30 PM

There are so many problems with this show it’s not even funny. It has a believability factor of about zero. But it’s still my favourite show on TV!

PussNHikingBoots 4/1/2014 7:41:06 PM

I am willing to suspend all belief if it means I can continue seeing Mads playing Hannibal each week. And yes, I would absolutely want to be invited to his dinner table.

Speaking of believability, I have spent the better part of today just cleaning my kitchen from yesterday’s cooking and grocery shopping. Hannibal’s meals are much more elaborate than mine, not to mention he has to do the hunting, killing, and processing all by himself. Also, his cleanup has to be so precise so as not to leave any trace. When does the man have time for anything else, like swimming or having a full psychiatric practice? Maybe psychopaths (or philosophers?) don’t need sleep?

Of course, somebody would bring up racist/sexist around the Beverly thing. Personally, it never even occurred to me–I was just sad that they killed off a beloved character and don’t particularly care that she was female or Asian and I don’t see why people made a big deal about this. On to more interesting debates…

PussNHikingBoots 4/2/2014 7:34:20 AM

It occurred to me after the show, that Will was feeling the stab in the back at the same time that Hannibal was feeling the stab in the back from the dart, but in this case, I think it was Will stabbing himself as he inadvertently turns into the stag that he’s trying to take down. He may not be a killer yet as we think of one, but now he is deliberately turning in that dark direction and Hannibal could not be happier about that (though he probably does wish Will’s efforts were not directed at him). I think that Hannibal is really trying to draw Will into his dark world so that he has a “friend” who understands him. I find it so interesting the way they use the word friend in the show. All kinds of friends–friends we have for dinner, friends who are the intelligent psychopath we are looking for, friends we stab in the back, friends we help kill other people, friends we frame for our own murders, friends we help finish their morbid murals, friends we want to understand our deep, dark nature. I would go so far as to say that friendship is a primary theme right up there was seeing. (Did anyone catch the sink with eyes?) And, yes, FBI eyes around the “observation” tower at this point would be nice.

As for the crucifixion scene: aside from the obvious spank bank fodder for those of us who are hot for Hannibal… Hannibal believes himself to be God and here he is being crucified and look who comes to his rescue. When he was asked why people bother hanging onto their lives what was particularly interesting to me was how Hannibal answered. He said “life is precious.” Which makes sense on one level, but it seems like all the people that he kills are those whom he does not feel are worthy of staying alive–the rude ones and the ones who leave their snot rags on his table. I also find it interesting that he can control just about everything about himself but he cannot control the betrayal of his pupils. Makes me wonder if he can control his erections. But I digress…

Wasn’t very courteous of Will to reject Hannibal’s love like that. Damn! I was hoping those two would get a room. Maybe they will end up as cellies.

CurtisLovesMovies 4/3/2014 7:07:49 AM

PussNHikingBoots, you’re a nut! You and your threesomes with Hannibal and Will. Here’s a threesome: Me, the smart writing, and the beautiful mise en scene.

PussNHikingBoots 4/3/2014 7:31:05 PM

Well, actually, CurtisLovesMovies, they are twosomes b/w Hannibal and Will, but I am more than happy to jump in the middle! Let’s see what Hannibal can do with a sandwich… 😉

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