Hannibal Review: “Su-zakana” (season 2, episode 8)

“Is your social worker in that horse?”

Following Miriam Lass’s identification, judgment, and execution of Gideon as the Chesapeake Ripper at the end of last week’s episode, Hannibal slows down a bit this week and takes a well-deserved deep breath. “Su-zakana” seems to signal a return to form: The Ripper case moves into the background as the FBI consults Will Graham to help catch the serial killer of the week.

On lesser shows episodes like this would be frustrating — even maddening — as if the creators pressed the reset button and undid all the events and relationships we’d invested with so much emotion and attention. (Cough, cough, X-Files.) But this is play pretend. Will, Hannibal, and Crawford are only acting like everything’s back to normal; below the surface there’s a rot than cannot be fixed.

The show itself is playing with us in the very same way. This may look like a season one episode, but it’s not. Take the killer of the week storyline: Certainly the most bizarre crime scene we’ve encountered so far. Not only is a dead woman found inside a dead horse, but then a live bird is found inside the dead woman… “What the f–k???” And those were just two of the half dozen delicious WTF? moments in this episode, including a man clawing his way out of a dead horse only to be greeted by Hannibal with a, “Might want to crawl back in there if you know what’s good for you.” The only line better than that was when Will, moments before, finds the dude sewing up the dead animal and asks, “Is your social worker in that horse?

But it’s not just new levels of bizarre. The writing seems to have gotten more sophisticated, too — if that’s even possible. The killer of the week storyline is typically used to comment on the larger storyline of Will’s pursuit of Hannibal, but this week it’s on the level of exegesis by metaphor. Plus, they somehow perfectly timed this bloody story of rebirth with Good Friday, a bloody story of rebirth. (I can hear Bryan Fuller’s whisper in my ear, “You owe me awe.”)

Will sees himself in brain-damaged Peter, whose serial killer social worker took advantage of his vulnerability. Just like Hannibal did to Will. Despite that fact, or more accurately BECAUSE of it, Will resumes his “therapy” with Hannibal. Both are playing a dangerous game. As Alana puts it, “The only thing stranger than finding a woman inside a horse is seeing you [Hannibal] back in therapy with Will Graham.” Will and Hannibal both know this is temporary so they seem to be relishing these moments together. We appreciate the dance more when we know that the magic will all vanish at the stroke of midnight.

Ironically, Hannibal is truly Will Graham’s story. Hannibal as a character is fascinating because of his paradoxical nature — intelligent and well-mannered yet homicidal and cannibalistic. But Hannibal is Hannibal; we wouldn’t want him to change, so there’s not much of a story to be told. No, this is the story of Will’s becoming. What exactly, we don’t know yet. But where the investigative work used to torture him, he seems to truly enjoy the hunt now. No longer the reluctant savant, he’s embraced his gift. He’s learned that doing bad things to bad people makes him feel good. That scares Alana, who wants the whole world to fit into her box (um, phrasing?); it emboldens Crawford who’s just happy he’s got his Will Graham tool back in his toolbox; and it excites Hannibal who relishes uncertainty and chaos as the natural order of things.

Will’s conflicted, though. He seems to be talking to himself as much as to Peter when he tells him, “He [the social worker serial killer] deserves to die, but you don’t deserve to kill him.” But then Will takes that burden upon himself, and at the moment of murder, Hannibal stops him from shooting the social worker. This is now Will’s second overt attempt at murder. I wonder if we’re seeing Will’s newest lure to catch Hannibal. Will is acting as both fisherman and bait, a seemingly impossible trick to pull off. Is he exploring this murderous part of his own nature to draw Hannibal close enough to hook him? If so, it seems to be working.

Hannibal all but confesses to Will (punctuated by timpani that sent shivers up my back), “With all my knowledge and intrusion I could never entirely predict you. I can feed the caterpillar, I can whisper through the chrysalis, but what hatches follows its own nature and is beyond me.”

Just like the rest of us, Hannibal can’t wait to tune in next week.


isgrimner 4/21/2014 7:04:31 AM

Maybe I’m a sucker, but I tended to think that Will pulling that trigger was part of his plan to bait Hannibal.   That he assumed Hannibal would stop him from actually killing the social worker. Of course if he was wrong, and he did shoot, he was killing a serial killer who like you pointed out, was a version of Hannibal who was taking advantage of a version of Will.

Liked the guest casting this week, mainly Peter, can’t recal the actor’s name right now, but you know him from Lost and Saving Private Ryan.

Also liked how you could tell early on that they were shooting in location with real snow.   Don’t know why, but I can always tell when the snow is fake and it pulls me out of the scene a little.

I also think to the early dinner party, you have to be commited to trying to catch Hannibal now, to eat anything he serves you. You never can be sure you’re not eating “soylent green” at his table.

moviefan71 4/21/2014 7:42:51 AM

I couldn’t believe will was actually going to shoot the social worker. Didn’t see that coming. Poor Will.

On a lighter note, was great to see Jeremy Davies. Loved him in Solaris. Truly an underrated actor.

CurtisLovesMovies 4/21/2014 6:53:37 PM

By the way, who else notice Hannibal petting the LAMB in that final scene? What a great Easter egg just in time for Easter!

PussNHikingBoots 4/21/2014 9:01:51 PM

So much to say here, I think it deserves at least two parts. God bless the layers in this show.

I love how this episode moved us right back to the Season One dynamic but with a brand-new, more confident and darker Will. As Curtis pointed out, it is not just a recap but a revisiting with completely changed characters. I never watched the X-Files all the way through, but I’m guessing that Dr. Sculley and her blonde hair would agree.

“…this is play pretend.”

It is theater. It is all theater. And we are all the enchanted audience.

“…below the surface there’s a rot that cannot be fixed.”

This makes me sad because I love Hannibal so much, I don’t want to see him in prison, even if he is a dangerous creepy stalker/sexy cannibal. And I desperately don’t want to see him and Will break up again.

“Certainly the most bizarre crime scene we’ve encountered so far.”

That’s saying a lot. FFS, we had somebody’s brain replaced with a beehive!

“…then a live bird is found inside the dead woman.”

Not just a bird–but a starling. Plus, Hannibal is petting a lamb. Ooooooo. I love you, Bryan Fuller.

“You might want to crawl back in there if you know what’s good for you.”

“Is your social worker in that horse?”

BEST. LINES. EVA. Plus, the look on Hannibal’s face watching the social worker crawl out of the horse is priceless. Hannibal has done some crazy shit, but this is too much even for him.

“…they somehow perfectly timed this bloody story of rebirth with Good Friday, a bloody story of rebirth. (I can hear Bryan Fuller’s whisper in my ear, “You owe me awe.”)”

I appreciate this catch, Curtis. Religious references are mostly lost on me.

I owe Fuller my firstborn (never mind that I plan to remain forever childless).

“Just like Hannibal did to Will.”

Peter and his psychopathic social work are the working class version of Hannibal and Will. Only, I don’t think the psychopathic social worker can devour Peter with his eyes quite the same way that Hannibal can do with Will.

“The only thing stranger than finding a woman inside a horse is seeing you [Hannibal] back in therapy with Will Graham.”

I won’t even mention how these two can’t keep Will out of their bed. (Again – threesome, guys. Just a suggestion.)

“…the magic will all vanish at the stroke of midnight.”

It’s sad because it’s true.

“he seems to truly enjoy the hunt now.”

He’s not hunting, he’s fishing. And damn! That fish wanna be caught so bad.

“Alana, who wants the whole world to fit into her box.”

A very deep curtsy to you, Curtis!

“…and it excites Hannibal who…”

thinks Will looks awful purty.

“Is he exploring this murderous part of his own nature to draw Hannibal close enough to hook him?”

Or is Will starting to enjoy that part of him a little too much?

“With all my knowledge and intrusion I could never entirely predict you…”

Ahhhh – the Hannigram love. I’ve died and gone to Hannigram heaven.

Part 2 tomorrow.

domino2008 4/22/2014 5:02:40 PM

When You see Will fishing , yeah its His happy place , but on the end that line He is after a big fish ” Hannibal “. This show grows more freaky each week . Will an Hannibal are almost the same Person   when they are together its like a mirror an a game of minds . Hannibal is always 2 steps ahead of the others controling the game . I thought it was too soon for Will to be after Hannibal in this series , I mean what happens when Hannibal is caught , is the show over ?   Still, This show has some good writers.

CurtisLovesMovies 4/22/2014 5:40:44 PM

Dan, the creator Bryan Fuller has a 7 season plan. Once Hannibal is caught, the show will start telling the stories of the books (Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal). Pretty cool, right? But I do worry a little because Hannibal’s role in something like Red Dragon was really small, so they’re going to have to come up with a way for him to be a bigger part of the story. Maybe flashbacks? Who knows. I, for one, hope we get that far and find out! 🙂

PussNHikingBoots 4/22/2014 8:21:29 PM

Part two:

Can we talk about the dinner scene, please? Transformation is a big theme throughout. Hannibal mentions that they have all been changed by these events. Right from the get-go the role reversals here are strong. Now it is Will that is catching prey for Hannibal, presenting him with a fish. (There’s got to be a religious reference in there somewhere.) “My turn to provide the meat.” A cannibal joke with sexual innuendo and some foreshadowing–nicely done, Will. “This fish is delicious.” “Isn’t it?”–But here, I have to wonder if Hannibal is just a little bit sad when he is forced to eat not people. However, Will caught this fish for him, so it must be the most delicious fish in the whole world. Especially, since the fish represents Will himself. Did anybody notice how Hannibal pulled the tail through the fish’s throat like a reverse Colombian necktie?


As for the sex scene–for me it felt like they were underwater, mirroring the scene in S1 where Will is drowning in his bed. (Talk about a wet dream.) I also wonder if it is meant to indicate that Hannibal gets most of his pleasure from killing, so sex is going to feel diluted to him next to that? Seeing as the crime scenes are in vivid color and detail in contrast to the sex scenes which so far have either been almost nonexistent or impressionistic.


“She’s trying to gauge how comfortable he is with emotion, if he has any. He couldn’t bear being touched by her.” This line is an interesting contrast to Hannibal, who obviously can bear being touched by her–and again alludes to him not being a psychopath although we know he is, but maybe not the type we’ve ever seen before


I happened to notice the name of the farm was Black Breyer Stables (maybe Briar?), but if Breyer, most assuredly a nod to the model horses that I collected as a child.


Isgrimmer: I don’t think Will could 100% count on Hannibal stopping him from pulling the trigger, so I think that he really did intend to kill the social worker. (Interesting that Will could not find it in him to do the same to his boyfriend.) Of course, Hannibal points out that killing this guy would not feel like killing him. Hannigram subtext: “Killing this crazy, bloody social worker will not be nearly as good as banging me,” because apparently Hannibal is completely turned on by killing and especially by Will killing and most especially by Will killing him (by the look on Hannibal’s face when he asked Will how he would kill him. With… His… Hands…).


redhairs99 4/24/2014 9:11:33 AM

Love the show, but what the heck did the chick with her arm in a sling who was getting treatment from Hannibal have to do with anything? Have we seen her before? If so, maybe I’m just forgetting, but it seemed rather out of place in this episode. I assume she was also the one getting her arm twisted and pressed up against the aquarium table as someone wetted a piece of tissue with her tears and mixed it into a martini. A bit strange, but then again compared to everything else on this show, not that weird I guess.


CurtisLovesMovies 4/27/2014 9:30:40 AM

Redhairs99, the show was introducing a character who plays a role in the book, Hannibal. Her brother, Mason, the one she tried to kill, is a main character in that book. For those of us familiar with the books it was a fun little taste to whet our appetite. I can totally understand how odd it must have seemed to you and others who might not know the books. 🙂

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