Hannibal Review: “Shiizakana” (season 2, episode 9)

“What we desire most is the same thing we most fear”

With “Shiizakana” Hannibal gets a minor dose of The X-Files. I’ll admit, at first I was thrown off quite a bit by the pre-credits “monster” attack at the snowy truck stop. Oh no, my greatest fear second only to my own death — Hannibal has jumped the shark! As the camera slowly panned away from the bloody violence and the screen went black, in my head I heard Mark Snow’s “doo duh duh, doo duh duh, doo” opening theme music. But my fears were unwarranted; this is indeed Hannibal, where the monsters are all human and “man is the only creature that kills to kill.”

As the pace of Will’s becoming rapidly accelerates and the “Willdigo” (the name Bryan Fuller has given to the Wendigo aspect of Will’s personality) in him finally emerges, we meet a new serial-killer-of-the-week that has evolved himself into an animal predator, too, but much more tangibly so. Randall Tier has fashioned himself an animal suit equipped with a prehistoric jaw and claws powered by “pull ratchets and pneumatics” that allow him to literally tear his victims to pieces. It’s an animal version of the “person suit” that Hannibal and his psychiatrist so often discussed in Season 1. And it mirrors back to Will the dangerous transformation he is allowing (even encouraging) in himself, under the supervision of his “trusted” psychiatrist, of course. As it turns out, the good Dr. Lecter ALSO treated Randall Tier many years ago. And so Hannibal sees an opportunity to encourage the homicidal evolution of both patients by arranging for a deadly confrontation between them. Even murderers need personal empowerment, right?

We also get more great scenes with the creepy Margot Verger. For those unfamiliar with the source material, she’s the sister of Mason Verger, who plays a prominent part in the third book. (And on a related note, who else caught the glorious Manhunter homage when the killer leaps through Will’s window in the climactic scene?) This week, Margot leaves Hannibal’s office and meets Will. I absolutely loved when Margot and Will, while sipping whiskey together, each confess their “private carnage.” I tried to murder my brother, she says. Well, I’ve got that one beat, he retorts. I tried to murder my friend, our mutual psychiatrist. If you’ve ever wondered “What would happen if Hannibal’s patients started talking to one another?” you got your answer.

Story elements aside, “Shiizakana” exemplifies what I love most about this show: Hannibal is a show of paradoxes. It’s a show where characters never say exactly what they mean, yet somehow ALWAYS say exactly what they mean. It’s a show where the violence is both horrific and beautiful. It’s a show were best friends try to murder each other. And it’s a show that explores one of the most fundamental psychological paradoxes we experience as human beings: What we desire most is so often the same thing we most fear — to be seen by another as who we really are.

Hannibal desires a friend worthy of knowing him, but he fears that by revealing himself he’ll be locked up in a dark cage in the basement of a psychiatric hospital. So he dons a carefully constructed person suit to keep people at a distance. Will desires human connection with someone who can help him understand who he is, but he fears the pain of extreme empathy and risk of betrayal that comes with getting too close. But unlike Hannibal, Will doesn’t don a person suit to keep people at a distance. He keeps them at a distance to avoid donning THEIR person suits.

Before Hannibal’s framing of Will, I think each believed the other could “save” him. Much of this season has been about them each trying to reconcile their own paradoxical feelings since then. In “Shiizakana,” Will and Hannibal seem to have reached an equilibrium — for a moment at least. Both have found their match yet on opposite sides of right and wrong. Another paradox, or is it the perfect marriage, like matter and antimatter gravitating towards an inevitable explosion? Even though they are at odds and they know it, there’s a respect for what they recognize of themselves in the other. In Will’s dream, Hannibal tells him, “No one can be fully aware of another human being unless we love them.” They’re peers — intellectually, in terms of understanding human behavior, and in their isolation from the rest of society.

In other words, they’re even-steven.


rkngl 4/28/2014 12:24:02 AM

MANHUNTER reference? Check.

X-FILES reference? Check.

Have you been reading my thoughts?

CurtisLovesMovies 4/28/2014 6:32:01 AM

Haha, great minds, as they say. 🙂 I missed the reference to Hannibal Rising in the opening dream scene. Haven’t read that book or seen the movie.

isgrimner 4/28/2014 7:07:01 AM

I knew from the previews last week, that it was a guy in a “suit” right away, since I think they flashed a clear image of him in it in preview.   I will say, he was a little too agile and quiet jumping up on that semi wearing his suit. However, I forgive a good show a lot of small logic gaps like that.

Overall this ep was just ok to me, I don’t think it was bad but it didn’t stand out from some of the others.

I’m going to have to revise my thoughts from the last episode.   I guess Will really was going to shoot the social worker last week without premeditations of “baiting” Hannibal at all.   It makes me wonder if Will’s extreme empathy and proximity to Hannibal is what is escalating his “darker” thoughts.   If Hannibal was removed as an influence would he stop having murderous thoughts?

I’m also ready for an update on Chilton and Miriam Lass.   I know Chilton appears dead, but the fact that they haven’t mentioned him nor was he dead in the books, makes me wonder.

isgrimner 4/28/2014 7:09:02 AM

Oh and what’s odd, is that my biggest worry in the episode was that the animal suit killer was going to kill all of Will’s dogs.   People getting killed, par for the course on the show, but the dogs get threatened and I get nervous.

redhairs99 4/28/2014 10:26:17 AM

isgrimner, I was thinking the same thing about the dogs. People, F@ck ’em! Dogs, oh hell no!

PussNHikingBoots 4/28/2014 12:44:59 PM

Not since Bonnie and Clyde has murder been so romantic.

In this week’s episode: We start out with Will having a really kinky SM/BD fantasy dream about Hannibal where those two profess their undying love to each other (murder husbands, just sayin’). I wouldn’t be surprised if Hannibal is having a similar fantasy dream. Will wakes with a start and he is so turned on, he is gripping the sheets.

Jack eats more people, but this time we just think he’s stupid for not realizing its people. I’m thinking he does know, but it’s so damn delicious that he doesn’t want to stop. Hmm? Kind of like how Will is starting to feel about murder?

Then later we think that Hannibal is cheating on Will because he is molding another serial killer who isn’t even nearly as pretty as Will and we’re a little peeved. Until we realize, Hannibal is actually sending Randy to be killed by Will. Yes, they make it seem like Hannibal sent the guy to kill Will to get back at him for Will trying to kill him, but it is clear to me that Hannibal knows Will is going to kill Randy and sent him there so that Will can experience his first (well, second) kill; one of Hannibal’s most thrilling sexual fantasies, for sure.

Hannibal is having as much fun with this as we are. The people in his life are like the pieces on a chessboard and he is the master chess player moving everybody around to do what he wants them to do and then enjoying watching how they interact with one another and what results from that. This man knows what he’s doing at every turn.

Thank you Brian Fuller for not killing Buster, as we really would have hated you for that.

Margot is hot and we hope she’s going to get it on with Will.

Later, at Hannibal’s office, Hannibal guides Will to talk dirty to him and Will talks real dirty, because Will is such a little slut.

Hannibal is like: BONER BONER BONER, close up BONER

Will Graham, can you get any sluttier?

If anything else happened that didn’t have to do with Hannigram, I didn’t notice it.

The entire Hannigram fandom had a collective orgasm when we watched the preview.

Next week: Hannibal sweeps the stuff off the top of his desk in one motion and throws down on Will’s sweet ass.

And OMG! Can we talk about Hanni’s hat? What the god damn holy hell, Hannibal?

Never mind. Let’s not talk about Hanni’s hat.

PussNHikingBoots 4/28/2014 1:08:11 PM

My prediction for the upcoming sex scene in episode 10:

It will involve Hannibal and Alana getting in on, Margot and her brother getting in on, and Will using his empathy to tune into both of these pairs simultaneously and getting on with himself.

But it could just as easily be Will getting it on with Margot but then I’m not sure who the fifth person would be.

Another scenario (less likely): Hannibal / Alana / Freddie Will / Margot

Your thoughts?

domino2008 4/28/2014 8:23:56 PM

Margot Verger isnt she in the book the walnut cracker ? ( i wont say the word Gary Olman called her ),,,,,this a total throw away episode

PussNHikingBoots 4/29/2014 9:05:20 AM

I love this: it comes from ShallowGraves, which is a.org (apparently Mania doesn’t let me include links in comments)

“Over at a dark and remote truck stop, a truck driver hears a strange noise when some creature leaps on top of his rig. Like Chilton before him, he decides to investigate because he’s never seen a horror movie in his entire life.”   -Marena

domino2008 5/4/2014 1:00:26 AM

Now that I finally watch the first season of Hannibal , I undersdtand the charcaters much more , also take back what I said aboot the Actor who plays Will on the show . No its not a throw away episode as I posted above , its much more . Ill rather wait till the next posting of Fridays show .

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