“Greatness… and some rough edges”
I didn’t appreciate “Naka-Choko” on first viewing. It felt like a jumble of really tasty ingredients that didn’t know what it wanted to be. After viewing it a second time, I like it a lot more, but still have some gripes.
Right off the bat, I felt the opening scene of Will’s confrontation with Tier/Hannibal/Ravenstag was unnecessary. Hannibal has always been a show where things happen off-screen. This is often done to enhance the dramatic tension and mystery — as seen at the end of the previous episode. Not showing us the fight between Randall Tier and Will made that final reveal in Hannibal’s dining room all the more powerful. So why revisit it now? All of the information we get from that fight scene (Will fantasizing that he’s beating Hannibal to death) is covered in dialogue in the very next scene. Aesthetically, something felt off to me as well. For example, the percussive score unintentionally (I hope) recalls Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” and jarred me right out of the episode every time I heard it.
My biggest criticism, however, did NOT survive my second viewing. In serialized storytelling, you want a good mix of paying off previously posed questions and setting up new mysteries and ambiguities. “Naka-Choko” felt skewed too far to the asking side. Is Jack Crawford in on Will’s game or completely in the dark? Why is Mason Verger breeding killer pigs? Why did Margot seduce Will? What happened to Freddie Lounds? And most importantly, is Will really becoming a serial killer or faking it to catch Hannibal? But to my surprise, many of these questions are in fact answered — if we look closely. And those that aren’t, are teased in dramatically satisfying ways.
Much of the mystery in Hannibal (and in life) lies between the lines of what a person’s true intentions are and what they present their intentions to be. As viewers we’re always looking for solid ground to stand on — what can we trust as true? I suggest that we can trust most of what we see in Will’s dreams and visions. For example, when Will does his empathy thing (on himself) at the Tier crime scene, we witness his vision of himself conversing with his victim. Tier says, “This is my becoming. And yours.” Will shakes his head and corrects him, “This is my DESIGN.” I think it’s safe to conclude that a part of Will (as represented by Tier) acknowledges the joy he’s taking in the violence, and as a result, the risk of him becoming the very thing he’s chasing (Hannibal). But there’s another part of him that’s in control (for the moment, that is) — the fisherman — that has designed a person suit for himself to carefully lure Hannibal onto his hook.
Contrast this to Will’s words when he comes out of his vision and back into the room with Jack and Hannibal; his words are no longer truth but bait. He tells Jack and Hannibal that Tier’s killer ENVIED him. “Randall Tier came into his own much easier than whoever killed him.” This is Will’s way of baiting Hannibal, essentially saying to him “It may be hard for me to admit, but you and I are the same.” No they aren’t. Not yet anyway.
So… Is Will really becoming a serial killer? I would say at this point it’s like asking whether Schödinger’s cat is alive or dead. There’s potential for either answer to be true, and we will not know until we open the box. Will has formed an alliance with Hannibal that is both alive and dead, both true and not true. It’s a dangerous game for him to play — as dangerous as its ever been, a tightrope walk without a net.
What happened to Freddie Lounds? My guess is that Will and Freddie have found common ground over their inability to help and save Abigail Hobbs. The confrontation between them at Will’s house was clearly real, but I’m pretty sure Freddie is alive and either willingly helping Will deceive Hannibal, or tied up somewhere. Or possibly in FBI custody — which leads us to…
Is Jack in on it with Will or is he clueless? Jack’s question to Will at the crime scene, “His killer EMPATHIZED with him?” is very interesting. If Jack is not in on it, this is a sign he might be getting suspicious of Will again. If he is in on it, it was a clever way to throw Hannibal off the scent. Makes me wonder if he in fact responded to Freddie’s call and took her (willingly or otherwise) into custody to prevent her from posting those incriminating photos online.
Why did Margot seduce Will? Quite simply, to leave a legacy, as Hannibal suggested in her therapy session. Of course, she needed someone with the “right parts” to help her with that. Enter Will Graham (pun intended). How ironic then are her words when she shows up at his door with a bottle of whiskey and says, “I’ve come to replenish your stores.”
And finally… Why is Mason breeding killer pigs? This question will likely not be answered too soon. Is it to torment his sister and/or keep her in line? Seems pretty elaborate for just that. Or is Mason a burgeoning serial killer too? If that’s the case, I expect we’ll get a lot more of him in Season 3.
Despite its flaws, I expect “Naka-Choko” will rise in my estimation within the larger context of this season as a whole. I think when storytelling dares to reach for greatness, it’s bound to have some rough edges from time to time.
MrJawbreakingEquilibrium 5/5/2014 8:21:24 PM
Isn’t Mason Verger the guy from Hannibal who tries to kill Hannibal?
domino2008 5/6/2014 12:26:00 AM
This plot in this series isnt following source materials or Hannibal Films, Its using Persons parts of each to develop a new storyline. Question is has Will finally turning into the dark side of His Personality or is it a ruse to fool Hannibal . He shows up for dinner with His own meat , Hannibal asks ‘ oh veal ” , not really trusting Will that its a Human liver . Also the way the way Jack was talking to both of them , seems something is up , but Wills in bed with Margot an see’s Himself an Hannibal in the same bed sharing her , almost like He is wants to be Hannibal and is losing His idenity an reality . Jack is more layed back in this episode , why ? usually He hard bark , but this time He seems passive .As for Freddie , on next weeks preview at the end of the episode We see a body on flames going down a ramp ( Manhunter ) an We have been interduced to Mason and Margot Verger and the pigs ( Hannibal ) . Theres only 2 or 3 episodes left , so I guess the Writers are taking parts ( no pun ) from the books an movies but none are in order . Its like a I-pod shuffle. Another thing , when Freddie was snooping in the barn an opened the cooler , and gasps when She see’s Will standing there. We wont know till next week what happens Its been over 10 years since I read the book Hannibal , so my memory is a little cobb webbed , Mason Veger background was shady , He earned alot of money in covert missions in South America working with our Goverment , an He had a thing for Child abuse . an yeah why breed pigs , unless for food or someone as food . They changed the Characters from the source material , that We cant guess stuff ………………………….Jaw Brecker , yes Mason is the Guy without a face in Hannibal .
CurtisLovesMovies 5/6/2014 4:22:25 AM
In the book (if my memory serves me), Mason Verger trained the pigs to kill people to take revenge on Hannibal. But he only just met Hannibal in this episode, so he must have another reason in mind that’s different from the book.
isgrimner 5/6/2014 7:39:04 AM
Not sure if I like the path they are taking Will down. I have to believe that it is partly a trap to catch Hannibal, too many fishing and bait references early in the season for it not to be. On the flip side, since we get flashes of Will’s thoughts, the darkness is there in him. If it is all a trap to catch Hannibal, it is pretty extreame, I mean most likely Will (or someone else if he has conspirators like Jack) cut up that kid and staged the body. I’m also pretty sure Will ate human, it looked like loins (runs along the spine) to me, not liver.
Of course I agree that Will did not kill Freddie. She is either a temporary prisoner, or has become a willing participant in Will Hannibal trap. If Lounds is willing to help its because also wants to see Abigail’s killer caught, but Will may have had to bribe her with exclusive stories/interviews.
Alanna Bloom, totally inconsistant character or expertly manipulated by Hannibal? Probably both in my mind. I think they had her flip flop a little too much.
I’m a little put off by the scene from next week where they showed that burning wheel chair. Being as the only book in the series I read was Red Dragon, I was kind of hoping they would save that for a future season. Though I don’t believe it is Freddie in the chair. I do like how they have thrown in the line/phrase “Becoming” which was Francis Dolarhyde’s phrase.
moviefan71 5/6/2014 8:05:43 AM
Where is puss? I want to get his take on this episode….
moviefan71 5/6/2014 1:47:46 PM
Also, I agree with isgrimner. Freaddie is not dead. Will saved her life, as he knew she would be Hannibal’s next target.
I disagree that Will ate human though. I don’t think he would do that, since it’s all just a giant set-up anyway. And if he did, all the power to him. Just shows how dedicated he is…
PussNHikingBoots 5/6/2014 4:20:37 PM
Mason is so bat-shit crazy, I already love him! I want to see somebody (preferably the stunningly gorgeous Margot) drag him around by his ridiculous hair. I hope Hannibal doesn’t cook him too quickly–use a crock pot, Hannibal.
The Hannigram in me wants to say that yes, Will really did kill Freddie and “sliced the Ginger” (hahaha), eating her flesh with Hannibal and turning totally to the dark side so that they can run away together and be the adorable murder husbands they are. But the realist in me quietly admits that Freddie is probably now in on it, Will having had only two choices: kill her or tell her. And really, I think that Will would tell her before he would ever kill her. What I don’t get is: Hannibal obviously has a really good idea of what human meat tastes like, and Will should know that. You cannot trick Hannibal’s palette. Will even says himself that his own palette is not so sophisticated, so it will be very obvious to Hannibal that the meat Will has given to him is not human. Not Randy’s and not Freddie’s. Although theoretically, it could be Randy’s. That dude had to die because he hurt one of Will’s dogs and then threatened Will, so Will killing him was like, no biggie.
Still, after that first bite, Will is not a virgin anymore (figuratively speaking, since I doubt the meat was human). But Did You See The Way Hannibal Was Looking At Him?
Oh, the lovely layers. Where do I start?
What Hannibal said to Will: “You were Randall Teir’s final enemy”
What Hannibal was thinking when he said it: ‘As you will be mine’
What Hannibal said to Will: “When you killed Randall, did you fantasize you were killing me?” (He can’t stop with that question- he’s obsessed with the thought.)
What Hannibal was thinking when he said it: ‘The same way that you fantasized you were with me when you were with Margot’ (well, he thinks that later, anyway)
Now Will knows what it’s like to have his kill misinterpreted, which means he knows Hannibal even better now.
Randall: “Come closer. I want to see you.”
(As Will wants to see himself. See?)
Will to Randall or vice versa, I forget: “What you feel finally matches the reality of what I see.”
Will = Hannibal (also the reflection in the knife was Will = Hannibal)
Whose hand is that on the railing? Has Hannibal been looking down on Will’s creation of the Randall display? I assume he watched but did not help because he wanted Will to learn for himself. (Hannibal, you should’ve taught him how to clean up after himself as well.)
What Hannibal said to Margot: “You failed to murder your brother because you still love him”
What Hannibal was thinking when he said it: ‘Just like Will failed to murder me because he still loves me’
Mason is evolving his pigs like Hannibal is evolving Will.
Alana: “People are not instruments.” (Hannibal: ‘uh.. yeah they are.’) “Whatever it is you’re playing you have to listen very carefully to what you’re creating.” Trust us, Alana, he is listening very carefully. And he is playing you like an instrument, that’s for sure. He will toss you aside for Will in a heartbeat.
May I point out that Alana is the only one who is happy in this sex scene. She is the only one who’s with who she wants to be with. Margot wants to be with another woman. Will wants to be with Alana. Hannibal wants to be with Will. Don’t ask me about the Wendigo.
I actually feel sorry for Will because that sex he had with Margot seemed to leave him even sadder than he already is. At the very end, his eyes are open. Longing for Alana, and Margot is leaving his bed. He is alone again.
What Hannibal said to Mason: “I enjoy putting a face to a name.”
What Hannibal was thinking when he said it: ‘So I know who to kill later’
What Hannibal said to Mason: “I’ve never seen pigs like this”
What Hannibal was thinking when he said it: ‘Meaning you, Mason. Damn, Mason, you crazy for reals!’
Alana to Hannibal & Will: “Neither of you is the killer she’s writing about, but together you might be.” (Murder husbands, yup.) That scene at the dinner table cracked me up. Alana was like, ‘Are you two sleeping together behind my back?’ Will was like, ‘Maybe we are, maybe we’re not. What’s it to ya?’ And Hannibal was like, ‘I’m stayin’ the F out of this! Just gonna sniff my wine.’)
I wonder if Hannibal ever gets bored sitting around waiting for somebody in his plastic murder suit. And where does he hide his fancy car?
The scene with Freddie in Will’s shed = the scene with Beverly in Hannibal’s basement.
Hannibal: “Surely Freddie Loundes has more enemies than Will.”
Jack: “Not in Wolf trap, Virginia.”
The look on Hannibal face, like ‘Dammit! I tried…’ Same look he gave in the courtroom when the lawyer dissed his theory as ridiculous.
Will to Hannibal: “I provide the ingredients (me). You tell me what we should do with them (mold me).
The porcupine quills make a nice decoration on the dinner plates. (Check out next week’s episode when there will be a butterfly on the plate during dinner – a Blue Morpho, I believe.)
Interesting that when Hannibal has dinner with Alana and Will, he sits at the head of the table between them but when he has dinner with Will he sits across from him.
Just want to point out that Wolf Trap Virginia and Baltimore, Maryland are about an hour apart. These two boys do a lot of driving for each other.
fade to Hannigram…
ddiaz28 5/7/2014 9:09:18 AM
I do think Will brought a piece of someone, not Freddie to eat. Like someone said, Hannibal would know what kind of meat it was. Plus, Will must know he has eaten human beings already from all the times he ate with Hannibal previously. So I don’t think it was too far to do it knowingly as part of his plot to make Hannibal think his manipulation is working. I still hate that this entire season is leading up to the the first scene of the first episode. But it has been exciting to see how we are getting there. Absolutely love this show and I hope we hear about a renewal very soon.
PussNHikingBoots 5/7/2014 2:20:18 PM
May 12th I hear is decision day.
TheSilentKiller 5/7/2014 10:32:29 PM
Moviefan, I don’t think Puss is a he.
Puss – is that renewal time?
fatpantz 5/8/2014 10:46:03 AM
I never clued in to who Margot was, harping on about her terrible brother, until this episode and the introduction of Mason. It has been some time since I read the book, but was quite pleased to see a young Mason Verger.
If I remember correctly, in Hannibal, Mason had a twisted love of abusing children that stemmed from his abuse and torture of his beloved Margot. As well, his raping of her is what turned her to lesbianism. This seems to be carrying over into this storyline as well with the reveal of Margot’s scars. I am interested to see how they intertwine this storyline with the current one.
I loved the “slice the ginger” line. That Hannibal and his puns!! Another bit of “ginger” trivia, the actress playing Margot also played Ginger once upon a time in the horror film Gingersnaps 🙂
PussNHikingBoots 5/8/2014 5:50:25 PM
Haha–yes, TheSilentKiller, I am a she.
Who is madly in love with Hannibal, who falls in love with Will a little more every episode, and who would totally go gay for Margot.
May 12 is the day they will make the decision about renewing, though I did not hear this directly from Daddy Fuller.
domino2008 5/8/2014 6:31:14 PM
Fatpantz , I wouldnt stick to the source material or movies on this series , It seems to give more insight on Hannibal than the books did , and Red Dragon ( Manhunter ) films Hanibal was aready in jail or caught an put in jail in the first 10 minutes of the film . In the books Will wasnt like the character in the series , so the writers of the show is using bits an pieces from each an creating more as the show . I taped Hanibal Rising a few years ago , but havent watched it yet , He seem to be in the Orient part of the world in that film . Hannibal has a IQ off the scale , and the cooking He does perhaps they should have part time job as a cook . And the character Margot is what You stated , but We see Her acting straight so far . I think The Vergers will be the turning point in the finale an next years premire .
CurtisLovesMovies 5/8/2014 6:44:58 PM
Confession time: I didn’t make the “ginger” connection until I read it in the comments. Got right by me!
Fatpantz, nice connection to Gingersnaps! Loved Margot in that movie!
May 12 is the day NBC will announce their plans for next season, but I read something today that said they’ve been known to “leak” it a day early, so we might know on Sunday.
TheSilentKiller 5/9/2014 5:04:33 PM
PussNHikingBoots 5/9/2014 9:26:02 PM
Entire Fandom breathes sigh of relief…
TheSilentKiller 5/10/2014 7:31:11 PM
Puss, I have to say, while I love mads’ performance, I don’t see the sexiness. The overbite alone is distracting.
PussNHikingBoots 5/13/2014 3:46:57 PM
SilentKiller… hmmmm?????speechless. 🙂
Well, of course there is no accounting for taste, and to each his own and all that; but for me, this man’s sexiness is so incredible as to be surreal.