Hannibal: “Mukozuke” Review

hannibal-season-2-release-dateAbout halfway through last season of Hannibal, I had to stop watching because wow, I could not handle Will Graham losing his mind. Then this month I realized that I was on the Hannibal review team at LGG&F—and then I watched all the episodes I’d been behind on in about two days. Word to the wise: don’t do that. I cannot emphasize how much you should not do that.

Nightmares about finding Hannibal Lecter in my house aside, though, the marathon definitely gave me a renewed appreciation for the astounding structure with which this show is written. Everyone complements Hannibal’s cinematography, and rightly so, but Fuller and his team deserve some serious kudos for how tightly this show is constructed. Seriously, lesser TV writers (you know who you are) should watch this series and take notes. However, my respect for the writing team aside, this episode introduced a new character and some new concepts, and I’m unsure how or even if they fit into the Hannibal we know.

Spoilery thoughts below the jump. Usual Hannibal trigger warnings apply, so read carefully!

The new normal.

The new normal.

“Mukozuke” starts with Hannibal feeding Jack some presumably-people-as-breakfast while they talk about Bella Crawford’s suicide attempt last episode. Jack thanks Hannibal for being a great friend and saving her life, while Hannibal continues to look more convincingly normal than ever, having forgone his suits for a sweater. I guess they haven’t gotten around to giving him the rest of his suits back yet.

Normalcy can’t last, however, and a call from Freddie Lounds soon shatters it completely. Jack arrives at the Miriam Lass conservatory to find that Beverly Katz’s body has been sliced into several lengthwise pieces and put on display like it’s part of Bodies: The Exhibition. Jack, in a rare show of emotion, breaks down, and later drags Will Graham out of his jail cell so that Will can work his magic with the crime scene. Will deduces what Hannibal did, but refuses to tell Jack who he thinks did it. I assume he thinks that the only thing that will convince Jack is Jack himself—something we might get in the next episode! (But let’s that thought for later.)

Will, though, obviously does know who killed Beverly, and after some finagling with Freddie Lounds, manages to get in contact with the orderly in his mental institution, who’s also a psychopath. (This show is full of psychopaths.) He tells the psychopath to kill Hannibal Lecter for him, as a “favor to a friend”. The orderly seems to think killing someone will be a right lark, and soon we see the orderly confronting Hannibal in a swimming pool and tranquilizing him. When Hannibal comes to, he’s balanced precariously on a upturned bucket, a noose around his neck and deep gouges in both wrists.

I really want to know what Orderly was thinking when he made Hannibal a gross parody of a Christ figure. Was he kicked out of drama school?

I really want to know what the orderly was thinking when he made Hannibal a gross parody of a Christ figure. Was he kicked out of drama school?

The orderly mocks Hannibal with the choices left to him: he can either bleed out slowly, or literally kick the bucket out from under himself and thus be hung from the neck until dead. As Hannibal bides his time, Orderly asks if Hannibal’s the Chesapeake Ripper, claiming that if Hannibal’s pupils widen, he’ll be answering yes. Guess what: Hannibal’s pupils widen. Orderly is thrilled with this turn of events and says that he’ll soon take Hannibal’s name and his victim count for his own. Unfortunately for him, this is when Jack Crawford and Alanna Bloom come into play.

Alanna, who went to visit Will in his cell after Beverly died, became suspicious that Will did—something. She interrogates Gideon, the serial killer who disemboweled Chilton last season, and finds out that Will, surprise surprise, wants to kill someone. Gideon doesn’t tell her who, but since Will has been doing nothing but talking shit about Hannibal this season, it’s not too hard to figure out who. She and Jack trace Hannibal’s cell phone and manage to track Hannibal and Orderly to the pool.

When they barge in, Hannibal shouts to Jack that the orderly has a gun, presumably so that Jack will kill Orderly and Orderly won’t tell anyone Hannibal’s super-secret stage name. Orderly obediently falls wounded to the ground, but he kicks the bucket out from under Hannibal on the way down. Jack rushes to save Hannibal, shouting for Alanna to call an ambulance, as we fade to the bloody recesses of Will’s mind theater and then to black.



I have two major questions as a result of this episode, and I think the answers might be a long time coming. This season we’ve seen Will start to manipulate Hannibal right back, pretending to sob with anxiety and twisting Chilton and poor Beverly into doing what he wants them to do, and I love it. Will’s finally realized he has to save himself, he’s taken his place at the chess board, and I’m all for that being the main plot of this season. Having said that, I’m not sure that I expected or wanted this level of bloodthirstiness from him. I think he’ll reconsider his actions very soon—Gideon said that Will’s biblical rage “will pass”, and whatever’s foreshadowed in this show usually does happen—but Will telling a random psychopath to go and kill Hannibal Lecter, who he knows is dangerous, seems like an unusually ill-thought-out plan, especially now that his encephalitis has presumably been treated. He didn’t give the orderly any instructions or warn him about anything; did Will really think this plan would succeed, or was he just not thinking about the consequences should the plan fail? I wouldn’t necessarily call it out of character—Hannibal is remarkably slow-paced for something so tightly written, so that remains to be seen—but I definitely found it disconcerting. Is this a writing misstep or is this the start of Will becoming Hannibal in the hopes of catching him? And which one would we rather it be?

As for my other major question: Pisces said two episodes ago that he thought Hannibal was the copycat of the copycat killer, and I agreed with that theory, so this episode throws things for a loop. I originally thought Hannibal was trying to cast enough doubt on Will’s case that Will could plausibly go free—not because he cared for Will himself, but because in a twisted game of cat-and-mouse, the mouse hadn’t yet ceased to be entertaining. Now that we know that Hannibal didn’t kill the bailiff, I have to revise that theory a little bit. (I’m unsure if a second copycat was necessary or just overly complicated, although I suppose his role has yet to be played out.) When Hannibal wakes up and realizes the extent to which Will means Serious Business, how will that affect the little mind game the two of them have going on?

The first episode of Hannibal Season 2 already told us that Jack finds out Hannibal’s secret by the end of this season, and the preview for the next episode implies that Jack is continuing to listen to Will and is going to get some of Hannibal’s “food” tested. The show is working from a precarious position in which its whole audience knows the answer long before its characters do, which is actually a very common problem in fanfic, so I’m very invested in seeing how the writers intend to maintain this level of tension. Until next episode!

Episode Tally:

That fucking clock hand: four
Really artistic blood: lots
Times I wondered who exactly runs the NBC Hannibal Tumblr: all the times

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