Hannibal: “Yakimono” Review

hannibal-season-2-release-dateLast week’s episode ended with the shocking revelation that Miriam Lass is actually not dead, and she’s been held for two years in an old well in an abandoned building. This—this ought to be good news, right? She’s seen Hannibal’s face! She can tell Jack that Hannibal is the Ripper! Right?

…right, guys?

Watch out for our usual Hannibal trigger warnings, now including extreme psychological manipulation and Stockholm syndrome, after the cut.

The episode starts with a beautifully done shot of Miriam, blank-faced and confused, staring at the camera as Jack’s team comb her for evidence. Probably one of the best cinematrographic shots in Hannibal’s considerable arsenal thus far, and I’m not just saying that because it made me so uncomfortable I almost turned my TV off. Unfortunately, Miriam tells Jack that she can’t remember the Ripper’s face—just his voice. Well, Hannibal’s got a pretty distinctive voice, but Jack makes Miriam listen to Hannibal and Alanna having a conversation through a one-way mirror and all Miriam hears, interestingly enough, is chamber music. My hopes were dashed as Miriam swears up and down that Hannibal Lecter is not the Chesapeake Ripper.

miriam lassWill, meanwhile, is being released from prison due to his not being the Ripper. (The flowering politician from last episode ended up having evidence from all previous Ripper victims, and as Will was in prison then, he couldn’t have killed the politician—what a present for you, Will.) Chilton frantically tells Will that the Ripper will be after him next, and Will tells him to suck it up and convince Jack Crawford of Hannibal’s crimes if he wants to be safe. Jack takes Will from the prison and they go to where Jack found Miriam. While Will deduces what it is the Ripper wants them to find, we can totally see extra Body Exhibit plastic cases standing in the background. Finally, one mystery somewhat addressed. Last week Pisces and I were having a really convoluted conversation about how Hannibal either somehow ordered them without raising suspicions, or robbed a museum. Because who just has those on hand?! Does Hannibal have a whole crafts store hidden away somewhere?

Well, Will helpfully tells us that it’s all about theatre for the Ripper. (Thanks, Will.) Whatever clues Miriam Lass holds, he tells Jack, they’re going to point away from him. He then goes to Alanna’s and is reunited with his seven dogs, while Jack is left to find a fingerprint from Hannibal on a flower petal from last week’s case du jour and ponder over the contradiction in Miriam’s words and the evidence with which he’s been presented. Then Miriam’s blood tests come back, and some of the drugs that show up on those tests are the same ones that Chilton used on Gideon and Will in past episodes. Jack decides to bring both of them in for more questions.

will gun hannibalMeanwhile, Will’s so devoted to figuring out what the fuck it is Hannibal is up to that while he has Hannibal at gunpoint in Hannibal’s own kitchen (and we’re never quite told when or how he gets there), he doesn’t shoot him. This suits Hannibal’s design, but I have to wonder if Will understands exactly what he’s getting into here. He clearly thinks that he can face Hannibal on his own psychological turf—at the end of the episode he sits himself back down in Hannibal’s therapy chair and tells Hannibal he’d like to resume their sessions. Even though he’s clearly much improved from last season, Will’s mindset has gone so far into Avengers territory that he might as well leave Baltimore for Stark Tower. He may think himself armed and ready to take on Hannibal himself, but what is “embracing his nature” going to do to him in the long run?

We cut to Chilton’s Minimalist Furniture house, where we follow Chilton as he follows an ominous beeping and finds Abel Gideon, all his limbs cut off, dead in his guest room. Chilton, horrified, tries to run, and trips over a packed bag in his hallway. Hannibal appears out of nowhere in his murder oversuit and explains that after Chilton wakes up, his only choice will be to run. As he’s choking Chilton into unconsciousness, there’s a knock at the door. “One moment, please,” says Hannibal, and when Chilton comes to, Hannibal’s nowhere to be seen, and there are three artistically-dead FBI agents in his house.

Chilton runs to Will Graham, possibly the only person who will now believe him when he says he’s not the Chesapeake Ripper, and begs for, well, first for a shower, because he’s certainly got his priorities in order, and then for some help. Will, who has good reason to not give a fuck about Chilton, even if this is pretty Cold Avenger for him, has already called Jack. Chilton flees, and Jack chases him down through the snow like a scared, plaid-wearing rabbit. I imagine Hannibal clapping his hands in glee at the very image.

In prison, Chilton also gets to talk with Alanna Bloom. Like the conversation with Hannibal, Jack and Miriam are listening behind the mirror. This time, though, Miriam’s sure that Chilton is the Ripper. As Jack tries to comfort her, she grabs Jack’s gun and shoots Chilton through the mirror.

To be fair, I'd also want a shower...

To be fair, I’d also want a shower…

Is Chilton really dead? A post-episode interview with Bryan Fuller seems to suggest that that could be in doubt, despite the sizable exit wound and blood spatter, so I suppose we’ll find out for sure next episode. Another quote from that interview leads me into my main complaint thus far, though: Fuller mentions that they’d devised a series of steam tunnels for Hannibal to secretly travel through to commit all his crimes, but due to both time and budget constraints, they were unable to show us this. Now, the normal rule of storytelling is “show, don’t tell”, but Hannibal’s always broken this rule with careless abandon—after all, we all know that Hannibal’s a cannibal, and (if you’re like me) we spend a large portion of every episode shouting at the TV for Jack and Alanna and everyone except Will to just get it already. Hannibal doesn’t need to show us something that we already believe. However, in some cases, and especially with “Yakimono”, the Hannibal team could do with a touch more showing. Throughout the episode, I found myself asking “but how did Hannibal get Gideon into Chilton’s house unnoticed?” “How did Will get into Hannibal’s house?” “How did Hannibal so successfully condition Miriam into believing that Chilton was the Ripper, especially as for 95% of the episode, her faceless hallucination seemed quite a lot like the Hannibal stag man from Will’s trial?”

And the questions went beyond Hannibal: what about “Why would Jack let Alanna interview Hannibal when he was shownthat she’s romantically involved with him; doesn’t he know that’s a clear conflict of interest, especially when Alanna and Will’s not-relationship was even brought up at Will’s trial?” “How would a man in Chilton’s physical condition even have killed three FBI agents (and committed the other Ripper murders)?” And especially “Why on Earth would Jack send some nameless agents to collect someone who he knows is probably the infamous Chesapeake Ripper?!”

We know Hannibal’s a smart guy, and everyone else on the show is smart too, even if they’re not as smart as Hannibal. But with this episode, it’s starting to feel a little bit like Hannibal’s unbelievably, unrealistically intelligent, and everyone else is stumbling over their own feet in the wake of his manipulation. Questions like the above detract from this show’s superb writing, and some of them, at least, seem like they could be easily fixed by just showing us the explanations that the writers have already come up with. Jack’s and Alanna’s characters might be more difficult. I’d hate to see Fuller’s intricate house of cards come crashing down because he can’t figure out a way to make all of his characters seem, well, in-character.

Tune in next week to see if Chilton’s dead or alive! I’ll be reviewing that one too, unless Hannibal’s killed me for being rude in this review. (No one tell him where I live!)

Episode Tally:

All of this has been my design: one
Dogs: eight (hi, Applesauce!)
Go free, little pets: two…