Hannibal: “Ko No Mono” Review

hannibal-season-2-release-date1This season of Hannibal has at times felt like a really close-up view of a really spectacular dominoes setup. We know that the pattern is intricate and convoluted, we know the dominoes are falling faster and faster, we even know what it’ll look like when the last one tips over. Yet we can’t yet back up and take in the season—I mean, the domino picture—as a whole. To that end, it feels a little bit strange to be covering, well, the third-to-last domino, knowing that the entire pattern is soon to be revealed.

Having said that, let’s dive back into Will and Hannibal’s Excellent Adventure. Trigger warnings for verbal manipulation of a child, explicit violence towards women, and the other more usual (hah!) Hannibal trigger warnings after the jump.

“Ko No Mono” starts with Will in his mind palace, dreaming that Hannibal’s wendigo avatar is hunting him down and that he himself is reborn into a wendigo-esque thing. Well, he’s killed Randall Tier and possibly Freddie, he’s maliciously hacked up and displayed Randall’s body, he’s eaten long pig—yup, Will is pretty far on his way to becoming Hannibal. To top that off, Hannibal offers Will a roasted songbird called an ortolan bunting, to be swallowed whole, as a gruesome but hopefully at least delicious welcome into his new life as Hannibal’s protégé.

This week we had Will manipulating Hannibal and Hannibal, of course, manipulating Will. On Will’s front, we saw Freddie Lounds’s body discovered by a security guard—it was put in a wheelchair, burned to a crisp, and then rolled into an underground parking garage. Jack’s science team confirms that it matches Freddie’s dental records and Will expounds on the body for a while as Hannibal looks on, sort of like an arts student explaining his final project to his teacher. Jack says hardly anything through most of his scenes, leading Alana (and me, as a viewer) to think that something’s up. She confronts him at the end of the episode, finally questioning him, and Jack takes her to a different room and shows her that Freddie is, indeed, still alive. And apparently very interested in how her funeral went off.

hannibal ko no monoOn Hannibal’s front, he’s got delightful new toys in the form of Mason and Margot Verger, and he wastes no time winding them up. Margot is pregnant with Will’s child as a result of Hannibal’s encouragement, and Hannibal pushes at Will to begin thinking of himself as a father. Mason, who has accepted Hannibal’s offer of therapy for reasons unknown (maybe he thinks he can manipulate Hannibal too? Get in line, buddy), finds that his complaints about Margot are stopped by Hannibal’s hinting that Margot may already be pregnant with a Verger heir she could use to displace him. He confronts Margot, scaring her into packing her bags and driving away, and then he gets his creepy servant to hit her with a car. Once she’s in the hospital, he pays the doctors to take away all her reproductive organs. Will comes to visit her as she’s recovering. He finds out what happens, goes after Mason, holds him over his own pig kennel, and—tells Mason that they were all manipulated by Hannibal. Margot was manipulated into getting pregnant, Mason was manipulated into taking it away, and Will was manipulated into caring about it so that he would take down Mason and come away with another notch in his killing belt.

So now we know the breadth and depth of Will’s design. He didn’t kill Freddie! He may have found a people steak somewhere to fool Hannibal, but he didn’t kill her. I’m really excited to find out how he did it. According to the preview for the next episode, though, Will did kill and display Randall, so he’s presumably going to be in a lot of trouble for it. Fortunately, Jack is in on the whole plan, so I’m reassured both that he’ll have some way of covering for Will and that he’s not as unobservant as his scenes would have you believe. (Good redirect there, Fuller.)

freddie loundsSpeaking of redirects, though, I found Freddie’s not-dead reveal to be pretty anticlimactic. As fake deaths go, it was definitely better than BBC Sherlock’s, but less of a shocker than Gandalf the White’s. We didn’t see her body last episode, and when we saw it this episode, it had no recognizable facial features, and that immediately made me think it was a fake. (Hopefully that doesn’t say anything about me.) But since she’s alive, she must be in on it, and we know that Jack is, and Will obviously is, and now Alana knows too (although we don’t yet know what she thinks of it, which could be important as she’s in a tenuous personal relationship with Hannibal). Finally all the cards are on the table, and, now that the veneer of mystery has been taken away, all the characters can contribute to the final showdown that we know Jack and Hannibal have at the end of the season.

It remains to be seen how much Hannibal knows about Will’s plan. Hannibal is a master manipulator, after all, and even though Will attributes the Ripper’s deaths to Hannibal in their conversations and Hannibal acknowledges the truth of that, he never lets slip any evidence or even any sentences confirming that yes, he did kill those people. It’s an intricate bit of wordplay and I’m sure Hannibal is doing it for a reason. So how much does he know about his protégé, was he really fooled by Will’s fake Freddie body, and are we going to see an even bigger twist in the next two episodes? Keep watching to find out.

Episode Tally:

Death and rebirth themes: baptismal songbirds
Paternalistic scheming: tissue paper tears
Metaphors: they’re all metaphors