[Review] - Hannibal, Season 2 Episode 4, "Takiawase"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
DON'T GO IN THE BASEMENT!

Hit the jump for the review which contains spoilers that SERIOUSLY, GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!


This episode was, in some ways, a return to a season one form. There was a case of the week, which was solved almost entirely by Zeller and Price (always nice to see those guys get a little more attention). Will was emotionally and physically compromised, though in the course of doing so he was able to recall some of what Dr. Lecter had done to him during his black outs. This also meant that we got to see a brief return of Eddie Izzard as Able Gideon, if only recreating a scene from season one (which, kudos to the production team for pulling that one off). And Hannibal was as emotionally manipulative as ever.

But let's talk about the difference between a man and a monster. Jack and Hannibal tend to respectively represent those two ends of the spectrum on the show, with Will as the fulcrum. Though everyone on the show has shown sides of both, save perhaps Alana. This episode borrowed heavily from the Silence of the Lambs novel, in ways that make me wonder about the legality of their doing so. Bella's story got a heavy fast forward, and a lot of her and Jack's scenes were pulled from that book, especially their bed time scene. Jack, in the novel, is held back from being compromised completely by Bella's death by his obsession for finding Buffalo Bill. Here, Jack is divorced entirely from the event, getting the before and after, but not the during. It's a powerful moment in the book, and I was a little taken aback that Fuller and the writers would rob his character of such a moment.

Man and monster. How much of each is each of us? Hannibal would seem to be all monster, yet he clearly loves. Is it love, or is it obsession? Du Maurier seemed to think Hannibal incapable of love, that what he thought was love was really just curiosity. Chilton too seems to be coming around to the same perspective, though from another route. Dr. Lecter takes what he wants, and makes it seem like you are giving it to him. I don't feel it was by chance that the subject of psychic driving was brought up again, to remind us of the damage a person can do when forcing another onto a road less travelled. So, the question of the night is, was Hannibal's work with Bella the act of a friend and professional confidant, or the act of a curious mind convincing a weaker one of what they really want?

She wanted to die from the time she stepped into his office, so was she looking for support and found it, or was she looking for someone to talk her down, and instead found someone giving her that extra push she needed to go over the edge. The result: she took the plunge. So then, what can we read from his actions in saving her. Was it an act of compassion, for Bella or Jack, or them both? Was it an act of self preservation? Another dead body in his office might hurt business. Was it an act of curiosity? He's seen people driven to death before. Convincing them they want to die isn't hard at all. Was this about absolute control? Being able to snatch someone back from death, to undo the relief that death brought them? Was it his chance to bring a bit of suffering back into the world, wrapped under the guise of compassion. Hannibal is not a sadist, he's not usually about causing suffering. So why then did he save Bella?

On the surface, it appears that he saved her to save Jack some pain. That is the act of a man. What followed undercuts that by reminding us that Hannibal is a monster. With Du Maurier and Chilton starting to see the paint peel on Hannibal's facade, and Will all the more motivated to uncovering the truth, we know it is only a matter of time before he is revealed. It seems now like it is Beverly that will draw the line from A to B for Jack and the rest of them. And it was her own fault. She was damned fool enough to break into his house, and then even more damned fool enough to check out his basement of horrors (we didn't see what she discovered, before the lights went out). Still and all, that entire scene was edge of your seat viewing, because it's obvious there is only one way for this to end: Beverly will die alone in a human abattoir, and probably get served up to her colleagues as Hannibal's next feast. And again, the panther like movements of Mads Mikkelsen as he transforms from Hannibal into the thing underneath really sell the idea that this guy is a fiend of the highest order. It is a full body transformation, using little more than posture and a complete lack of grace.

Will is beginning to understand the extent to which Hannibal is a manipulative monster, and to which extent Hannibal tried to turn Will into one. As Will often repeats, this is his design. Everything up to this point has been Dr. Lecter's design. Bella was unforeseen. Beverly was unforeseen. He saved one, knowing that there is no salvation for her. He will be forced to kill the other, knowing that there is no salvation  for himself if he doesn't. Self preservation is instinctual; every animal has it. Protecting others is a social skill, and only the higher functioning animals have that. The question, I guess, becomes not whether Hannibal Lecter is a monster, but what kind of monster. Does he have even a sliver of humanity in him, is that what drives his feelings towards Will, towards Alana, towards Bella? Or is he just a very good monster, as Beverly no doubt is learning. Abigail learned how good a monster he really was. Will remembers her. At this rate, that stream is going to get might full of people he's forced to remember.

I feel that it's also important to remember that Jack, bleeding and wounded, ran into Hannibal's pantry at season's start. And now we know there is a room underneath. Jack's salvation, or just more room for the slaughter?
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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