[Review] - Hannibal, Season 2 Episode 8, "Su-zakana"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
Annnd we're back. And back to square one in the brand new, softly rebooted Hannibal. With Will's new mission to play Hannibal as hard as Hannibal has played him, the show has returned to it's roots and considering how monumental this season has been thus far, it was a jarring return to the ordinary (as ordinary as a show featuring people getting sewn into horses can get).

The episode played like grief counseling, and not just because Hannibal was actively taking part in grief counseling. The traumatic events of the series to this point have weighed heavily on all the characters, and they are each seeking their own unique form of catharsis, and searching for meaning in the misery they've been party to. They hurt, and want to stop feeling the pain. The trick is, we know the only thing waiting for them is more.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers whose turn it was to provide the meat.


This episode was focused on two reflections, and both of those hinged on Peter Bernardorne, played by the wonderful Jeremy Davies (LOST, Justified). The first reflection was Will and Peter's interactions, as compared to those between Hannibal and Margot Verger, setting up what will be a defining moment in Hannibal's life. The other was the relationship between Peter and his social worker (Chris Diamantopoulos), contrasted with Will and Hannibal.

We haven't seen much of anything of Hannibal's actual business in a while, certainly nothing unconnected with our central characters since season one. Here, we got to see him in full psychiatrist mode, counseling Margot Verger, who is wishes her glimpsed but unseen brother dead. The introduction of Mason Verger, a man to rival Hannibal's own villainy, was stylishly done, in one of the most flamboyantly edited moments of the series thus far. It gets bonus point for giving us an abstract understanding of the character without ever actually revealing him. Margot and Hannibal's sessions concern the concept of worthy of death, as was the episode's theme. Is killing justifiable? Do certain people deserve to die? Margot certainly thinks so, and Hannibal absolutely does. She isn't going to get much good out of her time with Dr. Lecter, if the intent was to dissuade her from her belief that Mason's lifetime of actions makes him worthy of killing. Hannibal used his methods of manipulation to reaffirm this belief without ever being so obvious as to attract attention, as is his usual style.

The reflection of this was Will and Peter's conversations. Peter, like Will, is a victim. He's someone who has been taken advantage of, whose better nature has been perverted by a monster, and who views life an precious. Peter and Margot are the manifestations of Will and Hannibal's inner ideals. One seeks to kill, the other to save the innocent from death. In Peter and Will's scenes, they talk about the preciousness and innocence of life, how it deserves to be protected and maintained. Peter's belief that death can be undone through rebirth touches Will's own desires to speak for the dead, to give meaning to the meaninglessness of their deaths. Hannibal's methods are about action and reaction, Will's are about preservation and memorialization. The same is true of these lost souls they encountered here. Margot knows what she wants, but lacks the mentality to take action. Peter seeks to make better the ill-ended, but lacks the ability. Hannibal and Will, in their own ways, are able to make material the beliefs that drive these two. That two cannot do, and two can really only do, is what makes all four of them tragic.

The final scene, where Hannibal talks Will out of killing the recently de-horsed social worker, shows how deeply Hannibal cares about his friend. If not about him as a person, then perhaps as Will as an archetype. He knows that it is not in Will's nature to cross the line, to move from protector to killer. He has killed in the past, and it scarred him. He tried to have Hannibal killed, to play the puppet master, and it has left him marked again. Hannibal knows that if Will journey's to that side of the board again, he'll be lost forever. As twisted as their relationship is, Hannibal is looking out for his friend. And Will, as sane as he may seem, is only one bad day away from having it all fall apart on him. He can only blame the encephalitis for so much, at a certain point he has to take responsibility for how near the line he trolls.

The other mirror this episode was the social worker and Peter, which was a straight up parallel to Will and Hannibal, striped of all subtly. One manipulates, the other suffers. One kills, the other is blamed. One feels, the other does not. And all the while, all Peter wants is to help what he perceives is just another tortured soul, needing rebirth. Will might have been there, if Hannibal had twisted him so hard. The break in the parallel is that Will wants to see Hannibal hurt as much as Hannibal has hurt Will. Peter was willing to give his tormentor the gift of rebirth. Will will be content to watch Hannibal burn, once he's answered a few questions.
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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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