Yes, Bryan Fuller and company! I’m with you. Courtrooms are inherently full of drama. Theatrics even! Give one the Hannibal treatment and you have the third episode in this season's ticking clock.
From beat one, Will is teetering on the edge of ‘Shite. I’m going from the frying pan into the fire’ territory. It’s a very interesting message actually: if you refuse your call to adventure, you might just be throwing the switch on your own demise. He’s questioning the exigency of his choice to manipulate the planet, but specifically Dr. Hannibal Lecter. If profiling someone like Garret Jacob Hobbs almost meant the end to any tether he had to stability, trying to actively outfox a cobra has to have some serious drawbacks. That whole ‘you are what you eat’ thing this show loves to toy with comes to mind as one of them.
Handcuffs v. cufflinks
Juxtaposed with Will in his cell dressing for his first court appearance is Hannibal suiting up for the same. Both button their shirts, tie their ties, straighten their collars. Hannibal has a mirror to look into, but Will’s mirror is Hannibal. In fact, by circumstance, these days Will’s mirror is a carousel of whoever is on the other side of the bars. Or on the witness stand. For better or worse (but mostly worse because, you know, this is Hannibal), people use Will as their reflection. Even Freddie Lounds does it in her 10 seconds on the stand. (Will’s lawyer makes short work of her and it’s outstanding.) But it’s at its most perfect when Dr. Chilton takes the stand to give a searing dissection of Will and his crimes. Born solely out of his wild insecurities and damaged ego, no less. Such is the plight of the empath. You are everyone’s mirror. And when you have handcuffs on, you may have to use everyone as yours.
Moment of truth: If I only knew what the truth was.
Jack throws the game in his turn on the stand, and places the agency on himself when it comes to Will’s actions, much to the DA’s chagrin (and Kade Prurnell’s who tried her best to coach him up). In fact, Jack’s statement is so reeling that even after the bailiff then the judge are brutally beautifully murdered, Prurnell still refers to his testimony as the moment that this whole trial went to hell. Hannibal basically asks him after his court appearance—Did you just quit the FBI in a super theatrical way or what?! Following it quickly with—Are you sure you want to do that? I mean your wife is going to die and you won’t have anything without her if you don’t at least have the FBI. Oh, Hannibal.
If I take the moral high ground with you, I’ll get you killed.
Will’s lawyer is my new favorite character. That's also a win. He is the person you hire when you want a criminal lawyer. (A lifetime of thanks, Breaking Bad) Leonard Brauer (Shawn Doyle) fits in well with his fellow playmates. He’s an opportunist who’s exceedingly impersonal and too smart for his own good. Sound like anyone familiar? When new evidence comes to light, he changes Will’s defense on a dime without so much as a shrug. He sees exactly who Alana is and what’s in her heart then dispassionately molds both when rehearsing her trip to the witness stand. And in perhaps the most inspiring move of his ‘Hassun’ oeuvre, he not only has the presence of mind to not even flinch when he opens up an envelope with a human ear in it, he actually cracks wise. Which leads me to believe: This isn’t his first time at the rodeo.
This killer wrote you a poem. Are you going to let his love go to waste?
About that ear… Someone kills Andrew Sykes, le bailiff, using all four of the murderous methods (plus a fifth -- a gunshot to the heart) that Will is accused of with his victims, presenting at the very least a boatload of doubt that Will is guilty. (He also uses Will’s knife that was in the evidence locker until Sykes checked it out.) I assumed it was Hannibal. I’m still not 100% sure it wasn’t but something interesting happens: When Will does his remote profiling, he doesn’t feel the Chesapeake Ripper’s presence. But this is actually where it’s interesting. It’s uncanny how much we trust his skills. I can’t think of a single time they have failed to show us the truth of any given situation. (Sometimes there’s more detail than other times, but have we ever seen something that didn’t end up being true when it comes down to it?) That’s a really powerful POV the show is taking. That the talents that make us individuals are pure, unfettered and tamper-proofed. I mean, Bryan Fuller… I’m swooning here… that is poetic. What a love letter to us humans.
The circus has just added another ring.
Presumably the same person later kills the judge rendering the whole trial thus far useless (though spectacularly flashy). In one of the final moments, Will has a dream that the infamous deer stag lets him out of his cell. He goes to follow it down the hallway until Hannibal, standing at Will’s cell door, calls his name and motions him back in. Will sees the symbol of the killer as separate from Hannibal this time but not wholeheartedly unrelated. Clearly the killings are linked to Hannibal, aren’t they all in end anyway? If they’re not him directly, he’s coaching someone up on the side to do his (and Will’s) bidding. Every time he meets privately with Will (and even in his testimony) there’s so much yearning in his voice -- Will. You. Please. Come. Around. He speaks to him in earnest half-truths and urgent double-meanings. I'm being as open and honest as I know how.
In the scene where they discuss Sykes’ killer, Hannibal tries what is perhaps his most indomitable form of connection (but what is actually coercion) to imprison Will in the way he did Dr. Du Maurier and Abigail Hobbs. He offers to lie to Jack, that this killer really is the same one that committed the other five murders. When Will pushes back and sits up to acknowledge the layers of lies he would be agreeing to, Hannibal sweeps his arm in a circle on the table and tells him he doesn’t want him to be in there anymore. It’s unnervingly childlike, petulant and borderline heartbreaking. I had to rewind it three times because IT WAS AMAZING.
There's just no way he's not pulling the strings here. This isn’t another case of the best luck ever raining down on him, as much as it is -- the stakes have been raised and his need to control the outcome is commensurate.
Odds and Ends
*The Forensics Three held together the funnier moments of ‘Hassun.’ They moved seamlessly between serious and self-satisfied.
*Shawn Doyle was on Big Love. He played Bill Paxton’s smarmy broken cult-loving brother so very memorably. What I am trying to say here is that the casting is perfect!
*I keep reminding myself to watch the Hannibal/Will scenes keeping in mind that Will is in control or at least doing his damndest to be. Watching them from that perspective gives them a different feel and interpretation.
*Guess who’s fishing the ENTIRE time Dr. Chilton is testifying? HA!
*The second time Hannibal visits Will, it’s with the bailiff’s crime scene photos in hand. I actually don’t think that Jack approved that. And based on the ensuing conversation, the only agenda present was Hannibal’s. He wasn’t helping the FBI here.
*Occam’s Broom is really a thing. Will refers to it when he claims Hannibal is sweeping certain facts under the rug conveniently about the killer. It’s like the cynical jaded brother of Occam’s Razor.
*Speaking of cynical, this may just be me, but I was again struck with how arbitrary, arcane and completely useless it is to swear on the Bible before one testifies not once this episode (Freddie Lounds) but twice (yeah, you, too, Hannibal).
*Will sees the antlered man as the witness when Hannibal first takes the stand.
*Whoever murdered the judge certainly has a flair for the dramatic! The scales of justice holding his brain and his heart, respectively, created an indelible image.
*The final scene was Alana and Will sharing a tender moment, albeit him in handcuffs. He told her the killer wanted to know him and when he asks her what she wants, she wistfully replies she wants to save him.
*I am live-tweeting the show each Friday at 10pm est. If you're on Twitter and you watch the show live, too, give me a shout (@JolieandElvis) and we can talk amongst ourselves during the hour!
Jack: “I had been warned by more than one person that if I pushed Will, that I’d break him. I put those checks and balances in place and then ignored them. And here we are.”
Leonard Brauer (after he finds an ear in an envelope): “I think I opened your mail.”
Hannibal: “The boundaries of what’s considered normal are getting narrower.”
Will: “How far would you go to help me?”
Hannibal: “It hadn’t occurred to me to send you an ear but I’m glad someone has.”
Will: “Accusing you makes me look insane. I’m not insane. Not anymore.”
Dr. Chilton: “There is not yet a name for whatever Will Graham is.”
Dr. Chilton: “Will Graham is driven by vanity and his own whims. He has a very high opinion of his intelligence. Ergo, he caught the other killers simply to prove he was smarter than all of them, too. Saving lives is just as arousing as ending them. He likes to play God.”
Hannibal: “This crime offered us both reasonable doubt.”
Will: “It offered us a distraction.”
Hannibal: (on the stand) “Will Graham is and always will be my friend.”
Hannibal: “Psychopathic violence is predominantly goal-oriented. A means to a very particular end.”