In the opening scene to ‘Kaiseki’ there’s a completely wicked, enduring rumble between Jack Crawford and Hannibal Lecter. The aesthetics are gorgeous, the fight simultaneously unruly and nimble. I was transfixed. If this any indication of the intensity, consideration and attention to detail paid to Season 2 of Hannibal by le creative team, I'm being serious when I say this, we are going to need each other to get through it.
According to Bryan Fuller, the opening scene took 20 hours to shoot and two weeks to choreograph. That kind of time commitment is completely outrageous for any production. Of anything. Ever. Beyond this stand-off being paralyzing exciting, the show has the audacity to follow it by inserting the title card: “12 Weeks Earlier.” I don’t know, I guess someone was like, “Listen, we really need to turn the dramatic irony up 10 million notches higher than it already is, it’s just not enough to have everyone watching know who Hannibal Lecter really is. They also need to see how the season is going to end and then teeter on the brink of insanity about how it’s going to get there.” Same thing could be said for every scene that will take place this season with Will in the Baltimore State Hospital. And every scene with that hare-brained Dr. Chilton, for that matter. For both of them, their time will come, too. We can count on it. Hannibal is nothing if not impeccably executed.
So, Will is behind bars for now. Yes, his mind is so agile and equipped for a dark existence that he’s found a safe place (he’s fly fishing in a stream) for his brain to idle. But it’s still deeply heartbreaking. What’s really interesting is the way people are handling this circumstance of his. Blame is flung in place of grief and guilt, left, right and center. Everyone is a mess and when they come to visit him, one by one, there is epic denial at work. After Alana catches him up on the collective wellness of his pets, throwing in her fantasyland idea that he’ll see Winston again and the magical defense she has thought of to help him get free, she agrees to hypnotize him. (He hopes he will recover some repressed memories about Hannibal’s master plan. She just wants to be helpful.) Having compartmentalized the accusations against him, Beverly comes looking for help with their current case. She cops to her ambiguity but seems relieved that he’s functional. Jack’s just 100% lost in some sea of sad emotions and claims his visit is to help him remember who he thought Will was when he first approached him in that Quantico classroom. Then there’s Hannibal. As a psychopath, his denial and compartmentalization is either off the charts better than anyone else or his delusion that his presence is going to help Will is all-pervading. There’s also another possibility—he’s just so far down the rabbit hole in the investment of his nasty game that he can’t stop. It’s just too damn compelling.
Naturally, there are multiple issues for those who care for Will that arise from his absence. Alana has filed an official complaint against Jack with the FBI for being at least partially responsible for Will’s current situation. It’s a really big hassle for everyone involved as told by special investigator, Kade Prurnell (played to the hilt by Cynthia Nixon). So Jack’s hands are full. Since Will has liberally thrown some heavy accusations his way, Hannibal agrees to be investigated and must submit to DNA tests (and also have his fancy suits commandeered) by the forensic team. He also spends time with Dr. Bedelia, where he toys with her more than usual. They are in collusion about the death of her patient, by the way. Or perhaps a more accurate word is coercion. It’s not clear what the particulars are but her fear of him is now sitting on the surface of her glacial mien.
Because this is Hannibal, there’s more murder and mayhem and that occupies pretty much everyone, especially since Jack has propped Hannibal up to top profiler. Someone has discarded a bevy of bodies. Hannibal thinks he’s making models out of them, preserving them somehow. (When Beverly visits Will, he claims the fellow is making a color wheel. Both men are right.) The killer manages to pick off another victim and the FBI is none the wiser by the end of the hour. Hmm, this one’s going to roll over another episode.
In the coup d’etat of ‘Kaiseki,’ Will recovers a memory of Hannibal force-feeding him Abigail Hobbs’ ear through a tub down his throat. The scene is so well-done I was hanging upside down from the light on my ceiling while watching it. It’s triggered by Alana’s hypnosis which he, at the time, claims is not working.
The final scene of the episode is nothing short of nightmarish. The camera reveals a birds-eye view of a corn silo filled with bodies nestled against one other in the shape of a human eye. The human color palette fashioned by the killer. Yes, Bryan Fuller. We see. Now hold me, for the next two lifetimes.
Odds and Ends
*NBC’s really getting in on the action. Right before the episode started, in an homage to the opening credits of Hannibal, splashes of colored liquid turned into the peacock. Awww.
*Will’s fly-fishing moments are priceless. He looks so serene, even standing knee-deep in a rushing current... even when he spies a stag on the riverbank, not to mention a person painted in black wearing antlers emerging inexplicably from the river bottom and then finally Jack calling to him from shore.
*The scene where Alana hypnotizes Will is pretty special. There are loads of special FX that make it look like Alana is this inky ethereal protective angel. You get a strong sense of Will’s feeling for her in those moments because the imagery is his immersion into his own consciousness.
*Once Will is under hypnosis, he’s sitting a Hannibal’s table, sitting on the other end is the painted antlered man from his daydream and in the middle is an amalgam of imagery from Season 1 including shrikes, antlers, decaying food and the like. And on a plate in front of him… an ear. Hey, Will, your experience with hypnosis is actually the opposite of not working.
*Musically, the whole episode is one big homage to the 1960s psychological thriller on some level. The atmospheric music especially. Also that little box Will was in when Chilton was ‘interviewing’ him—very 60s, too!
*Hannibal cooks a vegetarian meal for Dr. Chilton who refers to having to watch his protein intake due to recently losing a kidney.
*Two random references from The X-Files that I couldn’t help but think of: Cynthia Nixon’s character reminded me a lot of Blythe Danner’s special investigator seen first in TXF film, “Fight the Future.” Will’s experience of hypnosis mirrors Scully’s wildly revealing hypnosis that she claims did not work at all in both “The Blessing Way” and “The Red and the Black.”
Hannibal: “I never feel guilty eating anything.”
Jack: “I can’t quite place the fish.”
Hannibal: “He was a flounder.”
Chilton: “You’re my patient now, Will.”
Will: “I’m not talking to you, Frederick. (pause) I want to talk to Dr. Lecter.”
Agent Prurnell: “These are allegations of misconduct. It’s damning stuff, Jack.”
Alana: “I never stated anywhere that this was misconduct. In my opinion, it was a lapse in judgement.”
Agent Prurnell: “A lapse in judgment is misconduct.”
Agent Prurnell: “This is going to get ugly.”
Jack: “It already has.”
Will: “You’re not my friend. The light from friendship won’t reach us for a million years. That’s how far away from friendship we are.”
Will: “What you did to me is in my head and I will find it. I’m going to remember, Dr. Lecter, and when I do there will be a reckoning.”
Beverly: “You were supposed to protect him.”
Hannibal: “From himself?”
Beverly: “Yeah. (sigh) I’m not mad at you, not anymore than I’m mad at myself. We all missed it, whatever it was--is.”
Jack: “Where were you just now?”
Will: “Gone fishin’.”
Will: “I am not the intelligent psychopath you are looking for.”
Jack: “Goodbye, Will.”
Will: “You may not believe me now. You will.”