Hannibal: Sakizuke

“The traumatized are unpredictable because we know we can survive.”

An insane muralist with a desire to glue and sew really pretty multi-colored bodies into a human eye that can be viewed bird's-eye style from an oculus of a corn silo… can only be a logline for Hannibal.

Writing about this show, I am never not challenged to find words that are good enough to convey its creative skill. My expectations are so regularly surpassed I had no idea that Season 2 was going to elevate an already highly proficient show. But my god, it sure as shit has. Right now, this show and everyone involved is on fire.

Hello. I love your work.

The last few seconds of the teaser say it all. Don’t worry about Will Graham. He knows exactly what he’s doing. No matter how bleak the situation looks for anyone involved thus far, Hannibal deftly shows us it’s in our best interest to invest in this series, its characters… these themes. ‘Sakizuke’ has so carefully considered how to meter out an invulnerable plot, (one that reveals the co-mingled nature within and without these characters) that in the echo of each one’s bold call to adventure is ours. Bryan Fuller runs up all over the boundary of our screens to energetically reach through the TV in a superbly tight 42 minutes -- every “t” is meta-crossed, every “i” meta-dotted. 'Are we getting all this?' Fuller asks. What with its references to existential crises and the danger in using something outside of us to reflect us back to ourselves especially when it’s filler for the missing pieces of our psyches.

And the conclusion I’ve drawn is that you are dangerous.

There’s a moment when Dr. Du Maurier has declared that therapy is over and Hannibal steps out from behind his desk, she steps backwards then he steps sideways to her. I just kept thinking — oh my god. Is he FOR REAL? It might be one of the greatest interpretive dances I have ever seen. (One more time, Mikkelsen is phenomenal as a psychopath in a person suit.) She narrowly escapes his office; her face, for the first time, truly registering just how close she’s been to the violent whims of a madman. Dr. Bedelia’s call to adventure? Get the hell out of dodge. Thank god she does. Incidentally, that makes her the most practical character on Hannibal to date. I mean really.

Like dandelion seeds casting bodies in every direction but his own.

Le nouveau Will Graham comes in on the autopsy of tragic victim, Roland Umber, and he’s in everyone’s way. More than being out of place, it’s also obvious he has 'no idea' what to do. Whether this is intentionally played for comedy, I’m still laughing. What a clever combination of adorable, whimsical, unexpected, ironic and baffling. Really, it’s just more dancing. Until the interjection of the word “craquelere.” (No one said he doesn’t have skills.) But Will’s absence is a presence. Beverly shares with the rest of the team what she learned from him about the color wheel. Most everyone’s intrigued. But Jack is fuming. He later scolds her ‘Miriam Lass’ style and that is truly amazing because it means he’s actually sending her back to the state hospital for more which he cannot let himself acknowledge on any level. It’s just some of the greatest self-preservation ever. By the by, because of the inquest, Jack is forced to see a department therapist (the gentle Martin Donovan). That’s some pretty frank conversation actually. Insight that lets us know (refreshingly) what you see is what you get when it comes to understanding the Crawford Complexities.

Do you mind if I do this privately?

Speaking of skills, gone is the gauzy glowy blur metronomic pendulum, Will’s profiling these days is like a disco ball. Everywhere there’s a point of light it bounces off of perfectly cut mirrored glass. He can intuit from a mere picture what we once thought he had to be at a crime scene to do. He’s saucy as shit, too, which, as it turns out is as fun to watch as his former confused guilelessness. When Beverly does go back to him for help with the nutty muralist, he leverages what he already knows he can deliver in exchange for her open mind and commitment to keep looking for evidence that proves him innocent in his case. And when Kade Prurnell eventually visits to throw around a slew of threats to intimidate Will into entering a guilty plea, Will more or less shrugs it off and goes fishing.

One of these things is not like the others.

Can you guess who DOES NOT understand what it means to be on a team? Who doesn’t get that collaboration and an exchange of insight is how this 'I’m-Will-Graham-now' is designed to work? Hannibal uses his outstanding nose to determine this: the cornfield and silo where from Roland escaped. But to GO THERE HIMSELF. In his plastic snuff suit.

And, in one of those perfectly placed plot-motivated occasions, seconds after Will has just explained ‘the what,’ of this new development in the case, we see 'the who' followed by ‘the how.’ Hannibal sews the killer into his own mural. Dr. Lecter: This is NOT helping the FBI. It's the opposite. One of these kids is doing his own thing.

I believe you.

There is a hat trick of subversive moments where the show is tasting its own greatness. During the Roland Umber autopsy, Jack’s gaze pauses for the tiniest of moments on Hannibal. It’s like all those times you walk by the same object in your house, you’re always aware it’s not in the right place, but this time you actually move it to where it belongs.

At the corn silo crime scene, Beverly glances down to see two of the bodies stitched together at the forearm. Why does it catch her eye? Will’s words are ringing in her ears. It's exactly as he said it would be. His empathy dexterity was called into question as soon as he was accused of being a murderer. After all, anyone can describe their own diabolical methods in eerie detail—there’s nothing groovy about that. But Beverly is re-remembering he IS magic. You just know she's wondering -- Waaaait, could he be innocent?

Finally, before her EXEUNT STAGE RIGHT, Dr. Bedelia goes to visit Will to tell him she knows he’s being framed. Holy god. I almost blacked out, I was hyperventilating so hard. The guards have to physically remove her from Baltimore's State Hospital. Will is stunned as he braces himself on the bars of his cell. His face dissolves into a blur. How very poetic. He doesn’t belong in there. Someone has invested in him. Not just 'someone,' the character in this universe with the utmost upper hand.

Odds and Ends

*Poor Roland Umber. First he gets help for his opiate addiction (KUDOS to the BEST REASON EVER that they gave for him living through the exorbitant heroin dosage), then he gets kidnapped and sewn into other people then he escapes in a HUGELY gut-wrenching scene then he falls onto rocks in his absolute moment of courage jumping off that cliff to get away from the killer.

*In the scene with Dr. Bedelia in Hannibal’s office: The insert shot of his feet coming closer—then hers moving backward more! So Hitchcockian! SO MUCH NOIR.

*When Hannibal does the killer a solid and sews him into his own mural, he takes his leg and eats it later. And there's A BAND SAW. And it’s fabulously juxtaposed with the forensic three discussing why a leg was missing from this ‘victim.’ It's so TOTALLY outrageous.

Odds and Ends: The Gillian Anderson Edition

*Dr. Bedelia saying BYE to Hannibal is wonderfully bookended with her visiting Jack to tell him she’s peacing out of this whole scene. Jack suggests she work her sh*t out with Hannibal because isn’t he such a good therapist and all? Um, Jack. Do you know what therapy is? Or how it works?

*Gillian Anderson’s micro-expression acting deserves accolades that haven’t even been invented yet. She can VOLUNTARILY make it seem like ONE EYELID is doing its own thing INVOLUNTARILY. She’s always had this skill but it has taken on otherwordly proportions.

*A-ha! Even though ‘the white line’ outside of Will’s cell or therapy cage is referred to ad nauseam, it’s Dr. Bedelia that gets to play out that Silence of the Lambs trope THE BEST (so far). You know the one, “Stay behind the while line, please. Step back from the bars, what are you doing? STAY AWAY FROM THE CRAZY PERSON, M’AM…”

*The final scene shows Hannibal in his plastic murder suit in the good doctor's now-vacant house. She does leave him her perfume which has more possible interpretations than can be analyzed in this lifetime.


Dr. Bedelia: "I've had to draw a conclusion based on what I glimpsed through the stitching of the person suit that you wear."

Jack (to Beverly): “How’s Will Graham? Shut your mouth.” LOL.

Jack (at the crime scene Hannibal quasi-helped create): "Dr. Lecter. Follow me, please. You might want to prepare yourself. You've never seen anything like this."
Hannibal: "I'm sure I haven't."

Hannibal: "When it comes to nature versus nurture, I choose neither."

Hannibal: "The eye looks beyond this world into the next and sees the reflection of man himself."

Will (recreating the scene where Hannibal's added to the mural in his own special way): "Who are you? Why are you so different from everyone else? I didn't put you here. You are not my design."

Hannibal: "If God is looking down at you, don't you want to be looking back at Him?"


Onanymous said...

Another fascinating episode.

Roland's escape was truly horrifying. I actually couldn't look at the screen while he was tearing himself loose, it was just too much for me.

Jess Lynde said...

The reason Roland Umber initially survived actually bothered me a bit. I heard a piece recently about heroin addiction, and the panelists noted that after treatment, one’s tolerance goes way down. They said that’s one of the big contributors to overdoses: people fall off the wagon and try to take in the same amount they were using before treatment, but their systems can’t handle it anymore and it kills them. Perhaps different treatment methods yield different results, but it was something that niggled a bit while watching.

Of course, it didn’t ruin the episode by any stretch. “I love your work.” Shudder. Highlights for me this week: the plastic murder suit (we'll just pretend he wouldn't cover his head, too); the use of the Sesame Street song; Will’s fishing vision with the bodies floating downstream by him; and Will’s reaction to Dr. Du Maurier believing him. Hannibal’s small smile after realizing that the good doctor had given him the slip was quite fascinating, too.

Heather said...

It was really so upsetting. On my two subsequent viewings I was watching on Hulu and it kept hiccuping so I'd have to reboot the whole ep. I finally started to leave the room until I heard Will's voice.

Freeman said...

Man, I consider myself as having a rather strong stomach when it comes to gore, but that escape was rough going. I had to grit my teeth at that. And he almost made it too, shoulda taken a running start.

I love how matter of fact Hannibal is about everything. Like the consequences of his actions aren't even in his vicinity. He just rolls up on the serial killer muralist and is like "Sup?". Everyone's just a pawn in his world.

That shot of Will fishing in the stream of bodies makes me wonder if his meditative world will continue to be more polluted by other killer's tableaus. Sure Will is lucid and together right now, but can he maintain that state if Beverly keeps coming to him?

Heather said...

That's a really good point about recovering drug addicts and overdose being more likely. That's totally a real thing. As for the explanation--it's probably one of those things that if someone noticed that detail, it either worked for them or it didn't. I can't explain exactly why it struck me like this but when I heard Will say it, it reminded me that it's not discussed in broad circles the fact that addicts' bodies can handle more chemicals in general because of their brain chemistry. Alcoholics, too.
My experience of this little detail was definitely influenced by Bryan Fuller talking about the show on a recent podcast. He spoke about how he wanted to talk about skin color in a way it rarely if ever is and I saw that as him not doing the traditional thing with the same ole issues. Like he is actually striving to add to the conversation an upside down or edgy example of to see something.
I might just be fangrrrling!
I loved the smile Hannibal had on his face at the end too! I read that as at the end if the day, he respects anyone who made a move he didn't see coming.

Heather said...

Freeman, yes, it seems to be the consensus that the teaser was brutal on everyone, even Bryan Fuller who was shocked Standards&Practices allowed it!
It is so fantastic and interesting to watch Hannibal move through his world. I like the way you characterized it so much.
I love your interpretation of the bodies in the fishing stream. It creates a lot of tension--how much time does Will really have in the BSH before he loses his shit.

Mark Greig said...

After four seasons of The Walking Dead I figured I had developed a high tolerance for gore, but I never stopped squirming during that escape scene.

Jess Lynde said...

Ah. So you are saying that, as an addict, something about Roland Umber's natural chemistry would have a higher tolerance for the drug, making him more resistant to a dose that would take out a non-addict. It's got nothing to do with him being in recovery, it's just a general higher tolerance than an average person. I can roll with that. I'm willing to go with Hannibal not covering his head as part of his murder suit, so this isn't going to hang me up too much. :)

Like Mark, I thought I had a higher tolerance for gore after all the seasons of The Walking Dead, but I couldn't really watch Roland tearing himself out of the mural either. I watched from the corner of my eye, and the sounds were awful. So awful.

I don't know how you can watch episodes more than once, Heather. It's a great show, and I really, really love the character dynamics, but between the sound and the visuals, I cannot stomach episodes more than once.

Eris said...

During the escape scene, I was bent over and retching. That is the most disgusting thing EVER. I can't believe they got away with showing it. God. This show is INCREDIBLE.

Re the tolerance - if Roland was receiving treatment for heroin addiction, he could have been on a high initial dose of methadone which would mean he would still have had a high tolerance for opiates.

Heather said...



That opening scene, despite what's come after it still gets referenced as deeply unwatchable.

Yes, at the time I too was thinking he could have been on a replacement therapy.

TV Hound said...

Great review again!

Heather, I watch this show alone, because everyone I know refuses to watch this show. But coming here to Doux", is like sharing traumas with you. Thank you. Especially, because you make me laugh, and see beyond the grizzly content to the artistry of Brian Fuller.

I just have to say, I was thrown by 3 plot twists:
-"Hello, I love your work."
-sewing the killer in (his speech about God was silly, sorry, not needed, the visuals carried mystery, that speech dumbed it down); and
-"I believe you."

Everything else, I've seen somewhere else, but those 3 moments renew my faith that there are ways to surprise a jaded TV audience (breast fed on "Criminal Minds" & "CSI") in remarkable ways.

Heather, help:
Du Maurier & Beverly fascinate me. I'm not sure why. Can you shed light on this Heather? They both have GREAT hair (power hair) and both are smarter than Hannibal (possibly, which puts them in terrible danger). I both admire them, and want to scream at them (as you so aptly put it):

“Stay behind the white line, please. Step back from the bars, what are you doing? STAY AWAY FROM THE CRAZY PERSON, M’AM…”

hahaha, Heather you kill me. (kill... so Hannibal)

TV Hound said...

And p.s., I love what you said about Gillian Anderson's acting:

"She can VOLUNTARILY make it seem like ONE EYELID is doing its own thing INVOLUNTARILY."

Heather that analysis made me laugh so hard - a seemingly impossible feat when discussing "Hannibal".

Heather said...

TV Hound,
Please, by all means, come here to share trauma. That's why the fans of this show are so bonded.
I agree that Beverly and Bedelia are smarter than Hannibal, that they have great hair and that they are both in imminent danger. I will leave it at that since I know too much. :)
I'm very glad that you laugh when reading my reviews, by the way. I take that as a very high compliment.