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?"