Before ‘Takiawase’ started, there was this title card insert: “Due to violent content and flashing lights with strobe effects, viewer discretion advised." Congratulations, Hannibal. Best warning ever.
This episode is like a viewfinder of death. Click for the next image and see another slant on it, the disk itself acting as a circle with infinite points of these such perspectives. One frame, we have the terminally ill wife of Jack Crawford, committed to leaving this world by her own choice and in another, a beloved member of the FBI’s BSU forensic team having made a terrible judgment call that ends her life. Click again, a human apiary: A repurposing given to an unlucky (lucky?) soul by his killer (yet merciful?) acupuncturist. A quick aside: I love how this show is pushing these buttons of morality. It’s like all of that needle imagery of ‘Takiawase’, compromising but hard to look away exactly. Bee stings hiding needle marks...
I’m saying Hannibal Lecter.
Oh, Beverly. Will tried. More than twice even. But you and your hubris blew past stubborn all the way to self-preservation without a second thought. It’s the end of the road for Beverly Katz. In the show’s most upsetting cliffhanger, Hannibal finds Beverly in his basement discovering damning evidence based on her gut-punched reaction. It’s filmed so chillingly. She flips the light-switch to get a closer look and Hannibal’s right behind her, moving like a flash of lightning to shut the lights off and have the advantage over her training (remember when she was a sharpshooter in ‘Oeuf’?). You know what’s not up for moral reflection in those moments? Whether Hannibal is an unruly psychopath way beyond our collective fascination or consideration. I mean really, there’s nothing ambiguous about his evils in this episode.
What’s happening to me? (part 2)
Will gains more momentum in sifting through his mind to find out what Hannibal did to him. He uncovers memories that are at least as disturbing as whatever Hannibal was going to do to our cherished member of the Forensic Three. Will remembers the night Dr. Lecter berated Dr. Gideon about stealing his thunder as the Chesapeake Ripper. Watching Will watch himself in these flashbacks of sorts is just deeply horrifying. He was so sick, so anguished and treated so unfeelingly. Gone are the days when it was fair to say that Hannibal was gaslighting Will. What was happening was a cruelty heretofore unknown. There is no doubt in these moments that calling Hannibal even irrevocably misguided is a HUGE understatement. This plus Beverly’s fate is a real change of tide for the audience view of Hannibal going forward. How can it not be.
What this are you offering in exchange for my that?
Dr. Chilton, Dr. Chilton, Dr. Chilton. The lighting was so different in the scene where he administers sodium amytal to try and sideswipe Will into some imaginary intelligent psychopathic confession that Dr. Chilton actually didn’t look as awful as usual. As if to say… he’s going to now become a weird kind of ally. In a totally desperate, twisted, backed-into-it kind of way, of course. So Will works Chilton into a lather over the thought of having the definitive medical / psychiatric word on him with his peers and naturally it works like a charm and away they go. During the ‘medically assisted barbiturate’ therapy, Will reveals that Hannibal (in theory?) injected him with a virus then used light stimulation to cause seizures for very calculated periods of memory and time loss. Chilton can barely contain his glee that he now has something to hold over Hannibal’s head and proceeds to do so at the very next possible moment. When Hannibal comes to visit Will, Chilton intervenes, letting Hannibal know all the progress he’s made, as his one and only doctor, with Will. If there’s a mannerism of Hannibal’s where he looks so ruffled he might jump out of his own skin, he’s doing it here. Chilton, on the other hand, does every word that’s remotely related to gloating.
Well, I love bees.
What a beautiful parallel this week’s killer has with this concept of a lack of ambiguity. Here we have acupuncturist / amateur (?) lobotomist Katherine Pimms. (A lifetime of thanks, Pushing Daisies) When Jack, Jimmy and Bryan go to question her there is a refreshing lack of guile, that she is indeed responsible for one murder and another, well, almost murder. (So far away from life was that poor guy that on the first watching, I thought the forensic team was doing an autopsy on him, not an exam.) In fact, in a role that COULD ONLY be played by Amanda Plummer, Katherine is extremely comfortable and relaxed with her choices to “liberate” these men from pain. The looks on the FBI Three while sitting in Katherine’s living room are ABSOLUTELY STUNNING. It’s like they don’t even know what they’re feeling at the moment but then they also have to comport themselves with professionalism and a modicum of respect. It’s just so great.
My silence is inevitable. The war is over.
Gina Torres returns in what appears to be her final chapter as Bella Crawford. She effortlessly commands the screen one more time despite Bella’s heartbreakingly weakened state. Her scenes with Jack and Hannibal, respectively, resonate with everything the craft of acting is about. And then some. She’s still seeing Hannibal for therapy (or are they having conversations), which means that two of her last moments (in her mind) are covered by the trippy intimacy of their connection. Though I do think Hannibal sees her as more than table dressing, my god, think about that. Her dying wishes are left with a man who by all accounts lacks compassion (but not the intellect) of what that even means. Maybe she knows that and it lets her off the hook, in her mind. In any case, her scene with Jack in their bedroom is divine. I don’t know -- is there another real-life couple that can communicate the nuances of a marriage on screen with the same touching result as the Torres-Fishburnes?
To Socrates, death was not a defeat but a cure.
After Bella downs her morphine in an attempt to peacefully take her own life, she shows up at Hannibal’s office to essentially die there. He flips a coin -- the coin she gave him no less -- to decide whether to revive her or let her die. Her one and only last wish taken from her by a heartless, self-serving son of a bitch who not only denied her this effort but made it completely impossible for her to try it ever again. When she awakens at the hospital and makes out his lurking shape in the shadows, her contempt not only drips from her voice but as soon as he’s in range, she clips him with so much force, her lungs are racked with labored percussive rasps afterward. That was a gift from Fuller. And in the echo of that slap was heard Will’s torture and Beverly’s untimely demise.
Odds and Ends
*Abigail Hobbs went fly-fishing with Will in the teaser. It was the first time I can remember Will smiling and laughing, maybe ever.
*What tips Beverly off that Hannibal might be really be the Ripper is this great combination of something Will told her (the killer left a detail you wouldn’t have seen unless you were looking) and Hannibal revealed about himself (you have to look under the surface to understand the pathology of this killer) but also her walking in on Bryan and Jimmy’s exam of Katherine’s lobotomized victim when they discover that his bee stings are covering up acupuncture marks is profound for her. It's one of those perfect storm moments and it makes for a very tense wonderfully exciting reveal when she finds that the muralist is missing his kidney because his mural stitches were covering up surgery stitches.
*There’s a moment when Bella smokes weed from a vaporizer to help with her pain and Jack asks for some. Bella wonders outloud if he can get away with that as the head of the BSU and does he still get drug tested. He was like, girl, I don’t give a shit about the FBI anymore, remember when I ruined my career last week on the witness stand!
*I know it's done to death and I DON'T EVEN CARE but I'm such a sucker for a shot of a coin being flipped all up in the camera lens! Never gets old.
Odds and Ends: The Amanda Plummer Edition
*Ah, my girl, Amanda Plummer. If any of you fucking pricks move, I will execute every mother-fucking last one of you. (A lifetime of thanks, Pulp Fiction)
*Bryan Fuller and cast live-tweeted during Friday’s broadcast and added, at one point, that cast and crew alike were in awe of her skills. They all felt schooled in the rules of acting.
Beverly: “Don’t say Hannibal Lecter.”
Will (to Chilton): “Shouldn’t you be my one and only psychiatrist?”
Chilton (to Will’s revelation that Hannibal facilitated his encephalitis): “That would suggest a radically unorthodox form of therapy.”
Jack: “I’m going to remember you as beautiful as you are now.”
Bella: “Well, good. Good.”
Jack: “You’re telling me his killer was a fever or a massive infection?”
Bryan: “Lock ‘em both up!”
Katherine Pimms: “I protected them. I protected these people from hopelessness and that’s beautiful.”
Beverly: “If Hannibal’s the Ripper, what’s he doing with his victims?”
Will: “He’s eating them.”