Remember when Hannibal first started again and there were all of these moments in the first few episodes where we were collectively rocking in a corner eating our hair? Well, I’m here to say we’ve made it through half the season. And in a real ‘live to tell’ type of way, too. Yay, fannibals.
The final nail in our coffin of this arc is ‘Yakimono’, a twisted devastating shock of theatre, if you will. Where Miriam Lass wanders around like a wind-up doll, just lucid enough to make the horror of what’s happened to her that much more bewildering, and Will luxuriates in his freedom by training a gun on Hannibal in his perfect stainless steel kitchen. In this same hour of television, Dr. Chilton is greeted in his own home by a cannibal in a plastic snuff suit, dressed and ready to frame him as the Chesapeake Ripper and Jack and Alana continue to drink all the kool-aid. Yet miraculously, at the end, a new beginning of sorts has emerged. If by new beginning, we mean a terrible continuing of all that is terrible.
The subject’s mental process betrayed, only by the expression on their face.
About halfway through ‘Yakimono’ I realized that it’s way worse that Miriam lived through her two-year hiatus from the world, worse for her and definitely worse for Jack and that’s why Hannibal returned her. Bravissima to Anna Chlumsky for portraying precisely what the Miriam Lass whom we met last year might be like after this: a woman unstrung yet fierce to cling to any mental acuity that might remain. Her attempts at recovery ranged from muted dignity (when she was fitted for her prosthetic arm, I died a little inside) to a full-scale cave-in of the self when she ‘recognized’ Dr. Chilton as her capture. When Will goes to visit her, they instantly share an unspoken bond about unspeakable wrongs. Their faces mirror each other in the sheer amount of control each grasps at in an effort to stay glued. Two broken ponies. But perhaps most unsettling was her visit with Jack to see Dr. Lecter. Their arrival at his office fused with a flashback of the day she caught the Chesapeake Ripper the first time. The effect of this allows us to comprehend the unthinkable: whatever has been done to this woman, it has contaminated beyond any recognition her memories. When Dr. Lecter uses hypnosis, she’s like a human jukebox, mechanically she plays whatever he wants to spin.
First you have to grieve for what is lost and what has changed.
Here’s something that’s changed… Will Graham. He puts the finishing touches on every interaction that comes his way in ‘Yakimono’. Partially because his transformation from demure to brazen is complete, but really, our hero has nothing to lose anymore and his acceptance of that has freed him up for a whole new game of his own design. He basically tells every other character what is going on around them with an almost-otherworldly exactitude. Most do not care to listen and on a scale from 1 to 10 on how unmoved he is by that fact, he’s a 26. His investment in anyone other than Hannibal, going forward, is visibly non-existent. It’s almost as if Hannibal has triggered an attachment disorder. Except with his dogs, and easily the brightest moment of the episode is when they're reunited. However, the exchange with Alana that follows is wistful and wretched. Will realizes how compromised Alana truly is in respect to Hannibal and even though there’s a flash of pain across his face when the truth of her romantic relationship registers, it’s far more sad to see him tell her she was wrong about him and even worse, her treatment of him while he was behind bars did him the most awful disservice by a friend imaginable.
When you wake up, your only choice will be to run.
Dr. Chilton. You smug son of a bitch. You failed to listen to two key pieces of advice. Granted one was from your former patient and the other from the Chesapeake Ripper, but still. Had you either come clean to Jack about all your inglorious psychological practices or run far away from that bothersome frame-up at your house, you might have prevented yourself from being shot through the face by a terrifically brainwashed FBI agent-in-training. I have to say though watching him get played like this was a great wild ride. Not surprisingly, he couldn’t let go of his own pride, come what may professional consequences. Dr. Chilton has always been way out of his league, but being captured like he was, cold, wet, without the physicality to successfully maneuver a snowy landscape, carried a beat of humiliation, pity and real sadness. And alas, his grim (but gorgeously directed) fate, the karma from doing his own thing plays out like a game of mousetrap. Miriam’s wayward recollection then Jack’s gun pulled from his holster with her one good hand, the slo-mo as he flies back from the force of the bullet, Alana hits the floor, Chilton’s slumped over lifeless as a pinpoint of light shines on the other side of the wall where the bullet exited the room and then the piece de resistance, Miriam’s horrified face through a crooked circle in the shattered glass. You guys, when I paused it, it looks like an eye. The eye looks beyond this world into the next and sees the reflection of man himself.
Odds and Ends
*Hannibal isn’t so much in this episode as his design is and it totally works.
*All the Miriam stuff. Aw, man. On a message board I frequent someone commented, “Please give her all the blankets.”
*Seeing Will with his dogs might be the last moment of anything light-filled for the rest of Season 2. I certainly enjoyed it. I hope you did, too.
*Probably because this show is so disturbing, it’s become a pastime to find humor in unconventional places. For instance, when Jack and Will show up at Hannibal’s murder cabin my mind jumped to well, I guess he had two sets of everything and one set was kind of shabby and he’s ready to let go of it aka leave it behind for more legit-looking evidence. Or it’s inferred that Hannibal packed Chilton’s bags for him therefore thinking about what that looked like brings on many laughs. Like did Hannibal give Chilton all of the worst outfits?
*RIP Gideon who might actually have won the award for THE WORST FATE of anyone so far. He was without limbs in Chilton’s (finished) basement but seemingly still alive until, well, until he wasn’t.
*The amount of effort that went into Hannibal jamming Chilton up is astounding. Hannibal made short work of two FBI agents with his bare hands before he posed them gruesomely. All right after he chloroformed Chilton and set him on a pretty chair in Chilton’s living room.
*Again, the sound was outstanding throughout this episode. The lone violin used to signify Miriam has one foot in her new reality and one in captivity (she remembered a constant flow of chamber music) and the clarinet played during Chilton’s realization that he was seriously dicked up evoked that feeling that everything is awful were standouts.
Miriam: “I’d wake up to the smell of fresh flowers and the sting of a needle.”
Will (dripping with sarcasm about his release from BSH): “This is very sudden.”
Chilton: “The Chesapeake Ripper has set you free. Mazel Tov."
Chilton: “Why did Hannibal not just kill you?”
Will: “Because he wants to be my friend.”
Will: “It’s theatre.”
Jack: “Every time the Ripper kills someone it’s theatre.”
Chilton: Yes, I have an agenda: living.”
Chilton: “I would like to remain not dead for the foreseeable future.”
Hannibal (smelling Will in the room before he sees him): “The same unfortunate aftershave. Too long in the bottle.”
Hannibal: “How would killing me make you feel?”
Jimmy: “I’m confused. Who are we saying is the Ripper? Dr. Lecter or Dr. Chilton?”
Chilton: “We are both doctors of note in our field!”
(Even in a crisis, it’s good to know he doesn’t abandon his hauteur!)
Will: “Jack, wait. I’ll bring him out. He’s got a gun.”
Miriam: “It’s him. It’s him. It’s… him.”
(Whatever modulator Brian Reitzell ran this loop through might haunt me forever.)
Will: “You kept my standing appointment open.”
Hannibal: “You’re right on time.”
Hannibal: “How will you take your life back?”
Will: “I’d like to resume my therapy.”
Hannibal: “Where shall we begin?”