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Hannibal: Su-zakana

“With all my knowledge and intrusion, I could never predict YOU. I can feed the caterpillar, and I can whisper through the chrysalis but what hatches follows its own nature and is beyond me.”

Snap back to reality (oh there goes gravity) and on Hannibal that reality could, for instance, include a chirping starling found inside a dead body found inside a dead horse. Or as Will calls it, “A coffin birth.” Hello, ‘Su-zakana’.

Despite the nesting Russian doll logistics, the viscera and the body count of this episode, it’s Will that has had a coffin birth. Will, whose foundation has necessarily and permanently shifted to be able to accompany Hannibal into the darkness. Will, who has shored up every part of his known self so that he may do the impossible: catch smoke. All of his visionary self-generation fueled by Hannibal’s presence, toxic and permeating, pushing Will to become this new person. Otherwise he will choke. And there’s not a little birdie to carry his soul on its wings to salvation either.

You hook him, I’ll land him.

The tag team ‘good cop/delusional cop’ routine rather suits Jack and Will. The foundation of which is hatched in a surreal almost-chummy ice fishing sequence where the stakes are so high the two don’t dare speak in anything but metaphor. From the looks of things, their tactic is so seamless and falls far enough below Hannibal’s radar it’s practically a killer’s lullaby. When the three are having dinner at Hannibal’s house, not a moment of opportunity goes by that Jack doesn’t gently chastise Will’s foolish Chesapeake Ripper accusations. Later, at the needful observing of the evil social worker interrogation, Jack and Will ping off of each other like a data encryption algorithm. They don’t have any margin of error. What Will is putting on the line is his entire sense of self.

In many ways we need each other, we are the only ones who will know what this feels like.

I guess in the Hannibal universe, when in doubt, throw up a mirror so unmistakably reflective, it’s practically a crystal ball. In ‘Su-zakana’ a deeply horrendous social worker has attempted to use his troubled patient as a fall guy for 16 murders. Clark Ingram, and his patient Peter (played to perfection by Jeremy Davies), create an eerie likeness but ironically… unbelievably without the modicum of respect Hannibal and Will seem to have for each other. Ingram comes off a million times more callous, caring far less for Peter and his sanity, and I know that’s a HELLUVA statement considering. In the show’s climax, Will holds a gun on Clark, finger on the trigger, on Peter’s behalf, but on his own behalf, too. There’s a revenge by proxy element and even though it’s played for Hannibal’s benefit, that he gets to coax his little butterfly though another scenario, I can’t believe there’s not a piece of Will who doesn’t want to end this son of a bitch’s sorry life.

Doing bad things to bad people makes us feel good.

In a landmark moment, Hannibal repeats the abovementioned line of dialogue two different times. Both times in a therapy session with a patient in case you were curious what Hannibal’s version of psychic driving sounds like. Once to Will and the other to Margot Verger, a patient we’re now meeting for the first time. A word about Margot: She is one half of the sibling duo the Hannibal of the books and movie rains mayhem and hellfire down on, though it’s her brother Mason, briefly heard in a flashback to how her arm got broken, who ends up as human fodder for Hannibal’s sick and cruel propensities. (It should be noted that her introduction and overall character here has a distinctly different flavor than the Thomas Harris version so it’s unclear what of the Vergers will be re-purposed in this series.) The only reason to bring in the monster of a character that is Mason Verger is to distract the viewer from the terrible that is Dr. Lecter for a few moments. Thomas Harris’ Mason Verger makes Hannibal Lecter look downright pedestrian in his virtuosity with cruelty.

I’m afraid I need to be saved from who you perceive me to be.

With much of the pomp and circumstance removed from their fantastically complicated way of connecting to one another, Will and Hannibal have some of the most real and meaningful moments to date. Even though Hannibal is incapable of the same level of honesty as Will, they still talk of deeper truths with less of themselves covered in cleverness than usual. I keep going around and around with what Hannibal’s desired outcome is to this new Will. I think he knows damn well that Will is playing this game (Will had no intention of shooting that social worker) but in the end, he still gets Will. He gets his engagement, his presence, his intellect, and his empathy -- to say nothing of the piece of Will that will never be the same again since Dr. Lecter has come into his life.

Odds and Ends

*Vincenzo Natali directs this episode and he is not a journeyman TV director by any stretch. Based on the films he’s written and directed, he actively pursued the special kind of crazy Hannibal offers. Well, good news if you liked the direction here, he’ll be back one more time before the season is over.

*Jimmy and Brian have a sweet moment when they are at the first horse/lady crime scene. Jimmy finishes a sentence that Brian is having difficulty articulating in easy-to-understand terms. It's done with tenderness and care.

*Speaking of Brian, he apologizes to Will for believing he was responsible for those handful of murders. He says something really poignant though that calls back to Beverly in a pretty complex way. He admits that if he (and Jimmy) hadn't been so certain of Will's guilt that Beverly might have felt like she could have come to them for help. Well-done all around.

*Great nod to SotL when the murder victim in the autopsy bay has something obstructing her throat. Alas, not a moth cocoon but still undeniably reminiscent of that.

*Huge shout-out to Jeremy Davies who honestly has never failed to be compelling and layered in anything I've ever seen him in. In the scene where Jack hands him a photo to look at, I almost passed out at how brilliant Davies handles his character's physical/mental/emotional layers. It's jaw-droppingly awesome.

*In case anyone was wondering, Alana and Hannibal are still together. Their pillow talk though felt different. Hannibal having Will again so close to him, I thought, made him more cold and shutdown than usual.

*Speaking of Alana, so good to see her be a psychologist again. She was tasked with handling the interrogation of Clark Ingram and she was aces.

*The actress who plays Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle) is so haunting I can barely stand it.

*Will looks quite dapper in the scene at the horse stables. Hugh Dancy looks like he stepped out of a Dickens' novel.

*Peter's head injury has led to him not being able to touch something and look at it at the same time. Even if I pondered it every day, there is more symbolism in that than I could uncover in a lifetime.

*Of course Hannibal is driving the car he and Will are riding in. Hell, he's still driving this whole thing.


Will: “I’m a good fisherman, Jack.”

Hannibal: “Our greatest crime now would be to walk away from what we have shared, what we’ve suffered…”

Will: “There’s so much comfort in darkness.”

Will: “I don’t want to kill you anymore, Dr. Lecter. Not now that I finally find you interesting.”
(Great call back to their conversation in the motel room in 'Aperitif' when Will tells Hannibal, "I don't find you that interesting..." and Hannibal answers, "You will.")

Margot Verger: “Everybody loves a sinner redeemed.”

Will: “I know what it’s like to point at a killer and have no one listen.”
Jack: “You pointed in the wrong direction.”

Will: “I’m alone in that darkness.”
Hannibal: “You’re not alone, Will, I’m standing right beside you.”

Will: “Peter, is your social worker in that horse?”
Peter: “Yes.”

Hannibal (when the social worker emerges from the horse): “Mr. Ingram, you might want to crawl back in there if you know what’s good for you.”

Clark Ingram: “Peter’s confused.”
Will: “I’m not. Pick up the hammer.”
Hannibal: “Will…”
Will: “PICK. IT. UP.”


  1. Now that Jack and Will are effectively on the same page, any scene that they're in with Hannibal becomes immediately tense. Will Hannibal sniff them out before they get a chance to snag him? Is Hannibal too excited by the prospect of having Will back to care?

    It was nice having Alana do something beside trash talk Will. But I still feel like she even came off pretty hostile in her interrogation scene. I don't remember her being like that before. Though I guess she could've been just acting like that to elicit the response she desired.

    Jeremy Davies was great as usual. And it was nice to see Brian make amends with Will. When he first was on the show I was worried he was just gonna be that character that's unnecessarily standoffish all the time. I reckon I wasn't giving this show enough credit at the time, haha!

    1. Freeman!
      As for Hannibal being keen to Will&Jack's plan, I think you hit it with he doesn't actually care he's just too excited Will is back!
      Also, yes, I don't know how to describe it fully yet but Alana has changed. And not for the better, not that I'm making a moral judgment, but the ways she's different make her less authentic not moreso if that makes sense.

    2. "And it was nice to see Brian make amends with Will. When he first was on the show I was worried he was just gonna be that character that's unnecessarily standoffish all the time."
      This so much, though I'd've understood it as Beverly's legacy

  2. Props for opening your review with a quote from an Eminem song.

  3. Mason Verger will be a hoot..I mean very scary..the actor can do scary. And Margot is just so ethereally haunting yes.
    Ugh the horse birth scene..thanks for the nightmares Fuller.
    Alana was useful but I still fear for her. Hmm..I wonder if Chilton survived somehow? Wishful thinking-but Miriam lives so..
    Great review as ever.

    1. I have only seen Michael Pitt in 'Hedwig and the Angry Inch' where he was possibly only 15 years old but the picture circulating looks fantastic.
      Yeah people are getting restless for a Chilton and/or Miriam update. I am too.

  4. Ah Hedwig..great movie..I'd forgotten he was in that.
    I'm overdue for a rewatch.
    Also Pitt was great as gangster Jimmy Darmody in Boardwalk Empire. He was scary there, despite looking all of 17 years old. He was meant to be in his twenties in the role.

  5. Nitpicking, Heather. Alana (like Hannibal, Chilton, Bedilia and others) is a psychiatrist not a psychologist. A psychiatrist is a physician ( MD or DO) who specializes in psychiatry. They attend 4 years of medical school then a residency and sometimes a fellowship in psychiatry ( mine was 5 years). A psychologist has a PhD in psychology as well as clinical training. There, I am glad this forum gave me the chance to get that off my chest. Movies and television shows often confuse the two, but this show does a pretty good job of separating the two. The thing I love about this show is there have been up to 4 psychiatristsi in an episode and while the medicine is often not based on reality, it is not as bad as House was.

    1. Docnaz,
      I thought Jack differentiated in ep 1 'Aperitif' that Alana was a psychologist. My parents are both therapists so I am familiar with the MD v. PhD degrees but thank you for saying so because it's a good reminder in general!

  6. Well, I think I gave the show more credit than I should have. I see on the Wiki sites, Alana is referred to as a psychiatrist and psychologist in the same paragraph. Well, mmaybe she is an MD/PhD. Anyway, I love,your reviews. Your writing is flawless and your insights are awesome. I wish I had your way with words.

  7. Docnaz,
    You know I think the Dr. Bloom of the books is a psychiatrist which might be adding to the Wiki's confusion as well.
    I'm so glad you're watching and adding the valuable psychiatrist insight! I can only imagine what this show looks like from your perspective. :)


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