In season two of Hannibal, there’s less emphasis on the serial killer of the week, in favor of the more operatic emotional maneuverings between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham. This is the point when you really need to start paying closer attention to what the characters say to each other, about each other. The vast majority of the time, when Will or Lecter is speaking, they’re often actually talking about themselves or each other. There are no wasted moments or conversations as everything the creators want the viewer to know, has become much more streamlined. Fuller is pretty clear exactly what story he’s trying to tell here.
According to Fuller himself, the relationship between Lecter and Will begins as a one-sided friendship and ends as a horrific but platonic, Gothic Romance, with lots and lots of blood. Some people prefer to see it as a Romance romance, and that’s okay, but it’s probably more helpful to others to view it as a big brother, little brother relationship, as by the third season, Lecter refers to Will as his family, torturing Will in ways that only an elder brother could get away with.
Last season, we saw the Satanic Lecter manipulating and deceiving Will Graham into a jail sentence, (and possible death penalty), framing him for the copycat crimes that he himself committed. In the first season, Lecter was much more focused on saving his own ass from going to prison. He spends more than a bit of time this season saving Will’s, as his priority seems to have changed from saving himself to acquiring Will’s friendship and trust. We watch as Will Graham takes on some of Lecter’s worse character traits, not just to get out of prison, but to capture Lecter and bring him to justice.
We see a less passive Will Graham, who kept having things done to him, and who has definitely been born-again hard, scheming and conniving, being assertive, moving the plot forward, in an attempt to beat Lecter at his own game. The drawback is that Will still cares about human life and simply doesn’t have the stamina for evil. Lecter only cares about one or two lives. His and Will Graham’s. But Will thinks perhaps that’s enough to be his undoing.One thing that all of this has taught Will, is that Lecter doesn’t want him dead. Lecter has had plenty of opportunity to kill him and frame anyone else. Will begins to understand what Lecter wants from him and how he can use Lecter’s feelings for him to his advantage.
We begin the season with a flash-forward to a massive knockdown, drag- out fight between Jack Crawford and Lecter, which Lecter seemingly wins, as Jack ends up in a wine closet, with a shard of glass in his neck.This is not the only fight we’ll see between these two massive foes. In season three, they have at it again with Jack coming out the clear winner, although Lecter survives by sheer luck.
At some point during the season, Jack becomes aware of who and what Lecter is and has come to wreak vengeance. The rest of the season is really just a flashback. We go back three weeks to Jack sitting at Lecter’s table eating what he believes is flounder, although the way Lecter talks about it, I suspect its people, and the commentary from Fuller, asserts that’s what it is. Lecter references Mukozuke, the episode in which he kills one of Jack’s protégés.
“I never feel guilty eating anything.” He tells Jack.
Hannibal often tells the other characters a lot about his beliefs and thoughts. The other characters often think he’s joking although we, the viewers, know better. Like Lecter, we’re omniscient. We always know more than all the other people in the show. Does this make us superior to them? Does this make us godlike or just Hannibal-like?
Jack and Lecter discuss Will’s suspicions of Lecter, and because Jack still wants to work with Lecter, he has to investigate Will’s accusations. Jack is only doing this to cover his own ass, not because he believes Will. He is confounded but not by whether or not Will did these crimes. This is also the only conversation in which we will hear about Lecter’s aunt from the movie Hannibal Rising, Lady Murasaki (who shares her name with the real life woman who wrote The Tale of Genji.) Incidentally, Chiyoh from the third season, according to the books, is Lady Murasaki’s maid. She too, had a brief affair with Lecter, although I think she’s much too young, on the show, for that to have happened and seems more like a daughter to him.
The Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane is a very boring place so Will occupies himself with daydream-fishing. This is, I think Will’s version of Lecter’s mind-palace. He still can’t escape Lecter’s influence, however, as we can see the RavenStag standing watch in the background, while Chilton drones on in the foreground. Impatient with Chilton’s mental fumbling, Will asks to see Lecter. Once again the appearance of the RavenStag prefaces Lecter’s mention, or appearance, in the story.
Alana Bloom, the protective Mama Bear, has brought a report of misconduct against Jack Crawford and the Bureau. Katie Prunell, the Federal Investigator, advises her against it, but although she is torn between her loyalty to Jack and her friendship with Will, Alana chooses to forge ahead.(In the commentary its stated that Katie Prunell is an anagram of Paul Krendler, played by Ray Liotta in the movie Hannibal, who had his brain eaten by Lecter.)
Lecter confesses to Bedelia his obsessive fascination with Will Graham. Is this the beginning of some deeper feelings he has for Will, that he simply doesn’t recognize, although he says Will is his friend? He gives Bedelia written permission to discuss him with the FBI. She asks what’s the purpose of his involvement with the Bureau, saying he is putting her in a position to lie for him. The threat, for not cooperating with Lecter, isn’t stated, but it is implied.
Once again the RavenStag precedes Lecter, as you hear it’s hooves, when he visits Will at the Hospital. Will accuses Lecter of having done all this to him, and when he remembers, there will be a reckoning. He also utters one of my all-time favorite lines in the entire series:
“The light from friendship won’t reach us for a million years. That’s how far away from friendship we are.”
Which is a total lie, because in season three, Will is willing to admit, if not to Lecter, at least to Jack, that Lecter is his friend. In the second season, all of the focus is on Will’s eyes. Its all about his ability to perceive now since his voice is mostly useless. No one wants to hear what he has to say. The trick now is to get others to see what he sees.
Alana goes romping with Will’s dogs before she visits him at the hospital. She offers to hire a non-FBI lawyer for him and that his defense will be “Automatism” -an action performed unconsciously or involuntarily, the performance of actions without conscious thought or intention. Will tells her he can hear Lecter’s voice in his mind.
Will tries to warn Alana about Lecter too, but she thinks its a delusion he adopted because he doesn’t want to face what he’s done. He asks her to help him recover his memories and the attempt is less than successful. On the other hand, like so much of the series, its a gorgeously surreal moment.
Will envisions a long table, set with living and decaying food and insects, with the ManStag, wearing Lecter’s face, sitting at the head of the table, looking over the sheer amount of death that Lecter is responsible for.
We go from one overladen table to a spare one. Chilton is dining with Lecter, talking about how Will Graham won’t speak to him. He mentions fumbling at Will’s brain like a freshman pulling at a panty-girdle, a phrase uttered by Lecter, about Chilton, in the book Red Dragon, but here, attributed to Chilton. Chilton is a gossip, who eavesdrops on all the conversations at the hospital, something that will come into play later in the season. Will knows better than to inform Chilton of anything useful, as he knows it will eventually get back to Lecter. Chilton tells Lecter everything about Alana’s visit and what Will Graham has been saying about him.
The serial killer case takes a back seat to the machinations of the various characters but its a reference to Lecter’s omniscient godlike nature, that he seems to know all and see all. The forensic team finds several rotting bodies damming up a river. Lecter is called in to consult on the whys and wherefores of all this death. The killer is making a color palette using human bodies. He poses them in the shape of a giant eye, that can only be seen from the top of the corn silo in which he’s hidden them. Nevertheless, Beverly and the others are stymied and she comes to Will seeking help on the case, without Jack’s knowledge. In her usual blunt manner she tells Will that she doesn’t know how to feel about him.
Lecter tells Bedelia that he got to be Will Graham for one day and that it was very unnerving for him.
Beverly returns to the lab with new ideas. Jack and Lecter can tell she’s been talking to Will. Jack chastises her at first, but afterwards gives his tacit permission for her to continue seeing Will, which will later prove her downfall. Jack loses a lot of people in this series. He lost Miriam Lass, then seemingly Will Graham, Beverly Katz and finally his wife, Bella. This series seems to be as much about Jack Crawford’s losses as it is about Will’s. Later, Jack visits Will’s home and encounters Winston the dog, who is also looking for Will. Afterwards, he goes to see Will, who tries to tell him about Lecter but Jack won’t hear of it.
Jack is very torn. Will is his friend but part of him can’t help but accept responsibility for the things Will has done. As head of the Behavioral Sciences Dept. its his job to be able to spot and catch serial killers. If Will was a killer all along, he should have seen it. They all should have seen it. If he didn’t, its embarrassing and smacks of incompetence. On the other hand, if Will became a killer because the job drove him insane, then its Jack’s fault for not pulling him out of the field, after he was warned to do so by Alana.
During his evening dinner Will has a memory of Lecter forcing Abigail’s ear down his throat with a tube.He’s gotten his first real memory. He’s ready to begin.
In the darkness of the corn silo, one of the killer’s victims wakes up and breaks free.
On a Personal Note:
I was discussing these reviews with a friend and we discovered something I found puzzling. There are almost no reviews for the third season of Hannibal. There are still people discussing the show on Tumblr and a handful of people, who are probably paid bloggers, did reviews for some of the bigger websites. The Fannibals, however, didn’t.
She and I were able to find dozens of reviews of the first and second seasons of the show, but for some unknown reason, while still being fans of the show, people stopped doing reviews before the end of the second season, and then everybody (and their grandmama) reviewed the finale.
So apparently, just like me, no one watched the first half of season three and only checked in when the Red Dragon arc began. Still, plenty of people didn’t review the finale either, especially people who’d reviewed the first two seasons. My friend and I wondered what particular set of factors led to people reviewing all but the third season.
This is why I have every intention of completing these reviews. I was getting frustrated by finding these great meta-style reviews of the first two seasons, only for the reviews to abruptly stop. (In many cases the blogs and websites were quit alltogether, with no activity after the second season.)
Not only that, but we could barely find any essays or meta on the third season, although we found plenty of gif sets. People doing gif sets are apparently completists. Many of them are still doing so, long after the end of the show. Incidentally, I won’t be tagging my reviews Hannigram, yet. I’m not going to use that tag until the middle of second season, when Hannigram becomes explicit.
If you have any links or websites that reviewed the third season, let me know in the comments. And please like these reviews, if you’re regularly reading them, although I plan to keep going until all of the seasons are reviewed, whether or not you check that particular box.