Hannibal Season Two Finale: Mizumono

And so we end with a perfect cap on this season. We began in episode one, with a forecast of how the season would end, with a massive knockdown fight, between Jack Crawford and Hannibal. How did we get from them being friends to that point? The rest of the season is really just a flashback, to how we reach that moment, and its aftermath.

All season long ,we’ve watched Will Graham, thoroughly unburdened by the illness he was suffering  in that first season, at the top of his game. Most of this season chronicles Will’s  fall from grace. In his efforts to capture the Chesapeake Ripper, he finds himself in spiritual, and emotional, alignment with Hannibal. After failing to get any traction on his accusation that Hannibal is the Ripper, Will, in collusion with a newly believing Jack, after  Beverly’s death, embarked on a campaign to take down Hannibal, by cozying up to him, winning his trust, and gathering  evidence of wrongdoing. Hannibal being too canny for that plan to work, didn’t enter into their equations, and Will found himself being drawn  further down the rabbit hole of Hannibal’s machinations. Hannibal’s goal is  to make Will realize that he is just as much a killer as Hannibal, and make him his partner in death.This culminates in the death of Randall Tier at Will’s hands, in self-defense, and the seeming death of Freddie Lounds.

In this episode everything comes to a head. Jack’s predicament in allowing Will’s plan, Will’s predicament in lying to Hannibal, and the actual fate of Abigail Hobbes is revealed.

Hannibal sends Jack a letter, inviting him to dine with him and Will, and he accepts. Will and Jack discuss this Last Supper, while finalizing their plan to catch The Chesapeake Ripper. Alana is filled with doom and gloom and nightmares, as she begins to realize exactly what’s been happening, and what Hannibal is. She hasn’t been sleeping and is filled with dread that Hannibal has laid a trap for all of them.

Jack is finally successful in finding Hannibal’s therapist Bedelia Du’Maurier, who had gone into hiding, after she felt threatened by Hannibal. In his interview with her, Bedelia warns Will that Hannibal will find a way to prevail. She explains what hold Hannibal has over her. Will and Jack offer her immunity from prosecution for her testimony against Hannibal. An astute observer, she can somehow tell that Will’s loyalties have been severely compromised, and that it is Will’s weakness that will hand Hannibal his victory over their plans.

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Bella Crawford is dying in the hospital of lung cancer. Hannibal visits her and they discuss forgiveness. She says she forgives him for saving her life, and letting her die in this manner, but in return, Hannibal has to save Jack, the way Hannibal saved her. She has no idea that Hannibal didn’t save her out of caring or friendship, but as an exercise to see  what would happen, and to distract Jack from his hunt for The Ripper. She never discovers that Hannibal not only doesn’t keep his promise to save Jack but makes plans with Will Graham to kill him.

Nevertheless, Bella’s words about forgiveness come back to haunt Hannibal in season three. Unbeknownst to her she (and everyone he has met) does have an effect on him. In fact, even though Hannibal later claims that Will and the others had effected no change in him, that is a lie. Since becoming involved with the FBI, and knowing Will, Hannibal has developed close relationships with many people he would otherwise have never met. Remember  season one, when  Hannibal was a profoundly lonely man, who didn’t realize just how alone he was. After involving himself with Will, he became surrounded by people who cared about and trusted him, and although that did not prevent him from killing any of them, it has affected his attitudes and behaviors in small ways that will  play out in season three.

Will is clearly conflicted about Hannibal. As he makes plans with Jack, he also helps Hannibal destroy evidence in his office. While the two of them burn Hannibal’s files,  they make plans to run away together. Will is cagey about the commitment but it all becomes moot anyway, when Hannibal, with his keen sense of smell, scents Freddie Lound’s hair shampoo on Will’s clothes. Will had just had a meeting with her to ask her not to write any more stories involving Abigail, and to let her rest in peace, as he makes plans for Hannibal’s imminent capture.

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Will and Hannibal discuss what would happen to Hannibal if he were ever captured and Hannibal says he would live inside his Memory Palace, (something peripherally mentioned in the Silence of the Lambs), which is a place deep inside his mind, which resembles the foyer of the Norman Chapel in Palermo. Foreshadowing: This is information that Will uses to find Hannibal in season three.

Just as Hannibal has his Memory Palace, Will also has one. Fishing in the river.We saw Will visiting this place when he was in prison. At the time, Hannibal as the RavenStag, or the ManStag, was often shown infiltrating Will’s private mental space, illustrating that Hannibal (and Abigail) were never far from Will’s thoughts. Later, in season three, Will easily visits Hannibal’s Memory Palace. As an example of how intertwined their thoughts are, by that point, its not immediately clear to the viewer, whose mind we’re visiting, Will’s or Hannibal’s.

While having dinner, Hannibal asks Will to just leave with him, and not inform Jack, but Will lies to Hannibal, saying that Jack deserves to know, and puts forth the idea that Jack be killed. Hannibal doesn’t require that Jack die but he allows Will to keep lying to him. He was hoping that Will would come clean but he didn’t. Hannibal makes other plans at this point.

Kade Prunell, the Special Investigator, has caught wind of Jack’s plan. She aims to put a stop to it because its a complete violation of the law, and a private citizen’s rights. Claiming that the imminent death of his wife has compromised his logic, she suspends Jack from his position as Director. Jack, now free of any legal obligations to capture Hannibal alive, surrenders his gun and badge. Alana comes to his defense, arguing that the only way that Hannibal can be captured is in the act, , but Kade won’t hear of it. She tells Alana that Jack and Will are to be arrested for what happened to Randall Tier. Alana calls Will, to warn him about the warrants put out for his and Jack’s arrests, while Jack visits Bella in the hospital one last time.

Will calls Hannibal. Just as this whole thing began, that first season, with Hannibal’s phone call to Garrett Jacob Hobbes, (just because he was curious what would happen), Will’s phone call to Hannibal sets in motion a series of events that will end in tragedy for everyone in Hannibal’s orbit, and have repercussions far into their futures, as it sets off what fans  know as The Diner Rouge, The Red Dinner, where everyone’s  paths cross.

Jack arrives early for dinner at Hannibal’s home. They exchange pleasantries, but they both understand each other very well, in this instance. They begin to fight.

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Hannibal bests Jack and Jack locks himself in the walk-in cupboard, with a near mortal wound to the throat. Alana arrives to find Hannibal trying to batter his way in to finish off Jack. When she attracts his attention, he tells her that he tried, very hard, to keep her ignorant of what he is, expresses regret that he has to say goodbye to her, and as a courtesy, tells her she should flee. She fires at Hannibal but Hannibal had earlier removed the bullets from her gun.

Now she flees. She runs upstairs with Hannibal in pursuit, although he leaves the  kitchen knives behind. Alana is shocked to encounter Abigail Hobbes in an upstairs bedroom. Abigail pushes her out the window, and heads downstairs.

Will is just arriving. He finds Alana broken on the front steps, but alive. She warns him about Jack, while he calls for Emergency Services, then he goes inside where he finally sees that Abigail is actually alive. Shocked by this turn of events he doesn’t try to defend himself as Hannibal approaches. Hannibal says it was meant to be a surprise, the three of them going away together, as one big happy family. But that will never happen now. Just as Hannibal had his moment of complete understanding with Jack, Hannibal and Will have their moment. Hannibal is full of righteous fury about Will’s betrayal and deception.Will knows Hannibal is going to kill him and he accepts that he deserves it. What he didn’t count on was Hannibal taking Abigail away from him, again.

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To show Will his power, and to punish Will for his betrayal, (even if Will did renege at the last minute and warn him) Hannibal stabs Will in the stomach, but doesn’t kill him, although he easily could have, and as Will lays dying, Hannibal cuts Abigail’s throat in front of him. We end as we began, in season one, with Will clutching Abigail’s throat trying to save her life. Killing Abigail is also a moment of defiance because Will said he  affected Hannibal’s life for the good. Killing Abigail is Hannibal’s way of showing Will how little he changed him. After all, if he had changed him, would he be able to do this? But Will, in complete understanding, knows that the very act of killing Abigail, in defiance of Will’s assertions, is in itself, evidence of how much Hannibal has changed.

It’s also Hannibal just being petty and angry. He claims Will didn’t affect who he is, but he allowed Will to get close to him, and trusted him. Will did to Hannibal what Hannibal was doing to Alana, and that betrayal hurts. Its one of the reasons Hannibal kept himself aloof from other people all those years. Not just to protect his secret life, but the understanding that emotional connections would compromise his survival instincts. This is him showing Will that he is not compromised.

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But of course Will affected him, or he wouldn’t feel so much pain.

And this is not something out of character for Hannibal. The entire time that we’ve known Hannibal, he has tried to maintain a facade of equanimity, and dispassion, most of the time (I imagine for most of his life). He’s not emotionless. He has a deep well of emotion, but he maintains a rather impassive veneer. When he does get caught up in his emotions, and allow them to take rein, usually people die, and the Diner Rouge is no different event.

Most of the time we see Hannibal killing others from a place of clinical detachment. Killing is just something he thinks needs doing. This season we’ve seen him kill from emotion, at least once , when he killed the Judge who threw out his testimony during Will’s trial. He was insulted and outraged at his treatment, feeling lonely because of Will’s absence, and killing the Judge fell in line with removing an obstacle to his happiness. (Remember, before he decides to kill the Judge, there’s a scene of him sitting alone in his office, realizing exactly how much he played himself, when he had Will arrested, and how much he misses Will.)

At the end of season one Hannibal frames Will for survival reasons. At the end of season two, he is still in a mental  place, where he thinks more of himself, than he does the people in his orbit. He is still very much a selfish creature at the end of season one. But all during season two he has allowed himself to  care about Will, the only person he has ever allowed himself to have emotions for, since the death of his sister Misha, and he gets betrayed for his trouble. He’s not just mad at Will. He’s angry that he got suckered. Not ever having built up any kind of immunity against even the most the casual pains that human beings can inflict on each other, Hannibal is like a dangerous child, lashing out at anyone who hurts him.

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Having officially burned all his bridges, he steps out into the cleansing rain, believing that this part of his life is over, and that he can begin anew, casually stepping over Alana’s prone body, without even checking to see if she’s still alive. She meant nothing to him except as a means to control Will. He only made overtures to her when it looked like she might fall for Will, and only kept up a relationship with her so that Will couldn’t.

The final coda to this episode is Hannibal on a plane bound for Europe in the company of his psychiatrist, Bedelia Du’Maurier.

 

I started writing these reviews because I couldn’t find any good meta for this show that had been written after season two. I just decided, rather than scouring the internet for it, I should just write something myself.

Next up: The entirety of season three in my Hannibal re-watch.

 

 

 

 

 

Hannibal Season One: Coquilles

The theme of this episode is Death.

I suppose a person could make the argument that this is always the theme of Hannibal, but this episode is more specific. It about people coping with mortality. The case tonight echoes the personal lives of the investigators, specifically Jack Crawford, as we get a  glimpse into his personal life. We see the progression of Will Graham’s mental instability and some of Hannibal’s more blatant efforts at emotional manipulation. We do not yet get an understanding of why.

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Will is found by the police, wandering down the middle of a country road, in his underwear, with his dog Winston, being followed by the RavenStag. I get how some people think the Stag is a benign creature whose job it is to safeguard Will’s mental state or alert him to danger, but that narrative counteracts Fuller’s, who states that the Stag is Will’s nightmare,(known as  Shiggity  Shag the Nightmare Stag, according to Fannibals.)

My theory is The RavenStag is a warning, not just for Will, but for the viewers as well. It almost always precedes Hannibal’s presence or anything related to him, because we next see Will in Lecter’s home, while Lecter makes coffee, hopefully without people in it. Will suggests he may be physically, rather than mentally ill. His night sweats are definitely a clue but Will isn’t telling everybody everything that’s  happening to him. Hannibal carefully deflects Will’s anxiety about his physical state to the job instead. Its difficult to see what game Lecter is playing at this early stage, even though you know he’s up to something.

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The case this time is one of those elaborately arranged tableaux, where the killer’s motivations are just made up by the writers, which is okay because we know, in this fantasy world, everyone and their grandmother is a psychotic, serial killer,  waiting to drop a body at the slightest provocation. This killer, called the Angelmaker,  turns his victims into angels by flaying their backs into wings and stringing them up. He falls  asleep next to his victims, which is something that confounds Jack and his crew. The murders themselves are particularly gruesome and based on an actual, real world torture, practiced by the Vikings, called the Blood Eagle. (If you’ve ever seen the show Vikings, there’s aversion there.) Its not the specifics of the murders that are important here, but the why.

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After the first victims are found, Beverly Katz, one of Jack’s forensic technicians/Agents, starts  quoting Jim Morrison, “Death makes angels of us all and gives us wings, where we had shoulders, smooth as raven’s claws…” And the killer must have had wings because no explanation is giving for how much time, effort, and equipment went into the making of this personal nativity.

The Killer had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and is sort of going through his version of the stages of grief. He crafts the first set of Angels, so  they can watch over him and pray for him while he sleeps. Once Will says this, you can see the logic of it, but you have no idea how he reaches this conclusion. The Angelmaker’s next victim is strung up above an alley. How the killer is able to get away with all this activity in a public space is anyone’s guess, let alone how strong he’d have to be to lift his victim up that high, but the show never answers questions like that. We’re just supposed to accept it, even if it makes no physical sense.

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There’s a gorgeous shot of Will Graham standing under that particular body and the lighting  creates a halo effect around his head. I like to call it the fever-nimbus, but some viewers have referred to it as depicting Will’s superpower.

 

Jack and his wife Bella finally sit down to dinner with Hannibal. During the dinner, Hannibal subtly lets Bella know he can smell her stage four lung cancer. His statements fly right over Jack’s head. In the books, Lecter is famous for that acute sense of smell. Bella is not the only person Lecter diagnoses in this episode. He can also sense Will’s encephalitis. Both times he passes this off as remarks about their cologne or perfume.

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This show is a deeply  sensory experience for us as much as it  is  for Hannibal. Hannibal delights in all his senses and so does the series itself. The music, lighting and cinematography are for our senses, but there are also the images in the show as well. Hannibal delights in the world around him by touch, he is much more tactile with Will for example, than Will is with him. With sight, as you can tell how much he seems to enjoy looking at Will. And naturally he experiences his killings  through taste. Later in the season we see him moved to tears by the beauty of music. All of the senses are a recurring theme. In  the  first episode, Garrett Hobbes last words to Will Graham is about seeing and in this episode Will hallucinates the killer saying that he can see the darkness in him.

Bella turns up at Hannibal’s office the next day. She is coping with her imminent death in much the same way that the Angelmaker, Elliott Budish, is coping with his, by isolating herself from her family. From Jack. She hasn’t told Jack that she is in the late stages of cancer. Hannibal, intrigued by this glimpse into Jack Crawford’s private life, gently questions her reasons for this. She says she’s too overwhelmed coping with her own death, to deal with Jack’s grief, too.

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Notice Bella’s costuming. Every time we see her she is wearing black, white or gray. At Lecter’s dinner, she is wearing a Roman toga like garment in white, which looks shroud-like, with a wide, black belt. When she visits his office the next day, she is still deep in her deception. The outfit she wears is significant because its white in the front and black on the back. She’s presenting a facade of health to the rest of the world and Jack, and on the other side of that facade is death. It isn’t until after she comes clean with Jack and comes to terms with her death, that we see her start wearing shades of gray or off-white.

This is also a fascinating glimpse, for us, into Jack Crawford’s personal life. We are privy to some beautiful and touching scenes, as Jack tries to gently pry out of his wife, exactly what’s wrong. Why aren’t they close anymore? The viewers feel deeply for both of them. It doesn’t hurt that Bella and Jack are played by  real life marriage partners, Lawrence Fishburne and the always superb Gina Torres.

It isn’t until Jack interviews Elliott Budish’s wife that the light dawns on Jack. While she is explaining how her husband behaved before she left him, watch the expression on Jack’s face as he realizes what he’s hearing.

Bella, in her next session with Hannibal,  tells him she plans to commit suicide before she will allow indignity. She claims she pushes Jack away because she doesn’t want him to watch her die. Her concerns parallel Budish’s, as she fears not just her death, but how she dies, just as he does. He doesn’t want to die in his sleep, so makes Angels to watch over him. As he comes to accept his fate, he prepares to become an Angel by mutilating himself and  removing his genitalia. Eventually he kills himself in a safe place he knew as a child.

Seeing the  body of Budish hanging from the rafters, Jack is overcome with knowledge that all of this is really about Bella. (Jacks instincts are pretty good, too) and  he’s too emotionally compromised to deal with Will, right then. He is dismissive of Will’s concerns, which just reinforces Hannibal’s assertions to Will, that Jack doesn’t really care about him.

We witness during this episode the progression of Will’s illness. He is sleepwalking, hallucinating and snapping at his boss. Jack has an epiphany about his wife but misses Will’s deteriorating state because of his trust in Hannibal’s assertions about Will, and because Will isn’t telling him anything. Will is silent about his mental state because Hannibal has already sown the seeds of distrust between him and Jack, insisting that Jack doesn’t have his best interests in mind.

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While Jack goes to call his forensic team, Will hallucinates Budish’s descent from the rafters. Budish offers to show him the darkness inside him, to become his true self, which is not  a sentiment we’ve ever heard Will express to anyone. Is this Hannibal’s voice in his subconscious?

In a heartbreaking scene,(masterfully played by two actors at the top of their game,) Jack confronts Bella at Hannibal’s office. Watching Jack’s conversation with Bella is one of the most wrenching scenes in the series. However, unlike Budish’s wife, Jack refuses to leave her, no matter how much she tries to distance herself from him.

In a touchingly awkward parallel, when Will comes looking for Jack later that day, he finds Jack waiting for Bella at the hospital and says to Jack what Jack says to Bella,

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“I’m not going anywhere.”

So far, the season is at the halfway mark and everything we know for a certainty, is setup for the next six episodes. This is definitely one of those series that you have to pay close attention to or you’ll just be lost. It’s so rich with information. Everything you need to know really is in the script, but is done and said in such a a way that it doesn’t draw attention to itself. Bryan Fuller doesn’t believe in holding the viewers had as he talks you through the plot. You have to expend energy to think things through and this is probably what contributed to the shows cancellation. A casual viewer would find it completely impregnable. However, on DVD, this works beautifully as you can rewatch as many times as needed to catch every nuance.