Hannibal Season Two :Yakimono

The second half of season two often begins with one or more characters thoughtfully engaging in some personal activity. Since they’re often alone we can’t hear what they’re thinking and are left to makeup any story that we prefer.

I like to think the characters are pondering the events of the last episode. This time its Jack’s turn, as he sits, listening to Miriam Lass’ calls to his cellphone, interspersed with scenes of Jack’s forensic team, processing the evidence from Miriam’s body. We watch as she is being fitted with her new prosthetic arm, to replace the one Lecter gave to Jack. We’re left to speculate on Jack’s feelings during this interval, as surely he must be feeling a tremendous weight of guilt and shame, for having believed Miriam to be dead, and hence, never searching for her. (Outside of HannibalLand,  we know a trainee would never have been sent to questions suspects or witnesses in such a case.)


Miriam tells Jack she was actually treated well by the Ripper (calling back to Lecter’s statement to Bella that he employs an ethical butcher and does not believe in unnecessary suffering of animals), when he kept her and even when he took her arm. (Remember, Cassie Boyle’s lungs were removed while she was still alive, which sounds  horrific, except after hearing Lecter’s statement,  we realize she probably never felt anything, if he drugged her before cutting them out.)

All of this must take place over the course of several weeks perhaps,  as it takes time to be fitted with a prosthetic anything.

*Bedelia must have at some point heard, or read, Miriam’s testimony, or got the information from Lecter, because she uses this same claim that she was mentally manipulated, and heavily drugged, to avoid being arrested by the Italian Police, in season three.

Miriam claims not to remember the killer’s voice but she does remember his voice. So Jack, covering all his bases, (because I still don’t think he actually truly believes Lecter is the Chesapeake Ripper), calls Lecter in for an interview with Alana. This is also something that wouldn’t happen in real life, as she and Lecter have a personal relationship, and this would be seen as a serious conflict of interest, on Alana’s  part. It matters not as Miriam points the finger away from Lecter during the interview. She doesn’t recognize his voice.

Hannibal - Season 2


Will is quietly released from the hospital. Chilton confronts Will as he leaves and Will warns him that he is now on Lecter’s shitlist. Gideon has disappeared, so now he and Chilton are the only two people who suspect anything might ever have been done to Will, and Will is not in any particular danger anymore, because Lecter wants to be his friend. Will urges Chilton to confess all his sins to Jack, shine a light on his relationship to Lecter, and try to convince Jack that Lecter is guilty of being The Ripper.

The thing that most humanizes Lecter is his love and admiration for the very worthy Will Graham. The thing that dehumanizes Will Graham is his warm regard for Lecter or certainly that’s what Will thinks. He believes his regard for Hannibal lessens him and that is also one of the primary reasons Hannibal must be destroyed. In destroying Hannibal Will believes he can save himself. But he also understands that in destroying Hannibal he would also destroy himself, because as horrible as it sounds, Hannibal is also the source of Will’s greatest happiness. Hannibal fully accepts him. Contrast that with Jack, for whom his special skills are merely tools, Alana, who would rather analyze him, and Chilton, who’d like nothing more than to dissect him. Everyone in the show, except for Hannibal, treats Will as if he were a two headed bug.

Hannibal wants nothing more from Will than understanding and acceptance. He is very happy to let Will point his high powered perception at him. And, he wants Will to be at peace with the darkness inside him, instead of constantly fighting against it. Is this not the purpose of a good friend?  To want whats best for you? That what’s best for Will is also what’s best for Hannibal is really beside the point.

Fuller has done such a tremendous job of humanizing Hannibal, that like Will, we often forget that Hannibal is a monster. It’s a testament to Fuller’s  skills that he can put us fully in Will Graham’s shoes regarding his feelings for Hannibal. He can show us Hannibal committing his crimes and we’re  still capable of forgetting what he is during the span of an episode.

On his way out of the hospital Will also encounters Jack, and Will is understandably bitter that Jack wouldn’t listen to him about Lecter, when Jack tries to apologize. But Jack seems willing to listen now, after he tells Will of the finding of Miriam Lass. Will explains that the finding of Miriam is not definitive, that any evidence found with her will point away from Hannibal. Jack tells him that Miriam has already stated that her kidnapper was not Lecter.

Hannibal - Season 2

Jack takes Will to the place where Miriam was found and Will analyzes the scene. He tells Jack that he can’t simply accept Miriam’s word for what happened to her. His point is that he had Hannibal in his head for less than a year, and look what happened to him, so imagine having Hannibal in one’s head for two years. Will fires up his superpower and with almost no evidence, except his knowledge of how Hannibal thinks, discerns that The Ripper wanted Miriam to be found and that Jack can’t trust any of this to be what it seems.

Will goes home to find Alana and the dogs waiting for him. He has a few sassy words for her too. He knows she’s in a relationship with Hannibal. She seems worried that he’s going to try to have Hannibal killed again. Once again, Will impotently warns his “friends” that Hannibal is not to be trusted, and once again, they don’t listen.


Instead of doing what Will told him to do, which is confess his sins and throw himself on Jack’s mercy, Chilton chooses instead to offer his pro bono services to bring Hannibal to heel. He offers to help Miriam recover her memory, which is exactly what Hannibal wants. This is a design that is months in the making. Keeping Miriam alive, making her believe that Chilton is her kidnapper, and finally, contriving that all of the final pieces come together to put the two of them in each other’s orbit.

Will goes to visit Miriam . As the only surviving victims of The Chesapeake Ripper, they have much to commiserate on. Will suspects she has been as much mentally manipulated as he was.

Later that evening, Hannibal has an encounter with an intense Will, in his kitchen. (Once again he has to get in a dig at Will’s aftershave. He does this once per season, as a running personal joke.) This is the prefect opportunity to kill Hannibal, but Will abides within the law, and doesn’t murder him in front of the open door of his refrigerator. He says he’s there to finish their last kitchen confidential,  interrupted by Jack’s bullet.

Hannibal - Season 2

Will warns Hannibal that his memories have all returned, he’s no longer sick and Hannibal should watch his back. In other words, Will is letting him know,  “Shit is on, bro’. Put on your game face!!” Will pulls the trigger but the chamber is empty.

Jack, as part of Miriam’s therapy, takes her to Hannibal so he can recover her memories. The evidence from Miriam, that the last thing she remembers is a picture of “Wound Man”, points to Hannibal because he fits the profile. But Alana throws Chilton under the bus (not the first time she will do this) by suggesting that Chilton also fits the profile. She states reasons why Chilton might want Hannibal to take the blame. (Yeah, thanks Alana. That’s not biased by your dislike of Chilton, at all.) In attempting to implicate Hannibal as The Ripper, Chilton only drew attention to himself.

Hannibal puts the final touches on his grand design. Chilton arrives home to find the legless, armless, body of Abel Gideon, breathing its last, in his basement office. He tries to escape but encounters Hannibal wearing his plastic suit. Hannibal drugs Chilton and kills the Federal agents who were sent to take him into custody. Chilton wakes to find himself coated in blood and  a massacre.


Chilton runs to Will Graham for aid, while the forensic team finds evidence of “Wound Man” in his office. Instead of helpingChilton, Will calls Jack.He’s trying to tell Chilton, in a roundabout way, that he has a plan for taking down Hannibal and proving once and for all that he is The Chesapaeake Ripper. He just needs Chilton to be patient. Chilton still manages to be pretty funny, though. When Will says running would make him look guilty, Chilton has enough sass to reply that Will didn’t run and he still looked plenty guilty.

Chilton ain’t having any of that, though. When he finds that Will called Jack ,he holds Will at gunpoint, before running away. Will tries to tell Jack what’s really happening but Jack is seriously pissed that he’s lost two more agents and won’t listen to him. He chases Chilton down and apprehends him in the woods behind Will’s house.

We have conflict of interest again, as the same team that processed Beverly’s body, is the same team that gets to process evidence from the man they believed killed her. This is a serious breech of ethics in real life. This is how I know that Hannibal takes place in some alternate world, where crazed serial killers lurk around every corner, nobody owns a television, its always winter, and there’s only one forensic team for the entire nation. I’d also like to point out, once again, that psychological profilers do not participate in arrests and nether do forensic teams, as a general rule.


It is Alana who gets to interrogate Chilton. Once again a serious breech of ethics as she is  known to have an antipathy towards him. As these are his colleagues, neither she, Will, or Hannibal would be called in to consult on his case. Miriam, finally put within orbit of Chilton, executes the final part of Hannibal’s plan. She is triggered by Chilton’s voice into grabbing Jacks gun and shooting Chilton.

Hannibal is delighted to find that Will has shown up for his former evening appointment, although he is wary that Will might try to shoot him again. He is unaware that this is part of Will’s new, more subtle, design to capture The Chesapeake Ripper, by cozying up to Hannibal, and getting him to incriminate himself. (Its interesting that Hannibal has Will’s old appointment slot still open.)


Music featured in the episode:






Hannibal’s KGB Look
Hannibal’s Serial Killer Dad Look



Note the change in Will’s wardrobe after his release from the hospital. Previously seen only in rumpled beiges, denims and brown (earth tones), he is now seen dressing in much cooler colors, grays , blacks and very deep blues. Is this meant to indicate the greater darkness in his nature now?  Is this supposed to match Hannibal’s darker wardrobe? Since it’s always winter, he wears a lot of high necked garments, and I wonder if this is in tribute to Abigail’s scarves from season one.

Also, note the change in his silhouette. It’s straighter, slimmer, more rectangular, with sharper angles in the shoulders and at the waist. It has the effect of making Will look noticeably taller and more refined and elegant, which is not a way he could’ve been described in the first season. This new style of dress is a reflection of the clarity and sharpness of  his mind and purpose. This is man without fear, who is wholly confident in what he’s doing. We’ll see more of this confidence in the next episode.






Hannibal Season Two: Futamono


Hannibal Lecter is in a contemplative mood, as he finishes his composition on the harpsichord, after his near death at the hands of Will’s admirer. He is probably ordering his thoughts about Will, trying not to seem so giddy at the idea of  Will orchestrating (i.e. composing) his death, as he finishes one of his own major orchestrations, the takedown of Frederick Chilton and Abel Gideon, the two major threats to his autonomy.  I often wonder what we’re supposed to think Lecter is thinking about in these scenes. The fans have written a lot of words about this character but he is still mysterious enough that we have no idea what he could possibly be thinking  during quiet moments like this. Lecter doesn’t often say what he is actually  thinking. In fact, most of the time what he says is the exact opposite, when we do know what thoughts he’s having, so him saying something is not necessarily an indication of his thoughts.

Hannibal - Season 2

Okay, how twee is it that Lecter owns a harpsichord? He would never be so gauche as to own a piano, I guess, choosing only the most obscure musical instruments on which to write his compositions, like the harpsichord, a kind of mini-piano with a tinier sound, and the theremin, a musical instrument you play by waving your hands at it. (The theremin is that woo-woo sound in the original Star Trek theme song.)

Jack confronts Will Graham about  subletting  Lecter’s death.Will just, straight up, lies to Jack’s face when he asks, which I find hilarious, for reasons known only to the Devil  and Bob. Not only should you listen closely to Will’s speech patterns, during this scene, but be sure to pay close attention to his body language too, which strongly reminded me of Anthony Hopkins’ version of Hannibal from the movies. His posture is straight and still. He sounds confident, almost arrogant. This is a man who is completely at peace with any decisions he’s made and has zero fucks to give about Jack’s judgement of him. Contrast that with his behavior in the first season, when he seemed desperate to have Jack’s approval.

He tells Jack, with certainty that The Chesapeake Ripper is eating his victims and that soon Lecter will have a dinner party. Jack is still reluctant to believe any of this, until Lecter invites Jack to a dinner party that he says is his way of trying to get back to normal. At the same time, he tells Alana that he is going to emotionally distance himself from Will, he tells Jack that he can no longer consult with him on his cases. So his attempts at reformation appears to be sincere.


This time the case the forensic team is working on has almost nothing to do with the themes of this episode but has much bearing on its plot. Price’s and Zeller’s investigation of the “Tree-Man”, as I’ve taken to calling him, leads Jack to a momentous discovery. For him. Which, of course, is all part of Lecter’s design. The victim in this case has had all of his organs removed and replaced with poisonous but beautiful flowers. Lecter places his body in the middle of a parking lot, entwined with a tree.The forensic evidence from this body leads Jack to a very alive Miriam Lass, at the end of the episode.

We can see the creators of the show start to play around in the mythology of the series a little more with Will’s callback to Lecter’s behavior in the movies, Lecter joking about Census Takers, and getting his appetite back. Lecter says he’s trying to put Will in his past and that he’s given up consulting but it turns out to be a rather short lived retirement, as a couple of episodes later, we see him consulting with Jack on a case and resuming Will’s therapy, which understandably has Alana confused.

I’m not sure if Jack is beginning to be suspicious or not. He acts as if he is, or he could just be being thorough and checking off all his boxes, for both Lecter and Chilton, who both fit the profile of a serial killer.

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Will warns Gideon that now that the two of them have met, and can compare notes,  (because Lecter didn’t think Will would remember that he’d  met Gideon at his home), his life is in danger from Lecter. And he’s right. Since Will didn’t kill Gideon like he was supposed to, the only witness Will has, about what was done to him, is Gideon, and Lecter  didn’t think the two of them would ever meet. Lecter can’t see everything, it seems. Chilton overhears all of this and realizes that he too is in danger of being killed, if Lecter is the Ripper, so goes to Jack and offers to work with him to catch Lecter, saying that Will and Gideon are his witnesses.

Chilton gets some of the funniest lines,  as he desperately tries not to get on Lecter’s radar, when he begins to believe Lecter is  The Ripper.But its already too late for him. Lecter has something very different than killing in mind for Chilton.

Jack tries to talk to Gideon about the night Will tried to kill him, but Gideon isn’t being cooperative because he still resents Chilton for mentally manipulating him into believing he was The Chesapeake Ripper, and upending his sense of self, which still hasn’t completely returned, I think. He also inadvertently, (or Hell, maybe very advertantly), gives Will an alibi, as he insinuates that Chilton was behind the murder attempt on Lecter.

Jack and Alana discuss Will. She has noticed a distinct change in Will’s behavior since his attempt on Lecter’s life.

Will begins hallucinating antlers growing out of him again, as he takes on more and more of Lecter’s tactics. This isn’t just about putting out a hit on Lecter, its also about knowingly putting Abel Gideon’s and Chilton’s lives in danger by talking about his memories of Lecter. Later, as Will becomes more and more enmeshed in Lecter’s life, these hallucinations start to fade, but the ManStag hasn’t gone away. Will is getting desperate to catch Lecter somehow, someway, and is willing to go against all his morals to do  it,  playing directly into Lecter’s hands, of bringing out his true self.

Lecter goes to see Will. He’s not happy that Will tried to have him killed and subtly suggests that he might want to cut back on that kind of shit or put Alana’s life in danger. He wants Will to realize his murderous tendencies, he just just doesn’t want Will exercising those tendencies on him. Its annoying to have to keep slapping down his protege, even though he’s secretly proud of Will’s more assertive stance against him. Lecter has little patience with Passive-Will. He very much prefers Bossy-Will.


Later that evening, during Lecter’s dinner party, Gideon’s guards beat him up and he’s taken to the hospital.  Lecter thought far enough  ahead to know that he would need an alibi, for when Gideon disappears, which is why he puts the make on Alana that evening, and drugs her wine. After a while, its fairly obvious that Lecter  doesn’t love Alana, although he seems to like her well enough. He lies to her as often as he lies to Jack. Certainly she’s useful at making him appear more normal to people. (Its not unheard of for serial killers to have wives and girlfriends, so their inability to attract women, is not the reason they kill.)


Lecter spirits Gideon out of the hospital, and uses Alana as his alibi, when Jack comes calling. Jack had come to  the party but only to collect samples of Lecter’s food, which is not a very subtle way of letting someone know you think they might be a cannibal. (Yeah, that’s real low-key, Jack! He will never suspect that you suspect him of eating people!)

There follows for Gideon an especially hellish fate, not just being slowly eaten alive, limb by limb by, but being forced to participate in his own cannibalism, and knowing in advance he won’t be saved because no one knows where he is. Yet, he still manages to pour on the snark. Gideon’s not going out without some kind of fight.


This is Lecter’s grand composition. Lecter crowing to Alana that he has finished his composition is just the writers playing with us about Lecter’s plans all coming out as they should. Gideon is out of the way, Chilton will fall soon, Will’s finally getting his butt in line. Its been a long time in the making, and its almost done.

Seeing how vastly intelligent Lecter is, how can Will even hope to go up against such a creature and win? (He does win but not by being smarter than Lecter.) What Lecter has failed to master are his emotions, having had so little practice with them. The way for Will to prevail against him is not by being smarter, but by taking advantage of Lecter’s  feelings and appealing tohisneed and desire for friendship. Now that he understands what it is that Lecter wants from him, he can use that to his advantage. This  begins Will’s grand composition in the last part of the season.

Not only does Jack discover that Lecter’s dinner party food is not  people, but an investigation of the Tree-Man, sends Jack to the abandoned farmhouse where Miriam Lass had been held hostage for the past two years.


The Mythology of Hannibal Lecter


Hannibal the Series embodies so many themes and myths, its difficult to parse them all (and its possible Fuller may never have intended to make a few of them, if he was simply following the general theme of the films), but some of its themes are classics of the Western, and sometimes World, traditions.



It’s a motif that’s threaded throughout  the serie’s primary narrative, which is the Gothic Romance, between its  two major characters, Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. That Lecter is a predator is made abundantly clear to the viewers. What is not made equally clear, is that everyone else in the show are a Hunters and this is the general theme of the first season. The difference is subtle but there. Lecter preys. Jack and the others Hunt. From Abigail (note Abigail’s various hunting jackets and other attire) and her father, to Jack Crawford and his team, to the serial killers they hunt throughout the first season. Most of the hunters we see have the full weight and backing of government authority, and that includes Lecter, when he’s consulting for the FBI. One could say that their job is to hunt people who are not sanctioned by the government to do so.

But Hunting is not the only mythology represented. This is a many layered series, and a  pantheon of other stories and  mythologies  can be seen within it.


  1. The Wild Hunt:


The Wild Hunt

There are myths of the Wild Hunt all over Western Europe. One of the things they all have in common is that there is a leader, his riders, and a pack of hounds, like any other hunt. It often takes place in Winter or at night, and if you’re caught out in the open when The Wild hunt finds you, your options are vanishingly small.

Flee or die.

Everyone in this series is a Hunter, to a greater or lesser degree. Even Alana,  through her work as a consultant profiler in the FBI, can also be classified as such, although she might be considered one of the lesser hounds. Jack  and Will Graham would be considered the top tier, while Hannibal is, without question, considered to be the ultimate, the pinnacle (until he is deposed by Will Graham, who captures him.)

Jack Crawford has a team of his own hounds,  Price, Zeller, and Katz, and they are very good at their jobs, bringing their prey to ground, time after time, even when it turns out to be one of their own. Jack’s primary prey is the Chesapeake Ripper, with whom he is obsessed. This is an obsession that nearly causes his downfall in the FBI, when one of his hounds goes astray, but he is willing to hunt without government authority, in season three. That said, Jack still has bosses, who can call him to heel, when they feel he’s going outside the bounds of the law.

This is something that’s also true of Will Graham. He also works within the purview of the FBI, but has even less authority than Jack, as Jack is his superior. He is often coded as a wolf to Lecter’s bear,  and at one point is openly referred to as Jack Crawford’s hound. In the first season, before he becomes fully cognizant of how much power he possesses, Will is one of those  poor souls caught out at night by the Wild Hunt. Rather than kill him however, Lecter would prefer that he join him instead, an option not  found in the original mythology.

If the FBI can be considered a version of the Wild Hunt, chasing down those humans who have wandered out into the dark night of the soul, then having positioned himself within the FBI, Lecter could be considered its leader, as he controls and manipulates the hunt and the hunters. He knows more than the government that controls Jack Crawford. He knows more than everyone, and during the first two seasons of the series, Lecter is clearly situated as an omniscient,  God-like being who  sees everything.



2.The DireRavenStag/The Wild Hunt

Lecter is represented by the RavenStag a combination of the deer’s head and ravens found with the body of Cassie Boyle. This is Lecter’s first killing within the series, and it is the one that sets Will Graham on his trail, as The Chesapeake Ripper hasn’t killed in a number of years. In Germanic mythology, Odin is the leader of the Wild Hunt and is accompanied by the ravens Munin and Hugnin, which mean memory and thought. (In some missives, their names mean “Desire” and “Thought”, which also works within the narrative of the series.)

Both  Will and Lecter represent Odin’s ravens. Lecter ‘s primary qualification is  “thought”, in his job as a psychiatrist, and he and Will have the highest forms of “thought” and “memory”, in the series. Will, as a profiler who reconstructs crime scenes, represents “memory”. (Note:There’s a statue of a black Hart in Lecter’s office, which is often seen during his sessions with Will.) Working together, like Odin’s ravens, Will and Lecter bring information back  to Jack Crawford,  information used by Jack in his hunt for killers.

The Wild Hunt is often shown chasing  a White Hart, so all the animals of the Hunt are represented in the series. The ravens represent The Hunters, while the Stag/Hart represents The Hunted. In the series, Lecter, as the Chesapeake Ripper and member of the FBI task force charged with finding himself,  is both the pursued and the pursuer. Will is also the pursued and pursuer, as he hunts Lecter, Lecter hunts Will.

The Wild Hunt only occurs at night and in the depths of Winter. (Note how many times we get to see Lecter show his true face during the day.) During the daylight hours, Lecter wears the disguise of a benignly polite person suit, as noted by his own therapist Bedelia DuMaurier. We mostly see Lecter’s real face at night, when he’s in session with Will Graham, or eating and cooking his prey.  As the second season progresses, we see his real face more and more often, day or night. By the third season, he has dropped his person suit entirely,  which  is most evident after his incarceration.

How often do we notice snow outside of Lecter’s dining room windows? During the first two seasons, especially when visiting Lecter’s home, it is almost always snowing. It is also  snowing in the some of the  most dramatic moments of the first season, when Lecter is deeply involved in scheming. (For example, during Abel Gideon’s escape, and Will’s hunt for him.)

In the first season, Lecter allows his crimes as The Chesapeake Ripper to be subsumed by the crimes of others, throwing Jack Crawford and his hounds off his trail, (except for Will Graham.) But his arrogance will not allow for this situation to last for long. He is a vain and egotistical creature, that wishes to be known, and being pursued by Will Graham is restricting for him.  He has to put Jack’s hound off his trail, and so first discredits, then frames Will for his own crimes.

In season two, Lecter is content, in Will’s absence, to consume other serial killers and their works. First subsuming the crimes of the  Eye of God Killer, and eating parts of him. Finally culminating in eating most of Abel Gideon, and by doing so, erasing Gideon’s crimes, as we begin to sympathize with Abel’s misfortune at falling into Lecter’s hands.


While Lecter is doing this, he is also hunting and being hunted by Will Graham, the two of them pursuing each other in a tighter and tighter orbit, until they have no choice but to join as one. They are the head and tail of the Ouroboros. They are Yin and Yang. As Jack states to Chiyo in season three,  “They are identically different”.

Lecter’s  pursuit of Will’s understanding, then friendship, companionship, and ultimately Will’s love, is the driving force of the second season. And if the coda to the story, at the end of season three, is truthful, then his pursuit is successful, as he and Will are now hunting together, and are starting with Bedelia.


3. Herne the Hunter/Cernunnos/Satan



Cernunnos is a Celtic god associated with sexuality, fertility, the hunt, and the underworld. He was worshiped by the iron age Celts all across Europe as late as the first century CE, and his worship must have begun centuries before that. Cernunnos is a Romanized name meaning “Horned One.”



In English folklore, Herne the Hunter is a ghost associated with Windsor Forest and Great Park in the English county of Berkshire. He has antlers upon his head.

In the second season, Lecter is coded as a Satanic figure, as this season chronicles his fall,  and loss of trust, with the FBI. During the first season, Lecter is represented by the DireRavenStag, an amalgam of imagery from the first Copycat crime scene. After Will Graham surmises that the Copycat Killer is also The Chesapeake Ripper, that hallucination morphs into the ManStag, into Cernunnos:


At the beginning of season two, it is shown killing and eating The RavenStag. (This is one of several deaths of the RavenStag we will see in the series.)

In season two, Abel Gideon flatly states that Hannibal is the Devil, and every mention or appearance of Lecter is often preceded by the image, or sound, of either the Stag or  ManStag. In the final episode of Season one (Savoureux), the ManStag replaces  Hannibal Lecter altogether, just after Will’s been shot, looming over Jack Crawford. In episode one of season two, (Kaiseki), after Will tells Chilton he wants to speak to Hannibal, there’s the image of the ManStag, rising from the waters of Will’s dream river, before we go to a scene of Chilton talking to Lecter in his dining room. In the second episode, (Sakizuke), Lecter’s appearance is preceded by the sound of hooves, and shots of a cloven hoof.

Lecter is deeply lonely because he is, as was once  said of Will Graham, often the smartest person in the room (certainly in the series), just as Lucifer was the most intelligent creature God ever created. Like Lucifer, Lecter doesn’t believe God can sit in judgement of him. He believes himself to be God’s equal, and states, if a certain behavior is good enough for God to commit, than why can’t he. He thinks God is without morality. Lecter, as he tells the Eye of God Killer,  believes himself high enough to  look God in the eye.

In season three, when Bedelia  asks what happened to make him what he is, he abjures his “making” by saying, ” Nothing happened to me. I happened”, which is a callback to the Hebrew name for God, “I AM”.


4. The Wendigo/The ManStag:


In keeping with the theme of Lecter as a demonic figure, the ManStag is often referred to as the Wendigo, a demonic, cannibalistic spirit of the Wilderness and a legend of the Algonquin peoples of the Northwestern US. Note the similarity to Cernunnos , Lucifer, and Herne the Hunter. (The Wendigo is just one of the many dozens of Hunting deities and demons throughout the world.)

The term Wendigo is used to describe the demonic spirit, and the being a person becomes, after eating human flesh. Legend has it that once someone has tasted human flesh, they will develop an insatiable craving, or addiction for it. Lecter often seems compulsive in his need to kill. One of the reasons he consults with the FBI, is to be close to the crime scenes of other killers, so he can copy them later, and have his own killings attributed to others.

Lecter never passes up any opportunity to insert himself into another’s crime. Its as if he can’t stop himself. It really does seem compulsive. In season two it seems  he  consumes the crimes themselves. By killing the killers he is supposed to be catching, he makes their crimes that of  The Chesapeake Ripper’s, by extension.

In the first season, we are told that the Chesapeake Ripper remains inactive for long periods of time, after killing in bounders of three or four. Will states that the Chesapeake Ripper has no respect for the people he kills, believing them to be like pigs, and he is correct. As Lecter tells Abel Gideon, its only cannibalism when its among equals, and he does not believe the people he kills are his equals. Chilton tells Jack, in season two,  that cannibalism is a form of dominance.

Jack never becomes a Wendigo, but he and Will regularly eat human meat at Lecter’s table. Only Will comes closest to becoming one, as he voluntarily eats the flesh of Randall Tier, while deceiving Lecter into believing its Freddie Lounds. Will pretends to be a Wendigo, pretends to have developed a love of killing, in order  to deceive Lecter. But the first time Will eats human flesh is when Lecter feeds him Cassie Boyle’s ground up lungs. So one can make the  argument that Will becomes possessed by the spirit of The Wendigo. Will is a false Wendigo, however, having been accused of cannibalism, and  framed, by Lecter.

We are told that The Chesapeake Ripper takes a sabbatical from killing for two or three year, so it is telling that,  three years after Lecter’s incarceration, Will is drawn back into Lecter’s orbit, and Lecter resumes killing. First using The Red Dragon as a proxy, then killing The Dragon in partnership with Will.

One could make the argument that Jack is immune, but we don’t  see Jack become violent in the series, until after he finds out that Lecter’s been feeding him human meat,  after which he tries to kill Lecter during the finale. (So one can make the argument that Jack becomes  more bloodthirsty, as well)

Alana is also affected by her close association with The Wendigo. She too, is possessed by its spirit. Contrast the Alana from first season with the hardened and vengeful woman of the third. Her eyes have a sharper glint and her facial expressions have hardened. Due to Lecter’s influence, she has become less human, willing to aid and abet the torture and cannibalism of another person, something that would have been absolutely  unthinkable to the Alana of the first and second  season.  Like Jack, she too, has been possessed by the Wenndigo’s thirst for blood.

Another victim of association with Lecter, Chilton, also becomes a vengeful bloodthirsty person who is  wholly justified in his sentiments, but once again, Lecter seems to have brought out the worst in another.

In light of Lecter’s practice of encouraging people to be their ultimate and   true selves, his tactics are certainly successful in getting the people in his orbit to be more like him. In that sense Lecter, certainly lives up to the Wendigo’s reputation.


5. The Courtship of Will Graham

Above Lecter’s mantle, hangs the 1740 painting by Francois Boucher, of Leda and the Swan. The story, as it is told from Greek mythology, is that  Zeus fell in love with her beauty, came to earth, and in the form of a swan, seduced and raped her.

In season one, Hannibal sees something in Will Graham that fascinates him. He is deeply curious about this odd man and how his empathy disorder squares with taking  life. When Will shoots Garrett Jacob Hobbes that incident seems to galvanize Lecter. He’d already seen Will use his superpowers to deduce the difference between the Minnesota Shrike and the Copycat but hadn’t yet seen the brutal, unhesitating efficiency that Will is capable of when threatened.

Lecter, so far above everyone else in taste, intellect, and bearing, is a profoundly lonely man. I posit that he has never had any actual  friends in his life. He’s always been separate and above. As a god, he has no boundaries, can do as he pleases to the creatures beneath him,  and has to hide what he is, but he finds his equal in Will and becomes smitten with the idea of someone who can not only look on his true face, but accept it. First he has to awaken Will Graham to his true nature. He has  to  get   Will to accept that they wear the same face.

Thus begins the courtship of Will Graham.


During the Minnesota Shrike case, their first case together,  Lecter feeds Will the first of the copycat victims, Cassie Boyle. He removed her lungs while she was still alive and ground them into sausage that he fed to Will, at their first breakfast. I viewed this as a form of courtship feeding, (although if one couples this with the Wendigo narrative above, it can also be coded as a form of rape, since Lecter doesn’t get Will’s consent before feeding him people). Courtship feeding is  something that occurs at right at the opening of their relationship, and is defined as the presentation of food by one partner to the other during courtship (the behavior of male birds and other animals aimed at attracting a mate.) And Lecter does engage in a form of Courtship with Will. Having had his first overture of friendship rejected, Lecter, not understanding/caring about boundaries,  proceeds to flatter, cajole, and otherwise break down Will’s barriers to therapy, friendship and eventually love.

Lecter determines  what it is that  Will needs to hear about himself and says it. He says  flattering things to Will, and tries to create a bond through shared traits, after all Will is lonely and misunderstood, too. Later in the series, he regrets having abused Will’s trust, misses Will’s presence in his life,  and tries to win him back, springing him from prison and writing love letters to him in the form of dead bodies.


6. La Vita Nuova/ Vide Cor Meum

Lecter and Will Graham’s relationship has often been described as a Gothic Romance by Bryan Fuller, and one of the musical themes associated specifically with Hannibal Lecter, in both the  movies and the series, is an adaptation by Patrick Cassidy of Vide Cor Meum from the opera La Vita Nuova.


La Vita Nuova is an autobiographical opera written by Dante Alighieri in 1295. The title means The New Life, which is an expression of “Courtly Love”, a system of ritualized courtship of that time period. Vide Cor Meum  was specially composed  and  based on the sonnet “A ciascun’alma presa”, in chapter 3 of La Vita Nuova.  Dante  addressed this particular poem to his  great love, Beatrice, from whom he tried to conceal it by dating other women.

Vide Cor Meum/See My Heart

 And thinking of her
Sweet sleep overcame me

I am your master
See your heart
And of this burning heart
Your heart
(Chorus: She trembling)
Obediently eats.
Weeping, I saw him then depart from me.

Joy is converted
To bitterest tears

I am in peace
My heart
I am in peace
See my heart


Lecter is Dante, and Will,  his Beatrice, from whom Lecter tries to hide his love, by killing other people, I guess.


Dante and Beatrice By Henry Holiday (1839 – 1927) (British)

This particular custom also involved the notion of “Sweet Suffering”, featuring the imagery of pierced and bound hearts. In season three, Lecter makes an origami heart from the skinned body of Anthony Dimmond,   presenting  it to Will in the Palatine Chapel. The “body heart” is held up by three inverted swords, which in the Tarot, mean forgiveness and moving on from some great emotional setback, (meaning Lecter’s betrayal by Will, in season two.  By presenting Will  with this token, Lecter is telling Will he forgives him. ) At the same time that Will discovers Dimmond’s body, we see Hannibal making  a paper heart out of the image of Da Vinci’s  Vitruvian Man, (The Perfect Man), while discussing Will with Bedelia.

Will is Lecter’s Perfect Man.


Hannibal the Series is so rich with meaning and these are just a few of the Western Myths and beliefs that have, through Bryan Fuller, infiltrated this narrative, (although Fuller may not be entirely aware of all of these himself.) Some of these themes are universal and can be found in the myth and story traditions of many countries, but since Bryan Fuller is American, I’ve stuck to Western comparisons, as these are the stories most likely to have influenced him, if at all.

Hannibal Season One : Entree and Sorbet


At this point in the season, Hannibal the series has turned again, introducing a new iteration of its main themes, from yet another angle, the theme  of thought manipulation through psychic driving, from the point of view of another recurring character. Fuller often approaches a theme from several different angles during a season. The theme of mental manipulation was touched on in Oeuf (1×04) with children being manipulated and coerced by adults. This time we see what happens when that level of manipulation is done to an adult.

A new character, Abel Gideon, is an inmate at the Baltimore Hospital for the Criminally Insane. When he kills a nurse in the style of The Chesapeake Ripper, who hasn’t killed in over two years, Jack and Will are called in to investigate the crime scene. Will’s purpose is to determine if Abel Gideon is The Ripper. Will expresses reservations about going to the hospital, fearing he might not be released.

Will: I’m afraid they won’t let me out.                                                                                             Jack: Don’t worry.  I wont leave you here.                                                                                             Will: Not today…

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This episode has more humor than past episodes. We meet Dr. Frederick Chilton, (played by Raul Esparza, who is most famous for his stint on Law&Order), the head of the Psychiatric Hospital. Bryan Fuller says Chilton is the show’s comic relief or sometimes the shows “Kenny”, as something awful happens to him every season. In the books, he was a bloviating dummy, who hit on Clarice in Silence of the Lambs, and for whom Lecter had so little respect, he would openly belittle him in front of guests. Here, he greets Will in much the same insulting manner, speaking to him  as if he were an interesting lab specimen. According to Chilton, Will is famous in the psychiatric community, which is something I find intriguing because how does that happen?


At the crime scene, Will can tell that  the murder  was not done by the Ripper, but he ‘s not absolutely sure. To be sure, he has to interview the perpetrator, the man claiming to be The Ripper, Abel Gideon. Here being played by one of my favorite British comedians, Eddie Izzard. (Please check out his “cake or death” routine, from his cross dressing days, which sadly, he seems to have given up in favor of politics.)

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Will and Alana return to the Hospital to interview Gideon, but the results are inconclusive. Gideon certainly believes he’s The Ripper. Although that’s not possible, Alana and Will  think he’s not lying. This is a very confusing scene for some people as earlier, Will and Alana said they would do the interviews separately. Later they seem to be doing the interview together.  Their scenes are shot separately and then alternated back and forth in such a way that it looks like the two of them are together. You’ll notice as the season progresses the episode directors grow more comfortable and start to make bolder decisions. As a result, the episodes start to look more surreal and dreamlike, which is appropriate considering Will Graham’s progressive mental instability. As Will becomes more detached from reality, so do we.

This episode is laced with flashbacks to the last time the The Ripper seemed to be active. At that time Jack sent a young Trainee, Miriam Lass, played by Anna Chlumsky, (mostly famous for her role in the movie “My Girl” from 1994 and most recently seen in “Veep”) to look at evidence in one of The Ripper murders. When she follows a clue that leads to Lecter’s office, she unknowingly  falls right into the killer’s hands.

Miriam’s narrative closely echoes Clarice story from Silence of the Lambs,  and Will Graham’s capture of Hannibal Lecter, from the book Red Dragon. A lot of this episode contains callbacks to the movies or the books. Earlier we see, Alana make the same hall walk at the hospital, past the inmates in their cells, to interview Abel Gideon. This is almost shot for shot like The Silence of the Lambs. How Miriam is captured by Lecter, is the same story chronicled in Red Dragon, with a couple of subtle differences.

In the books, Will, who is the investigator on the Ripper case, has a sudden revelation after several visits to Lecter’s office, upon seeing a picture called Wound Man, and noticing that  the wounds in the picture matched the ones onThe Ripper’s victims. In the movie, Red Dragon, this was changed. He and Lecter are actually consulting on the Ripper case, when Will realizes that all of the body parts taken from the victims are parts used in cooking, and notices Lecter’s cookbooks, on a shelf in his home.

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Miriam, like Clarice, gets pulled out of her classes and sent on an investigatory mission by Jack Crawford. Even her name, Lass, echoes Clarice’s, making her sound very feminine and vulnerable, like the bird, Starling. She is simply doing what Jack asked her to do, which is following up some threads of information, which lead her to Lecter. This television version more closely follows the version from the book, Red Dragon,where Will determines that Hannibal is the killer, from clues left lying out in Lecter’s office. Like  Will Graham, Miriam doesn’t actually suspect him of anything, but unlike Will, I’m convinced she still doesn’t, even after she finds his drawing of Wound Man. Miriam  disappears and Jack believes she was killed by The Ripper.

Jack visits Lecter’s office,distraught at his wife’s cancer diagnosis and that she won’t talk to him about it. He feels as if he’s losing her and in his mind connects that loss to the the disappearance of Miriam Lass. Lecter, who already knows who and where she is, is all compassion and sympathy. Later, in Sorbet, Lecter asks Will how The Ripper’s tactics are affecting Jack.

Alana and Jack, convinced that Abel Gideon isn’t The Ripper, believe that his confession, might draw the real one out of hiding. Jack, Will, and Alana meet with Freddie Lounds and make a deal to post this information on her website, knowing that The Ripper will see it. Will, still mad at Freddie for calling him insane, is hilariously bitchy during their meeting, while Lounds is the epitome of grace. This mostly has the effect of making Will look like an unreasonable child. In return for lying on their behalf, Freddie will get an exclusive interview with Abel Gideon. Have you noticed that the two most annoying characters on the show are named Fred?

All season long, I kept expecting Lecter to kill and eat Freddie Lounds. I like to think the reason Lecter doesn’t kill her, is he thinks the world is more interesting with her in it and he finds her website useful. And with some luck and manipulation, he probably thinks he can  goad Will into killing her later. After all, she’s Will’s nemesis, not his.

Lounds goes to the interview in her red, leopard print leathers. She always dresses as if to alert people that she’s dangerous..

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Lecter does read the interview and jealous, arrogant creature that he is, formulates a plan to let Jack know The Ripper is still active, without showing his hand. He knows Jack expects The Ripper to kill again in response to the article, so he skips that. The next evening Jack receives a recorded phone call of Miriam Lass asking for help, supposedly sent by the Ripper. If the caller truly is The Ripper, then Gideon is not, as he’s still an inmate at the Psychiatric hospital. Jack, however, can’t seem to convince his forensic team that he received a call at all.

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Jack: “I know when I’m awake!”, he thunders at Will, which is ironic since Will is having trouble telling when he’s awake or asleep.

Jack goes to interview Gideon but is interrupted by another phone call from Miriam. This time the call originates from his own house. His own bed. (Bella is out of town.) The forensic team find a single blonde hair on one of the pillows. It belongs to Miriam Lass. Will is the only one to suggest that Miriam isn’t dead.

Alana suggests that Abel Gideon may have  been inadvertently manipulated  by Chilton into believing himself to be The Ripper. She broaches this question to Chilton while the three of them are having dinner at Lecter’s house. Out of Alana’s hearing, Lecter tries to assess whether or not Chilton was deliberate in his manipulation of Gideon.

Lecter says psychic driving is sometimes useful in the recovery of suppressed memories. Chilton says  he became convinced Gideon was The Ripper, and thought he could use psychic driving to uncover Gideon’s memories of the murders.  All this talk of psychic driving isn’t just important as an example of what Lecter is doing to Will Graham, but also important in understanding what happens to Miriam Lass, in the second season.

Lecter is in an especially jovial mood during the dinner, joking about eating Chilton’s tongue, something that Chilton will remember next season, after he has become a vegetarian.

In his next session with Lecter, Jack tells Lecter what he believes happened to Miriam. Lecter tells Jack, he’s sorry about his trainee (something we know isn’t true.)

Jack Crawford receives another phone call, which is traced this time, to a local observatory, where Jack, Will and the forensic team, find Miriam’s severed arm.

In a flashback, we see Miriam’s capture, from Lecter’s viewpoint.

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This episode picks up the threads from the last episode and offers closure on some of them. It also introduces new plot points that will be picked up in the next. Jack is still dealing with his wife’s cancer diagnosis and his tremendous guilt over  the loss of Miriam Lass. Will’s illness is progressing and Hannibal’s level of manipulation grows.

The serial killer case doesn’t, on the surface,  seem to be directly related to this episodes issues and there doesn’t appear to be an overriding theme, although the focus is on the specific senses of the characters.

Our first sensory event is visual as the camera comes up out of the throat of an opera singer. We get some surreal visual imagery as the season progresses. As Will’s illness becomes more pronounced, the images the audience are subjected to will become stranger. From the singer’s mouth to the inside of Lecter’s ear as he enjoys a night out on the town. We go from sight to sound. The opera being sung is “Piangero  la sorte mia”.

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After the opera, Lecter is greeted by one of his patients, Franklyn, who we met earlier in the season. Franklyn engages in a bit of hero worship of Lecter, striving to be like him. Ironically, Franklyn wants what is happening to Will. What Hannibal wishes would happen to Will. Watch Franklyn’s costuming as the season progresses. He starts to dress like Lecter and  picks up a few of his mannerisms. Oddly, its through his sessions with Franklyn, that Lecter begins to realize that he is lonely.

Lecter sees Franklyn at the opera but can’t approach him in public. Because of patient confidentiality laws, it would be a serious breach of ethics for a therapist to approach a patient, thereby outing that person as a patient.  Lecter also can’t introduce himself as a friend because that leads the patient down unproductive avenues of thinking about their relationship and this is a problem he already has with Franklyn, who is obsessed with him. It is up to the patient whether or not they wish to acknowledge the relationship.

Saving Lecter from outlining their relationship to a stranger, Franklyn introduces himself and  his friend Tobias Budge. There’s a lot of serious eyeballing going on between Lecter and Tobias, which is something that we’ll see play out in the next episode, although Lecter mostly seems to be puzzled as to why this man is looking at him like he knows something, as he and Tobias have never met.

Jack is having bad dreams about Miriam Lass and her arm, when his sleep is interrupted by a call about another crime scene. Will, and the team arrive to find a man lying in his bathtub, covered in blood with an opening in his side. It is the assumption, because some of the man’s organs are missing, that The Chesapeake Ripper has begun to kill again. Will disagrees. He says he can see The Ripper’s work but it doesn’t FEEL like The Ripper and is adamant that it isn’t, despite  the evidence, until another body shows up with all the hallmarks of being The Ripper’s victim.

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Will knows THIS is a Ripper victim, though. He can feel it but can’t articulate why or how he knows, to the forensic team. Again what we have run into is an issue of the senses. Will has some indefinable sensory ability that regular people not only don’t have, but  don’t have a word for.

In Lecter’s next session with Bedelia we get some extreme truth telling. I think that’s an excellent name for Bedelia, The Truth Teller, even though its her job, and he is not “perfectly honest” with her. Like Will, she is one of the few people who can look Lecter in the eye and tell him the truth about himself, no matter how much it discomfits him. In this session, she tells him that he wears “a very well-tailored person suit”.


When Lecter says they are friendly, she is careful to tell Lecter  that they are not friends, taking a step back from entanglement with him, following the same advice she gives Lecter when he expresses an interest in being friends with Will. She too introduces the idea that he must be lonely.

In his next session with Franklyn, Lecter hears echoes of his relationship with Will and Bedelia,  when he tells Franklyn he has a one sided relationship with his friend Tobias. Tobias doesn’t seem to be Franklyn’s friend. I wonder if its this conversation that ignites the idea in Lecter’s mind that he would like to be friends with Will, although that idea doesn’t seem to stop him from toying with Will, or trying to hurt him.

Later, we see Lecter imitating the things he sees Bedelia doing, like offering wine to his patients, something she does after every session with him. Everybody wants to be like someone else, and not themselves, except for Will, who’d like every damn body to get out of his head. When  Will visits Lecter later, they discuss the current case. Lecter suggests there may be more than one killer.

In his next session with Franklyn, Franklyn mentions that being alone comes with a “dull ache”. This dull ache is what spurs Lecter to go looking for Will, when he misses his regular appointment time. Later, in season three, Bedelia mentions this same dull ache of loneliness to Will, when he asks if Hannibal is in love with him. (The answer is a resounding yes.)

Lecter and Will discuss The Ripper.. At first Lecter tries to deflect Will’s attention away from The Ripper’s motivations, but Will is not to be deterred and Lecter gives that up and tells the truth behind why the Ripper kills. He is  blatantly telling Will about himself. They are interrupted by an excited Jack, who thinks they’re about to catch The Ripper. Lecter is deeply amused about this. When they find the killer, Lecter is asked to step in to save the victim’s life. The look he exchanges with Will, in this moment, is fathomless.

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Later, Will visits Lecter just before his big dinner party. When Will asks why Lecter stopped being a surgeon, he ironically states that he got tired of losing patients.

Lecter’s dinner party is a huge success. Contrast his attitude to Will’s response to his class applauding his capture of Garrett Jacob Hobbes. Hannibal loves the attention and accolades. Will tells his class to sit down and shutup, and that their applause was inappropriate.

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Both Jack and Will have become completely obsessed about the Chesapeake Ripper. Will is the only one who can see the pattern that The Ripper is active and hiding behind another killer.

We spend the bulk of the episode, figuring out who the killer is, in therapy sessions with Lecter and watching Lecter prepare for his dinner party by using the organ thief’s killings as a cover for his own. He does that but Will manages to catch the deception anyway. Lecter’s  proud of him and thoroughly intrigued by Will’s ability to do this.


And yes, Tyromancy, which is divination through reading how cheese forms, is actually a thing.




















Hannibal: The Series

Thanks to my loving family members, who are well used to my eccentricities, I was able to buy all three seasons of Hannibal and some matching books. I bought “Hannibal and Philosophy” and the first season of the series from another vendor, so those aren’t pictured. The making of “Hannibal The Television Series” has a beautiful, 3D embossed cover of a human heart on a plate, with Hannibal’s antler motif, and talks about everything from the cinematography, and wardrobe, to set design and characters.


So, now I can get started on reviewing the Hannibal episodes from the beginning, along with various essays on character and plot analysis, comparisons to real life serial killers vs. the series, real life criminal profilers vs Will Graham, and comparisons to both the books and films of Richard Harris.

Why? Because this has been my obsession since the show ended and now I’m really sorry that, like Firefly, I didn’t take the time to appreciate it as I should have, while it was on air.


So while I’m working on this Hannibal series, there may be some neglect of other shows (never Supernatural, of course) while I get my inexpert opinions of all this stuff out of my head and onto this blog.

ETA: If you’ve looked around this blog a bit, you may have stumbled across some old Hannibal reviews from the third season Red Dragon arc. I’m debating whether or not to scrap those in favor of new ones as I review the series. They’re wildly speculative as I had no in depth knowledge of the show, it’s characters or intentions because of not paying close enough  attention to the first seasons. As a result a rewatching of the first and second seasons makes those reviews horribly wrong and it’s been bothering me.  Should I leave them up next to the new reviews I write?

Holla at me in the comments, if you have have something to say about this endeavor, or if you just love the show.