Hannibal Season Three: Apertivo

Apertivo, is  a beverage, usually wine,  that’s consumed before eating a meal, to clear the palette, and stimulate the appetite. This episode is  prelude to the  meal to come that is season three.

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In this episode, there’s not a lot of plot, but there is a lot of maneuvering, as the various players state their goals, and move themselves into position to resume the chase for Hannibal Lecter, who is living in exile in Florence, with Bedelia Du Maurier. Its not that nothing of consequence occurs during this episode, but we’ve spent the first three episodes of the season finding out where Hannibal and Will are, and what they’ve been doing, and this is our chance to find out who survived the Red Dinner, and  see what they have been doing since that night.

In a flashback, we see Crawford in the hospital next to his wife, Bella, who is dying of cancer. Just before she dies, she admonishes him for nearly getting killed, saying that unlike her he can stop what’s killing him, his obsession with the Chesapeake Ripper.Will Graham has gone home, back to fixing boat motors. The most startling change in the aftermath of The Red Dinner however, is Alana Bloom, who has become Mason Verger’s new therapist. Frederick Chilton encounters Alana when he visits Mason in an attempt to scheme the capture of Hannibal, but Mason rejects him, in favor of hiring  Alana. We start with Chilton and Mason Verger in a face off, as Mason takes off his mask, and Chilton removes his makeup, both of them showing off  facial scars received as a result of Lecter’s machinations.

You can see that Alana has undergone some radical emotional change, since her last encounter with Hannibal, when she was pushed out of a window by Abigail. Alana was as significantly changed by the events of that night as much as Will,  and Hannibal (who of course claims that he was not.) Alana is on a mission of revenge, but she goes about it in such a subtle manner that it’s difficult to tell what her plans are exactly, until she comes right out and states to Mason Verger that she is there to offer her services in capturing Hannibal. Mason is his usual vile self, making sexual jokes and asides to her, although I think he says these things to see how she will react to them. When she shows no reaction, (Alana has far more pressing concerns than Mason’s bullshit), we don’t see him talk that way to her again.

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This is also when Alana first meets Margot Verger, and you can immediately see that Margot is smitten  by her. Until now, we’ve been given no idea that Alana might be bisexual. Later, we see that the two of them have developed a romance, and are  working together to defeat Mason. The reason I find Alana so fascinating is that her survival of that night at Hannibal’s has really scarred her on an emotional level, to the point where her entire demeanor has changed, and she seems entirely unlike the woman we met in the first season.

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Alana has hardened. She is cool, blunt, and  pragmatic. She certainly seems less warm and motherly than she was three years ago. She is more calculating. This isn’t just the trauma of  having been thrown from a window by Hannibal’s protege. She is reacting to the final loss of Abigail ,a young woman she couldn’t save, the shame and guilt at not having listened to Will’s warning about getting close to Lecter, and whatever shame and guilt she felt as a result of having fallen for Lecter’s ruse that he loved her, and  the fact that he had been feeding her the bodies of his victims.

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Alana also dresses differently from the first and second seasons. Where before she wore pretty feminine wrap dresses, she now wears boldly patterned pants suits, with high collared coats and jackets, as an expression of power. In fact, she dresses the way Margot used to dress. What’s interesting is that Margot begins to dress in a more relaxed and casual manner than when we first met her, and I think it’s because her relationship with Alana has opened her  in a way she couldn’t express before. Remember when we first met Margot she wore a very severe wardrobe with high collars in stark colors, as a kind of armor against her brother.  In other words, Alana is good for her.

 

As usual though, no matter how progressive  male  showrunners believe themselves to be, they almost always fall into some of the same traps regarding female characters, by neglecting relationships between women on their shows. Often there’s just a lone female character, and when there’s more than one, the women are often in adversarial relationships with each other. This is starting to change as shows begin to hire more women writers and showrunners. I’m glad to see the show has moved away from that dynamic in the third season. We only just met Margot halfway through season two,  so don’t know enough about her other than she is a woman who knows what she wants, and has no problem making it known, and she makes it clear ,she wants Alana.

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In flashback we see Crawford visit Will Graham at his home and ask Will why he contacted Lecter to warn him that the police were coming that night. Will Confesses that he did it because Hannibal was his friend, and that he wanted to leave with him, but couldn’t. It is interesting that he and Hannibal, as far apart as they are, are emotionally sitting in the same place, regretting their actions towards each other, and missing one another terribly while  both of them are engaged in a semi-contentious relationship with a close friend.

Chilton, still scheming, goes to Crawford to ask for his help in capturing Lecter, after his rejection by Mason. Crawford tell him that he is officially out of the business of  chasing Hannibal. He says he has had enough and only wants to tend to his wife in her last days. We later find out that this is a lie, and that he has hatched a plan for Will to lure Hannibal out of hiding, so they can kill him. Or rather say, he has decided to follow Will to Hannibal. Chilton has come to the party too late, because all the key players have already formed their personal Hannibal Recapture teams.

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Eventually, Bella dies, and Crawford is enraged to find that Hannibal has sent him a condolence card. Will Graham attends the funeral and Crawford tries to talk him out of the plan to capture Hannibal. He warns Will that he will probably be killed. But Will is determined (for a number of reasons) and sets out on a boat to Florence. How does he know where Hannibal is? He simply knows Hannibal. Both Chilton and Alana are aware that Will can lead them to Lecter, but it is only Chilton who mentions this to Jack ,who follows Will to Europe. Alana elects to find out on her own, rather than attempt talking to Will again, as the last time they spoke, he rejected her.

Essentially this episode is about a bunch of horribly scarred and vengeful people teaming up to hunt down the man who did this to them before he skipped town. Its almost as if they had learned nothing from their previous inability to capture Hannibal. Later, these same scheming tactics will be in used at the tail end of the season in an attempt to not only capture the Red Dragon, but destroy Hannibal Lecter, once and for all.

Mindhunter Review

*Amanda DobbinsWe need more expensive, mediocre, highly watchable television!

https://www.theringer.com/tv/2017/10/18/16495494/mindhunter-exit-survey

*Fennessey: One of the things I like about this show is that its pleasure is not derived from murder sequences, scenes that depict or dissect murder, or even the hunt for a killer. They’re process-driven, sure. But they are also skeptical of their heroes, unafraid to undermine their intelligence. This show isn’t about watching serial killers. It’s about watching watchers.

                                   ———-Excerpted from the Mindhunter Exit Survey

I’m just going to showcase this review of Mindhunter from Bitch Media. It highlights all the good and bad, from the perspective of a fan of Forensic Science shows.

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I’m also a fan of Forensic Science shows, in general, and I did like this show a lot, but it does have some real issues. Those particular issues didnt stop me from bingewatching it though, mostly because, on the issues of racism and misogyny, I expect only the absolute bare minimum, from a White male Hollywood director like Fincher, who has never addressed those specific issues in any of  his movies. (Now if this were Bryan Fuller, I’d be more upset. I expect more social awareness from Fuller, than I do from Fincher.)

Hollywood’s writers, who tend to be White and male, have a blind spot when it comes to certain issues and most of them are highlighted in this show. Not wanting to address those particular issues, (like  racial corruption in the FBI and COINTELPRO) doesn’t make those issues go away, and this is something that made me increasingly uncomfortable as I watched, as  I know something of the FBI’s sordid history.

I would have found this a far more interesting show had its focus been on one of the much smarter women, like the lesbian psychologist who gives the lead character all the correct answers, or the girlfriend with an actual sociology degree. I would have liked to have seen whatever dynamic played out with the killers being interviewed by someone they would normally consider one of their victims.

One thing that the article doesn’t mention is the latent homosexuality, in this all male environment, which is tinged with just a hint of violence between the main character and his interviewees. This is noticeable especially in the scene with Edmund Kemper, who makes a habit of invading the character’s personal space ,and touching him in an almost intimate manner, when they first meet. I think this is entirely unintentional on the part of the writer, but probably not on the actor’s part.

Cameron Britton and Jonathan Groff in Mindhunter

 

On the other hand, I do realize that’s not the show’s focus, (as its not a critique of the FBI,) and I do know more than I should about some of  the serial killers being interviewed in the show, having read John Douglas’ seminal book of the same name (and all his other books). Edmund Kemper, Jerome Brudos, and Dennis Rader (known as BTK) are all featured, and I can see that much more attention was paid to getting their details correct than in approaching social issues. Also, Douglas doesn’t address any of these issues in his book, so the writers may have been performing their idea of faithfulness to the source material.

PROFILING 101

THE WHITE MEDIOCRITY OF “MINDHUNTER”

https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/mindhunter-white-male-problem

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‘Ford is a mediocre white cishet male hostage negotiator for the FBI, who we are introduced to during a hostage situation. While the hostage was not harmed, the perpetrator–who was suffering from mental illness–committed suicide. We learn, though, that Ford already exhibits some of the character traits that will lead him to criminal psychology; that is, exploring not just what killers do, but why they do it. Post-hostage scene, Ford’s mediocrity is increasingly apparent to everyone except, perhaps, the writer and director, who clearly envision him as a determined and dedicated individual hellbent on finding answers, but who the audience might peg as a white guy to whom white-guy things happen.’

 

Mindhunter is available on Netflix, and despite its problems, is actually is worth watching, although it’s a much better show if you know nothing about the history of the FBI. Hopefully, the writer will become a little more daring with his characters and plot, in the second season.

Note: This is a vert talky show. There are no car chases, gore, or scenes of women screaming and running. The horror doesn’t derive from watching the killers take lives, but talking about why they did it, and how, and the focus, and casualness, with which they approach the concept of killing other human beings, as a hobby. 

Hannibal Kills

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I was asked recently, by one of my readers, (The Laughable Cheese) to elaborate on my thoughts  about the whys and wherefores of Hannibal’s murderous motivations on the show. Now, I’m no psychologist, so what I’m about to write is sheer speculation on my part, based mainly on my thoughts about the series version of Hannibal.

Throughout the series we’ve seen him kill to aid Will Graham, out of spite and anger, to satisfy his curiosity, out of a sense of whimsy, to protect himself from being captured, or manipulate others, but it is not until season two that we get any deeper reason for his murders.

Acc­ording to Holmes typology, serial killers can be act-focused (who kill quickly), or process-focused (who kill slowly). For act-focused killers, killing is simply about the act itself. Within this group, there are two different types: the visionary and the missionary. The visionary murders because he hears voices or has visions that direct him to do so. The missionary murders because he believes that he is meant to get rid of a particular group of people.

Process-focused serial killers get enjoyment from torture and the slow death of their victims. These include three different types of hedonists — lust, thrill and gain — and power-seeking killers. Lust killers derive sexual pleasure from killing. Thrill killers get a “kick” from it. Gain killers murder because they believe they will profit in some way. Power killers wish to “play God” or be in charge of life and death.

— http://people.howstuffworks.com/serial-killer1.htm

I think Hannibal kills for a multitude of reasons, but seems to fit the model of being a process killer. The act is drawn often a long drawn out event, which has a lot of meaning for him. We can see that in his killing and eating of Abel Gideon, in season two and three.

A lot of fans speculate that Hannibal kills because he can, and that’s as good a reason as any other, but I don’t feel that goes deep enough. Hannibal’s reasons are complex. Why does he feel he can? Because Hannibal likens himself to God. Why does he want to assert himself as God’s equal? For the same reason that many others seek to assert their power. Because, on some level,  he knows how it feels to be powerless.

In season one, Hannibal mostly kills the rude (for food), or to protect his identity. He kills Georgia Madchen because he believes she saw him killing Will’s doctor. He killed Will’s doctor because that man knew too much about his unethical manipulations of Will Graham, and could blackmail him for it.

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The first time we encounter one of Hannibal’s kills,  is when the body of Cassie Boyle is found in an open field. Hannibal has impaled her on a rack of antlers, (and removed her lungs, so that he can eat them.) Crawford and his forensic team discover her body after Will is confounded  about  the murder  of another young woman, named Elise.

Hannibal kills Cassie to provide what Will calls “a negative” to the body of Elise. Will thinks Cassie Boyle was killed to aid him in his search for Elise’s killer, and he’s not wrong. That is one of Hannibal’s motivations for killing the young woman, but another motivation, and this is just my speculation, is that he was also inspired by Elise’s killer, to create a more elaborate death. The way Cassie Boyle was killed was simply a way he hadn’t tried before.

In fact, no mention is made of how the Chesapeake Ripper (also Hannibal) killed or displayed his victims prior to the show’s opening, although the Chesapeake Ripper is mentioned as someone Jack has been hunting for many years. His killing and display of Cassie Boyle is the first mention of what Will calls “Field Kabuki”, which stands in direct contrast to how Elise was killed by Garret Jacob Hobbes. That contrast is what helps Will develop a picture of Hobbes, but also has the side effect of  bringing Hannibal to Will’s attention.

Now remember at this point, Hannibal has only  just met Will, after being given the task by Jack Crawford, of being the caretaker of Will’s sanity, while Will helps the FBI catch serial killers. Already we can see that he is fascinated by Will, and wants to get closer to him. He wants to be friends. So he was willing to take that risk to aid Will. He would get to see how Will’s mind works and better understand him. So one could argue that Cassie’s death was an overture of friendship to Will (although Will does not know that.).

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The very first meal that Will and Hannibal eat together is Cassie’s breakfast scramble. Prior to that we are shown Hannibal eating this alone in his house. He doesn’t appear to have any friends until he meets Will. After feeding Cassie to Will, he seems to have developed a sense of satisfaction from feeding the remains of his victims to his acquaintances, because he continues to do this throughout the entire series run, feeding his victims to Jack, Will, Alana Bloom, and various dinner guests. In the movies, Hannibal is shown feeding his victims to dinner guests, so there is precedent for it, but that’s  only shown in the TV show once, and only after he meets Will Graham. After that he mostly feeds his victims to his “friends”.

Hannibal kills for multiple reasons in season two. He also manipulates people into attempting to kill others. He manipulates Abel Gideon into  killing Alana Bloom, so that Will Graham will be forced to kill Abel to protect her. He does the same to Miriam Lass, using her PTSD against her, to get her to kill Frederick Chilton, who he has framed as the Chesapeake Ripper. He and Will attempt to orchestrate the killing of Mason Verger, and Lecter  successfully manipulates Will Graham into killing Randall Tier, by sending Tier after him at his home.

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Hannibal kills others for  a dinner party. One is a doctor who was rude to him, and Sheldon Isley, a land dealer who opposed the salvage of some wetlands. Lecter kills him out of spite and plants his body within a tree. It is the clues from Sheldon’s body that lead to the discovery that Miriam Lass, (a detective whose disappearance had been attributed to The Chesapeake Ripper), is actually alive.

However, his most notable and memorable killing, in season two, is the judge in Will’s case. Having framed Will as The Chesapeake Ripper in season one, Lecter now regrets his actions, and misses Will. The judge dismissed the testimony he gave in his attempt to free Will. In a fit of spite, Lecter simply removes the judge, which has the added side benefit of freeing Will, as his case gets thrown out.

Most of his reasons for killing in season three are pragmatic.  In season three he kills to protect his identity, as when he kills Reynaldo Pazzi, a detective who recognizes him from a previous case, and Anthony Dimmond, a man who tried to blackmail him. He kills to establish a new identity when he kills and eats Roman Fell and his wife.

But the most notable killing in season three are the flashbacks to the  killing and eating of Abel Gideon, the man who tried to steal his name and reputation as the Chespaeake Ripper, and knew too much about his manipulations of Will Graham. It’s especially horrifying as he spends most of that time talking with Gideon about what he’s doing to him, and forcing Gideon to partake of his own flesh.

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Note that what Hannibal does with his victims bodies afterwards is not the reason he kills them. He is not necessarily killing them to help Will, or send messages, or be artistic. He is making art out of something he already feels compelled to do. For example, he didn’t kill Dimmond to make the origami heart for Will. He just took advantage of a death he caused to leave Will a message. He killed Dimmond to protect his identity as Norman Fell.

Lecter has also talked, at length, about ethical killing, claiming to Bella Crawford that he employs an ethical butcher, who doesn’t make the food suffer before killing and eating it, and in season two he chides Will for terrifying Freddie Lounds too much before killing her, saying that it makes her flesh taste acidic. What he is saying is that the method (the process) by which he kills is important to him.

Miriam Lass, in her testimony to the FBI, also claimed that the Ripper never tried to cause unnecessary pain, informed her of his actions beforehand, and taking care to see that she didn’t experience undo anguish. So one could make the argument that Hannibal is definitely a “Process” type killer.

One of the theories for why Hannibal kills goes back to his childhood and the loss of his little sister Mischa. In the book version of his back story, (Hannibal Rising) he lost his sister during the war, when a group of enemy soldiers took his family prisoner, killed his family, and ate his sister, which he witnessed. Subsequently he hunted, killed,  and ate each of  them in turn, and this is a habit he simply developed and continued. Killing and eating people he thinks were rude to him.

In the show, this has been changed to;  witnessing his sister’s death, and then eating her himself, after he had pledged to always protect her. But Hannibal’s motivations on the show parallels his motivations from the books. He says to both Will Graham, and Margot Verger, that killing bad people feels good. Of course Hannibal’s criteria for “bad” is fairly loose, in that almost everyone can meet it. Hannibal likens their behavior to disrespecting God (himself).

Of course Will is allowed to be as rude to Hannibal as he likes. His motivation for trying to kill and eat Will, in season three, is not because Will is rude, but because Bedelia suggested it to him, as the only way to relieve his heartache over Will.

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Because Hannibal doesn’t see his victims as people, he sees them as creatures far beneath him (a theme that will more heavily come into play late in the second season, after Mason Verger is introduced). A much truer version of his thoughts is heard in season two when he says that God kills with impunity, and so should he. When killing the “Eye of God” killer, he explains that he is God’s equal and uses that argument to persuade the Eye of God killer to sacrifice himself for his art.

This thirst for power over people, to be godlike in his killing of them, may have derived from the vigilante killing of his sister’s killers. Having helplessly stood by and watched her be killed would be excellent motivation for taking back his power by killing her killers. In a sense, Hannibal is a kind of vigilante killer, only killing and eating those people who his cellkeeper Barney, in the movie Hannibal, referred to as  “Free Range Rude”. And what may have started as a form of vigilantism, to avenge his sister’s death, or to right the wrongs of the world, has simply evolved into a lust for power. Put all these reasons together and Hannibal definitely comes across as a Power type of Killer.

 

Stuff I’ve Been Watching

 

Midnight Texas (NBC)

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So, I’ve watched maybe two episodes of this show and I’m really liking it so far. I’m willing to date this show for a while, because it’s good fun and makes me laugh. Midnight Texas isn’t a deep show. It’s not a Bryan Fuller Joint, or Westworld, but it’s a fun little interlude before going to bed, since it airs at ten, Monday nights, and I gotta go to work in the morning.

The main character, Manfred Bernardo, can see ghosts. His Auntie comes from the town of Midnight, and after she dies suddenly, leaving him in debt to some type of criminal, her ghost tells him the town can be a safe place for him, where his skills will be appreciated.

Midnight Texas happens to be the home of various supernatural beings, and Manfred fits right in. Upon his  arrival, Manfred meets a local girl named Creek, and while her father is deeply suspicious of him, the young lady is intrigued, and the two of them develop a relationship very quickly. A lot of things happen quickly in the show, and many of the plot points happen in a kind of throwaway manner that takes some getting used to. I understand the idea is to keep it light, and not get too bogged down in philosophy, meta- physics, and whatnot. The show is supposed to just be fun, and I’ll watch it in that spirit.

I have a lot of favorite characters on the show, most of which are supers. There’s some good representation on the show, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the various characters. I missed the second episode, but managed to watch the third. The creators are trying to keep things light without being ha-ha funny, which is a fine line. It doesn’t look like they’re trying so much to reproduce True Blood, as reproduce the mood of True Blood. Some of these characters are mentioned in the True Blood books though.

Manfred, for example, is the psychic that Sookie met when she visited Dallas.  Midnight Texas is based on source material from the same writer, Charlaine Harris. I have not read the books. I opted not to, because I didn’t want my brain focusing on the side issues of the books, while watching the show. I may read them at some point in the future, because they seem like fun, but not right now.

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We have a full complement of creatures on the show, so you’d think my favorite would be the Reverend Emilio Sheehan, who happens to be a Were-Tiger, which is kinda awesome. He seems rather morose, which is appropriate as I consider actual tigers to be the “crabby old men” of the giant cat world. There are WoC in the cast. One of them owns the local bar/diner, and I don’t think she has any superpowers, but I could be wrong, and it’s something that could be revealed later. The other is the local witch. The town does have some mundane people inhabiting it, and some of them are aware of the supernatural qualities of the others.

You’d think my next favorite would be the Angel, Joe because he’s really, really hot. I’m not into blondes, as a rule, but I’m willing to acknowledge the occasional hotness of some of them. He happens to be living with a Hispanic man named Chuy, who also happens to be an Angel, and I wonder if the two of them being a couple is the reason they’ve been exiled to Earth.

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Lemuel

Well, you know who my favorite is. Lemuel, the rather unique vampire who feeds off human energy, and eats other vampires. We get to see his backstory in the third episode. He used to be a slave and there’s a scene of Lemuel being whipped for trying to escape, which I didn’t appreciate having to look at. That scene is pretty graphic and you may want to skip it if watching Black people being tortured is not your thing. The point of all that is to show how far Lemuel will go to be free, I guess.  After a couple of escape attempts, Lem encounters a Native American vampire, who transforms him. Lem’s immediate course of action is to avenge himself on the slave owner, who had him beaten, and that guy’s entire family. That’s pretty graphic too.

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Olivia

 

Later, Lem and the other vampires in his clan, have a falling out, because Lem thinks he’s become just another slave to his thirst. In the third episode, Len’s Maker returns looking to take over Midnight for himself. The townspeople rally together to kill the vampires.

This seems to be the main theme this season, as we’ve  had three/four episodes, in which the townspeople need to band together to defeat some outside force. In the middle of all this plot, we learn that Lem started off as an ordinary vampire, but after encountering Manfred’s aunt when she was a child, she transformed him into something else, a vampire that can feed on other vampires.

The characters often have some deep philosophical insights, but like I said, it’s in a blink and you’ll miss it manner. (Joe and the Reverend do this too.) Lem is played by Peter Mensah, who is extremely handsome, in his bold blue contacts. You may remember him as a gladiator from the show Spartacus.

I  like Lem’s girlfriend, Olivia, who is some type of international assassin. She’s a total badass, and she and Lem are the town’s heavy hitters, when it comes to defense. I don’t normally pay a whole lot of attention to White television actresses, unless they’ve firmly established themselves with a good track record, but I like this actress. She’s blunt spoken, clear-headed, and pragmatic, all qualities I admire, and I see why Lem likes her. She has some secrets from her past, that she’s trying to bury, while dealing with  anger issues.  I could do with a lot fewer scenes of Olivia and Lem gettin’ it on, though. It doesnt need to be shown in every episode.

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Fiji

Fiji is another one of my favorites, and I like her, not because she’s the town witch, although that’s kinda cool, but because she has a talking cat. I don’t know much about the cat’s backstory but he’s snarky, and dismissive, just the way you’d think a cat would be. How it happened that her cat talks, we don’t know yet. Fiji is very young, but she’s also extremely powerful, and well-respected in the town. Most of the mundanes know what she is, and rely on her to protect them.

Fiji is also really cute, and kind of adorkably nerdy. She has a mad crush on one of the townies, a guy with the unfortunate name of Bobo, and her feelings seems to be reciprocated. One of the more powerful images I have of her, is from the first episode, where she crushes a police vehicle, with little more than her bare hands, and a strong will. Fiji looks sweet and vulnerable, but she ain’t the one to mess with. She’s  refreshingly different, as Black women rarely get to be emotionally fragile, but powerful love interests, and/or witches either.

I’m going to try to enjoy this show while it lasts. It’s on network television, which has a nasty habit of cancelling the shows I like, so I don’t hold out much hope that Midnight Texas. will be around next year. This is the same station that just canceled Still Star Crossed. But then I was trying really hard not to get attached to that show. (That didn’t work). I’m not gonna try that with this show and it still might get canceled. I might as well get attached. There’s always the books, which I’m told, Charlaine intends to keep writing.

 

Mr. Mercedes (Audience Network)

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I liked this show, too. I was expecting it to be a deeply serious dramatic type  show, but it turned out to have a quirky sense of humor, not because the writing is funny, or people are telling jokes, but because certain characters and situations are just odd. It’s not like the show Psych, which was a deliberate comedy. This is not a comedy. It’s just some of the characters are weird.

The show is based on a trilogy of books by Stephen King, the first title of which is Mr. Mercedes, named after the killer in the book. Brendan Gleason plays Bill Hodges, a retired cop who is trying to figure out what to do with himself, now that he’s no longer working. until he is taunted out of retirement by Mr. Mercedes, so-named after he drove a Mercedes into a crowd of job seekers outside a job fair, killing several. I like Gleason’s character. One of the funniest recurring issues is when he can’t believe various women find him attractive. (It’s definitely the beard.)

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The show begins with  a very graphic scene, and I was heavily reminded of the events in Charlottesville Virginia. There’s no mystery about the killer for the audience, just as in the book. We’re introduced to Brady Hartsfield early in the story. The book remains very faithful to the books, except in tiny details like the wacky neighbor lady who lives next door, and Bill feeding a massive tortoise passing through his yard one morning. I’m not sure if this is a pet or what.

Bill is assisted in his sleuthing, by the kid he hired to mow his lawn, and who happens to be a computer wiz. Jerome is played by Jharrel Jerome, and I like him already. His character is a refreshing change from the Black Male Sportsplayer/Jock, we see so often on TV. Black men are rarely cast as hardware nerds. Brady is also a tech-nerd, and works at one of those big box technical stores, which is something like Best Buy, and I like that Jerome seems to be every bit his equal when it comes to the esoteric workings of computers.

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I think Bill’s quirky neighbor is meant to represent a woman with which Bill has a brief, but satisfying relationship, in the books. Or at least I hope so. I don’t know if this will happen on the show, but in the book, Janey is murdered by Brady. This is not a catalyst to make Bill chase after him, because Bill was already unofficially working the Mr. Mercedes case. This is Brady’s attmept to make Bill commit suicide. The neighbor, Ida Silver, is played by Holland Taylor, and if she looks familiar, that you may have seen her in every funny show of the 90s.

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The villain is played by one of the alumni of the cable show, Penny Dreadful . Harry Treadaway, who played Victor Frankenstein, is as disgusting character here, as he was on the other show. Apparently, this is how he’s going to make his career, playing unlikable people in perfectly good shows. The show remains very faithful to the books with him too. He has an incestuous relationship with his mother, whom he later poisons, and it looks like the writers are sticking to this plot, although in the book, the mother  initiates sexual activity. In the show, it appears she doesn’t know that her son regularly masturbates with her as his subject. (I know! Ewww!)

Their relationship does have a very Bates Motel feel. Brady works at a Big Box store, with other quirky characters, and a deeply stupid boss, who is constantly shit-talking Brady’s dreams of life beyond the store. This goes a long way towards humanizing this incredibly shitty character, who mowed down dozens of people with his car, just for shits and giggles. This is not something that happens  in the books, so I wasn’t expecting that.

I’m going to keep watching this because the pilot certainly captured me. The show airs on the Audience Network which may be difficult for some of you to access. I have access to it through DirectTV, and its possible you may need that, to watch this show.

 

 

The Void (Netflix)

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I love a good creature feature, and I was attracted to this movie because of its use of tentacles in its promotional material. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot when I sat down to watch it. I was sort of expecting a little Cthulhu type stuff, and there’s certainly a little of that in it, but there was also a lot of it I couldn’t make hide, nor hair, of.

It seems to be about a group of cultists attempting to call some dark being to Earth, to inhabit the bodies of humans, and the cultists are partially successful. They’re doing this in collusion with a doctor at the local hospital, where they’ve trapped several people.  Daniel Carter, Maggie, James, and inexplicably, an Asian woman, named Kim, who I lost track of by the end of the movie.

These people have to fight off monsters inhabiting the bodies of their friends, and a couple of trigger happy locals, while working their way through the maze of the hospital, to find and stop the doctor from unleashing Hell on Earth, through the body of his pregnant daughter.

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I have to give fair warning. The movie is very gory, with lots of blood and other fluids gushing all over the place. People get skewered with knives and/or shot, and sometimes they get torn apart by creatures. The cult members wear white hooded cloaks and look a little like KKK members, but there is no equivocating in this case. They are definitely villains ,whose job it is to keep the hapless victims trapped in the hospital to be fodder for the monsters. There’s also an element of the movie The Thing, as the monster is a conglomeration of various body parts and live people.

The movie doesn’t have the happiest ending either. At the end Daniel, and I guess her name is Maggie, get trapped in an alternate universe featuring a giant black pyramid. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not an A+ movie either. A lot of the plot seems to have been borrowed from  other Lovecraftian pastiche movies, like Hellraiser, and Re-animator ,and the acting is sometimes a bit dodgy. But I think the key words here are “not bad”. It’s a good workmanlike plot where bad things happen to bad, and sometimes not so bad,people, who sometimes act like cowards, and occasionally act like heroes.

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Daniel isn’t the most charismatic guy in the film, although he is set up as our hero, who has the most sense,  and who  is gonna save the world. None of the other characters stand out as especially interesting either, really. Basically, if you’re watching this movie, it’s just  for the monsters, and gore.

Hannibal Season Three: Antipasto

Hi!

This is me beginning season three of my Hannibal re-watch. For some reason, during the time of its airing, there was a huge drop off in critical analysis for this show, after season two. I was hard pressed to find anything on the third season. (If you got a rec’, holla at me.) For some reason, most reviews stopped at the Season Two finale, and I sort of understand why, but still, there’s a whole ‘nother season after that, that none of the reviewers seemed to care about. I actually liked season three, although I do have to (somewhat shamefully) confess to blowing off the first five, or six episodes, when they aired, and having to go back to watch them later. Where here’s where I make up for that

In season three, we begin the Hannibal and Red Dragon arc of the books. The first two seasons were Bryan Fuller’s version of a pre-quel to The Red dragon, when Will and Hannibal first met. Between the season two finale, and the Red Dragon half of the third season, Fuller managed to squeeze in the primary  plot of the book, Hannibal aka Mason Verger’s Revenge.
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There will be lots of call backs to specific dialogues in the books, and some Silence of the Lamb references, throughout the entire season. But since the DeLaurentis didn’t have the rights to Silence of the Lambs, (and the show got canceled), we never got a chance to meet Fuller’s version of Clarice Starling, Well the rights to Silence of the Lambs reverts back to the DeLaurentis this August, and Fuller, who is now the showrunner for American Gods, along with the Martha DeLaurentis, has been in talks with  Mads Mikkelson, and Hugh Dancy about returning for a fourth season. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this happens.

Hannibal Season 4 Needs to Happen: Here’s Why

At the end of season two, Hannibal took down everyone during what’s now called The Red Dinner, or for the more pretentious among us, Le Diner Rouge. Everyone who knew Hannibal, and converged on his home, left there in an ambulance. Will, Jack, Alana, Abigail… Of the four, its Abigail who dies from her injuries. The others make a comeback this season to try to recapture Hannibal.

Season three picks up with Hannibal, in black leather, riding through the streets of Paris on a motorbike, which is never how I pictured him from the first seasons. He is stalking a new victim, Roman Fell, a Library Curator from Italy, whose identity he plans to adopt as his own. There are flashbacks to the direct aftermath of The Red Dinner, we go with Hannibal to Florence, Italy, we get answers on how Bedelia and Hannibal ended up on that plane together, and about what hold he seemed to have over her.

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After leaving the House of Blood, Hannibal heads to Bedelia’s  home/office, to shower. Bedelia, who had just been called in by Jack Crawford to testify against Hannibal in preparation for his intended capture, assumes that its safe for her to drop in.  She discovers Hannibal in her shower, and in a classic pulpy, film noir, image, she holds a pistol on him when he steps out. He manages to talk her down, but really, she  could have done what no one else in the show seemed capable of doing, except she’s suffering from the same problem that WIll Graham seems to suffer from. Fascination. 

Every time Will  Graham had an opportunity to pop a cap in Hannibal’s ass, he hesitated, or wasn’t really serious about it, (to be fair, the first time it happened, Jack shot him), because there’s just something about Hannibal that made him not really want to. Bedelia does the same thing here, putting down her weapon and listening to whatever Lecter has to say. I  never completely understood why these people listened to Lecter, because I’m not impressed by the things he says. But then I’m immune to a lot of  things real-life evil people say to me, so I do struggle to understand the motivations behind why people in these narratives always listen to any  villain’s self-serving bullshit.

Bedelia, having gotten the Jedi treatment from Hannibal, flees with him to Europe. Now to be fair, one of the reasons he has such a hold over her, is just plain fear. A year or so ago, he sent a patient to her that she killed. It wasn’t entirely her fault, but Hannibal’s argument to her, was that it looked deliberate. Hannibal sent her a patient who was unstable, paranoid, and violent. When the patient (played by Zachary Quinto aka Spock) loss control, he had a seizure (it’s implied that this was something subliminally implanted in him by Hannibal, and is a direct callback to the scene in Silence of the Lambs when Hannibal makes “Multiple Miggs” eat his own tongue.) Bedelia, thinking she was helping him, tried to grab his tongue with her hand (something you are NOT supposed to do) and she killed him instead. Hannibal has been holding that death over her head for some time now.

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There’s also this: she was granted immunity by Jack Crawford in exchange for any testimony against Hannibal. Perhaps, since she believed since Jack was dead, that the  immunity he had granted wouldn’t be honored, and she’d still be held accountable. So she sort of owes Hannibal a debt for not telling on her. There’s fascination, and her own fear for her future, but there’s also plain ol’ fear of Hannibal. She is terrified of him the entire time she’s with him in Italy, but that terror doesn’t exactly spur her to leave him. (I’ll have more on this in a moment.) Perhaps there’s also the fear that he could easily track her down, and she’d never know when or where he’d be. It may be her idea of keeping her enemy close. And they are close. But I wouldn’t ever call them friends. Or even frenemies.

They are very, very close, though I don’t believe they have slept together. There are scenes of Hannibal helping her out of her clothes, and scenes where they’re half naked together, and even a scene where Hannibal washes her hair, but I never got the sense they were lovers. I think Bedelia is too terrified of Hannibal to be his lover, and Hannibal only really loves Will Graham, for which Bedelia is not a substitute. Although he greatly admires Bedelia, and is charmed by her intelligence and beauty, I believe he merely covets her, and you can see that he lacks the level of respect for her, that he’s displayed towards Will. I think it’s because of her lack of killer instinct.

Will can, and does, kill people, without hesitation when the mood takes him. There’s a deep well of darkness in him, that Hannibal has been trying to access, since he first saw Will in action waaay back in episode one, when Will took down Garrett Jacob Hobbes, without breaking a sweat. He greatly admires Will’s cool ability to kill without remorse, even with his empathy disorder, and Bedelia simply doesn’t have that in her. She lacks both Will’s levels of darkness and his, paradoxical, empathy.

She and Hannibal first travel to Paris where Hannibal stalks,  kills and eats Dr. Roman Fell, a curator for a Museum in Florence, and his wife. While staking out Dr. Fell, he encounters Anthony Dimmond who, I feel, is totally mackin’ on Hannibal, at this point. There’s no other way to see that scene except as a flirtation. I have no idea how Hannibal sees it. Anthony used to be a TA for Dr. Fell, and claims to  dislike him. Bedelia and Hannibal travel  to Florence, as Dr. Roman Fell, and his wife Lydia, where he assumes Dr. Fell’s position, as a guest lecturer on Dante, at the Library.

Dr. Fell’s name might be a reference to Bishop John Fell, who is  mentioned in The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, when one of the characters remarks that he doesn’t like Mr. Hyde. This same man is also the subject of a nursery rhyme of the same name called I Do Not Like Thee Dr. Fell. This is basically the theme of the first third of the episode as at least two people claim to dislike Dr. Roman (an anagram of Norman) Fell. (This is  an example of Fuller’s very dry literary humor.)

http://www.rhymes.org.uk/a32-i-do-not-like-thee-doctor-fell.htm

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Throughout all of this, we are treated to flashbacks of Abel Gideon (The Man Who Would Liked To Have  Been The Chesapeake Ripper) being forced to eat himself, as Hannibal slowly takes him apart, limb from limb. In an especially horrific touch, he feeds Gideon snails, acorns and wine, then feeds parts of Gideon’s body to more  snails, to make the snails  taste like Gideon, and then makes him eat those. How snails take on the flavor of whatever they eat is a recurring theme in the first three episodes. Gideon snarks at Hannibal about his future, and warns that Hannibal will soon become a hunted man. He  refers to Hannibal as  the personification of the Devil, paralleling the discussion about Dante that appears afterward.

At a party in Florence, Hannibal and Bedelia dance, and Hannibal is accosted by one of the one of the library’s professors, Professor Sogliato, who hates Dr. Fell because he is a foreigner, and who questions his knowledge of medieval Italian history. Lecter, who loves to play to a crowd whenever possible, dazzles everyone with his ability to speak fluent Italian,  by quoting Dante’s first sonnet. Dante’s first sonnet by the way is the basis of La Vita Nuova (The New Life), which is also the basis of the operetta by Patrick Cassidy, called Vide Cor Meum, which is the central musical theme in the movie Hannibal. Bedelia tries to distract Sogliato by requesting a dance, but that man has already signed his own death warrant, by questioning  Hannibal’s credentials in a public place. We learned from his reactions to  Alana and Chilton, in season two,  that Hannibal dislikes having his credentials second-guessed.

After the party, Bedelia dreams she is drowning in her bath. People being submerged in water is a recurring theme throughout the entire series. Whenever a character is feeling overwhelmed, or trapped, they often dream of being submerged in water, while unable to move, or help themselves. Both Will and Alana have had this recurring dream. In the first season, Will was struggling to hold on to his sanity, as he also suffered from encephalitis.  In season two, he struggled to hold on to his sense of who he was, as he got closer  to capturing Hannibal. Alana experienced this same sensation when she entered a romantic relationship with Hannibal and began to realize he was not who he seemed. That Bedelia is having this dream now, means  she is losing herself in Hannibal’s world, and is struggling not to be overwhelmed. Hannibal just seems to have this effect on people.

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       – Drowning in a dream is  about struggling to survive as a person, so it applies to your identity as it is dealing with relationship with other people, but also with your own internal world of instincts, body activities and needs. This is about being or feeling overwhelmed by something.

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Bedelia is in the habit of shopping at Vera Dal, and making the exact same purchase, once a week. There has been a lot of speculation about her actions in Florence, but I think the consensus that was reached, is that she knows people are looking for Lecter, and maybe her, and is trying to be found. At one point, she goes to a train station, not to escape, but to be seen on the station’s camera, just in case anyone is looking for her. I believe she’s trying, to be rescued. Notice how her Vera Dal bag is carefully turned towards the camera above her, and she makes sure to turn her face up to it. She has to be subtle about this, because she knows Hannibal is planning to eat her and if she is too blatant, in her attempts to leave,  he will kill her that much sooner. She escaped his intentions before by fleeing, but knows he won’t let her get away with that a second time.

I just want to point out that while in Florence, Bedelia’s hair, makeup, and outfits are on point. She was always a well-dressed woman, but in all her scenes, her costuming is absolutely superb.

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Lecter encounters Anthony Dimmond again, and invites him to dinner with him, and his wife. He doesn’t tell Dimmond who he’s impersonating, but invites him to one of Dr. Fell’s lectures, as well. At dinner, we find that Hannibal has been treating Bedelia to some very specific foods, much as he did with Abel Gideon. Lots of Oysters, snails, and other types of invertebrates, as Bedelia sadly jokes, that she’s trying not to eat anything with a central nervous system, because her husband wants her to taste a certain way. So yeah, they both know he was planning to kill and eat her, at some, unspecified,  point. Dimmond mentions that the Romans used to do the same thing to the animals they would eat, but  thinks Bedelia is flirting with him, perhaps suggesting a three-way. Meanwhile, Hannibal watches all this, with a great deal of amusement.

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Until this season, we’ve gotten only glimpses of Hannibal’s sense of humor. We know he has a very dry one because of the things he’s said in preceding seasons, but we rarely got a look at him actively making jokes, or reacting with happiness or glee. This season we get to see a Hannibal that is much freer in his display of emotions. He tells Bedelia that he has removed his person suit. Especially after he gets captured midway through the season, when he just has a very  “I Really Don’t Give A Fuck” attitude about the entire situation. This season Mads Mikkelsen appears to be having a great time all season.

After discovering that Hannibal is posing as Dr. Fell, Dimmond tries to blackmail Hannibal. Its an interesting discussion, as Lecter asks if  Dimmond is trying to fold him into some new shape. We never learn what their deal is because Lecter kills him in the apartment, in front of Bedelia. Bedelia was already terrified for Dimmond when he had dinner with them. When Dimmond shows up at Hannibal’s lecture, she runs back to the apartment, packs a suitcase, and attempts to escape, but Lecter and Dimmond show up before she can get out the door. This is the first time we’ve really seen Bedelia lose her carefully designed composure since making the decision to accompany Lecter to Europe. What it shows is a woman in the grip of extreme terror. Earlier, Lecter walked past her and touched her on the shoulder, when Dimmond walked into the lecture hall and that seemed to galvanize her. She is ready to run.

Lecter bashes Dimmond’s over the head as Bedelia watches. Before he breaks Dimmond’s neck,  Lecter asks if she is observing or participating, and reaches the conclusion, based on the fact that she knew what was coming, yet did nothing to prevent it, (including warning Dimmond to stay away) that what she is doing is participation. After this we see Bedelia in tears as she contemplates that this is her possible future. This is why she is not Will Graham’s substitute. She makes no pretense of her ability to handle watching Hannibal do this. In Hannibal’s mind she has no instinct to kill, despite her big talk to Will about it, later in the season. Will would not have tried to run. Will would’ve tried to kill Hannibal, or just taken it in stride, as he did when he watched Hannibal make Mason Verger cut off his own face.

Later, we find that Lecter has folded Dimmond into an interesting new shape, (just as he joked to him earlier) as he travels by train to the  Norman Cathedral in Palermo. During his trip, he folds a paper image of Michaelangelo’s Vitruvian Man into the shape of a heart, while thinking about Will Graham. ( I spoke about this in a previous post on how Will is Hannibal’s perfect man.) Will is very much in Hannibal’s thoughts after Dimmond’s death. He wonders if Will is still alive, and is in a pensive mood while on the train to Palermo.

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He places Dimmond’s body on display in the middle of the Norman Chapel over the image of death that is inscribed in the floor. He has folded Dimmond’s body into the shape of a heart, and pierced it with three upraised swords, like the Three of Swords from the tarot.

The Three of Swords represents rejection, sadness, loneliness, heartbreak, betrayal, separation and grief. Such events feel so painful because they are unexpected. However, the Three of Swords often serves as a warning sign to show when one or more of these are possible. By preparing for this difficult event, the emotional blow can be minimised or even prevented entirely.

https://www.biddytarot.com/tarot-card-meanings/minor-arcana/suit-of-swords/three-of-swords/

I don’t know if he knows that Will is alive. I think he suspects it, but  Hannibal often does things just to see what will happen, or just to artistically express himself, and this could be one of those times. If the display is meant for Will, then it’s Hannibal’s psychotic version of an apology to him, saying that he forgives Will for hurting him, and misses him.

 

 

So, this episode was entirely from Lecter’s point of view. The next episode will be about what happened  directly after the “Diner Rouge”, from Will Graham’s  point of view.

Note:

Since the airing of American gods, I’m hoping these reviews of Hannibal helps people to look more deeply into the meanings and expressions in that American Gods. As I said, in my reviews of that show, Fuller loves to put meaning into everything you will see on the screen, and that almost  nothing you see is accidental. Every image, name, and line of dialogue is, at the very least, some type of in-joke, if not foreshadowing for some later event, or an illustration of the episode’s theme. So if you are a literary student, or history major, you will find all manner of easter eggs in his work.

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 2: Tome-Wan

Tome-Wan would at first appear to be one of these interstitial episodes between momentous events, but a number of important events happen in this episode , so its not filler.

There are a number of confrontations, in the aftermath of Will snitching to Mason about how the whole situation between Mason, Margot, and Will was orchestrated by Hannibal.

Will tells Hannibal what he said to Mason, and when Hannibal asks why, he tells him he wanted to see what would happen, throwing back at Hannibal his excuse for why Hannibal warned Garrett Jacob-Hobbes, long ago in that first episode. There are a number of callbacks by Will to that first season.

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Hannibal asks Will to close his eyes and imagine what he’d like Mason to do to Hannibal. Will imagines Hannibal hanging from the rafters in Mason’s pigpen, wearing a straitjacket. In his mind he is the one who slits Hannibal’s throat. Will is suffering from a severe case of “lovehate”. Hannibal has been the architect of so much misery that he can’t wait to see him dead (or captured). At the same time, there’s a part of him that finds all of this exciting, and revels in Hannibal’s antics. Will gets to use his hidden  savage self in service to the state, and loves letting that part of himself of its leash. You can see it in the last episode where he confronted Mason.

Mason confronts Hannibal during his next therapy session. He’s being especially hard on Hannibal’s nerves, as he critiques his drawings, declaring them to be crap, throwing his feet onto Hannibal’s desk, and stabbing at them with a penknife, like a bratty ten year old, which is exactly where Mason is, mentally. He hasn’t evolved beyond the spoiled child stage, and doesn’t seem to realize that he is dealing with a wholly different type of animal than anything he’s ever encountered. Mason is a small fish that, because of his narcissism, thinks he’s pretty big, in a big pond. He doesn’t even conceive that he’s dealing with  Hannibal the  Great White.

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Mason tells Hannibal that he should have stayed out of Verger family business, and threatens to slit his throat. Hannibal, who never gives anything of himself away, acts completely unperturbed, so you know that Mason is  a walking dead man, and that Hannibal have to do this himself, since Will isn’t cooperating with his masterplan of having Will kill Mason. Watch Hannibal’s face during this scene. You can see he is barely holding himself back from snapping the shit outta that little fucker. (Not in the office, Hannibal! Not in the office! – In the voice of Last Week’s John Oliver.)

In Margot’s therapy session with Hannibal, she is broken and restrained. After her forced hysterectomy, (which his quite possibly one of the most heinous things ever done on this show, and that’s saying something, when you consider this is a a show about serial killers.), she has learned her lesson about trying to oppose her brother, and all her hope is lost.In fact all seems lost for everyone, as there are a number of setbacks for all the characters, in this episode.

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Jack Crawford, who is frustrated at how long its taking Will to ensnare Hannibal, has a surprise for Will. He has found and detained Bedelia Du’Maurier, Hannibal’s former psychiatrist. She tried to run away because she knew Hannibal was dangerous for her, but the FBI has done her the favor of putting her back on his radar, as he was too busy with his machinations with Will, to search for her himself.

Will questions Bedelia about Hannibal’s weaknesses. She tells him of her fear of him, how he manipulates others into doing his dirty work for him, something which Will is experiencing first hand, and confesses about the patient Hannibal set her up to kill.She says Hannibal will persuade Will to kill someone he loves, but the only person Will has left to love is Alana. Hannibal has carefully removed everyone else from Will’s life, including the idea of his unborn child.

Hannibal may  be aware of how much Will hates him, during their next therapy session, but he completely disregards the depths to which Will will sink in pursuit of him. Will accuses Hannibal of fostering co-dependency. Hannibal doesn’t want anyone in Will’s life but himself. Which, when you think about it, is one of Hannibal’s creepier aspects.

While Hannibal is drawing one evening, Mason’s henchman, Carlo, bursts in and kidnaps Hannibal, but not without a fight in which Mateo, a friend of Carlo, loses his life, after Hannibal stabs him in the femoral artery with a scalpel.. Carlo stuns Hannibal,  takes him to Muskrat Farm, and trusses him over Mason’s pigpen. This is directly from the book and movie, Hannibal, where Mason Verger has Hannibal in this same position.

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Just as in his imagining, Will is prodded by Mason to slit Hannibal’s throat. We’re not sure exactly whats going on in Will’s mind. He certainly hates Hannibal, but when given an opportunity to kill him he balks, and later when given the opportunity to capture Hannibal, he warns him instead. Does Will even know what he wants, or why? Instead of cutting his throat, Will frees Hannibal but gets knocked out by Carlo for his troubles. Hannibal just leaves Will there unconscious and spirits Mason away for some,  more private, torture.

When Will wakes up he finds blood streaked everywhere, no sign of mason and Carlo’s body, which was eaten by the pigs. He goes back to his home to find Hannibal there with Mason. Hannibal has drugged Mason and induced him to cut off pieces of his flesh, using his father’s knife, and feed it to Will’s dogs. I’m not sure how lost Will is in this scene. He seems  amused at what Hannibal is doing. Is he happy because he finally has evidence of Hannibal doing something actionable in front of him, or is he simply amused at Hannibal’s antics? In a  nastily gruesome scene, Hannibal also orders Mason to cut off his lips and nose, and eat them. What makes this scene especially grotesque is Mason’s mental state. As he happily mutilates his face, he still crack plenty of jokes, about it.

Finally disturbed , Will urges Hannibal to finish Mason, but canny predator that he is, Hannibal doesn’t kill Mason. Instead he carefully paralyzes Mason with a precise break of his neck.

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Weeks later, Jack Crawford questions Mason about what happened to him, but Mason says he fell into his own pigpen, and  sings nothing but praises for Hannibal Lecter’s care. But we know better. This shit ain’t over as far as Mason is concerned. Or maybe it is. As Jack leaves, Mason is confronted by Margot, who tells him that she will take very good care of him. She’s the one in power now. I really love this scene, for the look of deep gratification on Margot’s face, as she says this.

Later, Will and Hannibal are debating whether  to confess their sins to Jack, or not. Hannibal weighs the idea that Jack should be told, and then killed, after which he and Will will run off together.

“American Horror Story 6: Chapter 7

Wow! Last night’s episode was a total massacre! Literally!!!

Last episode, we found out that everyone involved in the making of The Return to My Roanoke Nightmare died during the Blood Moon. And with the death of Rory, (Audrey’s much younger husband),  killed by the nurses, to complete the lettering in their favorite word, (MURDER), we were off to the races.

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When everyone goes upstairs to investigate where Rory has gone, they find a pool of blood, with no body. When Rory gets killed, Sydney, his assistant and cameraman are taken down by Crazy Agnes. I didn’t name her, that’s what the show’s  writers named her, and since I disagree with calling homicidal people crazy, and ableism in general, I’m only calling her Agnes from this time forward. Agnes kills the entire film crew with some kind of hatchet, or cleaver, then goes to the Roanoke house and attacks Shelby. But not before Shelby kills Matt while Dominic just stands and watches.

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Shelby is saved, from Agnes,  by Dominic, who wrestles Agnes into submission but doesn’t kill her. Earlier that evening Dominic spent  time trying to talk his way back under Shelby’s skirts, (or yoga pants in her case) but had no luck. Shelby is dedicated to reconciling with her ex-husband.

Even though Matt beat Dominic’s ass earlier that evening, he catches this  little episode between the two of them, and tells Dominic to go ahead and tap that because he doesn’t want her. Dominic thinks this is hilarious.

There’s not one of these people that is remotely  likable. Shelby is indecisive and sends mixed messages to everyone. She ‘s a total flake. Matt has no personality at all. Dominic, Audrey, and Monet are just jerks. Agnes is the world’s worst cosplayer, while Lee is the world’s worst TV cop.

Agnes cuts the phone lines to the house, and the film crew are all dead, so no one can call for help. (Remember everyone’s cellphones were taken, and Diana, Sydney’s first assistant died in a car crash.)

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So characterization is just thrown completely out the window, while characters react to the batshitness that’s happening to them. Although everyone does go from not believing any of it is happening, and thinking Sydney is punking them, to using those stupid little cameras he gave them to film their horrific deaths for posterity.  Everybody films everything. One of the strangest moments is when Audrey films Agnes trying to kill her.

Matt is killed by Shelby. I didn’t see this coming but  he really pissed her off.   When Shelby finds him in flagrante with the Celtic witch, he claims he’s in love with her, and Shelby beats him to death with a tire iron.  Here she is turning down awesome sexual escapades with Dominic (C’mon, you just know he’s a dynamo in the bedroom!) for this fool, only for him to turn around and say he’s in love with the creature responsible for killing everyone. Since Matt never had much character to begin with this isn’t exactly the most surprising event.

I have to note,the show is especially graphic this episode. I don’t imagine those of you with delicate sensibilities have even gotten this far into the season, or are even watching the show, but I’m giving the warning anyway. I’m not a fan of torture porn. I always end up covering my eyes during  especially brutal moments, which means there’s a lot of this episode I didn’t see.I’m just here for the aftermath.

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Lee, Monet, and Audrey sneak out of the house, via the underground tunnels, to go get help for Shelby, who is suffering from Agnes’ knife wound. They bring their cameras along. They  end up being  attacked by ghosts, find Rory’s body, and are then captured by the Polks, who are out in full stench this evening, because hey! Blood Moon!  Whooowhee!!! In a moment of surreal humor, they season Lee’s leg and chop it off.

 

Yeah see, this is what is meant by White people not being able to cook. You don’t season a haunch before its removed from its host. Really people! Who seasons a chicken leg before cutting it off the chicken? Although, I guess its a good thing that they remembered to use seasoning at all. (It looked like it might’ve been sage, since it was green.) After wards, they force feed the leg jerky to Monet and Audrey. I don’t know where the rest of Lee is, or even if she’s still alive.

In an ironic twist, Agnes gets cleavered by The Butcher, as Shelby and Dominic watch, with horror, from the windows.

There’s really not much plot to this episode. It mostly consisted of illuminating the circumstances in which everybody dies, and filming it all while it happens.

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So far, Lee, (until we see otherwise), Monet, and Audrey are still among the living. So are Shelby and Dominic. I expect more character revelations to come out of left field, or even a new plot twist, in the next episode.

If you’re wondering why I’m so flippant about the blood and torture during this episode, after watching the Polks season Lee’s leg, it finally completely dawned on me that this is a kind of Horror mockumentary, like those Christopher Guest films, Best in Show, Mascots, (which is hilarious and on Netflix right now), and This is Spinal Tap. I’m not good with humor that hasn’t been spelled out to me, so while I suspected the show was meant to be funny, I wasn’t certain.

My mind tends to have a more literal bent, so unless its clearly spelled out to me that what I’m watching is meant to be funny, I probably won’t see it. Its  not that I don’t have a sense of humor. It just needs to be switched on.  Like a child, my sense of humor isn’t particularly subtle, either. (I get subtle humor, but you have to tell me its subtle first.) So those of you who caught on that this was a parody of Blair Witch shaky-cam, moviemaking styles, I am here right now. (I may be late to the party, but I made it.)

For further, in-depth ideas, read:

http://www.avclub.com/tvclub/effective-american-horror-story-roanoke-turns-subt-244901

I loved this review. It tackles racial issues that were implied at the start of the series, and issues pertaining to privacy and filmmaking. This particular post had me rooting for Lee to be the last survivor. 

The Final Girls (2015)

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Normally, I plan my Horror movie reviews,  for October, well in advance of Halloween, but this one surprised me. I’d never heard of it until a few days ago. I originally confused this movie with another movie about serial killers, with the same title, called Final Girl, which was released the same year. Final Girl is also a comedy but the two movies are very different.

The Final Girls is a rather broad parody of serial killer movies from the eighties, with all their various tropes, specifically the  Friday the 13th movies, and  the movie Sleepaway Camp. There’s also some elements of the Scream  movies. Some modern day teenagers get trapped in an eighties horror movie and have to try to survive to the end of it. To that end, they use their knowledge of horror movies, in general ,and the specific horror movie they’ve landed in, to try to navigate their way through the movie. Nothing goes as planned.

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About 25 years ago, Max’s actress mother, Amanda, starred in a horror movie called Camp Bloodbath, and can’t seem to live it down, as she’s having difficulty finding other roles. After one such audition, Max and Amanda are involved in a car crash and Amanda’s mother dies. Three years later, Max is still grieving for her, but has some new friends, and a crush on a guy named Chris.

All of them get invited to a special screening of her mother’s old movie and its new sequel, Camp Bloodbath II. When the theater catches fire, Max, Chris, her best friend Gertie, a bitchy girl named Vicki, and Gertie’s stepbrother, Duncan,  try to escape the fire by tearing their way through the movie screen, only to find themselves stuck in the movie. Duncan is an expert on serial killer movies and Camp Bloodbath specifically. One of the funniest moments is them sitting by the side of the road, trying to figure out where they are, and if they are indeed, in a movie.

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In a moment of prime surreality, Max meets her actress mother, years before she became her Mom, as the nice girl stereotype named Nancy. Max spends the rest of the movie trying  to save Amanda’s life, even though on some level she knows these aren’t real people. Its a bittersweet moment, as you can tell that seeing her mother alive and well again is having a real effect on Max. She tries to advise and guide her without telling her that she’s Amanda’s  unborn daughter.

The Camp counselors consist of the usual throwaway characters including a randy horndog, named Kurt, who everyone thinks is disgusting, except for the girls in the Bloodbath movie. There’s Tina, the camp sexpot, and the actual Final Girl of Camp Bloodbath, Paula. The Black guy of course, is killed almost immediately. Since one of the rules of serial killer movies is that whoever has sex dies, the  modern crew spend most of the movie trying to keep what characters they can from having sex. After Duncan gets killed, they learn that their own lives are fodder for the killer, named Billy.

Billy is played as a straight killer, in the mold of Jason rather than Freddie, with much the same backstory.  We learn this when the modern day teens get caught in a flashback, within the movie, in the movie (and believe they’ve gone colorblind.) Billy  doesn’t crack jokes, or cackle menacingly. He’s actually pretty terrifying, really, which just makes the movie funnier, as no one takes him as seriously as they should with Duncan deciding he wants a selfie with him.

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One of the funniest moments, for me, is when they put Tina in restraints, kitchen mitts, and extra clothing to keep her from having sex or taking her clothes off. Tina, who is best classified as a very dim bulb, doesn’t understand any of it. Bless her heart! At one point, Vicki tries to explain  that her cellphone is actually a  phone, and Tina just laughs at her.

When Paula gets killed, they decide to take matters into their own hands. Without Paula to be the Final Girl,  they elect Max as the only virgin. Her job is to kill Billy just like in the original film. Killing Billy is probably the only way they can escape the movie. So they lure Billy to the camp by using Tina as bait, by allowing her to take off her clothes, and booby trapping the entire house. During Billy’s siege of the camp, most of the other characters get killed. Only Chris, Nancy and Max escape, and Chris is wounded, when Billy kidnaps Nancy.

Max is desperate to save Nancy and goes after her . She manages to free Nancy but is wounded in the attempt. In order for there to be a Final Girl, one of the girls must die, though. Nancy sacrifices herself but not before Max confesses to her that she is the movie counterpart to her late mother. Now, as the Final Girl, Max has the superpowers to defeat Billy. After killing him with his own machete, she wakes up in the hospital to find all her friends are alive again, but unfortunately, they are all now  stuck in the sequel.

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I had a lot of fun watching this movie. I loved the dialogue, the sight gags, all of it. I especially liked the character’s relationships with each other. Normally these types of movies are full of people you are hoping will be killed, but with the exception of Kurt, who is kinda “rapey”, and thereby disgusting, most of them are sweet, but not too bright. Even the modern characters, while snarky, are not actually mean, and some of them even make fun of which stereotypes they are, with Vicki making cracks about being the “mean girl”. I laughed the hardest at some of the throwaway lines the modern teens lobbed at the movie teens, who were too dim to understand.

I especially liked Max’s relationship with Nancy. The two of them spend some amount of time bonding, and you can see all of Max’s grief and longing, when she talks to Nancy, while  trying not to reveal who she is.  Nancy asks her, a couple of times, why she cares about her so much, and Max stutters to come up with a reason for why she’s attached herself to this girl. I like that the women aren’t just sexy floor lamps. They affect the plot as much as they can, considering their circumstances, and manage to contribute a lot of one-liners to the discussion. The movie teens have no idea how funny they are. They play it completely straight, while the modern teens are deliberately snarky, because they can’t believe the situation they’re in.

 

There are several girls in the movie and they all  talk to each other, support each other when they can, and are largely non-judgmental about one another. For example, no one considers Tina’s cat-in-heat behavior, to be at all remarkable. They just take it in stride that she’s gonna try to hump anything that moves, and/or take her clothes off. They try to stop that because it attracts Billy, not because they judge her as being bad.

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The modern teens are surprisingly intelligent, and some of the funniest moments is watching them come up with a plans to defeat the movie they’re trapped in, but it doesn’t matter because, according to the laws of teen killer movies, there can be only one survivor, so everyone keeps having horrible accidents, as the movie attempts to correct itself.

This strongly reminded me of the movie Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, as it has much of the same kind of silly, slapstick humor.  The kind of humor that’s  not predicated on people being bitchy or unlikable. As an example, I give you Grizzly Park, which is a movie about a bear, hunting and killing teenagers, at a summer camp. The people in that movie, are quite possibly some of the most unlikable characters I’ve ever watched  in a movie, and at some point, I wished all of them would hurry up and be mauled by the bear, so the movie could end. I watched that movie with my Mom, an old veteran of these kinds of movies, and even she cheered for the bear.

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And it was very refreshing to watch a movie made in 2015, where you care about the people being killed. Ordinarily, the killer seems to be the focus of any  movies made after Scream, and you root for  him, or the people he’s killing are so annoying that you pray for their deaths. And its also quite a contrast to movies made in the 80’s, where the teens seemed to like each other. Teens were annoying in the movies back then, and the movies were deeply sexist, but the teens weren’t bad people, and I didn’t spend the movie wishing for them to die.

Since I saw this on a family oriented network, I can assume its mostly safe for teens, but not for little kids under a certain age maybe, as there is a certain amount of gore, language, and sexual situations.

This movie was a surprise like for me, as I wasn’t expecting it to be so good, and I’m adding it to my comedy/ horror list, along with Tucker and Dale, Shaun of the Dead , and The Addam’s Family.

Wer (2013)

I’m horribly behind in my Halloween reviews. (But not my movie watching. I can do that. Its one of my skillz.) But here’s one of my recommendations for movie watching this Halloween.

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I only saw this movie about a year ago, and its a straight Horror movie. Its not a satire, or played for laughs, and its not bad. In fact its one of the more underrated werewolf movies floating around out there. No, its not as good as Dog Soldiers but it is better than the bigger budgeted Wolfman.

I don’t know any of the people involved in this movie. The director, William Brent Bell, is someone I’ve never heard of. The actors, A. J. Cooke, and Brian Scott O’Connor are  unknown to me. I liked the acting here. The actors approach this with the reserve and calm the plot deserves, although I could’ve done without some of the soap drama in the middle, as I felt that was unnecessary. It’s kept to a minimum so I wasn’t too irritated.

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A family on a camping trip, in Lyon France, is mauled  by some unknown creature. The mother is the only one to survive the attack, and it looks very harrowing onscreen. Not quite as gory as expected, which is to the good, as sometimes gory can be distracting. Talyn, played by Brian O’Connor, is caught almost immediately afterwards and accused of killing the family.

Kate (A.J. Cooke) is called in as Talyn’s defense attorney ,along with her assistant Eric, and a specialist in animal attacks, Gavin. Gavin and Kate have some kind of romantic history, that Eric objects to, as Gavin begins showing interest in Kate during this case. Eric himself has some unnamed scandal in his past involving the misuse of information, and fleeing the US, and he and Gavin butt heads over all of this. Kate who is still in some grief over the death of her father only has her eyes on this case and helping Talyn.

We follow Kate’s investigation of Talyn’s case,which at first appears to be a setup by the government to try to steal his family’s land, but Talyn  throws a monkey-wrench into Kate’s plans by actually being a werewolf. at one of their meetings Talyn attempts to grab Kate by the hand, and Gavin gets scratched on the arm.Guess what happens!

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Talyn is given a physical exam to determine if he has a form of porphyria, which is a kind of cutaneous blood disorder that results in Talyn’s  unique appearance. He looks like a werewolf before he becomes a werewolf. He is extremely tall, his face is covered in hair, he moves and talks slowly, and has unnaturally long fingernails, all symptoms of his disease, according to Eric.

During his physical exam, Talyn goes berserk and kills the entire hospital team, and then escapes into the city of Lyon, and the woods surrounding the city. At the same time Gavin is undergoing some changes of his own, and eventually he and Talyn go head to head, with Kate in the middle of it, as Gavin attempts to defend her from the rampaging Talyn.

Kate is at the center of all this, as she first endears herself to Talyn, by commiserating with him over the recent death of his father. She’s also the center of Eric, and Gavin’s focus as they fight over her attention, but at no point is one given the impression that she is nothing more than a sexy floor lamp.

For one thing, she’s not played for sexy. She makes decisions and has character. She’s not merely a damsel in distress, as she does have backbone. For most of the movie she appears to be fully in charge, standing up for Talyn against a system, and the detective, that has pronounced him guilty, based solely on his looks. You can tell she’s good at her job and takes it very seriously. Although she does  appear strangely unperturbed that her client is actually a werewolf.

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I kept waiting for the twist in this movie, like maybe everything was a dream, or a government plot that created Talyn, but none of those things occur. The plot remains pretty straightforward in that there isn’t much of one. Most of the movie reads like  ” A Day in the Life of Kate, the  French Defense Attorney”, and I rather liked that.

I actually liked Gavin , but I thought Eric was a dick. The detective in charge is played by, Sebastian Roche, someone Supernatural fans will recognize.He is kind of a jerk too, but he’s not wrong about Talyn. This doesn’t benefit him much because he is involved in government corruption to steal Talyn’s family’s land, so he goes to jail. But none of these subplots are the focus of the movie. They’re introduced and then settled, and the movie moves on. So, if you’re looking for some kind of in-depth crime investigation, like the movie Crimson Rivers, you’re out of luck. his movie isn’t about that.

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Its worth watching for Halloween, also  nice and streamlined, clocking in at a brisk 90 minutes, and its suitable for teenagers to watch. There’s a little gore but its not overdone. Its got a lot of action, including some werewolf on werewolf fighting towards the end, which looks pretty graphic, but again, its not overdone.

Its well worth looking at.

Check it out. Its on DVD.

Wolf Creek

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So this week was the premiere of the new slasher series, Wolf Creek, which is based on the movie Wolf Creek, from 2005. It airs on the Pop Channel and is based on the true story behind the Backpack Murders that took place in New South Wales, during the 90’s. The actual killer is now serving  7 consecutive life terms.The show is filmed in Australia with a largely Australian and native supporting cast.

I’m not a fan of serial killer movies, or shows , but I decided to review this because I was curious.  This is one of my Mom’s favorite movies, even though she’s not a huge fan of serial killer movies, either. I’d watched the movie (and didn’t care for it), and wondered how the creators would turn that movie into a six part mini-series, without falling into the trap of making six hours of torture porn. I feel like the show is off to a promising start. I don’t have plans to watch the entire run, but I am intrigued, and I might.

This is largely due to the young actress who plays Eve. Eve is a former gymnast, who is on vacation with her family, after having gone through rehab for addiction to pain killers. The relationship between Eve and her father is a tense one, as he’s dealing with a lot of anger regarding her addiction, (warning for some amount of emotional abuse) but all of this doesn’t get much play because her entire family, (Mom, Dad, little brother) are murdered in the first ten minutes, before the opening credits, by Mick Taylor, who is played by John Jarratt, the actor from the film.

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When her younger brother gets attacked by an animal, Mick shoots it, and decides to hang with Eve’s family for the rest of the evening. He is a crude, but jovial man, who cracks jokes about murdering people, right before he murders people. When he makes a crude joke about Eve being on her period, she goes into the RV to listen to music and can’t hear her family being slaughtered, just outside.  I thought the murder of Eve’s family would play out a lot longer ,as we got to know them, but that doesn’t appear to be the show’s focus. You know its going to happen but Mick attacks them so suddenly that it still manages to be a surprise.

He shoots Eve too but she manages to survive. Now suffering from her wounds, and survivor’s guilt, she has dedicated herself to tracking down the man who killed her family. I found this intriguing because I went into this with a certain set of expectations, and the show managed to upturn those, from time to time. I thought for certain Eve would be blamed for the death of her family, and while the idea is brought up, its also quickly shot down.

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I also thought Eve’s  story wouldn’t be believed, but Sullivan Hill is the one cop in Australia who believes her, having kept track of several of Mick’s murders for some time. Sullivan is played by Dustin Clare and you may remember him from Strikeback and Spartacus. I don’t but then I consider Sullivan to be a rather bland character.

It’s obvious that all the character focus  is going to be on Eve, as Sullivan doesn’t make much of an impression, beyond being blandly handsome. No there is no sexual tension set up between these two, at least not on Eve’s part, although I think Sullivan is intrigued. Understanding what she is about to do after she steals one of his casefiles, he sets off in pursuit of the strongheaded girl.

I did ask myself what the Hell it is that Eve thinks she’s going to do when she catches up to Mick, but I’m not too worried about that now. She’s been shown to have some amount of grit and backbone, and the rest of the season will consist of a cat and mouse game being played between her and Mick.

I like that the show is  so female-centric. The story is entirely focused on Eve, and her point of view, so there’s an element of that “Final Girl” quality that I always thought was an interesting trope for such films. We spend very little time in Mick’s presence which is probably a good thing. He thinks he’s hilarious but the show never presents him as comedy relief, even if you laugh at some of the things he says. His good humor only serves to make him more terrifying, as he greatly enjoys killing, and is just doing all this for fun. There’s only so much of that type of mindset you want to be exposed to. (There’s even a Crocodile Dundee joke thrown in.) Both he and Eve appear to be about equal in intelligence and drive, so Eve winning this contest of wills is not necessarily a foregone conclusion.

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Despite all these things to recommend it, I would advise caution for those who are more sensitive. The show is exceptionally gory. At least for the first ten minutes, it does not stint in showing Mick killing Eve’s family, and  shows him shooting a child. So you may be happier skipping the first few minutes, after which the show calms down somewhat (but its still very bloody.)

I may actually watch next week’s episode which airs on Friday. It looks like a good substitute for The Exorcist, which is beginning to drag.

Hannibal Season Two: Ko No Mono

(Yes! I’m still writing these, even if no one is reading them. They’re kinda fun to write, and good practice for my other essays.)

In the last episode we saw Will Graham murdering Freddie Lounds at his house, and we assume that he, and Hannibal, ate parts of her body. Alana is growing increasingly perturbed by Will and Hannibal’s relationship, as Will appears to be becoming more and more like Hannibal, in his and Jack’s scheme to capture him.

As the episode begins, we are with the Wendigo and the Ravenstag, in the forest, as the Stag falls over, and squirts blood. While we watch, a new creature, based on a combination of the Wendigo and Will Graham, claws it’s way out of the Stag’s limp body. Will is once again, as he was earlier in the season, being haunted by thoughts of Lecter. The Stag began as a kind of precursor to Lecter’s presence, always appearing to Will in moments when he was subconsciously thinking of Hannibal, and sometimes, just before Hannibal’s actual appearance. As the series progressed, Hannibal’s icon has morphed into the Wendigo, while Will has taken on the Ravenstag as a subconscious token of himself. This happens especially as he’s gotten closer and closer to Hannibal. And now, as his relationship with Hannibal nears a crescendo, he secretly fears he’s become Hannibal’s iconic twin.


This becomes obvious in Hannibal and Will’s discussion at table, as Hannibal tells him that killing Freddie Lounds has changed Will’s thinking, remarking that Will’s imperturbability is a sign of true sociopathy. During this romantic dinner, Will and Hannibal swallow  some whole, tiny, naked birds, that look not unlike little babies, but what this is symbolic of, is not made clear, unless it’s a reference to all the fighting over Margot’s unborn baby, that happens later in the show.

Bryan Fuller:  Master of Symbolism.

That evening, a figure strapped into a burning wheelchair is pushed into a parking garage. The body lands in Freddie’s parking space, so we are meant to believe this is her, which is confirmed by Team Price and Zeller, when they examine the body. Naturally, Jack calls in Will and Hannibal to examine the body as well, and they do that thing where they stand around making assertions about the killer.  I’m still confused about how these personality assumptions, based solely on looking at the burned body,  would ever help the authorities capture any kind of criminal, but this is TV, where you’re not supposed to think too deeply about stuff like that, especially when it looks cool. In the movie, Red Dragon,  it’s slightly more realistically depicted, with a team of people sitting around brainstorming about a particular crime. Watch that scene where Chilton’s burned body has been discovered, with the team guessing where the killer might have done it, and how, so as to narrow down vectors of investigation.  That’s probably a little more like real-life profiling. In the show, Will and Hannibal look like they’re just riffing.

Later, Margot admits to Will that she slept with him just to get pregnant. And it works because she’s now carrying the Verger heir, and her brother can’t threaten to boot her out of the family anymore, making her homeless and destitute. Will is understandably upset about being so callously used, but isn’t this what he’s essentially doing with Hannibal? Pretending to be Hannibal’s friend, to accomplish some personal goal. So when Will feels a sense of betrayal at what Margot did, he should understand how exactly Hannibal felt, when he learns Will has been lying to him the entire time.

Margot says she wants nothing from him (being wealthy, she’d need for nothing anyway) but says she wouldn’t mind if he wants to be a part of the child’s life. She certainly doesn’t want Mason to be an influence because look how he turned out. He’s vile, petty, arrogant, abusive, entitled and whiny. In the movies the character is slightly more nuanced, but I think that’s more due to Gary Oldman’s acting, rather then the writing. Also in the books, and movies, we never met the version of Mason that hadn’t met up with Lecter, a much bigger shark.  In fact TV Mason has few, if any, redeeming qualities. I don’t even like Mason and I’ve  only seen him onscreen for a few minutes. At that moment, he’s psychologically tormenting a small child at Muskrat Farm, making him cry, so he can collect the little boy’s tears. In the books it’s stated that Mason is a child molester, and that he, did indeed, molest Margot. In the show it’s only heavily implied and never illustrated, in keeping with Fuller’s general idea of showing characters being vile, while not actually showing their victims being victimized. There’s a minimum of running, screaming, and terrorizing, on this show, which is very thoughtful of him. Most writers and directors seem to think that the screaming and terror of victims is what creates horrific moments, and I think that’s just lazy writing. (Plus, who wants to listen to 90 minutes of constant screaming? That shit is annoying.)

Afterwards, Alana visits Will at his home, (he’s still dreaming about the Wendigo), and spurred by Freddie’s insinuations, she expresses her misgivings about Will and Hannibal’s relationship. Will is more than a little salty that she’d question his relationship with Hannibal, while she is sleeping  with him.  This is the second time he’s mentioned that to her. He’s also more than a little salty about how no one believed him, when he said Hannibal was a killer. He says no one will believe Alana now, if she says Will is a killer. But he still cares about her and shows her the only way he knows how. He warns her about Hannibal and gives her a gun. Alana looks pretty flummoxed. I guessed she really wasn’t expecting that as a response. I did get the sense that  Will isn’t just worried about Hannibal coming after her, but expects her to use the gun on him, if he gets too lost in his roleplay.

Mason Verger has taken Hannibal up on his offer of therapy, and he is as whining and and thoughtless as you’d expect. Hannibal can’t stand him. Watch his face when Mason visits his office. He’s probably wishing he could kill him right then. Even I winced at Mason’s actions, and I’m not nearly as fastidious in my behavior as Hannibal. If you’re looking to find some excuse for why Mason is so vile, such as he was horribly abused as a child, or sexually assaulted, or something, Fuller refuses to give you that out. There’s no particular reason Mason is the way he is. He was spoiled and overindulged by his father, and has simply never grown past being a rotten ten year old.  He gleefully tells Hannibal about the arrangement his father made that would cut his sister out of the will, if anything happens to him. Hannibal is the one who puts the thought in Mason’s head that his sister could always upend his plans by  getting pregnant.


A funeral is held for Lounds, while Will and Alana watch it from afar, exchanging terse words again, their friendship is totally broken at this point, even though they still care deeply for each other, but it’s something that won’t play out until the third season. That night someone digs up Freddie’s body and mutilates it to look like the Hindu Goddess Kali, posed with extra arms. This body sculpture is a pun on how Hannibal sees himself, as a godlike figure, who is both creator and destroyer, giving and taking life. This time Alana is called in to profile the person who desecrated the body and she sees a connection between Randall Tier and Lounds. She insists to Jack that it might be Will. She goes to Hannibal  and expresses the same fears about Will. Hannibal is distracted by the scent of gunpowder on her hands and she tells him she’s been paranoid.

Although Hannibal is a master manipulator, it’s been shown that he often sets things in motion, and moves people around, with no idea of the eventual outcome. He sets disastrous events in motion, on nothing more than spite, or whim, with no idea of the end results, how many people will be drawn into play, or even if he’ll walk away from them intact, just as happened between Will and Abigail’s  father. Ironically, its this inability  to keep himself from intervening, that first sets Will on his scent, beginning their narrative together.

Mason confronts Margot at the estate, hinting that he knows she’s pregnant, having been given he idea that she might be by Hannibal. Margot has no safe place on the estate. Mason can invade her spaces anytime, and knows it. I always wondered why Margot didn’t just walk out on the entire thing, but  then Ithink  that she likes the perks of being rich, too much, to leave it, and likely has no marketable skills,with which to live in the world, and make her own way. Her father would’ve seen to that, expecting her to get married, and be taken care of by a husband, and most certainly had not counted on his daughter being a lesbian.

I’m still not entirely certain Mason knows Margot is pregnant or if he is just guessing. Even if she isn’t, she could easily become so and he  makes plans to prevent that from ever happening. Margot knows he plans to harm her, possibly kill her, and while this isn’t the first time he’s ever threatened her, this time her unborn child is at stake. She attempts to flee, but Mason’s henchman, Carlos,  crashes into her car, stopping her. She wakes up in an operating room, and in one of the more horrifying moments, in a show full of them, she realizes that Mason has violated her once again, by removing her baby and her entire uterus. She will never have a Verger heir.That loophole she found in their father’s will, has just been closed. Mason’s money can pay for all manner of corrupt behavior, such as the henchman who injured her, and the doctor who mutilates her.


Alana confronts Jack about how everyone is lying to her and she can’t rust anyone, including Hannibal. That whatever they’re all up to, Jack is going to be the clear loser in their agenda. Jack, exasperated but sympathetic takes her into the other room where Freddie Lounds is very much still alive, having faked her death to capture Hannibal. I don’t know what Alana is thinking in this scene, but she looks devastated.
Will enraged is an intense sight to see. He really is like a force of nature when he’s got his blood  up. He goes to Muskrat Farm, to confront Mason, who is attending to his flock of prized pigs. He threatens to shoot him and feed him to his pigs, while dangling him over the pen. He explains to Mason that they’re all being manipulated by the grandmaster of manipulation, Hannibal Lecter, who put a bug in Margot’s ear, and Mason’s, and then encouraged Will to take revenge on Mason, for hurting another child, like Abigail, that Will is  never going to know.

He informs Mason their true enemy is Hannibal. Once again  he throws Hannibal’s plans, by doing the something he couldn’t predict.

Hannibal Season Two: Naka-Choko

In Naka-Choko (an acidic soup served as a palette cleanser during a Japanese meal) the title is appropriate for this episode, as things begin to reach a high point in Will’s “game of wills” with Hannibal. Will he be able to hold onto his civilized self or will he succumb to Hannibal’s blandishments to give in to the beast within? There has been, after all, a lot of blandishment, in the past couple of episodes, culminating in the  death of Randall Tier, by Will’s hands.

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Hannibal continues in his quest to get will to release the beast within himself, and this appears to be succeeding as Will, in a flashback, imagines he is actually choking Hannibal Lecter. Like Jesse Cooper, from  Preacher, Will Graham has a deep well of violence inside him, that he likes. But unlike Jesse, he’s deeply ashamed of it. He is loathe to acknowledge its existence, except to Hannibal. When he’s acknowledged it in the past, he tried to use it for good. Like a Dexter, he used his love of violence to kill other killers. It’s part of the reason he’s so dead set on killing Hannibal. Maybe he feels if he kills Hannibal he can destroy that shameful part of himself. It’s the reason we keep seeing the conflation between the Wendigo  and the RavenStag. Both creatures are two sides of the same coin. One benign and the other malevolent.

 

It’s interesting. He has a deep need to experience  violence. To kill. So he goes into a profession that requires that he commit acts of violence. (Will was a cop before becoming a profiler.) In an effort to control it or tame it  he goes into a job that gives it power, and then he meets Hannibal, who, recognizing a wolf in sheep’s clothing,   manages in just one episode,  to completely undo any progress Will might have made towards that goal. Hannibal continues , throughout the following 25 episodes, to keep putting Will in situations that require him to express that violent need. He believes he’s seen Will’s true face. Hannibal already thinks of Will as an intellectual equal, now if he can share murder with him, Will would be the perfect companion.

 

After Will kills Randall, he takes the body to Hannibal, who is once again impressed by Will’s talent for survival. He’s like a proud father whose happy his kid beat up a bully on the playground. He lovingly washes the blood from Will’s hands, while speaking to him in encouraging tones, to help Will remain in the moment. He knows Will wants to withdraw into himself and tells him not to. Fuller stages this as a love scene, but there are also mytho-religious implications, as Hannibal washing  off the blood, and carefully wrapping the wounds, looks like Christ washing the feet of his Apostles.

(My mind also wants to interpret these scenes as a big brother, little brother dynamic, but Fuller has specifically stated that this is a love story and I accept that assertion, while also thinking I’m not wrong either.)

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Will confesses that he imagined killing Hannibal instead of Randall. Hannibal asks Will how  he’ll repay Randall for the gift of his death. Hannibal believes the artistic display of the victim’s body after death is a compliment to the victim. He thinks  artistic displays of the body elevates them to more than the status of just being meat. Will and Hannibal fuse Randall with the body of the beast he believed himself to be, thereby reaching what Hannibal would think is his ultimate potential. After which we watch a grand display of acting as Will and Hannibal act out their  roles as profilers. Its hilarious, as they both go on and on, pretentiously nattering about the killer’s motives, while Jack gives both of them the side eye. He knows not only that Will killed Randall, but that both of them mutilated the body. Later, though, he does take Will to task for this. He’s in this to get Hannibal but he is beginning to doubt Will’s motivations.

Everyone is questioning Will in this episode. He’s questioning himself as he imagines Randall Tier chastising him for killing him, saying that killing him was Will’s “becoming”. So Will certainly feels he’s that much closer to being what Hannibal wants him to be, even if he did kill Tier in self-defense.

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Freddie, Alana, and Jack are all questioning Will’s validity. In the case of Alana and Freddie, Will is outright lying, but these women are not stupid. Freddie  knows he’s not telling her anything useful, when he goes to her to finish his series of interviews that he promised her, insisting that Chilton was, in fact, the Chesapeake Ripper. Freddie wonders why he’s back in therapy with the man he accused of being the Ripper, and goes to Alana with this same question, which awakens Alana’s fears that something strange is going on between Will and Hannibal.

Margot, in therapy with Hannibal, is once again being encouraged to kill her brother. Hannibal believes her sentimental feelings are getting in the way of fratricide. He plants the idea in Margot’s mind that she should have a baby to get around the restrictions their father placed on the family estate. In the event that he or Mason died without a male heir, the entire fortune would go  to the Southern Baptist Church, and not Margot. Yeah, their father was as much of a piece of shit as Mason. When Mason indirectly threatens to kill her by feeding her to his prize pigs, she makes up her mind to go to see Will Graham. This show reaches high camp when Mason shows her a dummy made of meat, and dressed in her clothes, being lowered into a pigpen.

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Hannibal and Alana are shown practicing the theremin, an instrument that is played by stroking the air next to it. (This is the instrument that makes that haunting wooo-wooo noise from the original Star Trek Theme song.) Naturally, Hannibal would choose the theremin, as, just like the harpsichord,  its just twee enough to catch his fancy. Hannibal would never be so gauche as to strum a guitar, or play the piano.

Afterwards, we get the fivesome. Margot has decided she wants Will to be the father of her Verger baby, and Alana and Hannibal decide this is the evening they want to snork like rabbits. The implication  is that these are simultaneous but separate events. Unbeknownst to all of the players they have been joined by Hannibal’s alter ego, the ManStag, which makes things kinda kinky. I think this is Will just hallucinating again but this also means I have to ask myself why he’s envisioning Hannibal with Alana.

Actually, the Manstag is there as in indication to us that Hannibal is the orchestrator of these events. He’s the one who planted the idea in Margot’s head that a pregnancy would solve her problems with Mason. The ManStag is with Alana and Hannibal to indicate to us also that he is manipulating both  Alana and Will. He’s not with her because he loves her, or even likes her, but because he doesn’t want Will to have her, because now that there’s no longer the specter of mental instability hanging over Will, their relationship becomes an actual possibility, and Hannibal can’t have Will distracted by attachments to other people.

 

The next day, Freddie encounters Alana and presses her to question why Will is back in therapy with Hannibal. I think her conversation with Freddie frightens her, becausegalvanizes Alana to start asking herself some tough questions. Freddie mentions the deaths of Hannibal’s former patients and that she believes Will and Hannibal are killing people together.

Mason invites Hannibal out to Muskrat Farm to view his pigs. He wants to talk about Margot, but Hannibal convinces Mason that he should come to therapy instead. Mason gifts Hannibal with one of his prize pigs. On the surface Mason and Hannibal appear to be similar sociopaths, but Mason is far out of his league when it comes to manipulating events. Hannibal is always several steps ahead of Mason, although Mason does step up his game in season three, after his mutilation.

Hannibal, Will and Alana have dinner together and Alana can see their behavior  up close. You can see she finds their behavior disquieting, but still confronts them about Freddie’s accusations. Hannibal  called her brave in Mizunomo. Yes she is. Its an awkward conversation. She can tell they are keeping some kind of secret from her.

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Freddie tries to confirm her theories about Will by visiting his home where she finds parts of Randall Tier’s body in Will’s workshed. Will encounters her and chases her down. This is the closest the show has gotten to your typical serial killer chase scene and it looks frightening, but is mostly staged by Will.Unknown to Will, this is a re-enactment of the same scene, between Hannibal and Beverly, earlier in the season and I’m pretty sure its what Fuller meant to do. In the first season, Fuller made a point of not showing female victims in terror, as he said it was cliche, but he does make some exceptions in season two, with Beverly, Alana ,and Freddie.

During her attack, Freddie tries to send a call to Jack, but all it does is record her screams. Jack and Will put on a dog and pony show for Hannibal, leading him to believe that Will killed Freddie. Later, Will shows up for dinner with Hannibal and brings some “long pig”, which is a euphemism for human flesh. He claims its Freddie without actually saying so, and Hannibal invites Will to prepare the meal with him. (They are actually eating parts of Randall, that Will had set aside.) Hannibal is proud of him but chastises him because the victim “tastes” frightened. He says Freddie’s murder was an act of God. Its not that Hannibal doesn’t believe in God, but that he considers himself God’s equal.This scene is also shot as a love scene, as Will and Hannibal discuss religious philosophy, while dining on Will’s victim.

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Murder husbands indeed!

 

 

 

Hannibal Season : Shii-Zakana

Will Graham’s plan to trap Hannibal into revealing himself to be the Chesapeake Ripper continues.

So far the only thing Will has seemed to accomplish is to fall deeper down the rabbit hole of Hannibal’s desires for him. Even Jack is starting to question just how far Will is willing to go to accomplish a goal, which seems nebulous at best. Its not been fully fleshed out exactly how Will plans to trap Hannibal. Hannibal, so far, has been too canny to admit anything during their therapy sessions, while goading Will into being his worst self. The question is, is Will being truthful, or just telling Hannibal what he wants to hear.

 

In this episode we get a glimpse of one of Hannibal’s end games in the culmination of Randall Tier, into a deranged killer, who thinks he’s an animal. When Randall was a child, he was sent to Hannibal becasue he believed he suffered from a form of animal dysmorphia, that makes him believe he is in the wrong body. Hannibal, who often functions as a kind of anti- psychologist, who does the exact opposite of his actual job description, encouraged Randall to  give in to his true self, much as he encourages Margot to kill her brother, and Will to kill anybody in his orbit, (except him, of course).

This episode still has many of the tropes of the  Police Procedural, except here, its well blended with the show’s  mythology. As the season progresses, the Police Procedural is jettisoned entirely to focus on the relationships of the characters.

The episode begins with Will dreaming aobut killing Hannibal. His desire for this is so strong that he often fantasizes and dreams about harming Hannibal. Yet at the same time he’s reluctant to kill him because he’s so drawn to him. Hannibal is extremely good at telling Will the kinds of things he wants/needs to hear. Will is a man who is starved for affirmation, even if that affirmation is bad.

You basically have these two incredibly unique, and profoundly lonely, souls who have latched onto one another, but neither of them is the most desirable type of companion for the other. Hannibal eats people, which is a thoroughly repugnant concept to Will. That Will refuses to let loose his inner demons is a source of great frustration to Hannibal.

What I’m trying to articulate is best said at the beginning of the episode by Will’s dream version of Hannibal (which is an homage from a scene from Hannibal Rising, where Hannibal kills a man tied to a tree.)  This is what Will thinks Hannibal wants for him, but also applies to his own feelings:

Dr. Hannibal Lecter: No one can be fully aware of another human being unless we love them. By that love, we see potential in our beloved. Through that love, we allow our beloved to see their potential. Expressing that love, our beloved’s potential comes true.’

For Hannibal’s part, he is  just giddy at the idea of encountering an intellectual equal, who has the same capacity for chaotic violence that’s as deep as his own. It’s frustrating for him that Will often only uses his capacity for violence to help others, instead of simply pleasing himself, or Hannibal. Will’s murderous tendencies are too sporadic for him, I guess.

We do get to hear, from Hannibal’s lips, an echo of the above quote, in his therapy session with Will, and again, when Jack visits to thank Hannibal for saving Bella’s life, although with Jack he says all of the above without actually saying it in a way that Jack could catch on.

Randall Tier has decided that now is the time for him to realize his true nature, and has begun killing random people, while dressed as an animal, using hydraulic teeth he built himself. Hannibal figures out almost immediately that its him.

And can we talk about what a Bizarro world they all live in, where there’s  a serial killer, with a gimmick,  around every corner,  or everyone on screen has killed at least one person?

After one of their therapy sessions, Will encounters Margot outside Hannibal’s office. She makes no secret of her interest in him. Later, she visits his home and the two of them share a drink, and compare Hannibal’s therapeutic methods. Margot wonders exactly what kind of Doctor is Hannibal. Will already knows. Will reveals that Hannibal’s therapist, Bedelia, came to visit him when he was incarcerated. Needless to say, Hannibal does not like any of it. The last thing he wants is for his patients to start talking to each other about his methods.

After another one of Randall’s massacres, Hannibal tries to make Will understand Randall’s motivations for killing in relation to Will. Randall Tier (whose last name means “beast” in German) is giving in to his instincts and feeling his power, much as Will should. Before the BAU can interview Randall,  Hannibal visits Randall to express pride in his development, and tell him how to avoid the scrutiny of the BAU. This works and Randall remains free. In return Hannibal encourages Randall to pay Will a visit.

This is another test for Will, to see if he’ll give in to his instincts.If Randall wins then Will was never worthy, but Hannibal has bet his money on Will. He is certain that his “Clever Boy” can out-smart Randall and prevail (and Hannibal probably gets the vicarious thrill of killing through Will.)

Randall attacks one of Will’s dogs, (in an echo of the Red Dragon arc of next season, he attacks the pet and then the family.) Randall’s first attempt to kill Will is unsuccessful, and he breaks through Will’s front window, only to be shot down by Will, who was lying in wait for him. In Will’s mind the attack was clearly Hannibal’s doing hence the image of the RavenStag breaking  into the house.Like wise, when Will is killing Randall he sees the ManStag is his mind’s eye. He knows Hannibal was behind the attack and wishes it was Hannibal he was killing.

Hannibal arrives at his office to find the body of his success story laid out on his desk. Will announces that they are even with trying to kill each other as Hannibal’s “Clever Boy”, has impressed him, once again.

Hannibal Season Two : Su-Zakana

 

Parallel:

(1) :  similar, analogous, or interdependent in tendency or development (2) :  exhibitingparallelism in form, function, or development <parallel evolution>b :  readily compared :  companionc :  having identical syntactical elements in corresponding positions; also :  being such an element.

Wow, this one has parallels running all over the place. Somebody better stop them before we get hurt.

Su-Zakana is one of my all time favorite episodes because it stars the weird, and lovely, Jeremy Davies from Saving Private Ryan, Ravenous and Justified. Here, he plays Peter Bernardone, a character who is a close parallel to Will Graham. Bryan Fuller has stated that Bernardone is a stand-in for Giovanni Di Petro Di Bernardone (the Italian) otherwise known as St. Francis, the patron Saint of animals.

In this episode, Will and Jack, while ice fishing, blatantly lay out their  plan to use Will as bait, to get Hannibal to incriminate himself as The Chesapeake Ripper. This is a very delicate game. Will, essentially, has to go undercover and  sidle up to the beast by convincing him that he is just another beast like him, all while not actually becoming the  beast he’s pretending to be.

Will has to look into the abyss and hope he isn’t destroyed by it looking back at him.

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Its interesting watching Will and Jack’s  smooth, and easy camaraderie, after all they’ve been through together. Their venture is not only going to require Will to do some serious acting, but Jack as well. I’m still not sure Jack entirely believes Hannibal is The Ripper, or if he’s just going along with Will’s plan as a means of atonement for believing Will was The Ripper. Has Will convinced him? I know that later Jack is convinced but I’m not certain when this moment occurred.

We next see Jack and Will at Lecter’s house, eating the fish Will caught earlier. Will has cannibal jokes, for which he is rewarded the side-eye from Hannibal and Jack, and Hannibal counters with the term, “Nietzschean Fish”, (words  that can only be dreamed up in the mind of Bryan Fuller). They’re both shameless flirts. Hannibal seems especially jovial. Will is back in therapy with him, Alana is in his bed, Chilton is out of the way, and Jack suspects nothing. Hannibal is in a happy place right now.

The theme of this episode, from the title (su-zakana is  a small dish used to clean/refresh the palate), to the discovery of a murdered woman sewn into the body of a dead horse, is renewal and rebirth. The renewal of Jack’s and Will’s collaboration in capturing the Ripper, and solving serial murders, and  the renewal/rebirth of Will and Hannibal’s therapeutic  relationship. There’s lots of mentions of cocoons and chrysalises.

This episode also introduces the Mason/Margot Verger portion of the Thomas Harris’ book, Hannibal. Margot has been sent to therapy with Hannibal for trying to kill her abusive brother Mason, after he broke her arm during a sexual assault. Hannibal  always wants people to fully and completely experience their darkest self, so encouraging her to wait until a better moment to kill him, or getting someone else to do it for her, would naturally be his advice.

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Note Margo’s high collars, the high broad shoulders of the suit, her severe makeup  and dark clothing. (Its almost samurai in appearance.)  This has the effect of giving  her a prim, hard look, in keeping with her dour facial expressions, subdued manner of speaking and her mental state, after her brother’s violation. Her clothing is like armor.  This is a woman who is utterly drained of emotion, and resigned to her fate with Mason, or she has just gotten so good at hiding what she’s  feeling, that it has become a habit with everyone. (Or she could simply be resentful of having to be in therapy.) Contrast her attitude towards Hannibal, after he advises her she should kill Mason, with before he offers that advice. And contrast her facial expressions in therapy with the expressions she wears when talking to Mason, or Will Graham.

In the book,  Margo Verger is a grotesque stereotype of a transgender man. Actually, in the book she’s not transgender, at all. She wants to be a man because then can she inherit the Verger Fortune. I think Bryan Fuller took offense at this character too, changing her significantly for the show, jettisoning all the insulting stereotypes, and just making her a lesbian, (or bi-sexual. She does sleep with Will later in the season.)

Later that evening, after Hannibal and Alana have sex, Alana expresses bafflement at Will resuming his therapy with Hannibal. She’s concerned that Will has ulterior motives and will try to hurt Hannibal again, (entirely in keeping with Alana’s fiercely protective nature.) Hannibal tells her that Will tried to hurt him because he thought he was protecting Alana from Hannibal, which we know is a load of horse pucky, as Will didn’t know the two of them were sleeping together, at the time he tried to have Hannibal killed.

Jack calls Hannibal to a crime scene involving a murdered woman whose body had been stuffed into a dead horse, and Hannibal says that this is a situation that calls for Will Graham’s expertise. Will’s assessment is that whoever killed Sarah Craber is not the same person who stuffed her into the horse and that his motive  for her was rebirth.

An examination of Sarah Craber, by Jack’s forensic team, releases a bird that was entombed in the woman’s chest. This bird, which looks like a small crow or raven, could signify the release of her soul. Such birds have a mythology of being “psychopomps”, creatures that carry souls from the land of the living to the land of the dead. (Think the movie The Crow.)

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After examining the crime scene, Will and Jack interview Peter Bernardone, a disabled man who works with animals, in a kind of personal mini-zoo. Bernardone is a mirror to Will Graham. Like Will, he also has an unusual brain disorder, that because of a previous brain injury, does not allow him to look at an object and touch it at the same time.  There is also a real world version of this condition called agnosia (the inability to process sensory information),  usually caused by a brain injury. The syndrome gets worse when Peter is under stress. In a sense, he and Will have impaired vision. Unlike Will, he is a genuinely gentle soul that has never actually harmed anyone. (Will has shot one man, and attempted to arrange the death of another.)

Will  starts that whole bonding thing with Peter. Like Hannibal, he really cannot seem to help  stop himself and I suppose he can’t. In the book, Red Dragon, Jack makes an observation about Will’s behavior with other people, how he would mirror their  body language, or adopt their accents or speech patterns. Jack, initially, thought Will was mocking these people, but soon came to realize that Will was entirely unaware of what he was doing and I will assume that’s the case here, as Will  immediately tailors his voice and body language, to adjust to Peter’s condition. He speaks in a warm and compassionate manner, not just because Peter is emotionally fragile, but because  I’m sure he sees himself in Peter, as well. He believes Peter when he says he’s innocent, understanding the importance of affirmation because he didn’t receive any from his “friends”when he declared his own innocence.

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Hannibal’s  mantra to both Margo and Will is, “Doing bad things to bad people makes us feel good.” Will, in his conversations with Hannibal, confirms this. Its not exactly untrue as this is the very thing that fuels people’s need for revenge, or rooting for the villain to get his comeuppance, in movies. Basically, it feels good when the bad guy gets it, especially when you do it yourself.

In Will’s next session with Hannibal, they discuss Will’s new outlook on the world. His rebirth, as it were. Hannibal does wish Will would move past what he thinks Hannibal did to him, and focus on the bigger picture of accessing, and freeing, his murderous tendencies, focusing instead on what he’d like to do to Hannibal.

Contrast Will’s authoritative, “Don’t lie to me,” to his pleading with Hannibal in season one, not to lie to him. Here, Will is calm, assertive, and in firm control. This is a command, not a request.

Both Hannibal and Alana are suspicious of Will’s return to therapy with Hannibal, although he doesn’t bring up this subject with Will until after Alana mentions it.Will’s excuse is that he can’t talk to anyone else about what’s happened to him, that he  still fantasizes about killing Hannibal, and it is only now that he finds Hannibal interesting. (This statement is a callback to the season one episode, Apertif, when Will said the two of them would never  be friends because Hannibal was uninteresting.)

The forensic team determines that Sarah Craber’s body was not the only one, and find a field of 15 bodies, from which hers had been taken, and stuffed into the horse’s corpse. At the scene, Zeller offers Will an apology for not believing him about being the Chesapeake Ripper. He feels guilty because he thinks if he had supported Beverly in trying to re-determine Will’s innocence, she would have confided in her team and would still be alive. He is probably not wrong. This makes me like Zeller a little more because he’s kind of a dick.

There is also a sub-theme in this episode of people bullying and manipulating those under their authority. In a later session with Hannibal, Margo discusses how she reached the point of trying to murder her bother. So we have Margo being bullied and degraded by her brother, who was their father’s favorite and  heir, so Mason controls all the money. Hannibal advises her to wait for a better time to do it or find someone to do it for her.Then there’s Peter Bernardone being manipulated by his social worker, Clark Ingram, to take the fall for his serial killings, and Will Graham who has also been abused and manipulated by Hannibal, his psychiatrist.

Will manages to gently coax the information from Peter about how he found Sarah’s body, and that it was his social worker who  was her killer. He hasn’t told anyone because he doesn’t think he would be believed. Will makes a point of letting Peter know he believes him, and calls Clark in for an interview.

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Clark Ingram is interviewed by Alana. This is a scene that showcases what Alana does and how good she is at it. Basically, her job is what Hannibal was called to do when he first met Will, assessing people’s mental capacity to go to court, hold certain jobs within the organization, or assess types of mental illnesses, as she did in season one, with Abel Gideon.

During the interview, Alana appears to be a lot less obtuse than she’s usually shown. She was mostly clueless during season one when it came to assessing Will’s mental state, and I think the entire audience for this show agrees with me, when I say I winced every time she and Hannibal were shown having sex. Its  telling that she and Hannibal never seem to show any other forms of affection outside of bumping uglies. I had the impression that the two of them are not in love. They definitely like each other but its more like friends with benefits, or each other’s side piece.

I think Alana’s problem is that once she’s close to a person she completely loses any ability to be objective, which I can fully understand. Its just that in practice, on the show, its something that makes her appear kind of dense. Here, she masterfully manipulates Clark to get him to show his psychotic side. Clark blames Peter for the deaths and is let go. There’s a interesting, antagonistic exchange between Jack and Will about the interview. Will expresses some bitterness to Jack during the interview, recognizing his situation in Bernardone’s, of not being believed, when he pointed his finger at an authority figure. Jack tells him he pointed in the wrong direction. Both of them are putting on an act for Hannibal.

Clark immediately goes to Bernardone’s mini-zoo and sets free or kills all of his animals as retribution for Peter’s accusations. There is a marked difference in tactics between Hannibal and Clark. These two psychopaths are very different. Clark, like Chilton, isn’t nearly as smart, or subtle, as Hannibal. Hannibal actually does care about Will, (although he doesn’t seem to know the extent of his feelings for him), and sees Will, mostly, as an equal. Clark doesn’t see Peter as an equal or a partner. He isn’t trying to elevate Peter to a higher self. Clark views Peter much the way Hannibal views the people he eats.(They mean nothing beyond their use to him.)

Hannibal too, lacks empathy but is attempting to transcend that  by understanding Will. He seems to realize that his lack of empathy hampers his relationship with Will. Clark isn’t doing any such thing. He isn’t trying to understand Peter and doesn’t care about him, and isn’t trying to be friends, nevertheless, Will can’t seem to get past the parallels in these two relationships.

Peter returns to find all his animals gone, and is confronted by Clark.

Will, understanding that Clark is guilty, and perhaps sensing that he will retaliate against Peter, heads out with Hannibal to make sure Peter is okay. In the car, Hannibal points out the similarities between their situation and Peter’s, and Will’s need to save him. He tries to assure Will that he’s got his back and Will is not alone.

It’s interesting that we almost never see Will driving anywhere. We know he can drive and owns a car but I bet none of you can tell me what the make and model of that car is, either. He almost always seems to be falling asleep in someone else’s car. Hell, I don’t even know what make of car Hannibal drives, although we can be sure its a high-end European model because that just seems like his taste.

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They arrive to find Peter alone in the barn, with the body of another horse, and suspect Peter has stuffed Clark’s body inside, since that’s the kind of thing he does. However, unlike Sarah Craber, Clark isn’t dead, and in one of Hannibal’s more disgusting pieces of imagery, in a series filled with such things, we watch a grown man crawl out of a horse’s  corpse.

Filled with righteous fury, on Peter’s behalf, Will threatens to shoot Clark but he is stopped by Hannibal, who convinces him that Clark is not a worthy substitute for Hannibal. This is not an act on Will’s part as he actually does pull the trigger. It is only  Hannibal’s thumb, coming between the hammer and firing pin, that saves Clark’s life. Hannibal is naturally proud of Will’s willingness to kill but doesn’t want him wasting all that murderous energy on Clark, as its not so much rage at Peter’s situation that has him in such a state, as rage against Hannibal’s behavior towards him, Hannibal says Will should save all his anger for him.

And yes, we can talk about  another image of Hannibal cradling Will’s head, the seat of Will’s intellect and emotions, and the part of him that Hannibal considers the most important, and most often does so when attempting to manipulate Will to some goal of his. Over the course of the series we get  several shots of Hannibal touching Will’s face or head, whereas Will rarely touches Hannibal, and never initiates touch, even when circumstances would make it excusable. Whenever Hannibal touches Will, Will often passively allows it, neither pulling away, nor protesting the treatment.Though many fans view Hannibal’s physical behavior towards Will as that of lovers, and Fuller himself states that it is a love story, I often viewed their dynamic much like   that of Mason’s and Margo’s relationship. You have an older, paternalistic,  authoritative, and abusive sibling, who  dominates a younger, rebellious one, and touch is just one more item in their arsenal of manipulation.

In therapy, Margo has much in common with Will. She often states what Will’s actual feelings are towards Hannibal. When  Hannibal asks if she loves her brother, she emphatically states that she does, which is why she can’t bring herself to kill him, even though he is abusive to her,   nevertheless she still plans to kill Mason someday, this parallels Will’s feelings and plans for Hannibal.

Notice how the scenery and plot spirals down into the story of Will and Hannibal as the season progresses. When the series began, the story and settings seemed more open and expansive but as the plot begins to focus more and more on their relationship, the settings become darker, more intense, with less humor. Everything begins to feel  more claustrophobic as  there is nothing that seems to  happen outside of the handful of people in the series, Jack, Alana, Will, and Hannibal, and there are fewer and fewer daytime and outdoor scenes. Even though Will is no longer actually confined, as he was in the beginning of the season, the viewer  starts to feel confined by the tightening closeness of the plot, lighting, and set.

Also as the season progresses notice the change in Will’s attire from the first season. The closer he gets to Hannibal in his bid to capture him, we see less of the StagMan, but Will does start to emulate Hannibal in other ways, much like Franklyn, Hannibal’s first patient from season one. Will’s clothes have become darker and he wears lots of blue, as a callback to his confinement in the blue jumpsuit at he hospital. Like Margo he wears protective high collars, or scarves, and not just because it seems to be winter forever on this show. Notice that characters who feel especially vulnerable, in this series, often wear dark, armor-like clothing, high collars and neckwear, (Abigail, Will, Margo). Characters that don’t feel that way, and are more open about their feelings, wear more open clothing, in lighter colors, like Alana, Mason, and  Hannibal.

For more on Hannibal’s style of dress:

Stylishly Executed – The Clothes of Hannibal & How To Dress Like Lecter