'Hannibal' Mood Map: Back to Normal?

Only on Hannibal could you read the plot description “Will investigates the case of a woman’s body found inside a horse” and think “Oh, sounds like the show is going back to normal.” 

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Only on Hannibal could you read the plot description “Will investigates the case of a woman’s body found inside a horse” and think “Oh, sounds like the show is going back to normal.” But indeed, after seven truly insane episodes that saw one main character imprisoned, another killed off, and several recurring cast members murdered or maimed, we’re kinda back to the original formula of the show. Will Graham is a nutty ultra-empathetic FBI consultant who helps profile serial killer cases, and the ultra-intelligent psychotic killer Hannibal Lecter is his shrink, still living a publicly normal life.

But everything has changed. Will has been released from prison after being framed by Hannibal, and he hasn’t forgotten any of the revelations he had in the dark dungeons of the mental institution. He is going to destroy Hannibal, he just has to figure out how to do it. Will’s education in the first half of season two was not just his growing surety that Hannibal is a monster; it was his realization that Hannibal is almost impossible to take down. Will nudged both FBI agents and crazed lunatics towards the man, and everyone ended up dead. Jack Crawford has forgiven his protégé, but also won’t hear accusations against Lecter. So more work must be done.

Current mood: Determined

“Su-zakana” is a pallet cleanser in Japanese cuisine and this episode serves to re-focus the relationship between Will and Hannibal. In season one they were supposed allies but Will was really Hannibal’s unknowing thrall. In the first half of season two they were basically enemies, but Hannibal could not bring himself to totally destroy Will, out of fascination for his unique gifts. Now, they are back to a doctor-patient relationship, but in private, can basically admit what they know about each other.

This is somewhat thrilling, but it also doesn’t…totally…make sense. Will thought about killing Hannibal last week but didn’t. Why? He tells his doctor that he “finally finds him interesting,” but that’s just a clever line, and the show doesn’t totally succeed in convincing me that Will has turned around so quickly on ridding the world of this monster. Will’s hope, I assume, is that he can prove Hannibal’s guilt without having to ruin his own life as a vigilante killer. Hannibal’s hope, I guess, is that he can mold Will into something special. But even he confesses at the end of the episode that Will is getting away from him.

Current mood: Confused

It’s a fascinating relationship to watch develop, but Fuller maybe should keep more of a leash on it, lest it get away from him in these next few seasons. Hannibal simply can’t just be so openly evil with Will, and Will can’t be so free to do whatever he feels. At the end of the episode, he almost shoots a murderer in cold blood and is stopped only by Hannibal’s thumb blocking a gun hammer. It’s intense stuff, but the show is running out of thread.

Fortunately, it feels like new focus is coming soon. This episode featured some fairly abstract conversation between Hannibal and a new patient, Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle), sister to Mason, who will be played by Michael Pitt (pretty sure we heard his voice in this episode). Mason and Margot are characters from the Thomas Harris book Hannibal, the third in the series and very far in the future for Fuller to be reaching. But of course it’s a wise idea. The Vergers in Hannibal the book are quite different from those presented here, and there’s plenty of intriguing material to be wrested from their origin story.

Current mood: Excited 

The case of the week was a little less arresting—it was hard to keep track or really care about Jeremy Davies or Chris Diamantopoulos when there was so much else to concentrate on, although the whole “sewn into a horse” thing was an arresting visual image even by this show’s standards. But Hannibal might run into the problem that since it became so ambitious, it will struggle to claw its way back to normalcy. The cases of the week, no matter how demented, pale in comparison to the continuing story at this point. Fuller has to continue to strike a balance, of course, but that will be his biggest challenge as he sets up for the final arcs of the season.

Current mood: Hopeful 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.