For all the wonderful things it’s done this season, Hannibal has definitely scaled back a little bit on the serial killers of the week. Outside of the guy who stitched together a color pallet made out of people, this year’s killers have been visually inventive in how they present their corpses, but pretty thinly sketched otherwise. “Shiizakana” attempted to change that with a truly gory, visceral series of killings, some of the most directly bloody the show has ever done. But as usual, I found myself much more fascinated with Hannibal’s inner workings and his relationship with Will, which now seems to amount to grooming.
We’ve understood for a while that Hannibal uses his job as a psychiatrist to meet the criminally insane, understand their psychosis, and usually encourage it. There’s more to it than that—Hannibal definitely seems to have admiration for some killers and not others—but his primary motivation is understanding and developing these minds. And he thinks this is what he has found in Will—another mind to be molded. I have struggled in the last couple weeks to understand why these two people, as crazy as they are, would continue to interact considering what’s come between them. But “Shiizakana” did a good job getting me to understand.
Current mood: Confused
Essentially, it makes no sense that Will as we knew him would play such a cat-and-mouse game with Hannibal. On more than one occasion he’s had the opportunity to kill him and declined or failed. I suppose he values his freedom, something he might lose if he offed Hannibal cold-bloodedly. But a glimpse in the doctor’s basement, were he to die, would go a long way to helping Will maintain his “innocence.”
In “Shiizakana,” we follow on from Will’s homicidal tendencies in last week’s episode, tendencies he continues to explore with his shrink. This whole season, I thought that Will was becoming more and more self-aware about his place in the world, but it seems I am not totally correct. He thinks he might have more darkness inside him, that he might be pathologically compelled to kill as Hannibal is (and Hannibal thinks Will is). I’m going to venture that Will is wrong, though. It’s more that he’s become such a control freak ever since his life was taken out of his hands by Hannibal. The control exerted through these killings is calming for him, but he’s not compulsive about it.
Current mood: Nerdy
When Will kills someone in this episode, it’s the animal-obsessed Randall Tier, a killer inspired by Dr. Lecter who uses prehistoric bones and a glue gun (and probably some more advanced engineering) to create, literally, a killing machine. This show shoots murder well, but even by its standards, this was some intense blood-spattering. Randall is unfortunately another one-dimensional villain, though, although it is part of his design—he literally thinks he’s an animal and builds himself a suit to try and act out those tendencies.
Randall exists mostly to be pitted against Will by Hannibal, which, as Will puts it, serves as a kind of payback for Will siccing Jonathan Tucker on him earlier in the season. At the end of the episode, Will says he and Hannibal are even now, but of course, that was hardly Dr. Lecter’s only motivation. He wants Will to kill and unlock whatever potential he thinks he sees in him. This is some Emperor Palpatine shit right here, except that the difference between good and evil is much more nuanced.
Current mood: Predatory
Also moving along in this episode is the story of Margot Verger, who we definitively learn tried to kill her (still-unseen) brother Mason, the heir to their family’s meat distribution business. She reveals this all to Will, as well as the fact that Hannibal continues to encourage her homicidal tendencies towards her evil brother. This serves as no surprise to Will at this point, of course, which is one thing that’s so great about the direction this second season has gone. The show had so much fun with the innuendo and winking at Hannibal’s activity in season one, but it’s great to have it out in the open now, but in a way that Hannibal’s evil has not yet been revealed to higher-ups. One imagines the Mason storyline will begin for real soon, and things will begin to hurtle towards the season (hopefully not series!) finale.
Current mood: Restless
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.