Hannibal: Tome-Wan Review (Mania.com)
By:Curtis G. Schmitt
Review Date: Wednesday, May 21, 2014
There are very few secrets left between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. And “Tome-Wan” begins with a frank conversation that picks up immediately after last week’s final scene. Will “warns” Hannibal he’s set Mason Verger out to kill him because, well, he “was curious what would happen.” Will is playing Hannibal, in both senses of the word: He’s performing a version of Hannibal; and he’s doing so in order to lure Hannibal onto his hook. Hannibal of course is aware of this possibility. From his perspective, it’s irrelevant whether or not Will has actually murdered anyone; Will is dancing so close to that line that Hannibal is sure to be delighting in the effects of his influence.
We are witnessing a psychological game of chicken, as Mason calls it. But with two completely different styles. Hannibal’s “veneer of self-composure” is impenetrable. He’s the rock that you don’t see move until it’s crushed you. Will, on the other hand, is like an old coal-fired train racing at dangerously high speeds. You’re never quite sure if it’s going to stay on the tracks, and when it does, you’re amazed that it didn’t crash. An unstoppable force about to hit an immovable object.
At the end of that opening scene, Hannibal instructs Will to close his eyes and imagine what he would like to happen. And as I watched Will’s fantasy of him feeding Hannibal to Mason’s pigs, it felt incredibly satisfying -- a culmination of all of Will’s suffering, a vindication of all of his efforts. And at the same time, I could not help feeling sad (and this is coming from someone who thinks all this “Hannigram” stuff is cray-cray). Their friendship is a fascinating dance on “the event horizon of chaos,” and as much as I want Hannibal to get caught, I don’t want the dance to end. But as Will acknowledges, “This is not sustainable.” [Subtextually, imagine how different that line would have felt had the show been canceled last week instead of being renewed -- yikes, I don’t want to even think about that.]
Gillian Anderson returns as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, Hannibal’s former psychiatrist, to finally fill in her backstory and to warn us that Hannibal is still in control, no matter how confident Will and Jack seem. She also prophecies two significant plot developments: One, that Hannibal will persuade Will into thinking the only choice Will has is to kill someone he loves; and two, that Hannibal’s downfall will be the result of “whimsy,” or “self-congratulation at his own exquisite taste and cunning.” Concerning the first prediction, we can make a pretty good guess at whose life Will has chosen to offer up (Jack Crawford), based on the flash-forward from the beginning of this season plus Will’s suggestion to Hannibal in the final scene of this episode. But that second prediction... that’s intriguing, and likely something we will see develop over the course of Season 3.
We also get the conclusion (for now, that is) of the beautifully bizarre Verger storyline. Margot Verger has become the surrogate surrogate daughter (redundancy intended) for Will and Hannibal, taking the place of Abigail Hobbs. This complicates their plans for Mason. Both Will and Hannibal know that by killing Mason, they will be hurting Margot, which neither wants to do. How fitting then that Hannibal finds a solution to humiliate Mason by “eating” him (not literally but by proxy), but without killing him. And in a clever twist on the book, Mason feeds his face not to his own dogs, but to Will’s dogs!
Small changes like this remind us of how skillfully Bryan Fuller and his creative team are building on Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter mythology. It’s rare that a derivative work outshines its source material. But I think that’s what we’re witnessing with Fuller’s HANNIBAL. Fuller has found a way to honor and respect the spirit of the original while shaping his HANNIBAL into something that’s different -- transcendent even. And with just one episode left in Season 2, I can’t wait to see how he pays off that tantalizing flash-forward that began the season and sets up Hannibal’s downfall in Season 3.
Mania Grade: A
Episode: Tome-Wan (Season 2, Episode 12)
Starring: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas
Written By: Chris Brancato, Bryan Fuller, and Scott Nimerfro
Directed By: Michael Rymer
Studio: Dino De Laurentiis Company, Living Dead Guy Productions, AXN: Original X Production