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- Episode: Mukozuke (Season 2, Episode 5)
- Starring: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas, Laurence Fishburne
- Written By: Ayanna Floyd & Steve Lightfoot
- Developed By: Bryan Fuller
- Network: NBC
- Studio: Dino De Laurentiis Company, Living Dead Guy Productions, AXN: Original X Production
Hannibal: Mukozuke Review
Every permutation of crazy
By Curtis G. Schmitt
March 30, 2014
Hannibal: Mukozuke Review
Confession: If Hannibal cooked it, I’d eat it. No matter what (or who) the “it” was. “Hi, my name is Curtis, and I’m a cannibal.” That kidney pâté de Beverly looked dee-lish.
So, yes, what we all feared is true. Beverly Katz did not survive her visit to Hannibal’s house of horrors. The reveal of her corpse is wonderfully paced, set to such beautifully jarring yet somehow perfectly poignant percussion. The presentation of her “body” (as it were) is as poetic as we’ve come to expect. Hannibal dissects her “layer by layer like she would a crime scene.” Though, I have to admit, his elaborate murder set-pieces are really starting to strain believability. The amount of glass and specialty hardware needed for such a presentation would surely leave a trail the FBI could trace. I mean, my local WalMart doesn’t sell Body Worlds display cases, does yours?
The writers’ decision to kill off a strong Asian female character has caused quite a stir on the Internet, attracting accusations like “racist” and “sexist.” Hettience Park, the actor who portrayed Beverly Katz, has even weighed in on the debate. I, for one, think she WAS the right character to sacrifice. Price or Zeller wouldn’t have evoked the same emotional resonance, nor would their deaths have recalled the death of Abigail Hobbs the way Beverly’s did. You could feel how big a blow this was to all of the characters who cared about her, not the least of which is Will, who in effect got her killed by enlisting her as his agent against Hannibal.
And as a direct result of her death, we get one of the biggest dramatic turns of the season, maybe even the whole show: Will turns to the dark side and commissions his homicidal “admirer” to kill Hannibal. For those familiar with the source material, you’ll recognize this as a clever spin on Hannibal’s attempt to use his own “avid fan” (the Tooth Fairy) to kill Will and his family. This episode offers another delicious reversal with Will in the face mask and straight-jacket being wheeled around on a hand truck a la Silence of the Lambs. (And did you catch the “face mask” on Hannibal’s dinner plate later in the episode?)
The actual path to murder for Will Graham is comprised of a series of one-on-one conversations between the various characters, like carefully crafted wine and cheese pairings. To put it another way, we get every permutation of crazy:
Will plays to Chilton’s vanity to get a face-to-face with Dr. Gideon, who you remember from last season was the wife-murderer that Chilton brainwashed into believing he was the Chesapeake Ripper and who Will shot in a drama orchestrated by Hannibal. Will then tries to cajole Gideon into revealing the Ripper’s identity, but it’s Gideon who plays to Will’s murderous impulse. Hannibal and Chilton play their games with each other, but as in the scene with Will, it always seems like Chilton is bringing checkers to a chess game, and he agrees to let Hannibal meet with Gideon. Amidst some verbal sparring soaked in subtext, Gideon all but warns Hannibal that Will’s primed for his murder. Next, Will makes another devil’s bargain, this time with Freddy Lounds, offering her exclusive rights to his story if she’ll help him contact his “admirer” through her tabloid website. And it works: Nurse Brown, his admirer, reveals himself, culminating in a line of dialogue from Will that had me giggling with glee, “I want you to kill Hannibal Lecter.”
And so it is. Will becomes what everyone has been wrongly accusing him of all season -- a murderer. But Hannibal didn’t die, you say? Therefore Will didn’t actually murder anyone, you say? A technicality. Will pulled the trigger with murderous intent. The fact that the gun misfired does not undo the intent. Will knows this, as demonstrated by his delusion of metamorphosis into the stag.
The episode climaxes with Nurse Brown shooting Hannibal with a tranquilizer and stringing him up in mock crucifixion. Here we see Hannibal truly vulnerable for the first time. It’s an interesting glimpse into a complicated character that also holds the key to understanding what he really is. Not a sociopath or psychopath, Hannibal in my opinion can best be understood as a pure philosopher. Earlier, when Jack Crawford thanks him for saving Bella’s life, Hannibal responds, “As a doctor I had no choice; as a philosopher I had too many.” And then in this climactic scene, he confesses to his would-be killer, “Life is precious.” This is truly revelatory: Hannibal’s choices, including his choices to murder, are driven by his philosophical need to answer the question, “What would happen if...?”
Which is the same question that drives a writer. No wonder this show is so fascinating.