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- Episode: Su-zakana (Season 2, Episode 8)
- Starring: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas
- Written By: Scott Nimerfro
- Directed By: Vincenzo Natali
- Network: NBC
- Studio: Dino De Laurentiis Company, Living Dead Guy Productions, AXN: Original X Production
Hannibal: Su-zakana Review
Is your social worker in that horse?
By Curtis G. Schmitt
April 21, 2014
Hannibal: Su-zakana Review
Following Miriam Lass’s identification, judgment, and execution of Chilton as the Chesapeake Ripper at the end of last week’s episode, HANNIBAL slows down a bit this week and takes a well-deserved deep breath. “Su-zakana” seems to signal a return to form: The Ripper case moves into the background as the FBI consults Will Graham to help catch the serial killer of the week.
On lesser shows episodes like this would be frustrating -- even maddening -- as if the creators pressed the reset button and undid all the events and relationships we’d invested with so much emotion and attention. (Cough, cough, X-FILES.) But this is play pretend. Will, Hannibal, and Crawford are only acting like everything’s back to normal; below the surface there’s a rot than cannot be fixed.
The show itself is playing with us in the very same way. This may look like a season one episode, but it’s not. Take the killer of the week storyline: Certainly the most bizarre crime scene we’ve encountered so far. Not only is a dead woman found inside a dead horse, but then a live bird is found inside the dead woman... “What the f--k???” And those were just two of the half dozen delicious WTF? moments in this episode, including a man clawing his way out of a dead horse only to be greeted by Hannibal with a, “Might want to crawl back in there if you know what’s good for you.” The only line better than that was when Will, moments before, finds the dude sewing up the dead animal and asks, “Is your social worker in that horse?”
But it’s not just new levels of bizarre. The writing seems to have gotten more sophisticated, too -- if that’s even possible. The killer of the week storyline is typically used to comment on the larger storyline of Will’s pursuit of Hannibal, but this week it’s on the level of exegesis by metaphor. Plus, they somehow perfectly timed this bloody story of rebirth with Good Friday, a bloody story of rebirth. (I can hear Bryan Fuller’s whisper in my ear, “You owe me awe.”)
Will sees himself in brain-damaged Peter, whose serial killer social worker took advantage of his vulnerability. Just like Hannibal did to Will. Despite that fact, or more accurately BECAUSE of it, Will resumes his “therapy” with Hannibal. Both are playing a dangerous game. As Alana puts it, “The only thing stranger than finding a woman inside a horse is seeing you [Hannibal] back in therapy with Will Graham.” Will and Hannibal both know this is temporary so they seem to be relishing these moments together. We appreciate the dance more when we know that the magic will all vanish at the stroke of midnight.
Ironically, HANNIBAL is truly Will Graham’s story. Hannibal as a character is fascinating because of his paradoxical nature -- intelligent and well-mannered yet homicidal and cannibalistic. But Hannibal is Hannibal; we wouldn’t want him to change, so there’s not much of a story to be told. No, this is the story of Will’s becoming. What exactly, we don’t know yet. But where the investigative work used to torture him, he seems to truly enjoy the hunt now. No longer the reluctant savant, he’s embraced his gift. He’s learned that doing bad things to bad people makes him feel good. That scares Alana, who wants the whole world to fit into her box (um, phrasing?); it emboldens Crawford who’s just happy he’s got his Will Graham tool back in his toolbox; and it excites Hannibal who relishes uncertainty and chaos as the natural order of things.
Will’s conflicted, though. He seems to be talking to himself as much as to Peter when he tells him, “He [the social worker serial killer] deserves to die, but you don’t deserve to kill him.” But then Will takes that burden upon himself, and at the moment of murder, Hannibal stops him from shooting the social worker. This is now Will’s second overt attempt at murder. I wonder if we’re seeing Will’s newest lure to catch Hannibal. Will is acting as both fisherman and bait, a seemingly impossible trick to pull off. Is he exploring this murderous part of his own nature to draw Hannibal close enough to hook him? If so, it seems to be working.
Hannibal all but confesses to Will (punctuated by timpani that sent shivers up my back), “With all my knowledge and intrusion I could never entirely predict you. I can feed the caterpillar, I can whisper through the chrysalis, but what hatches follows its own nature and is beyond me.”
Just like the rest of us, Hannibal can’t wait to tune in next week.