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- Episode: Yakimono (Season 2, Episode 7)
- Starring: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas, Anna Chlumsky
- Written By: Steve Lightfoot
- Directed By: Michael Rymer
- Network: NBC
- Studio: Dino De Laurentiis Company, Living Dead Guy Productions, AXN: Original X Production
Hannibal: Yakimono Review
By Curtis G. Schmitt
April 15, 2014
It was inevitable. A subpar episode. Instead of taking a step forward with the story, it felt like the show took a step sideways -- a relatively interesting and entertaining step, but a misstep nonetheless. The biggest problem with “Yakimono” is that very little changed for the main characters and much of what did happen felt like we’d seen it before.
Will continues to accuse Hannibal despite evidence to the contrary, and no one but Chilton believes him. Alana Bloom again tells Will he was wrong to try to murder Hannibal. Not heeding her advice, Will sets out to murder Hannibal a second time but is unsuccessful once again. Hannibal frames another person for his own crimes. Crawford again bites and pursues Hannibal’s latest red herring. And by the end, Hannibal is no more in danger of being caught by Crawford or killed by Will (or vindicated by Alana) than he was at the end of last episode.
So what did happen that was new or different? Well, Will gets released from the hospital and pets his dogs. Miriam cleans herself up and gets a new arm. Crawford realizes that he gives up on his colleagues too soon. And Hannibal murders some more people.
Most of the entertainment of the episode -- the sidestep I referred to earlier -- concerns the framing of Dr. Chilton. As to the question posed last week (Why did Hannibal allow Crawford to find Miriam Lass alive?), the answer seems to be: To point the finger at poor Frederick. Not content with a mere finger, Hannibal, a master of the theatrical, then stages a second act in which he murders Gideon and two FBI agents in Chilton’s home, leaving the weaselly psychiatrist to wake up there... covered in blood, gun in one hand, knife in the other. After a brief cat-and-mouse with Crawford, Chilton is “recognized” by Miriam as the Ripper and she shoots him.
And here’s where things get really interesting for avid fan of this series: With the apparent killing of Dr. Chilton, Hannibal has gone “off book,” literally. Not that this is the first time the television series has strayed from the source material. I mean, given that Will’s entire pre-capture relationship with Hannibal Lecter in the books consisted of a single conversation, the whole premise of the show is a deviation. But, presuming a bullet to Chilton’s face does in fact mean death in this fictional world, this is the first time a character significant to the plot of the books has been killed off early, and it means that those of us who thought we knew where this story was going DON’T.
So what else did the episode get right? I liked how Crawford’s guilt over the discovery that Miriam was alive acted as a mirror for him to see how he’d given up on Will, too. I loved the “red” on white kitchen décor when Chilton wakes to find the dead FBI agents. It was interesting to see how uncomfortable Will was to be out in the world again. Hugh Dancy skillfully turned up the volume on his facial ticks and eye contact avoidance. And speaking of great acting, Mads Mikkelsen was amazing in that final scene. When Will tells Hannibal, “I’d like to resume my therapy,” I don’t think we’ve seen Hannibal happier. Which goes to Mikkelsen’s credit because the change in his facial expression was almost imperceptible, yet conveyed so much.
And maybe it’s because the plotting was less interesting this episode, but I appreciated the score a lot more. It’s so deftly crafted to NOT call attention to itself that it’s easy to overlook the subtle brilliance of Brian Reitzell’s compositions when the story takes front stage. (One note for those who enjoy the music as much as I do: When you watch the episodes on NBC.com, the music over the end credits plays uninterrupted, unlike the television broadcast that overlays a preview of next week’s episode.)
The low point of “Yakimono” was Chilton’s bumbling attempt to escape Crawford through the snow. The whole tone of that sequence felt off, like I was suddenly watching a different show. But as “bad” as it was, the worst episode of Hannibal is still better than most other shows on television. Because what’s great about Hannibal is that even when things go wrong -- the story goes awry, some of the acting is melodramatic, and the CGI is a bit goofy -- there's still so much to appreciate.
When Will tells Crawford “It’s theater,” he’s talking to us, too. Because like the titular character’s crimes, the show itself is theater. It’s both beautiful and horrifying -- sometimes confounding -- especially when the crime is a subpar episode and not murder.