Symbols and Sociopaths: Hannibal Season 2, Episode 6


Jonathan May

(As always, massive spoiler alert)

Just a reminder: We’re only halfway through the season and have yet to catch up to the frame of this tale. In the first episode, we open with the struggle between Jack and Hannibal, then flash back eight weeks. So we’re still catching up (quickly, I posit) to a showdown. Also, we haven’t touched on Jack’s wife in the past two episodes really, so I’m sure they will kill her off any episode now in the most maudlin fashion imaginable.

Fact: Mads Mikkelsen played Igor Stravinsky in the gorgeous period film Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky (2009). I saw the film in theaters, and the recreation of the opening night of The Rite of Spring in Paris is probably one of my favorite moments in film history. You eventually see Stravinsky and Chanel naked in the many stages of coitus (one memorable scene includes some sex on the piano bench). So it’s a little jarring to open with Hannibal at the harpsichord, composing music to “move past” what Will “did” to him and even more disturbing to later see Dr. Bloom and Hannibal giving it the old college try on the harpsichord bench. Mikkelsen brought some of Stravinsky into this episode with an awareness of his own mortality, and ultimately the end game is revealed by this awareness. As Hannibal becomes more afraid of Will, he must be able to get to him, so he “frees” Will through exoneration by committing a murder using pieces of Will’s supposed victims. Will, by virtue of this whole ordeal, burns in revenge, being trained by Lecter into becoming his replacement. What will complete this transformation is the eventual murder of Dr. Bloom by Hannibal.

In addition to Stravinsky, we have not-so-subtle references to the movie Hannibal with Will stating that Lecter thinks of his victims as pigs and later in the scene where Abel Gideon eats his own thigh (à la Liotta). I have no idea why they gave such a close adaptation of that scene; the affinities between them only made this incarnation seem weak with a bloated Eddie Izzard succumbing willingly to death. However, the preparation of Gideon’s thigh in clay was lovingly rendered on film. The strongest moments in the series consistently involve food, and this is definitely a strong moment, but then it’s ruined by Gideon trying to be funny. Perhaps the most arresting visual of the episode was the tree-person made by Lecter, like a perverted Daphne ripe with flowers.

Bringing back Miriam Lass at this point seems inanely cruel. We already know who’s committing the murders; Jack’s wife is going to die of cancer, so will her reappearance really matter that much? Call me callous, but I feel like this will end up being another emotional red herring, and honestly, I wish we’d just stick to the point. With Will now free to claim vengeance, the race is between Will killing Hannibal or Jack locking him away.

Note: Hopefully the “history” between Drs. Bloom and Lecter will be elucidated for those of us who don’t write the show, if the story gods are listening.

Jonathan May watches too much television, but he’s just playing catch-up from a childhood spent in Zimbabwe. You can read his poetry at, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at

Hannibal airs Friday nights on NBC. You can read our pieces about previous episodes here.

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