Symbols and Sociopaths: Hannibal Season 2, Episode 9

Hannibal episode 9

Jonathan May

(Massive spoilers, and I totally called Will being groomed by Lecter into becoming a serial killer like three episodes ago. C’mon, story gods!)

Everything in this episode acts in opposition to what has been. This week’s killer suffers from what Hannibal terms species dysphoria, but, on the whole, the episode operates thematically under what I like to call reverse personification. The killer, wanting to be an animal, acts not only in opposition to nature, but to his own nature as well. Will, on the other hand, finally actualizes as a killer, acting against what he knows to be good (akrasia) and aligning with what he knows to be wrong. When he brings up the question of right and wrong to Dr. Lecter, the good doctor responds that those are inconsequential to a God who enjoys human suffering and joy the same, and that he thinks of God when he kills; I think he’s really just thinking of himself, having been “resurrected” from the cross by Jack and Dr. Bloom in the foiled plot by Will against him.

When Will arrives at Hannibal’s door at the episode’s end with the killer’s body in tow, it’s as if he too has become animalistic, like a dog or cat bringing home a dead bird for the master. I almost expected Hannibal to pet him. So we know, or at least we think we know, that Will is now apt student to the good doctor; could this be a ploy on Will’s end to finally expose Lecter, or is this a genuine turn in character? I only bring up the former possibility because this season’s arc has been a bit wobbly, and I wouldn’t put it past the story gods to throw a big “Gotcha!” at us. But, as Will stated, now they’re both “even Steven.” All that said, I stand by my thoughts from three weeks ago: Will is becoming the monster Hannibal always meant him to become, his most successful therapeutic result. My predictions for tonight’s episode are that Will finally realizes some artistic killing projects of his own, something morbid will happen to Dr. Bloom or Jack’s wife (or is she dead? so far, we don’t know!), and Margot will continue to bore me to death. Did the production really need another affluent person to sit around the story’s perimeters this late in the game?

Minor note: Whoever put on Hugh Dancy’s eye makeup this week needs to calm down.

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.

Image: NBC

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s