season 2

Symbols and Sociopaths: Hannibal Season 2, Episode 4

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Jonathan May

This episode was really just all over the place. We start out in Will’s head as he teaches Abigail Hobbs to fish; the terrible fishing metaphors fly hard and fast (“the one that got away” could also work as a Katy Perry song title). By incorporating Abigail into his interior space, we’re able to see more clearly Will’s goal in this trial: to lure out the beast in Hannibal and expose it to the light. So Will succumbs to the greedy desire of the hospital psychiatric director for exclusive “therapy” to regain his memories. We’ll see if this pays off in the long run.

But then we segue into an apiarist serial killer who freely admits to her crimes when confronted (albeit in a controlled insane way) halfway through the episode. The swiftness with which this was handled confused me and left me wanting more.

So what did we linger on the most? We see laid out, in brutal coldness, Bella’s acceptance of death as a cure to living. Perhaps the only echo in this episode is the image of the honeycomb, Bella’s body honeycombed with cancer. Just a thought. The whole slow dance toward death Jack must acknowledge is lightened by the novel plot introduction of medical marijuana. As Jack and Bella smoke purple kush, we feel imminently the frailty of even this small moment of levity. And, as the plot gods would have it, happiness comes at great cost.

My prediction that Dr. Beverly Katz would discover Hannibal for what he was came to startling life at the episode’s end. I was riveted in my seat as she gaped in shock at something. I am so, so thankful we did not see what she saw. It’s always more horrible what we imagine ourselves. But this unfortunate interaction could lead to the demise of my favorite character.

All to say, Friday could not come sooner. I’ve been trolling the Hannibal Tumblr and Facebook page, like a dutiful #fannibal, so we’ll see if the story gods repay. If they’re out there, listening, I have but one humble request: better music. The whole episode was plagued with shrieking strings and obvious, eerie auditory leitmotifs. Let’s lay off a little moving forward.

My predictions for this week’s episode: Alas, Dr. Katz is held by Hannibal, but hopefully not killed. Will Graham moves forward with his new therapy and fills in his missing narrative. Bella lingers on; Jack feels it necessary to stay beside her, when Dr. Katz needs him most. And where the hell is Cynthia Nixon?

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 owenmay.com, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at owen.may@gmail.com.

Hannibal airs Friday nights on NBC. You can read our piece about the previous episode here.

Image source: NBC

Symbols and Sociopaths: Hannibal Season 2, Episode 3

hannibal-two

Jonathan May

We start with a montage of Will and Hannibal, each dressing for the morning; The whole scene is a lovely aubade to their relationship. Hannibal has placed himself into Will’s life violently, but why? This seems to be the central question of this season: What exactly does Hannibal want from Will? If it’s just a kindred spirit, then he and Will could certainly bro it up in a number of narrative ways. I think he wants Will to best him, because he believes Will is the better man. Again, this is all speculation, the darkness set against the relief that accentuates the more disjointed parts of the episode.

As to that, we are reminded, for whatever reason, that Jack’s wife is dying of cancer, something he (and I) seemed to have forgotten. This felt like a weak and poorly timed attempt to garner some more sympathy in Jack’s corner, when really we should be feeling for Will. Then, the reporter reemerges to give totally boring testimony. It’s like, Oh right, we forgot about all of these ancillary plots and characters, so why don’t we just throw them all in the mix? Throughout, Will’s lawyer makes the worst jokes. Honestly, the only standout things about this episode were Cynthia Nixon, who plays an internal investigator for the FBI, and the judge’s gruesome murder.

Against the obviousness of the trial, the episode only peers slightly further into whatever the hell is going on with Will and Hannibal. His fevered dream sequence of possible escape is squelched by Lecter, which only mirrors the let-down of Hannibal as a courtroom witness. We see, in the barest and darkest terms possible, their relationship changing, though this early in the season it feels glacial. I hope in the next episode their relationship is brought more to the forefront of the relief structure.

I do wish we’d seen whatever it is that happened to the judge’s brain. Call me morbid, but the whole courtroom aspect left me wishing for a more gory palate cleanser. Also, what in God’s name kind of outfit is Hannibal wearing here?

Hannibal, episode 3

My predictions for this week’s episode: We know Dr. Katz is going to take a central role, but I predict her doubt of Will falls away like scales from her eyes. Dr. Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) appears to Will in a vision/dream/hallucination. Cynthia Nixon will wear another power suit. Jack’s wife will die sooner than his in-the-works trip to Italy.

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 owenmay.com, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at owen.may@gmail.com.

Hannibal airs Friday nights on NBC. You can read our piece about the previous episode here.

Image source: Comingsoon.net 

Symbols and Sociopaths: Hannibal Season 2, Episode 2

hannibal-two

Jonathan May

Like, massive spoiler alert.

Watching the second episode of Hannibal, I couldn’t help but selfishly wonder if somehow, some way, the show’s producers had read my post from last week and decided to give me everything I wanted. If it’s foolish to dream, then I’m foolish. All to say, this episode gave me the heebie-jeebies—it scratched my blood itch and left me wanting next Friday like it was payday.

We’re presented this season around with Lecter stepping into Will Graham’s role as a forensic/psychological expert, a role Hannibal relishes. In this episode, this relationship is brought to the forefront, and we get to see how Dr. Lecter reacts to the close quarters of the FBI’s investigative minds at work. I was completely delighted to see the use of symbolic imagery play out in this episode; the dark antlered man as Lecter read well for the overall thematics, which concerned the relation of God to man, creator to subject.

This unfolded through the serial killer obsessed with a “human palette” made of resined bodies of various shades sown together in a silo. Lecter, wise to his own ilk, finds the killer before everyone else and adds him to the picture, and then his plate. The cooking scene in this episode took a lot of care to show the many stages of preparation for a human thigh; I was even hungry for a moment.

The juxtaposition of closed and open spaces made me wonder exactly who is caged and who is caging, which was doubled down when Lecter’s psychologist (played by Gillian Anderson) decides to exeunt with all relevant information. She even stops by to see Will Graham and tells him, “I believe you.” Of course, she disappears immediately thereafter.

This bit of maddening information must certainly fan Will’s flames as he heads to trial in next week’s episode.

Thankfully, Dr. Beverly Katz (played by Hettienne Park) landed a central role in this season’s events. She really adds a keen and watchful eye to the situation, while still being a great unaware foil to Lecter; their awkward “dance” in the forensics room gave great comedic evidence for this.

My predictions for this week: Hannibal is a witness, Gillian Anderson is dead/missing, Dr. Katz gets real with Lecter. And hopefully more food porn.

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 owenmay.com, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at owen.may@gmail.com.

Hannibal airs Friday nights on NBC. You can read our piece about the previous episode here.

Image source: Comingsoon.net 

Symbols and Sociopaths: Hannibal’s Season Two Premiere

hannibal-two

Jonathan May

I’m a huge fan of the first season of NBC’s Hannibal, with Mads Mikkelsen in the eponymous role and Hugh Dancy starring alongside as the ever-lovable Will Graham. It was a literal phantasmagoria of the culinary and the sociopathic. The episode names were, in order, all the courses of a full, formal French menu, and it was quite like eating a slow, delicious meal over the course of the season. Would Will Graham be framed? Would they catch the nefarious Hannibal? Each episode brought us closer to a pulsing edge, pushing our palates further than we had known, not only in terms of character development, but also in exquisitely crafted shots of food juxtaposed with the grisly doings of our dear Dr. Lecter.

I can’t spoil the ending of the first season for you uninitiated who, particularly and with great haste, still need to watch the show. The ancillary characters provide welcome relief from the steadfast and grim tone. Will, our protagonist, has a sort-of love interest. There’s some humor provided by the medical examination team. But at the core of the show is its unique set of symbols: the dark stag (representing Lecter), the kitchen knives, the disfigured clock. These symbols appear over and over, building in their usage and intensity as the show plays out. Suffice to say, do yourself a favor and watch the first season.

The following section contains spoilers:

Now, for those of you who caught the first episode of season two, what? I mean, what? Where is the trademark, always-stylish gore? Where is the saucy game of cat-and-mouse? We’re thrown in media res to a scene briefly, only to travel back 12 weeks into the past, where the season begins. More darkness is hinted at between Gillian Anderson’s character and Hannibal, but what does he have on her? This opener left me with a ton of unresolved questions, doing the faithful job of an episode meant to re-pique your interest after a long lull (termed appropriately on Tumblr as the “HeAteUs”). I hope we get back to the symbols at the show’s core, but to do that, I think we’ll need a little more Hugh Dancy on-screen. His brief interactions with the dark, antlered man in his mind suggest the obvious: that Hannibal inhabits his mind; but we don’t get much more than that. I’m hoping the next episode makes better use of Will’s “inner space.” We can’t just be flashed dark, mythic-looking things without them being held accountable to a reality within Will.

My prediction for this week’s episode: new “serial killer” introduced formally, way more of Gillian Anderson, maybe a flaming stag this time, a lot of people visit Will in prison asking for advice.

Image source: Comingsoon.net