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I believe you. –Dr. Bedelia DuMaurier

I wanted to open my review of Sakizuke with a pleasant image, because there’s precious few of them in this episode. I’m also dispensing with the food metaphors this week: Trust me–you’re gonna want to see this one on an empty stomach. 

Sakizuke continues the story started last week in Kaisuke: Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) is the FBI’s new genius profiler, Graham (Hugh Dancy) is an imprisoned serial murder suspect, and there’s a new killer on the loose.

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(I warned you there was some gnarly shit this week)

Above you see our new killer’s “Design”. We knew last week he was killing and preserving people, but not to what end…until Beverly Katz (Hetienne Park) secretly visited Graham at the asylum for insight. He was the one who realized that the victims were a “color palette” for a human mural.

When we left off, the killer’s latest addition to his mural–a man named Roland Umber (Canadian singer Ryan Field)–had the bad fortune to not die peacefully after being overdosed with heroin like all his “companions”. Umber was later discovered to be a recovering junkie, and his tolerance was unexpectedly high. The unlucky gentleman awoke to find himself shellacked and stitched to his dead neighbors–and in one of the most graphic scenes I’ve ever witnessed on network television, he extricated himself by literally tearing off large portions of his own flesh. It’s difficult to watch, but manages to avoid becoming gratuitous. Umber and his playmates are revealed to be held in an empty grain silo, and once he’s free he rabbits his way through the nearby cornfield–the killer on his heels the entire way.

You really find yourself cheering Umber on here…Unfortunately, his escape was not to be. The killer didn’t catch him, though: He was chased to the edge of a cliff, and attempted to lose his pursuer by jumping in the river below. Sadly, he struck his head on a rock outcropping and died instantly.

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Later, when Umber’s body is discovered, Hannibal lies to the FBI and claims that the body was strung up, torn down, and thrown away. But he knows Umber escaped–and where to find the killer’s lair: The Doc smelled corn on Umber, and from there it was not difficult to track down where he escaped from. Hannibal didn’t want this killer caught by Crawford’s people–he had his own plans for him.

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Meanwhile, as Lecter seems to be growing bolder, Graham appears to be slipping–almost to the point that he’s beginning to suspect he IS the murderer everyone believes him to be. After Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) chastises Beverly Katz for seeking Will’s advice behind his back, he decides to turn a blind eye should she decide to do it again. For his part, doing what he does best: Sussing out the motives and designs of psychotic murderers–the very thing that was making him lose his mind in the first season now seems to be the only thing keeping him sane. After Lecter leads the FBI to the killer’s hideout and the eye-shaped mural of victims is discovered. Katz brings the photos to Graham…and he does his “hoodoo” through them (and reveals his fondness for Sesame Street quotes).

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He finds something out of place–a body that does not fit the killer’s design–a “John Doe” not fitting the description of any missing person–who also apparently had his lower leg sawed off…

Yep, somebody decided to add this deranged artist to his own masterpiece–three guesses who that somebody was.

And if you don’t know why the killer’s leg was removed, you clearly haven’t been paying attention….

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Before calling Crawford and the Scooby Gang, Hannibal had a little quality time with this kindred spirit, and convinced him that he himself should be the finishing touch to his own magnum opus:

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STRONG POINTS: This episode did more than just tie up the case of the Color Palette Killer, it was a psychological battle between Lecter and Graham. Both sought this killer, both found him–but each for his own reasons. Graham did it to remind himself who he is. Hannibal did it for reasons only he and his victim truly understand…and, I think, for the added thrill of plying his trade right under the FBI’s collective noses. He’s not a wolf in sheep’s clothing–more like a wolf hired to replace a sheepdog.

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Bottom line: it was fascinating and exhilirating to see these two go head to head in the art of monster hunting. Once again the considerable talents of director Tim Hunter were put to marvelous use.

Then there’s the scene I stole the image and quote from at the beginning of this review. Dr. Bedelia DuMaurier (Gillian Anderson) has indeed come to the inescapable conclusion that her longtime patient is criminally psychotic and extremely dangerous. This does no one any real good, of course: She has no evidence, and anything Hannibal told her is protected by Doctor-Patient Confidentiality…But at least ONE other person knows Will is innocent.

When DuMaurier informed Hannibal that she was dropping him as a patient–and why, the tension between them was palpable….she was truly terrified, and altogether unsure how he would react. It was a magnificent scene. I hope Anderson sticks around, even if DuMaurier is no longer needed in a professional capacity.

Crawford wasn’t given a great deal to do in this ep, but I really like the combination of frustration, self-doubt, and internal conflict Fishburne is portraying. I think Crawford KNOWS Will is innocent–but no longer trusts his own instincts.

Hannibal himself made me laugh out loud for the first time in this episode–the “I love your work” line referenced above when Hannibal catches the Palette Killer in the act.

Oh, he’s said things that made me snicker once or twice in the past–but the writers have avoided any broadly comedic moments that might lessen the Doctor’s menace while his character developed in season one. Now that the gloves are off, it’s okay for them to let him show a sense of humor regarding his gruesome pasttimes once in a while.

And finally: Hannibal doesn’t share a meal with any characters in Sakizuke. The only dish prepared and consumed was a dinner for one Lecter made out of the Palette Killer’s lower leg. The preparation of which is shown in gruesome, yet intriguing detail:

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That, friends, is a serial killer’s lower leg after H-Lec has worked his magic on it. The dish is called osso buco: it’s veal shanks braised in white wine and broth served with vegetables and risotto….cannibalism should NOT look this delectable!

Why a veal dish, you ask? Well, what else do you make out of calf?

WEAK POINTS: Just one, really–and this is something season one episodes were often guilty of as well: I really would have liked some more background on the killer and his motivations–he’s not even given a name.

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I am greatly enjoying this season’s more serialized format–I’m hoping they keep it up, and the episodes flow seamlessly into each other the way this one did with its predecessor. Next week it seems Will’s trial is starting, I love a good courtroom drama, and I’m quite excited to see where Bryan Fuller and company will go with this.

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