“I don’t know what anyone is capable of anymore, least of all myself…” —Will Graham
I will admit from the start: I love me some courtroom drama, so it’s gonna be tough to bring the old objectivity to this one.
Season two’s Hassun begins with something familiar: A freaky, trippy dream sequence.
It’s interesting that elements other shows use to confuse and disorient viewers are on Hannibal used to ground them. Here we see Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) imagining himself as a crispy critter strapped into Ol’ Sparky….as well as imagining pulling the switch on himself and watching his own body fry.
I guess director Peter Medak (best known for the 1980 spook story The Changeling, and the TV Movie adaptation of Anne Rice’s Feast of All Saints–which was awesome) wanted to reassure audiences that Hannibal hasn’t forgotten the kind of scenes and imagery that made it a cult success.
We now proceed with Law And Order: Cannibal Intent…
(I considered Law And Order: Scrumptious Victims Unit–thankfully, good taste prevailed)
Graham’s murder trial has its first surprise moment when Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) goes off script, and basically not only admits that he believes Will is not guilty of murder, but incapable of murder. Not exactly the kind of quiet disavowing of this whole fiasco Kade Prurnell (Cynthia Nixon) and the FBI were hoping for.
Moments like this make you wonder how the Hell Crawford is gonna still have his job when it comes time to catch the Red Dragon and Buffalo Bill–they also make you wonder why the Hell Fishburne doesn’t have a Primetime Emmy yet.
The trial proceeds essentially as expected: Dr. Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), after being warned that the Prosecution would be using her romantic dalliances with Graham to cast doubt on her testimony, spoke on behalf of Will. While Dr. Chilton (Raul Esparza) and–making her first season two appearance….and dressed like an extra from Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid: the fabulous Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki, below) testified for the State.
Things pick up once “somebody” decides to send Graham an ear in the mail. If you’ll remember: Ears keep popping up in Graham’s hallucinations–because last season Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) drugged Will and forced the ear of Abigail Hobbs down his throat. Finding her ear in his stomach was pretty much the final nail in Will’s coffin, and the only real piece of physical evidence that would seem to condemn Will (though Crawford’s Clue Club is still arguing over that one). Anyhoo, the ear is found to belong to the court’s Bailiff–and when the feds go to his place, it seems to be wired with some kind of incendiary device that activates as soon as the door is opened. Walking through the smouldering remains of his house, they find the Bailiff: He’s been impaled on antlers, burned to a crisp, and a smile’s been carved into his face–all the hallmarks of the murders Graham is accused of.
Up to this point, Graham’s defense had been psychological: That he might possibly have committed the murders, but was in such a state that he cannot remember nor could he control his actions. At least, that’s what his attorney was going with…Graham is still clinging to his innocence.
In flies Dr. Hannibal Lecter: Expert Witness For the Defense, to the rescue!
Hannibal presents the case that this new murder proves that the person who is guilty of the crimes Graham is on trial for is still at large–a theory immediately shot down by the prosecution: This individual was shot, then mutilated after death, while all of Graham’s alleged victims were mutilated while still alive. The objection is sustained by the Judge, who strikes Hannibal’s testimony, and instructs the Jury to ignore it….
Bad call, Judge.
Next day, His Honor is found as you see above–made into a mockery of the Statue of Justice: His own heart and brain in the dishes of the traditional scale of Law, and his eyes removed.
Long story short: Mistrial. The whole nightmare’s gotta start over from square one, Graham goes back to the loony bin…and two more people are dead.
And no one seems any closer to realizing Hannibal is behind the whole thing…even the viewers cannot be 100% certain if he committed these last 2 murders (I think he did, but more on that later).
As the slowest and least “visceral” episode so far, Hassun keeps the viewer’s attention by giving us an insight into Hannibal’s real design here:
If I may be permitted to postulate, I don’t think Hannibal wants Graham in prison or executed–I don’t think he wants him convicted of these murders–I just think he wants him committed: Declared insane and safely out of the way of Dr. Lecter and his hobbies.
I think Hannibal murdered the Bailiff and the Judge in such a way as to throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings–but not so as to completely exonerate Graham: He can’t have people truly believing Graham is innocent–for if Graham is innocent, someone else–someone equally as intelligent and insightful, is guilty.
I don’t know what Hannibal’s entire design is yet–even Graham doesn’t know that: But I am very much enjoying finding out.
Hassun probably has more “filler” material than any episode of this season…perhaps even of the show as a whole. Several of the moments in court do nothing but kill time: Dr. Chilton’s testimony is only there so we remember that he’s an idiot and we hate him. Freddie Lounds’ testimony is only there to remind us she still exists (and so we can laugh at her outfit).
This episode is great when something’s actually happening, but–to return to the beloved food metaphors–it’s kinda like filling up on bread before dinner.
Next week looks like Hannibal‘s returning to form….I don’t know when or if another trial’s planned–but with how things are progressing, I’m guessing Will Graham won’t be sitting behind the Defendant’s table next time.