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Hannibal - Season 2

I collect church collapses. Did you see the one in Sicily recently? The facade fell on 65 grandmothers at a special Mass.

Was that evil? Was that God? If He’s up there, He just loves it.

Typhoid and swans–it all comes from the same place.

–Hannibal Lecter

Last week’s “Su-zakana” was easily the weakest episode of Season Two. So it would not have taken a Herculean effort to top it this week, and indeed they did: “Shiizakana”, another episode from my boy director Michael Rymer of Battlestar Galactica fame, easily renewed my faith in the series.

Rymer took the few good elements of  “Su-zakana” and extrapolated on them in a richer, more satisfying manner–and introduced the most fascinating “Killer Of The Week” since the Mushroom Killer way back in episode two of the first season. 

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Above is the handiwork of one Randall Tier (Mark O’Brien), “Shiizakana’s” Special Guest Murderer. The murder was originally believed to be the act of a some large carnivorous animal trained to kill, but once Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) used his mystical forensic voodoo powers, he knew it had to be a human being who has taken on the mental aspects of a predatory animal.

How did a human being create such carnage? Dig this:

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Rymer wisely never lets us get a full-on look at the apparatus, making it all the more disturbing. Essentially, Tier has constructed himself  what could best be described as a paleolithic Iron Man suit: An exoskeleton made of the bones and skull of a prehistoric cave bear–teeth and all–actuated with pneumatics and hydraulics. This suit lets him be the beast he feels himself to be in his mind in the real world.

Hannibal - Season 2

Meanwhile, Will continues his therapy with Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). Will admits that he wishes Lecter had not stopped him from shooting Clark Ingram, last week’s KOTW.

A glimmer of Hannibal’s overall design comes through in “Shiizakana”: Last year, he tried having Will discredited and locked up as a killer–that didn’t work out so well. It seems his play now is to awaken the nascent murderous nature of Will Graham–to re-make him in his own fiendish image, so to speak.

Hannibal is also still treating Margot Verger (Katharine Isabel), and still advising her to go ahead with her plans to murder her despicable brother. Margot and Will share a quiet drink in one of my favorite scenes of the episode, and compare notes regarding the good doctor’s “unique” perspective.

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Returning to Mr. Tier, it’s a tip from Hannibal himself that leads Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) and the FBI to the wanna-be werebear:

Apparently Dr. Lecter “treated” Randall for his “condition” back in the day–and he’s quite proud of the monster he helped unleash: In Tier we see the end result of what Hannibal seems to be working to achieve with Will Graham.

Lecter pays his protege a visit–and gives him a set of very specific instructions. Tier attacks Will in his home….we are not privy to exactly what happens next, but Lecter returns home to find Will waiting for him, and Tier’s dead body laid out on a table.

Will then states that he and Hannibal are now “even”: Will sent someone to kill Lecter, and Lecter sent Tier to return the favor….and that’s where we end. The promos for next week seem to hint that the following episode will deal with the psychological fallout of Will’s second killing (Garret Jacob Hobbs being the first)

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STRONG POINTS:

Lost alumnus Jeremy Davies returns as disturbed, yet likeable horse whisperer Peter Bernardone–oh, that’s his rat, Kevin. Now in an institution, Bernardone was unsuccessfully framed for serial killer Clark Ingram’s crimes. At the start of the Randall Tier case, when the FBI still believed an animal was being used for the murders, Will visits Bernardone for a little perspective on the training of animals.

Davies is once again fantastic–he is sweet and utterly believable. It’s difficult to put a “cute” scene in a series like this and have it work, but Davies pulls it off: He takes a character that’s half Charly Gordon, half Doctor Doolittle, and manages to give him JUST enough of an “edge” to still be at home in the world of Hannibal.

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Katharine Isabel is still a fascinating take on Margot Verger. As mentioned, her little scene where she and Will talk out of school about Lecter is top notch. It also establishes something I had been curious about: Margot Verger in Thomas Harris‘ novel Hannibal is a lesbian. This wasn’t discussed last week, and I was curious if Bryan Fuller and Co. were going to stick to canon here. They are.

Not that it makes much of a difference one way or another–but when Margot asks Will if they can chat over whiskey, I worried they might be setting her up as a new love interest for Will now that Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) is getting all “Freudian” with Hannibal. This would have been a disastrous choice for the series.

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I’m looking forward to seeing where the psychological warfare between Will and Hannibal leads: Hannibal DOES get caught, eventually–we know that–but will Graham have to sacrifice his soul to defeat him? Will he become the next graduate of Lecter’s School For Gifted Psychopaths?

Or is the crafty investigator playing the brilliant psychiatrist? Is Will giving Hannibal enough rope to hang himself?

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WEAK POINTS:

There is very little wrong with “Shiizakana”. The cave bear exo-suit MIGHT be a bit much for some viewers to swallow, but a little suspension of disbelief should take care of most fans’ misgivings.

There’s not much of the typical supporting cast in this one: Not much Crawford, no Bloom, no Freddie Lounds–where principles are concerned, it’s largely a Lecter/Graham piece. Not that that’s a bad thing, necessarily.

Next week picks up right where tonight’s show leaves off–tune in and find out what really happened to Randall Tier.

Category: reviews, TV

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