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The penultimate installment of Hannibal, Season 2: “Tome-wan”, is one of the best eps of the show’s sophomore year. Many disparate and vague elements of the season begin to come into focus, and the sometimes conflicting, sometimes complimentary designs of two of the Crime Drama genre’s greatest minds: Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), and Special Investigator Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), have nearly achieved fruition.

MV5BMjIzOTY3MzY4MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODAwMzE4MTE@._V1__SX961_SY406_“Tome-wan” is principally the story of Graham’s design, so let’s recap a bit:

After unsuccessfully accusing Lecter of being the infamous serial killer known to the public as the Chesapeake Ripper, Will Graham was accused of multiple murders and institutionalized–all the while still attempting to somehow prove Hannibal’s guilt, or at least convince others of it. But everyone he managed to make suspicious of Hannibal ended up dead, one way or another. He even tried to have Lecter murdered from inside the asylum–a move even the good doctor didn’t expect.

Long story short–Graham is exonerated, and his crimes–along with those of the Ripper–get dumped on Dr. Chilton, who conveniently gets bumped off by Miriam Lass, who thinks he’s the man who held her prisoner and cut her arm off.

And after ALL of this, Graham shocks everybody (so it seems) by resuming his therapy with Dr. Lecter….and even, it seems, taking pointers from him on how to be a successful serial murderer. He kills the “cave bear” murderer, Randall Tier, and makes him into a gruesome natural history exhibit, and with Jack Crawford’s (Laurence Fishburne) help, he fakes the murder of Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki). All to convince Hannibal that he’s coming around to the doctor’s unique world view.

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What’s Graham’s endgame?

Enter the Verger siblings: Mason (Michael Pitt) and Margot (Katharine Isabel), the wealthy, disturbed heirs to the Verger meat-packing empire. Margot started seeing Dr. Lecter after she attempted to murder her brother, who had been sexually molesting her. Soon Mason became Hannibal’s patient, too–and if there’s ONE aspect to Graham and Lecter’s relationship that is 100% sincere, it is their shared distaste for Mason Verger:

The man is despicable in ways that are almost comical in their capacity to disgust and outrage (like making underprivileged children cry so he can make martinis out of their tears….yes, you read that correctly) . He’s a sadist, a pedophile, a torturer of animals, and God only knows what else…and he’s convinced that he has the money and clout to get away with literally anything his diseased mind can conceive for his perverse amusement.

Will decided he’d had enough when Margot seduced him so she’d get pregnant with a Verger heir that could inherit the family fortune from Mason after she kills him (killing Mason would otherwise leave her broke, as her father’s will stated that only a male heir can inherit the estate). He was less than thrilled about being used for his sperm–but before long he accepted the situation, and even began to look forward to being a father.

Then Mason drugged her and gave her an unwanted abortion/hysterectomy…..

Mason is a bad, bad man.

So why not kill two psychotic birds with one stone?

Graham had orchestrated matters so that either Hannibal would kill Mason–at which point he could call in the cavalry and arrest him, OR Mason would kill Hannibal. Either way, Will wins.

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Except it didn’t quite happen that way. Mason has Hannibal kidnapped, trussed up, and invites Graham over to watch the doctor get ate up by Mason’s man-eating pigs.

Long story short (I know–far too late), Will helps Hannibal escape before being knocked unconscious by Mason’s goons–then the doctor takes Mason to Graham’s house, doses him with a cocktail of hallucinogens that would do Timothy Leary proud, and convinces him to slice off his own face and feed it to Will’s pack of rescued stray dogs. When he’s done, Lecter breaks Mason’s neck–but leaves him alive. Mason later claims that he broke his neck by falling into his own pig pen, and it was the pigs who mutilated his face–so Will’s testimony against Lecter regarding anything done to Mason is worthless.

Mason is alive, but no longer really a player in the machinations of either Graham or Lecter….not for the moment, anyway. I have a feeling he’ll be back, though–he didn’t BS the Feds as a kindness to Lecter: He did it to save him for his own private revenge. The kind of revenge that only an amoral sadist with a serious grudge, piles of money, and literally nothing else to do with his time can concoct.

So what’s Graham to do?

Well, it looks like he’s set to convince Lecter to either confess to Crawford, or kill him–or both.

We’ll find out one way or another next week.

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STRONG POINTS

Everybody brought their “A” Game this time. If Michael Pitt doesn’t get an Emmy nomination for his fantastically disturbing performance as Mason Verger, then there is no justice in this world–he is tremendous.

Aspects of Hannibal the novel are seamlessly woven into this re-imagining of Thomas Harris‘ fictional universe–at no point do any of them seem out of place. The face-cutting scene in particular managed to be gory and darkly funny at the same time–a difficult balance to pull off.

Michael Rymer shows why he’s Hannibal‘s most capable helmsman once again–particularly with Mason’s hallucination sequence immediately preceding his self-administered plastic surgery: It’s disturbing and weird and creepy and oddly fun….which actually fits Mason pretty well, come to think of it.

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WEAK POINTS

I would have like more Crawford in this ep: The last few shows of season two have been SO focused on Hannibal and Will that the other characters have become almost afterthoughts…..

But with the time-displaced throw-down that started the season at last on the horizon, I figure that Jack will be making up for lost time in the finale. Same goes for Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), who hasn’t shown up much except when she’s banging Hannibal…

If she lives through the finale, she’s gonna spend the rest of her life apologizing to Will:

I don’t think Hallmark makes a “Sorry I Accused You Of The Brutal Murders That Were Actually Performed By My Boyfriend” card.

 

 

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