Already seen Episode 7? Read on at the bottom for spoilers.
Finally, the show that has delighted in delivering us scenes that disgust and shock but that we cannot help but marvel at is back on form. But what else could we have expected, when placing the brutal Mason Verger and the lethal Hannibal in the same house, with a host of supporting characters nimbly poised to do some seriously dirty work?
Flashing back a few scenes to make sure we understood the confusing ending of the last episode (confusing because it was told from Will’s perspective and Will happened to have his perspective distorted towards the end by the insertion of a circular saw into his temple), we greet our heroes as they enter the confines of Muskrat Farm, hamstrung and ready to be bled like stuck pigs. And Mason, his lipless face twisted into the most gleeful of smiles, is baying for blood.
Making up for the snails’ pace (finally, that metaphor makes sense) of previous episodes, so much happens here to both wrap up the first half of the season and reset the board for the next half that it almost gives you whiplash. There’s blood, there’s guts, there’s gore, and there’s some masterful pieces of horror that you can see coming a mile off but still find yourself contemplating afterwards for the grisly beauty of their execution. Mason has been waiting a long time to enact his particular vengeance on Hannibal, with his little face-swap project to consume his prey while wearing a far more comely face than the one he’s been forced to endure proving the piece de resistance. Naturally, this piece becomes just one of the many that lead up to his inevitable downfall – no matter how well you trap a beast, you can’t lock up his whole army. Confronted with the lesser of two evils, our pawns assembled to thwart Hannibal find themselves rethinking their decisions once they realise that they are choosing between an apex predator and a mad dog smelling blood.
Some standout performances are delivered this week (as they usually are in an episode featuring this many twists and turns), but top accolades must be heaped on the Verger siblings. Joe Anderson has taken the sinister, brutish and heavily physical portrayal of Mason left by its previous inhabitant and slipped it on like a second skin, relishing in the challenge of bringing life to a character who has had their physical presence stripped from them. He has injected both a fresh and wry lease of life into a transformed character and added a welcome note of knowing and brash humour to this knowing and brash show. Playing opposite him, Katharine Isabelle’s delicate portrayal of the traumatised, but dignified, Margot – equal parts seductive and tragic – has done great work to break out of the straightjacket in which Mason’s torment placed her in seasons past.
But really, the entire cast deserve credit for keeping our focus over the last few episodes and now, as things finally fall into place, for delivering these crucial moments with aplomb. Though not quite on a par with the earth-shattering finale of Season 2, this is an episode created and executed by masters of their craft that has you daring to look away for fear of missing one delicious tiny delicacy of detail. Roll on the second half of the season.
Hannibal Season 3 is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
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Photo ©2014 NBCUniversal Media, LLC
Spoilers and further consideration
– Hats off to Katharine Isabelle for insisting on feigning ignorance all the way through Mason’s entirely unsubtle implication that a surrogate mother for her much-longed-for (and much-needed) baby is waiting on the farm. He might as well have written “LOL IT’S A PIG” in the sky behind his head. But as predictable as it was, it didn’t make the big reveal (and the moment where the mother is united with her hopeless baby) any less horrifying.
– As unsurprising as Mason’s death was (there’s only one way keeping a giant eel as a pet in an under-floor tank in your bedroom is going to end), it did seem like it lacked a sense of poetry. Feeding him to his beloved pigs might have been mildly more symbolic, although the lovely grim touch of him waking up wearing Cordell’s face like a shroud made up for this. But what kind of fool continues calling for one’s servant when you’re holding his face in your hand?
– After this week, Hannibal and Will shippers on Tumblr are going to be having a field day.