Given the slight, erm, miscarriage of justice that occurred at the end of last week, Will’s trial is understandably delayed to give way to a more sombre episode of Hannibal; arguably the most sombre, and definitely most saddening, we’ve ever seen.
This week’s theme could go one of two ways – the contents of the human body (which, given the unorthodox meat selection a hapless cast member discovers in Hannibal’s fridge, is a permanent theme) and the value of that contents. A simpler way to classify it would be to call that theme “mortality”, but from this week’s murderer (a whimsically deranged acupuncturist played by Amanda Plumber) to the ongoing horror endured by Bella Crawford, Jack’s cancer-stricken wife, the theme is centred firmly in quality of mortality, not quantity.
Handled so skilfully, particularly in the heartbreaking case of Bella, the subject overwhelms the power play between Hannibal and Will this week, as another aspect of Lecter’s truly grim persona is revealed in his interactions with Jack’s sick wife. Taking over as her therapist, he seeks to offer her peace from her suffering, but, in the vein of the vengeful god persona he adopted in an early episode, he gives and then takes away.
Bella would have been better off visiting the acupuncturist; Amanda Plumber (channelling her recent Hunger Games role with similar doe-eyed madness) looks not to cause her victims pain, but to relieve them of it. This ultimately makes for some truly bizarre killings, but, Plumber’s character insists, the people she has killed have been freed from the things that held them back – disability, crippling pain, suffering. Bella would no doubt have got her desired result in her hands; she is a therapist concerned with quality of life, seeing the true value in one free of pain. But, upsettingly, Bella’s fate is in the hands of two men with selfish ends: Jack, her devoted husband, seeks to keep her alive to ease his own suffering; Hannibal, her murderous therapist, seeks… what? To see her suffer? To keep Jack under his thumb? Whatever it is, sympathy for Mads Mikkelsen evaporates pretty quickly this week.
Frustratingly, just as Will and Beverly make a major breakthrough in developing the case against him, with the help of slippery psychiatrist Dr. Chilton, it would seem like Graham’s defence has taken a major step backward. (To avoid spoilers, we suggest you don’t Google episode names.) But we doubt it will remain a setback for long, for as Will embarks on therapy sessions with Chilton, we are starting to see the intelligent psychopath – a man gifted at deductive reasoning – emerge from behind Hugh Dancy’s victim mask.
The opening sequence, showing him sharing his usual tranquil fishing routine with the absent Abigail Hobbs, throws a new light on Will’s grasp of the truth. Now that he has started to unravel some of the mysteries locked inside his head by his supposed friend, maybe he can start to unravel other things as well.
Hannibal Season 2 is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.
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