Hannibal S02E10 Review "Naka-Choko"

Last night was in many ways the most challenging and unsettling of the episodes for me for several reasons. For one, I felt like it was a major turning point in the series, and not necessarily veering into a direction I would like it to have it go. I've said for a few weeks now that Will Graham's blossoming dark side, while amusing and gratifying in some respects, is beginning to worry me. Last night didn't feel so much like a twist in the road so much as being blindfolded, spun around and then left to wobble you way to steady ground, dizzy in the dark.

Will's function in this series (in my opinion) is to provide us a window through which we can view Hannibal, and their surrounding world of whimsical terror. He is fascinated by the darkness, plagued by it, and flirts with it, and yet never gives in, in contrast to Hannibal's pure unadulterated evil. This aspect is important to the story because it gives us a focus and a desire to see Will conquer over Hannibal's inner monster. If Will captures Hannibal, but in the process becomes him, what is the point of the story?

For these reasons I choose to believe that all is not as it seems at the moment. This is almost certainly Will playing the "long con", becoming the lure that he described to Jack Crawford a few episodes ago and reeling Hannibal in. Freddie Lounds is most likely alive somewhere, having been convinced or forcibly persuaded to play along with Will's gambit until Hannibal has been caught.

The theme of the night was almost certainly intimacy in many forms. First there was Will choosing to shed the barrier of the gun and kill Randal with his hands, fully revelling in murder for the first time. As he expressed later on during his assessment of his own crime scene, he noted how this was both Randal's becoming - the last stage in his transformation - and his own. Then there was Hannibal carefully washing his hands and repairing his wounds, using words to crawl under his skin and pull his experience from him.

A more obvious expression of intimacy would of course be the extended love scene between Hannibal and Alana, Margot and Will, and the Wendigo. However, it is worth noting that, though stunning and steamy (and confusing), the sex scenes held the least intimacy of all of it because everyone had an agenda and they were using each other with the possible exception of Alana Bloom. The most intimate scene in my opinion was Will and Hannibal sharing what could possibly be Freddie Lound's body over dinner. It was almost harder to watch than anything else just because of how voyeuristic it made me feel.

The B plot this week, building more on the story of Margot and Mason Verger was sorely needed just to ground the whole thing and remind us what show we were watching. Their scenes were a necessary island to rest on in the sea of weird, experimental visual metaphor and psychological manipulation that was the rest of the episode. Michael Pitt was compelling as Mason, and his chemistry with Margot really built tension. It is a rare skill for an actor to be able to generate so much hatred and genuine disgust for his character in such a short space of time, and he really nailed it.

The training of his pigs to eat live human meat using a dummy wearing his sister's clothes while they listened to recordings of who I can only assume was Margot screaming was chilling. You can definitely feel the urgency and desperation that drove her to Will Graham's bed in an attempt to create a male heir. I hope she escapes him soon. I also can't help but wonder if her seduction of Will Graham had an additional motive of getting someone who is unrestrained by familial love to kill her brother. Time will tell.

Some thoughts:

  • I can't help but feel for the poor souls who tuned in to last night's episode for the first time after hearing so much about the show. It must have been awfully strange without any prior context, and possibly very alienating. Lord knows it was a strange enough experience with context
  • I can't help but worry for Marogt. Even if she did manage to impregnate herself by sleeping with Will, and assuming it is a boy right out of the gate, it is sure to put her in even more danger.
  • Mason made a huge error by bringing up Hannibal's sister in relation to how he's been treating his own. Mischa is sure to be a sore spot with Hannibal, and if he wasn't feeling protective or favourable towards Margot before he certainly will be now
  • I'm glad that Alana is starting to ask some of the more vital questions. I really hope she gets out of this nightmare before she ends up some kind of roast.
  • I know that Margot, a lesbian character, sleeping with Will rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Yes, lesbian erasure in media is harmful, as is perpetuating the myth that lesbians can be cured by the right man or even still desire men underneath all their rebelious behaviour. No, I don't think that's at all what happened here. People have many motivations for sex and this is clearly not about desiring Will. She just needs a baby so that she can kill her brother without fear.
  • That said, I can't believe that she wouldn't kill him anyway at this point, inheritence be damned. There are worse things than being broke, and one of them is certainly being fed to pigs while alive by your awful, rapist brother.
  • I really have no idea if I liked this episode or not. On the one hand it's definitely not what I thought I was signing up for, on the other, it is extremely rare for a television show to completely subvert all of my expectations. Whether or not it is a good thing will be determined when we see how the season ends
  • For the love of God Freddie! Don't be dead!
  • The dinner scene at the end had some definite communion overtones, which goes with a lot of the religious imagery and metaphor of the season.

    Let me know what you thought in the comment section below.