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Hannibal: “Ko No Mono”

Illustration for article titled Hannibal: “Ko No Mono”
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Viva Freddie Lounds. At least for now. The pain in the ass journalist turns out to be not so dead after all. Here’s what I really like about this show: I knew, as an informed viewer of television who understands the shaky verisimilitude of Hannibal’s world, that Freddie Lounds was not dead. I laid it out all out for you guys; Jack could not let Will kill whoever he wants to, willy nilly, to catch one, decidedly evil, guy. Yet, when Freddie Lounds showed up and asked Alana how her funeral was (she’s even smug in witness protection), I experienced a shock. Not relief, but genuine shock. Because when there seemed to be no hope that Freddie was alive, I started thinking of all the reasons that the writers could pull out to justify her death at Will’s hands. And, yet, even with all of these justifications, I still believed she was alive. And, yet again, when she showed up at the end of the episode, I didn’t expect her at all. (Spoiler for those who haven’t seen/read Red Dragon: ‘Freddie Lounds’ flaming chair death scene was a nice little callback, including the lack of lips.)

Freddie has been used more sparsely this season than the previous one. As a character, that’s how she’s most effective. Lara Jean Chorostecki plays Freddie broad and big, like a hardboiled reporter from the ‘40s crossed with the suspicious ingenue with a case. Michael Pitt is also playing Mason Verger big—the huckster forcing his own depravity onto those around him. In last week’s episode, I didn’t entirely connect with him. He was so at odds with every other character, but his further interactions with both Will and Hannibal are important evolutions for him. He bristles up against the sedate Hannibal, while his euphoric menace does well to counteract Will’s simmering anger. He does cut quite the ridiculous figure, considering he literally drinks the tears of children, but it’s a fun figure nonetheless. I loved his aside to himself during his second session with Hannibal, deciding what stories he could tell his psychiatrist, and what he couldn’t.

There are two big themes of this episode, both tied inextricably together. The nature of fatherhood, even in surrogacy, as was the case of Abigail Hobbs, is seen a protective state by Will and Hannibal. The scenes where they discuss patriarchal roles was quite lovely and revealing. Hannibal felt he had to kill Abigail, but regrets his decision (“Occasionally, I drop a teacup to shatter it on the floor. On purpose. I’m not satisfied when it doesn’t come together again. Someday, perhaps, a cup will come together”). In a way, it’s similar situation to what happened with his sister Misha. Her death could be justified because it was necessary for Hannibal’s creation/evolution. Yet for the Vergers, fatherhood is a completely different matter. For Mason, the image of his father looming large of his life even in death, is about legacy. Mason seeks to extend the legacy of his father (“No one understood that better that papa. Except now for me, of course”), looking up to a man that Hannibal refers to now only as illusion. Margot, on the other hand, has been so brutally abused by the men her life that she does not see their purpose beyond initial insemination. Unfortunately, that chance at motherhood ends for Margot, precisely because of one of those men.

Hannibal feels he is a father to Will, which leads to the next big theme: Will’s supposed rebirth as a serial killer. This rebirth was announced in the opening scene, as Will emerged from his womb, antlers and all, and then again in the sense of fire destroying to create anew (“She was fuel. Fire destroys and creates. It is mythical, she won’t rise from the ashes but her killer will”). But this is not an episode about rebirth, it’s metaphorical misdirection. It’s evidenced by the way Hannibal desecrates whatever corpse is used in Freddie’s place, positioning her as if she is the Hindu deity Shiva, both destroyer and benefactor. But the destruction Hannibal is referencing is his own.

For Hannibal, this portion of his life is about rebirth, but for Will, it’s trial by fire. Hannibal sees Will’s rebirth beginning with the murder of Randall Tier and continuing through his “murder” of Freddie Lounds. But Will has already been reborn in, namely in “Mukozuke,” where Beverly Katz’s death invigorates his latent desire to kill. Hannibal is wrong. Sure, there are instances of destruction creating new life: In their conversations, Hannibal makes the connection that Abigail had to die for Will to go from metaphorical father to literal one, although that idea of fatherhood needed to be taken away so Will could confront Mason. Will had to go through the pain of losing his unborn child, to that loss of fatherhood that was, as he sees it, directly caused by Hannibal’s manipulations, in order to reveal his own innocence. Look, we all know Mason won’t succeed in feeding Hannibal to his pigs because that would make for a misnomer of a third season. But through his hardship, Will has created yet another potential enemy trip to Hannibal up, to distract him from Will’s lure. That final scene between Will and Mason—my favorite foil to Mason’s affectations—started with Will’s loss, and ended with his redemption in the mind of the audience. So maybe Hannibal is right after all: Will needed to be destroyed in order to be redeemed.

Stray observations:

  • Recipe of the week: Ortolan Bunting. Please don’t make this. It will make me sad.
  • Let’s all celebrate Hannibal’s third season!
  • The image of Mason in his scrubs was certainly different from the one offered up of Hannibal in all of his ghostliness in “Futamono.”
  • I thought the performances in this episode were quite exceptional, but shout out to Caroline Dhavernas who is so good when she’s actually given something to do.
  • “I’m concerned about the next generation of Vergers, aren’t you?” “I’m just trying to survive this generation.”