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Hannibal: “Takiawase”

Illustration for article titled Hannibal: “Takiawase”
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And we’re off!

“Takiawase” was Hannibal’s first truly perfect episode the season, impressive at only a third of the way through the season. It was structurally complicated, with its episodic case pushing the main theme of the episode, while still bolstering Will’s proclamations of innocence. Although in the process, he possibly lost his best ally in the form of Bevery Katz (RIP? Hopefully not, for my sake, as I have thoroughly enjoyed the performance of Hettienne Park since the series began. But my affinity for Beverly may not make narrative sense. Alas, Beverly is about to become a meal.) In his premiere walkthrough with Todd Van Der Werff, creator Bryan Fuller said as much: “[Episodes] four, five, six, seven, eight are such a wild ride that I look at the first two episodes and go, “Oh my God, we’re sort of warming up there, and we really spring to it in episode four.” If this is what’s to come for the next set of episodes, I foresee a masterpiece.

The big theme of this episode is the mercy inherent in death. Both the killer, Katherine Pims (Amanda Plummer, who is so perfect balancing her own insanity with a sweet sense of do-gooding in her small role), and the returning Bella (Laurence Fishburne’s real-life wife Gina Torres), see death as a relief, rather than as an end. Both can be seen as selfish: Katherine takes it upon herself bring mercy to those who she may thinks ask for it, even if they don’t, much like Hannibal manipulates Will for his own machinations, against Will’s own inclination. To a much lesser extent, Bella, by not dying at home, robs Jack of his big goodbye to the person he loves most. Yet, for Bella, death is a way of feeling alive, just as Hannibal finds a certain thrill in his own mortality. Both Bella and Katherine see their acts as a means to fight hopelessness. Bella does not want to become a symbol of death for Jack, but remain a living part of his mind. Hannibal robs Bella of her mercy, though. He sees the ability to die at any moment as a reason to appreciate life. But just as death could come at any moment, in Hannibal’s terms, so could it be snatched away.

Death seems to be coming for Beverly. Hannibal and Beverly continue their working relationship, but she shows her cards too early, leading to her final scene. Her initial interaction with Hannibal, in which they are examining the body of muralist James Gray, initially felt so very obvious. Hannibal at one point literally lays out the theme of the entire series: “You have to get to the truth beneath the appearances,” he tells her. “Only by getting deep beneath the skin will you understand the nature of this pathology.” But it’s not until Will elucidates Hannibal’s theory does it foretell her fate. Hannibal knows that the best way to ensnare Beverly is by giving her just enough rope to hang him, which he, in turn, uses to kill Beverly. While Beverly may parrot Will’s theories, she does not have his empathic capabilities, nor his extreme distrust.

But I should have known: Hannibal would never lay out his motive without a manipulative undertone. Instead he would set the trap. As Will explains in his beginning dream to Abigail, the difference between hunting and fishing is that in one discipline you shoot, while the other you catch. Beverly was on the hunt. She acted too aggressively and it was her downfall. She needed Hannibal to come to her. She needed to lure and then catch, rather than shoot. As Will tells Abigail, an old fishing superstition is to name the bait after a cherished person. If that person cherishes the fisher back, the fish will be caught. Beverly has become the unwitting bait. Could her death be the catalyst for the rest of the team to get behind Will? [Spoiler for those not familiar with Silence of the Lambs, but, like c’mon!:] Beverly’s final scene, so perfectly directed by first-time Hannibal helmer David Semel, was reminiscent of Clarice Starling’s pursual of Buffalo Bill/James Gumb. The audience follows her, alone in the dark, with a gun and not much else. While we may not see through Buffalo Bill’s night-vision goggles as Clarice struggles to see, Hannibal is smarter. This is his turf. His abrupt appearance behind her has the same effect of control that Gumb had with his ability to see through the darkness. Yet it was Hannibal who prevailed.

Will is also looking beneath the skin of himself through his narco-analytic therapy with Chilton. He so perfectly manipulates Chilton to distance himself from Hannibal—by playing on Chilton’s considerable ego. Chilton, so often scoffed at for his self-importance, gets to see under Will’s “skin,” becoming a potentially important figure in Hannibal’s capture, and Will’s exoneration. Their work together brings Will back to the night Hannibal meets with Dr. Abel Gideon, who Chilton was accused of psychically pushing so that Gideon believed he was the Minnesota Shrike. It cost Chilton some important internal organs. Now Hannibal’s pushing might cost him much more. In his flashback to his conversation with Gideon, Hannibal, much like Will, is angry over his stolen identity. But, like Bella, Hannibal has also taken away Will’s sense of free will. Will’s ability to choose is taken away from him, and he is just at the beginning of reclaiming it. The narco-analytic scenes of cacophonous noise and light were visceral in their power. While other dream sequences have had a fluid beauty to them, such as Alana dipping into Will’s mind in “Kaiseki,” these glimpses into Will’s psyche were considerably more jarring. Whereas Will was on shaky ground throughout the first season, Hugh Dancy’s performance has only grown stronger as Will has become more confident, less broken. When Hannibal was so in control, it was near impossible to think that Will could take Lecter on. But as the season progresses, Will is slowly wresting that control back, creating a worthy adversary to take down a monster.


Stray observations:

  • Recipe of the week: Veal or Lamb Kidneys Sauteed With Lemon and Mustard
  • I’ve noticed an increased presence for both Aaron Abrams and Scott Thompson, forming this little odd couple medical examining team. While I’ve enjoyed it, I wonder if their increased role was a nod to Beverly’s eventual demise. I’m certainly enjoying the levity they bring, especially in a particularly heavy episode such as this one.