Tuesday, 25 March 2014

HANNIBAL, 2.3 & 2.4 – 'Hassun' & 'Takiawase'

Tuesday, 25 March 2014
"I've given my life to death" - Jack Crawford

Hannibal turns into a court room drama for "Hassun", as Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) gets his chance to plead his innocence to a judge and jury—or, at least to begin with, his insanity. The writers obviously have a lot of baggage from season 1 to square away, so this season already feels like it's going to be less reliant on twisted serial killers and the cat-and-mouse game between Will and Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) that fuelled much of season 1. And that's absolutely fine with me; I just wish this court room drama had been punchier. Instead, the episode felt a little locked into the show's default mood of a waking nightmare and things started to drag a little.

However, there were some bright spots. I loved seeing Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) risk professional suicide by choosing to make it clear, on record, that he feels responsible for overburdening Will and turning him into a psychotic. Lecter's moment on the stand was also fun (complete with that spooky vision Will has of him with a black leather face and antlers), as he once again insisted he'll always be Will's friend. The great thing about Lecter in this series is how you honestly believe he means it, too, and will do anything to make Will a free man. So does that go as far as killing again, to open up another line of defence? Yes, the big surprise in this episode is that someone's killing people using the exact m.o Will Graham supposedly had—albeit choosing to shoot victims first, before then mutilating them on antlers. It seems reasonable to assume this must be Lecter (although there's room for doubt), intended as a means to help Will... but then why kill the judge? Perhaps Lecter thought the trial simply wasn't going the way it needed to be?

But considering they've done a 'Lecter-the-copycat' thing last season, my guess is there's another killer out there who wants to put some doubt in everyone's mind about Will Graham (for whatever reason).

Overall, "Hassun" was a good episode with problems. I don't think the show is at its strongest in a trial context, so if more court room episodes are due I hope the writers find a way to inject some flavour into things. It was a little to passive and staid for me, while the return of reporter Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) fell oddly flat... which clearly wasn't the intention, given the character's wardrobe and classy musical accompaniment. I hope they find a good use for her this season.

written by Jason Grote & Steve Lightfoot | directed by Peter Medak | 14 March 2014

Surer ground was offered in the excellent "Takiawase", which saw significant steps taken in the show's big arc. Will is recovering more memories and has decided to ostracise Lecter from his prison life, by giving slimy Dr Chilton (Raúl Esparza) exclusive access to his mind for some psychotherapy sessions together. Unfortunately, it seems that while Chilton's now convinced by some of Will's story about Lecter's unorthodox therapy sessions that could have resulted in his "missing time" and blackouts, Chilton's instead revealing himself to be a very shady characters in his own right: prepared to keep the matter a secret from everyone, as a show of unity with Lecter because he's likewise taken some maverick paths during his own career.

The backbone of this week's story was about palliative care, to some degree. There was a return to the touching story between Crawford and his dying wife Bella's (Gina Torres) cancer, now she's resolved to end her life before she loses her dignity fighting the disease. Torres and Fishburne are always great together on this show (as you'd hope they'd be, as they're married in reality), and I loved the sequence where Lecter was taken into her circle of trust to let her die of a morphine overdose, but he chose to instead save her after tossing a coin. It earned him a vicious slap in the face, but no doubt Jack will eternally grateful.

This all loosely tied in with the killer-of-the-week story, being an accupuncturist (Amanda Plummer) who eased her patient's pain with macabre treatments: turning one man into an apiary for bees, the other into a lobotomised zombie who could finally walk around painlessly. The first was a fantastically gross visual (also a weird nod to a similar idea explored in Bryan Fuller's Pushing Daisies series), and the latter was a very troubling thing to contemplate. My only real issue with this week's story is how this whole storyline was quite possibly the least taxing investigation the BAU have ever done. That was part of the whole idea, as the killer felt she wasn't doing anything wrong, but it still felt weird to have Crawford and his team simply knock on the door of their first suspect and listen to her confess almost immediately.

But really, "Takiawase" was more about the bigger issues of the series. Dr Catz (Hettiene Park) was given the best storyline, as she started to take some of Will's theorising about Lecter seriously, and investigated his apartment while he was supposedly at the hospital with the Crawford's. And below his kitchen floor she appears to have found a secret dungeon full of incriminating evidence... and, unfortunately for her, Lecter waiting close by. Who knows if any of her bullets found their mark, but it's hard to imagine Catz being getting out of this one so early in the season. Unless Lecter realises the inexplicably disappearance of a key member of Crawford's team would look mightily suspicious, so he instead imprisons her under his kitchen and finds a way to make her absence appear realistic?

Overall, this episode was another very strong one after a slight misstep. Will's plan with Dr Chilton may not work so well because he's unaware how warped Chilton's sense of right-and-wrong is, but it shows some fight. And, as an early flashback with Will and Abigail Hobbes showed, Will isn't a hunter... he's a fisherman, and the art of fishing is all about the lure. To catch a fiend like Lecter, you just need to find the right bait.

written by Scott Nimerfo & Bryan Fuller | directed by David Semel | 21 March 2014