written by Steve Lightfoot & Bryan Fuller | directed by Michael Rymer
The second phase of this season is most definitely under way, with the stunning "Yakimono" sending the narrative veering down another unexpected path. The discovery that FBI rookie Miriam Lass (Anna Chlumsky) is alive was dealt with as expected, as she's suffering from the same memory loss Will (Hugh Dancy) is battling—only even more comprehensively because she's been under Lecter's (Mads Mikkelsen) control for two whole years—and yet there was so much more going on in this episode. Following the hour where Lecter took charge of a disintegrating situation, after Will hired an assassin to kill him, this was another episode that underscored just how difficult catching Lecter will be...
What worked brilliantly about this episode is how masterful Lecter's plan appears to be, ignoring the fact this is still "TV Land" and it's clearly absurd how he manages the logistics of matters. Miriam's reappearance was actually more of a hindrance than expected because she's been brainwashed into believing falsities, so Will remains the only person convinced Lecter is the Chesapeake Ripper. Well, with one very notable exception: Dr Chilton (Raúl Esparza). This episode was essentially about Lecter continuing to make himself look whiter than white in everyone's eyes (except for Will), by framing Chilton as the Ripper—seeing as he's been part of the investigation since the time Miriam went missing and has practically the same psychological profile as Lecter. The sequence where Chilton came home to find the half-devoured Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) in his house, before being chloroformed by Lecter when the alerted FBI came knocking, to then wake up and find himself the prime suspect of their slaughter, was a bravura moment for me.
The other major development to the season was the overdue release of Will from incarceration, although it struck me as odd that Jack immediately used him to snoop around the farmhouse they found Miriam. A good portion of the season's been spent making Jack reconsider his "abuse" of Will's mental abilities, and yet he's back working as a consultant so soon? His innocence doesn't change the fact he still has a mental condition that's exacerbated by getting into the minds of killers. Besides, Jack clearly doesn't trust Will's opinion when it comes to the Chesapeake Ripper case now, as the hard evidence is simply more persuasive to him, so you have to question the point in that respect too.
Overall, how many superlatives do you need? It may be low-rated on NBC and marginalised on Sky Living in the UK, but Hannibal is such a rich and rewarding drama that I'm frustrated more people aren't tuning in. Then again, with its grisly subject matter and nightmarish tone, it was always going to be more niche than mainstream... although I'm disappointed the pop cultural cachet of Hannibal "The Cannibal" hasn't worked more in its favour. Maybe people are wrongly too attached to Anthony Hopkins Oscar-winning portrayal to give Mikkelsen a chance (who's actually much better)? More fool them, because this is a fine drama and I'm excited to see where this story takes us... now Will is a free man, and has decided to continue his therapy with Lecter after cleaning himself up and brushing his unkempt hair. Their sessions together should buzz with a very different flavour; as Will is openly convinced Lecter's a killer, Lecter knows everything Will does is intended to bring him to justice. He just won't do it by shooting him, he'll be playing Lecter at his own game—comfortable that Lecter finds him fascinating enough to maintain his mask as a "wrongfully accused" man just trying to help someone who was, once, his only true friend.
- The only real flaw to Lecter's plan is that Dr Chilton has always had a very pronounced limp, so if this ever went to court I'm guessing his defence would argue his medical condition prevents him from being able to kill so many fit and healthy people.
- The relationship between Will and Miriam is interested, as two people who are both victims of Hannibal Lecter (and yet don't agree on that last point). I'm always wondering how the show will involve Clarice Starling's character, if it's allowed to reach that point, and I have a funny feeling it could be along the same lines—because they'll both be characters who mean a great deal to Lecter, and to some extent are his "friends" as he perceives it.