written by Scott Nimerfo, Bryan Fuller & Steve Lightfoot | directed by Vincenzo Natali
After a very serialised and fast-paced run of episodes, it's reasonable for Hannibal to have a slower transitional episode in "Su-zakana"—which went back to the show's default 'killer-of-the-week' format, while slyly introducing a new storyline I assume's going to become a big factor in the remaining episodes.
This week, Will (Hugh Dancy) was helping Jack (Laurence Fishburne) with another bizarre murder case in a stables. A dead woman was discovered inside the womb of a dead horse, sutured inside as if her discovery by a vet was itself a "rebirth". Later, forensics would discover the corpse itself contains a living bird contained inside the chest cavity.
Once the episode had introduced Peter (Jeremy Davies) as a bird-loving man who's suffering from a mental disability after getting kicked in the head by a horse, it felt obvious he was the killer. Luckily, it also felt a little too obvious, so there was enough doubt to make this story interesting. Once Peter's social worker (Chris Diamantopoulos) got involved, the culprit's identity was sufficiently hazy to be entertaining, but there was still a feeling that the case itself wasn't much of a mind-bender. It was an episode designed to give audiences some breathing space after the kinetic madness of the past month's episodes, and I can appreciate that.
Of particular interest in "Su-zakana" was the introduction of Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle), the abused twin sister of her brother Mason—a character from the book and film Hannibal; there introduced as the facially-disfigured only surviving victim of Dr Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and played by an unrecognisable Gary Oldman. I'm excited to see what this TV series does with the character of Mason Verger, back in the days when he himself was an active and handsome serial killer who drinks the tears of his victims. The fact we know he'll be played by the excellent Michael Pitt (Funny Games, Boardwalk Empire) only adds to the sense of anticipation. I've read a few interviews where creator Bryan Fuller has described Mason as The Joker to Lecter's Batman, so I'm hoping we do indeed have a worthy adversary for our eponymous villain.
Overall, "Su-zakana" was certainly one of the weaker episodes of this second season, but still very enjoyable and blessed with another of Jeremy Davies twitchy performances (post-Lost and Justified). I'm also enjoying the loaded interactions between Will and Lecter right now; as both understand they're still enemies, but that their little dance is a lot more complicated than usual. Will is still alone in his firm belief Lecter's a cannibalistic killer (especially since Dr Chilton was so expertly framed), and Lecter can't yet be open about his own guilt in front of Will, but there's a suggestion that may change. Plus there was the great scene between Will and Jack as they sat ice fishing together, with Will essentially comparing the fish to Lecter and laying down his plan to catch him ("you gotta make him bite even if he isn't hungry").
- This was actually one of the funnier episodes of Hannibal, too. The script got a lot of laughs from the weirdness of people being bundled into dead horses. I especially enjoyed Will's question "is your social worker inside that horse?", or the advice when said social worker crawled out of a horse's stomach ("you might want to crawl back in there if you know what's good for you")
- You may recognise actress Katherine Isabelle from her many genre credits, like Being Human, Freddy vs Jason, Ginger Snaps, and American Mary. Her character of Margot Verger is a clear divergence from source material, in that she isn't a body-builder.
- This episode was directed by Vincenzo Natali, who made Cube, Cypher and Splice. Those movies all have a similarly dark and twisted style to Hannibal, so it's little wonder they signed him up to direct an episode. Hopefully he'll do more.