By Ben Lane
FULL SPOILERS FOR HANNIBAL FOLLOW!!!
Let’s just get this out in the open: Hannibal is the best network television show currently on air. No show airing on network TV (NBC, CBS, etc.) come anywhere near this beast of a series. Heck, it even rivals a few cable shows. And what exactly sets it apart from the others? Its seemingly unending streak of great episodes is something. Yes, of all eighteen episodes of this spectacular show so far, not one has been underwhelming. Episode after episode arrives, and it delivers every time. And with “Mukozuke,” that statement holds up to the fullest. From start to finish, just like the series as a whole, this episode seemed to serve as a direct definition of the word “intense.”
As the cliffhanger at the end of “Takiawase” indicated, it wasn’t too likely Beverly was going to get out Hannibal Lecter’s basement too easily. But given everything this show has thrown at us, I really didn’t expect this episode to reveal her being dead so bluntly and mercilessly. This episode starts right off with the aftermath of the climactic showdown between the two in Lecter’s basement, and now his “design” is on full display as her body is publicly set up in rows. Rows. Rows, as he froze her body, split it down the middle… multiple times. It was a devastating scene to witness. Even more so devastating was Hannibal’s face as he fashionably served himself a plate of Beverly’s kidneys. I think this was the first time I actually said aloud, “You’re a sick bastard.” With scenes like this, creator Bryan Fuller’s vision of the series along with Mads Mikkelsen’s idiosyncratic take on the character, Hannibal is slowly becoming what is sure to be one of TV’s greatest villains. He’s not there quite yet, but as the series progresses, just you watch.
On the opposite side of things, it was very interesting to see Will Graham’s story circulate. The obvious stand up and cheer moment of this episode, as far as awesome nods to previous Hannibal Lecter adaptations go, was Will’s transportation upon request to see the body as Beverly. As they fastened him up in the straight-jacket, tied him to the dolly, and put the facial mask over his mouth, the Silence of the Lambs memories came flooding back. Graham is currently in the predicament we all know Hannibal will eventually be in by season 4 (which will be based on Red Dragon), but still, the nods Bryan Fuller throws at us until then are simply awesome. Also with Graham, we find out the worker at the asylum (played by a terrific Jonathan Tucker) is in fact his own murderous admirer, responsible for killing the bailiff- but not the judge. It was a shocker for sure, and it was very cool to see Will take advantage and ask him to kill Hannibal.
Interesting things also happened with Freddie this week, as we see a bit of a Red Dragon-esque element come into play with Will requesting her website to be used to contact his admirer, prior to his knowledge of the asylum worker. Also, a standout episode for Jack Crawford. Why? Nothing major happened with him, on screen, but it’s what you feel with him that makes it matter. Hannibal saved his wife’s life, but with Will’s accusations of Hannibal’s guilt and now the grisly death of Beverly, the episode concluded with the notion that Jack is seriously contemplating what all this actually means. We know what will inevitably go down between the two, as that stunning season 2 opening scene showcased.
Then the third act of the episode happens, and it was very unique as a viewer. We know Hannibal isn’t about to die. We know the future that awaits him (unless you haven’t read any of the books, or seen any of the movies. If you haven’t, the suspense must have almost killed you!) But somehow, the show still managed to make me feel uneasy. I had no clue what was going to happen. When Hannibal was sinking to the bottom of the pole, I was like, “What??” Then the hanging scene made me almost feel sympathetic for Hannibal. And that’s why this show is so good. You feel for these characters. It’s almost scary how much you do.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Tonight’s episode of Hannibal is the best episode of season 2 so far. As the opening scene of episode 1 foreshadowed what is to come, the advancing of this season and the interplay between Jack and Hannibal become more and more intense. Will has a nice Silence of the Lambs moment in the straight-jacket, which will inevitably holster Hannibal later in the series. And the death of Beverly served as a haunting reminder of how disastrous this series can be. Another excellent episode of NBC’S Hannibal displays its inevitable rise to greatness.
9.5 / 10