Hannibal Recap: Hassun (s2E3)

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Athena:

This episode in some ways was a lot more straightforward than most. We knew it would be all about the trial. But I still think they managed to keep it interesting. It was my least favourite episode of the season because I had clear expectations, but it was by no means a weak one.

I really like the utilization of dream sequences/hallucinations for Will. I’m glad that carried over from the last season. It’s still not clear what exactly is his imagination and what is the effect of previous or even current illness. What did it mean when he electrocuted himself? Why did it reverse so it could be done once again? I think it has something to do with the fact that if his plan fails him he could end up being his own executioner. Especially with his accusations of Hannibal. What do you think?

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That opening juxtaposition of Will and Hannibal getting dressed was total fan service. I wish we had seen them a little less clothing for a little longer. Thankfully all the Fannibals on tumblr seized the opportunity to meme that shit up.

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Speaking of fan service, in some ways that was what the trial was to Hannibal. Having his accomplishments paraded out for everyone to be appalled by, indirectly being called “the smartest person in the room” (he couldn’t even conceal his pleasure). What were your thoughts on the trial?

Heather:

I also thought it was interesting that his dream was of him electrocuting himself and not Hannibal. Perhaps it’s just a manifestation of his worry that, as you say, if his plan fails he’ll end up imprisoned forever or sentenced to death. But then, that was a pretty intense and complicated scene to be portraying something so straightforward. I thought maybe it was meant to indicate that, regardless of how it turns out, the Will from Season 1 is going to be gone. As in, Will has been changed so much from the events of Season 1, that he is no longer the person he used to be. Maybe that’s why it reversed and went forward again, to represent that there’s nothing that can change Will back to the man he used to be.

I also like the hallucinations and dreams. I noticed that the stag and the stag-man are totally different. They’re not, like, representations of the same thing. The stag led Will out of his cell and then Hannibal invited him back into it. And usually the stag-man represents Hannibal, whereas the stag is clearly not meant to be Hannibal. So does the stag represent someone else? Maybe Will himself? Or maybe the stag just represents the truth?

My thoughts on the trial were that it was kinda unrealistic. I totally understand why Hannibal and Crawford and the rest didn’t want to consider the possibility that the person who killed the bailiff was a copycat. However, it makes no sense to me that Will’s defence lawyer was willing to change Will’s defence tactics without first making sure there wasn’t some glaring piece of evidence that suggested this was a copycat. Will’s lawyer is so awesome with everything else, this just stuck out as rather improbable.

Plus, kind of like what I was saying last week,  there is no way Crawford’s team would be the one to investigate the bailiff and the judge’s murder. That’s particularly true considering everyone keeps talking about how much attention this is getting and how much Crawford is under the microscope.

I thought the character interaction at the trial was really great, though. I particularly liked watching Hannibal testify on behalf of Will. I wonder if Hannibal is the one who killed the judge and bailiff, but purposefully did so differently than when he killed the people Will’s on trial for. Like, maybe he wanted to make sure he’d be able to testify. He doesn’t want to be given credit for the murders, because then that’d mean prison. But maybe he also can’t stand that someone else is taking credit for his work, even though Hannibal’s the one who set Will up.

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Athena:

I’ve been wondering myself for a while what exactly the stag is meant to represent. It’s an omen of some kind, and feels more curious and mysterious than the obviously threatening stag man. Maybe it’s the part of Will that can envision and solve crimes in a way no one else can.

I haven’t had enough experience with real life trials to say how improbable that was. I agree that it seems unlikely, but at the same time it was a gamble that could have paid off in a big way if someone else made a major mistake. It would also have gained Will the most freedom. Also I love Will’s lawyer. He’s kind of hilarious. One of my favourite moments is when he says: “This isn’t law, this is advertising.” It’s very insightful. The trial really has nothing to do at all with Will’s innocence or guilt. It’s about who can create the most powerful image of Will to sell to other people.

Also agreed that Crawford’s team would not be involved in any capacity. But this is a leap I am willing to make for the show. It keeps things interesting and keeps the crime immediate for us.

I don’t know how much of it is Hannibal’s ego (though I am sure that is a part of it) as much as he just wants to keep things interesting. If the case closes, so does a chapter of his life. I don’t think he’s willing to let that go, and I think if he’s afraid of anything it’s boredom. Not getting caught, not even necessarily the loneliness he is obviously struggling with now that he has lost both Will and Bedelia as friends, but monotony. If he doesn’t keep things interesting, who else will?

This season Jack is turning out to be one of my favourite characters. As he’s wavering on his own views on morality, we’re seeing so much possibility in him. He had some great interactions in this episode.  His conversations with Nixon’s character really demonstrate how lost he is feeling in this case. She tells him “If you can’t represent your own beliefs, represent the bureau’s” but it is apparent that he’s not sure what either of those are. It’s a strength that he’s not just giving up or willing to compromise, even if it looks like weakness on the outside.

Jack also had an excellent scene with Hannibal, where Hannibal congratulates him on his brave stance for Will in the face of “professional suicide” and sort of persuades him to choose life. Jack has grown tired of the professional and personal drama, stating: “There is something appealing of walking away from the noise. I am content to let the chips fall.” We finally get an update on the situation with his dying wife, and Hannibal correctly picks up on Jack’s rising desire to just give up when she’s gone. We’re seeing Jack at his most vulnerable, and Hannibal elegantly manipulates this just enough to keep Jack on the path of the living. Even though Hannibal of course has his own motivations, I think he’s actually doing Jack a favour. He wouldn’t be happy in the long run if he quit, and he can (and will if you know the story) do a lot of good in the future.

Jack: “I’ve given my life to death.”
Hannibal: “And now death has followed you home. Come to live in your house.”

Those lines really struck me, not just because they’re so eloquent, but also because of the concept of unheimlich. While I am pretty sure Hannibal is not German, him being a European foreigner who presents an invasive but still unknown threat really clicks with that concept. In this series Hannibal is the unheimlich. That is part of what is just so unsettling about him. He is in people’s homes, their lives, so close to the surface of normalcy but really existing beneath it.

What do you think of Alana in this episode, and her relationship with Will?

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Heather:

I thought Alana’s story this episode was an interesting twist on the “true love will save you” story. Instead of her love for Will saving him, it became a hindrance. She’s so desperate to create a defence for Will, she’s unable to entertain the possibility that someone else committed those murders. She’s just taking the evidence that they have (which all points to Will) and trying to figure out a way to reconcile the Will she knows with the Will who killed people.

I also loved the moment when she’s going over her testimony with Will’s lawyer and he makes clear that she cannot let her feelings for Will be known. And as much as that change in defence annoyed me, I did like how it took Alana completely out of the game. It’s not that I dislike Alana’s character. It’s more that because show has characterised her as nothing more than a love interest, I’m glad the show at least understands the story limits of that sort of role.

At the end of the episode she says, flat out, that what she wants is to save him. And yet that is precisely what she is unable to do.

Athena:

I’d also like to point out that team “Get Will Fried” consists of some questionable characters. I’m glad Freddie Lounds made an appearance. I enjoy her character even though she is kind of a shitty person. She’s had it in for Will since day 1. I like that the only thing Will’s lawyer brought up was that she had been sued for libel 6 times. And then there’s Chilton. I think it’s fair to say that Chilton is a giant walking anus, but in the eyes of the court as a doctor he seems reliable. He is accurate in his portrayal of the killer, but so blinded by his own ego that he doesn’t realize (nor seem to want to even try to investigate further) that he’s diagnosing the wrong man. The word intelligent psychopath gets thrown around a lot. Even though I think Will is smart and talented, I don’t think he’s a genius.

Chilton did have one of my favourite lines though: “Saving lives is just as arousing as ending them.” This does seem to be true for Hannibal. He is not only interested in orchestrating deaths but conducting lives. He kept Abigail around for quite a long time.

Now onto the copycat killer. Is it Hannibal? It seems likely that it would be, but also for some reason it just doesn’t quite feel like his work. Is that intentional? Very unsettling for me when Hannibal said “There may very well be another killer” and Will replied “I want there to be.” Is this Hannibal’s twisted gift for Will and distraction for himself? Even though they ruled out that it was the same killer, the fact that the details of the crime were things never released to the public will undoubtedly become important later.

Heather:

I also thought that line of Chilton’s about how saving lives can be as arousing as ending them was great. It almost looked like Chilton was speaking from experience, to be honest. He gives off so many creepy vibes, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were also a killer. We already know he’s severely lacking empathy, based on his actions last season.

The question of who the copycat is has been rolling over in my mind. We know it had to be someone with access to information that wasn’t released to the public. We also know that Hannibal had a lot invested in how those killings were perceived by the FBI and Will. We also know that when Will asked why the killer might want to be seen, Hannibal replied, “He cares what happens to you.” It really seems like Hannibal committed the copycat murders and purposefully made them different enough so that the FBI would think there were two different killers.

Athena: 

My final thoughts? This episode continued on the theme of the lines between art and violence blurring. When Will put himself in the mind of the killer he said: “He is merely the ink from which flows my poem….this is my design.” To which Hannibal said “Are you going to let his love go to waste” (in terms of using the copycat killings as part of his defense). I should also add the boundaries are blurred between art, violence, and homoeroticism. Have you noticed that? Not even just between Hannibal and Will (I recently learned what the term “shipping” means), but other killers and victims in this series. Maybe it just seems more pronounced because I don’t find the violence involving women in this series to be heavily sexualized.

Heather:

You know, that’s true about the violence in Hannibal being a bit homoerotic. I hadn’t even thought about it. Now that I think about it, I think that’s due to the intimate nature of violence in the show. In Hannibal, people kill for very personal reasons. Even Hannibal, the intelligent psychopath, has a deeply personal connection to his main victim (Will).

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Heather:

And that’s it…sorry this week’s was a bit less involved than last week’s…but then the episode was a bit more straightforward too.

Athena:

Yeah there wasn’t a lot of meat to this one.

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