Hannibal Recap: Takiawase (S2E4)

Trigger Warning: This episode dealt with suicide, so we will also be discussing suicide thematically.

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Athena:

So the theme of this episode is suicide. But it’s not an easy or straightforward motif. The show is asking the audience to consider what the cost of the characters’ actions are, and if making choices that lead to their own deaths is a form of suicide. Whether through recklessness or a death wish. And in the end, are the two really so different if the result is the same?

This episode opens with death very close to the surface. Will is in his ‘happy place’ once again, teaching Abigail to fish. When I saw this I asked myself what did it mean? Was this about his guilt and pseuo-fatherly relationship with her? Or was it about something else? He teaches her how to make a ‘blood knot’ and how to fish, since her father only taught her one way of killing. Will gets into explaining the difference between the two. On the surface it’s about the explosive level of violence that goes with a gun, but also Will is now hunting in a subtle, quiet way. He is fishing for ways to hook Hannibal, “the one that got away”. He and Abigail talk about Hannibal as a fish metaphor. Fish are harder to catch the second time around if you mess up the first time around.

Will then tells Abigail to name the bait after someone she loves.There’s an old superstition that if that person loves you back, you’ll catch a fish. She asks what he named his lure, and in a chilling yet emotional moment he says he named it “Abigail”. It’s this moment that clued me into this going beyond his remorse. This episode is about re-examining the past in a different way, to look at suicide rather than death and murder. Abigail of course isn’t to blame for getting eaten by a cannibal. But she definitely bet on the wrong horse. Her choices, unwise though understandable considering the severe level of trauma she was experiencing, led to her death. She chose to stay on a dark path instead of bringing the truth out to the light.

I’d also like to note that talking to Abigail about lures is also significant because the human remains found on Will’s lures are part of what led to his imprisonment. This goes along with the pattern we’ll see in this episode of re-evaluating the past, and connecting the past with the present.

Hannibal - Season 2

Heather:

Even though last week’s episode’s story was one of the most straightforward, I thought this episode’s theme was the most clear cut. Everything was tied into the themes of re-examining the past and examining the option of suicide. Beverly discovers Hannibal is a killer. Chilton discovers Hannibal induced Will’s seizures. Will’s re-examining his relationship with Abigail. Will’s re-examining his memories of his interactions with Hannibal. Crawford re-examines his memories of Bella. Bella decides to kill herself. The murder-of-the-week was all about someone trying to ease other people’s pain by ending their lives.Plot wise it’s all a bit choppy, but thematically it was all tied together quite nicely.

I also thought that opening scene with Will in his happy place talking to Abigail was interesting. I think it’s important for Will to maintain that distinction between what he’s doing (luring Hannibal in) and what Hannibal does (hunts people). I think he’s still worried about how to catch the psychopath without turning into a psychopath himself. After all, since that Abigail is in his mind, she’s really just another part of Will challenging the idea that hunting and fishing are different. When he tries to convince her of the difference, I think he’s really just convincing himself.

Another thing I noticed was a change in the music for this episode. It seemed to me to be more classic horror music with screeching violins and jumpy moments. Previously the music has been frightening, but more ephemeral. I was wondering if maybe that had to do with the fact that the ending fits so much more into the horror genre than into the police procedural genre of the rest of the series.

And oh my gosh, that ending. We know Hannibal doesn’t die, so I’m pretty sure Beverly is going to be dead by next episode. I really hope that’s not the case, though. What did you think?

Hannibal - Season 2

Athena:

I wanna take a second to talk about Beverly and Chilton laying most of their cards on the table with Hannibal. What was up with that? I know that a combination of curiosity and resistance to believe Will’s story makes them let their guard down with Hannibal. But you would think the fact that they are both humoring Will to some degree would mean they would keep their cooperation a secret from Hannibal. Or down play it. If they thought there was even a chance Will was right, why would they show this horrific serial killer their hand? (And what is up with my card metaphors? I don’t even play card games! Except for Magic.)

Bev said to Will “I’ll look for clever details, but not for Hannibal” and I think this really ended up being her undoing. She swung too far in the other direction (discounting Hannibal as a suspect because of Will’s insistence) while still doing exactly that: looking for Hannibal. She proceeded with very little caution. Hannibal I think has been on to her since that moment when he looked at her suspiciously in the Baltimore facility when they were talking to Will. In a life or death situation (even if she thought it was Will’s and not her own), she shouldn’t have been so stubborn. But she is a fallible human blinded by her emotions, and that’s why she was easy prey for Hannibal. She took the bait. But at least that one scientist guy (whose name I still don’t know) saw her and heard her asking about Hannibal and Jack. Her curiosity about his whereabouts could lead to her being discovered sooner rather than later.

I’m pretty sure she’s a goner. And in that moment when she was turning around, before she even saw Hannibal, she knew it too. That scene was super intense! Excellent horror/suspense feel. But Hannibal could go for the surprising route and allow her to be found alive later. But alive how? This episode introduced lobotomies, and from watching the films I know that is a practice Hannibal engages in. Even if her mind is still intact, what about her body? What did she see in that basement? I think whatever she saw is what is going to happen to her. There would be a twisted poetic symmetry in that, and we know Hannibal loves art.

As for Chilton, I’m not as surprised that he revealed so much to Hannibal. Will struck that whole deal by feeding to his ego, and only an ego-driven person could so arrogantly dangle that information in front of someone they suspect could be a killer. But Chilton did surprise me in another way. He says to Hannibal that they are alike in a sense, because they have both manipulated patients. He is of course referring to the alleged Chesapeake Ripper from last season, the man who mutilated his body after Chilton mutilated his mind. But what exactly is Chilton accomplishing or trying to accomplish in this scene? Is he on Hannibal’s side? Not? Somewhere in between? Or just pretending to be somewhere in between? No matter what it’s self-serving, but if it’s the latter than he deserves more credit than I have been giving him. I think maybe Chilton is trying to set it up so no matter what, he’s backing the winning side and he’ll survive. He’s a shitty opportunist, but he is also a survivor who does pretty damn well for himself. After all, he may be a douchebag but he’s also got a prestigious career. What do you think he was doing there?

I really enjoyed the unexpected change in music this episode. I feel like things are changing. The music sets more of a nightmare-ish landscape. And the scene with Beverly at the end definitely harkened to a more classic kind of horror, to me at least. But why? What do you think this change means?

Hannibal - Season 2

Athena:

It was interesting how every step of this crime revolved around suicide. The weird bee guy started talking about drone bees’ weird suicide ejaculation (WEIRD). Then the killer talked about relieving them from their pain. I thought she was an excellent monster of the week type of character for two reasons. One: She was straightforward in her confession, but somewhat complex about her motives. Two: FINALLY ANOTHER FEMALE SERIAL KILLER. And this time it can’t be blamed away by her not being mentally capable of understanding her actions. She definitely got it. But she still felt justified. It was refreshing because it was different.

I love when she said “I didn’t kill him. I quieted his mind so he could die in peace.” These were some of the most intriguing crimes in the series, because she created essentially “the living dead”.

Heather:

I think Beverly thought she could outwit Hannibal, which is why she told him she was investigating the colour-palette killer more. She thought she could lure him in like Will’s doing, but unfortunately she underestimated Hannibal. It’s like, what happened to her is what could happen to Will if he’s not careful.

I’m really curious as to what, exactly, Bev saw in that basement. We know Hannibal hasn’t kept any of the bodies of people we’ve seen him kill. Are there more dead people down there that we didn’t even know he’d killed? I’m also sure Bev is a goner, one way or another. But I also agree with you that considering the emphasis on lobotomy and ‘living dead’ this week, maybe something like that will happen to her.

I definitely think Chilton is trying to ensure he’s on both Will and Hannibal’s side, as you say. I also think that Chilton’s still under the mistaken impression that he’s the one in control of the whole situation. Chilton thinks he knows Hannibal’s secret, so I thought that whole exchange was both a show of support and an implicit threat. He’s telling Hannibal that he’ll keep his secret of malpractice, but in doing so is also letting Hannibal know that he knows something he could use against him.

I think we’re going to start seeing more explicit moments of Hannibal’s homicidal side. Last season, a lot of the meat we saw Hannibal cook wasn’t obviously human. We, the audience, knew it was but we often didn’t see him butcher it. And even when we did see him butchering it, it was still something like a lung, which is not easily recognisable as human. This season we’ve already seen him butcher and prepare a human leg, which was obviously human. This episode we saw his basement of horrors. The show is definitely moving more toward the horror genre than before.

The only time I’ve ever turned away from this show was when the killer this week was going to drive that metal stake through the guy’s eye. Which I thought was kind of interesting. The serial killer this week was, as you say, all about trying to bring a peaceful death (or living death) to her victims. Yet the method ended up being one of the only moments in the series that I was just unable to watch. It’s the fact that she was driving the stake through his eyes.

Which brings me back to the repeated motif of a reflected scene in Will’s eyes. I think it’s happened in each episode so far. They keep going back to that idea from the first episode of the eye as a mirror.

Oh, what did you think about the fact that Hannibal saved Bella? And then the fact that he showed her the coin he tossed before deciding to save her or not.

Hannibal - Season 2

Athena:

I loved everything about Bella in this episode. There’s not a whole lot of love and affection on this show, and it was so sweet to get that small dose with Bella & Jack even if it is while she’s at death’s door.

I think that was important because it helped the audience to empathize with her decision to take all her morphine and attempt to kill herself. This scene raises moral questions about suicide. Is it okay to end your own suffering that way? What if you say it’s for someone else? What about euthanasia (I’m not sure about the legality in the US, but I know it’s a hotly debated subject pretty much everywhere)?

I loved that Hannibal tossed a coin! It was so sweet yet misguided that Bella ended up in his office. I was scared of the decisions he was planning to make. I think in the end though regardless of the coin toss he would have saved her, because he would benefit more from having Jack essentially owe him in this capacity.

The thing is I think Hannibal likes to think he’s free from obligations and can leave things up to chance (as he expressed to Bella earlier, saying that knowing he could die at any moment was liberating), but that’s not true. He is as deeply affected and driven by his circumstances as anyone else. Hannibal doesn’t just make all these decisions on his own free from influence. I imagine that’s part of why we didn’t see exactly what the coin landed on, because ultimately it didn’t matter.

Side note: I knew from reading Silence of the Lambs that Bella was going to still be alive, if barely later. I was wondering how much the show would deviate from that. I’m excited to see what Fuller does with the source material. I hope he is willing to change or challenge things when necessary. Those books were written a long time ago, and the actors really own their characters in an original and distinct way.

So takiawase. It’s vegetable dish that is served with either meat, fish, or tofu. But each ingredient is cooked separately. What do you think the implications are for this episode? For the future?

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Heather:

That name is just perfect for this episode. It really was a bunch of different story elements with only Hannibal appearing in every one. Beverly is mostly on her own working the colour palette case. Crawford is mostly busy with his wife. Will is either in his head or interacting with Chilton. It was a lot of separate stories. So that fits the idea of a dish where each element is cooked separately.

I think it’s interesting it’s a dish served with either meat or fish, considering the scene at the beginning where Will made the distinction between hunting and fishing. I don’t know if that’s coincidence or if there’s meant to be some sort of meaning, there.

When I saw Hannibal flip the coin, I thought for sure it was to decide whether he was going to eat Bella or not. I had no idea she was going to live through the episode. I’m so glad she did, though, because I really like her scenes with Crawford. It does a lot to ground the story in something more ordinary than all of these outrageous murders. Though, it’s interesting that the thing that grounds the story is still death, just a more ordinary death.

I like the idea that Hannibal is more touched by the people he’s interacting with than he will admit. It ties back to his interactions with Will and the fact that I think he really thinks Will is his friend. He just thinks that manipulating everyone is something that friends do.

Athena:

I’d also like to point out that we didn’t see Hannibal eat this episode. I think that’s potentially tied to the food theme. Maybe this episode we saw the separate ingredients collected, so to speak. The meal is yet to come. Whatever it is, I’m loving the horror of it all and I can’t wait to see it get worse.

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R.I.P., at least for now, Beverly Katz.

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