Hannibal: Tome-Wan (S2E12), or What The Fuck Did I Just Watch?

WARNING:

DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER IF YOU ARE NOT CAUGHT UP OR ARE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH GORE.

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Mason. Mr. Verger if you’re nasty.

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Oh boy. This episode.

Athena:

I googled Hannibal and I saw it’s Rotten Tomato season 2 rating has gone up to 100%. Well earned. These last two episodes have been some next level shit.

“Ko No Mono” and “Tome-Wan” have been exercises in cruelty. What Mason did to his sister was unbelievable. It was arguably the most brutal thing that has happened on that show. Now people may say “But did you see Mason’s face?” Mason is a horrible, horrible person. Margot was a woman who had a difficult life and wanted to have a baby, now that baby is gone and she will never be able to have another. Mason made sure the doctors left a big, ugly scar (to add to the collection she appears to have) so she would never forget. Obviously nobody ever deserves to have be ‘persuaded’ to feed their own face to dogs and themselves, but if any character on this show had earned such brutality it’s Mason.

Speaking of Mason, those scenes with hallucinating were incredible. Deeply unsettling. Somehow those skittery shots captured Hannibal’s sadistic side so well. He was smiling while drugging Mason and convincing him to carve into himself like if he were a pig. It’s the most unreserved we’ve really seen Hannibal. Even when he is fighting, like against the thugs who brought him to Mason in the first place, Hannibal usually has a place face and an unperturbed state of being. A tasering couldn’t open him up the way having total control over his ‘rude’ patient did. Also it was interesting that Mason saw him as a pig man, similar to the freaky stag man that Will imagines. What do you think that says about Hannibal and his fixation on the animal nature he perceives in human beings?

When Will walked up to his home and heard the noises inside, I immediately had an awful feeling. I suspected that Hannibal was in Will’s house, and I was correct. Is it really possible to give someone the right combination of drugs to make them be lucid enough to talk but broken enough to eat their own nose? That’s a question I never really want to know the answer to. I don’t even really know what to say about this scene. It was the best horror scene I’ve ever seen on a TV series. That rivaled a lot of things I’ve seen in horror films. It was so hard to watch them talk with Mason just slicing away in the background. So basically it was perfect.

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Athena:

“Why did you tell Mason Verger I would want to kill him?” 

“I was curious what would happen.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself. What did you think of that opening therapy scene? I was shocked that Will had been so honest with Hannibal about turning Mason against him. But at the same time, Will would have easily been caught in a lie. Will said “I’m just pointing out the snare around your neck. What you do about it is up to you.” But was there ever really a snare around Hannibal’s neck?  Did Will do anything besides speed up the process? It was eerie when Will imagined the exact scene Hannibal would be facing later, him strung up by the pigs. He was totally expressionless, and they were staring intently at one another. Who’s really in control, even in his mind?

That scene had some of the best dialogue. Hannibal on killing Mason: “Mason is discourteous. A discourtesy is unspeakably ugly to me” and “Whenever feasible one should always try to eat the rude.” Hannibal was much more explicit than ever before on who he really is. He was very conversational about his murderous side. I’d say it’s reckless, but nobody can do anything with just talk. As Jack says later in the episode, Will hasn’t provided anything tangible to get him on yet.

Now that I think about it, this opening scene had some unsettling Hannibal moments too. After Will envisioned Hannibal’s death, they just sat around amiably smiling while weirdly hopeful music played in the background. What is that? What was going on there? I found that to be very off-putting and creepy.

Hannibal - Season 2

Heather:

That opening therapy scene was surprising. It was the closest to being open and honest we’ve seen Hannibal. And Will’s being the most straightforward we’ve ever seen him with Hannibal. That moment when Will says, “I was curious what would happen,” was somewhat chilling. Even though we know he’s actually working for Jack and trying to set Hannibal up, I think part of him was actually telling the truth with that line. On the one hand, Will wants to see Hannibal caught. On the other, I think he’s interested in watching Hannibal react to the situations Will sets up.

I think Hannibal and Will have come to a mutual understanding of each other. Hannibal understands that Will is still trying to take him out. Will understands that Hannibal is still trying to convince him to kill someone in cold blood. That’s what that final moment in the opening therapy scene was about. Hannibal knew that Will had just fantasized about killing him again and I think Hannibal was happy with that.

It’s a bit unfortunate show is constrained by the need for Will to maintain his position as the protagonist. There are some things we know Will won’t do because doing them would make him irredeemable to the audience. We, the audience, could be pretty sure he hadn’t killed Freddie and we knew he wasn’t going to kill Mason. There are certain lines Will won’t cross, though he crosses many others that most protagonists would steer clear of. I say it’s unfortunate, because I’d kind of love to watch a few episodes of Will and Hannibal actually teaming up and wrecking havoc.

Anyway, I actually had to turn away from the scene with Mason cutting on his face. I think this is the second time I’ve had to turn away while watching Hannibal. Both times it’s had something to do with faces. I’ve no problem with blood and gore, except when it comes to faces.

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Hannibal - Season 2

Athena:

It’s perfect that you bring that up, the way the show is constrained by the source material which dictates Will’s role as protagonist. I’ve been thinking about that too. I really would love to see how far Will would go. To be honest I think he very likely could wreak some serious havoc with Hannibal before catching him, if it wasn’t for the fact that he needs to still be a lighter shade of morally gray. The way Dancy plays him I don’t feel like that would be going outside of the bounds of his character. I’ve heard that in the books Will goes down some type of dark path, so maybe he will do something exceptionally bad before he definitively steps back into the light. The show is still excellent regardless, but I wish they would push even more boundaries.

They really must have a new level of understanding, because Will didn’t hesitate to free Hannibal from Mason’s hanging contraption. We knew of course he would, and that if he hadn’t Mason would have fed them both to the pigs. We didn’t need that confirmed from his mutilated mouth. Nonetheless, one man (even the ripper) against all those other armed men could have gone differently. Will has a total faith and confidence in him that would be very upsetting if I didn’t want them to be somehow make it work as BFFs. In one of their therapy sessions right before they discuss co-dependence, and Will calls him out on creating a relationship around it: “You don’t want me to have anything in my life that isn’t you.” Hannibal took away Abigail, the baby before it ever even really became one, and alienated him from all his friends and coworkers. And of course they discuss this over a glass of wine, further tossing aside the lines between therapy appointment and friendly visit. Hannibal notes “You’ve been applying yourself to my perspective, as I’ve been applying myself to yours.” And Will brings it around to loneliness, and how they are alone save one another. Even with one another really. While I know that Will is trying to play the role of manipulator, but perhaps he is manipulating by using the truth. Who will he be after Hannibal is caught? Who will he have? I think he’ll be alone in a way he’s never really been alone before. How do you come back from that?

Speaking of alone, is it safe to assume Hannibal has been dumped? I was hoping we would see that, and Alana wouldn’t just get thrown to the sidelines.

Did you notice one of the only two jokes in this episode (humour is scant in this series for obvious reasons) happened when Mason’s thugs came for Hannibal? Matteo, who was only relevant because of his death, pulled the scalpel out of his leg and started to bleed out. That was when Hannibal said “You shouldn’t have done that.” The other comedic moment came when Mason said he was hungry and Hannibal told him to eat his own nose. He said he had the taste and consistency of chicken gizzards, burped, and said he was full of himself. That was some seriously black humour. I laughed at both moments. Did you? Do you find the brief, dark moments of comedy on this series work?

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Heather:

Dancy definitely plays Will as dark enough to go full-murderer, if the show would allow the character to do that. I totally agree it is still an excellent show, though. To play devil’s advocate against myself though, maybe if they let Will become fully dark, we’d grow bored of the show. Maybe it’s that tension between Will’s desire to be good and Hannibal’s nurturing of Will’s darker nature that draws us in.

When Will told Hannibal that line about Hannibal not wanting Will to have anyone else in his life, really the first thing I thought of was a classic abusive relationship. And, of course, that’s what it is. Will and Hannibal are both very alone, and Hannibal does his best to further isolate Will and make it so Hannibal is the only person Will can turn to. Actually, if it weren’t for Jack, I wonder if Will would fall fully into Hannibal’s thrall. Jack’s the one person Hannibal can’t really touch directly (only indirectly through Miriam).

I was also quite disappointed to see that we had no Alana this episode. Now we have no idea what her reaction to discovering the truth about Hannibal was. I imagine we’ll get something next episode, but I doubt it will really be enough. No Freddie this episode either and Margot’s role was minimal. It was very much a boy’s club.

As for humour, well I absolutely love a dark comedy. I let out a giggly snort at Hannibal’s “You shouldn’t have done that.” Even as he’s been tased and captured, Hannibal’s still got his wit. And even though I wasn’t watching at the time, I did chuckle a bit at the bit where Mason said he was full of himself. I find the dark humour usually works pretty well. If it were always serious and morose, I don’t know that I’d enjoy the show as much. Something that initially turned me off the new Battlestar Galactica was that it lacked any humour. I definitely need a bit of levity in my shows. The great thing about Hannibal’s dark humour, I think, is that it’s just low key enough that it doesn’t feel like comic relief.

Hannibal - Season 2

Athena:

A boys club. Definitely. We keep coming back to that as the main flaw. I’m really hoping next season they address that by fleshing out more female characters and keeping them around. There’s still a Katz-shaped hole that needs filling.

There were also now be a Mason-shaped hole in the series. Though he wasn’t around much, I was really enjoying the dynamic between him and Hannibal. You could see Hannibal could barely contain his annoyance when Mason put his feet onto the desk and stabbed the chair like a petulant child. Unsurprisingly, the vandalism of objects appeared to anger Hannibal more than when Mason held a knife to his throat. I’ve never really thought of Hannibal as particularly materialistic, but it makes sense that he would value the sanctity of the objects that establish him in society over his own flesh, which he must always disguise.

I made another connection between Will and Hannibal. When Will speaks to Jack in his office he tells him “Hannibal has a certain personality style we can all learn from, in moderation of course.” Jack seems rightfully concerned, which he says is about the lack of tangible results. But obviously there is more to it than that. Jack reminds him “Don’t let empathy confuse what you want with what Lecter wants.” I think Jack hits the nail on the head. I wonder how much of this role is seeping into his psyche. Is he totally sure of his boundaries with Hannibal? Does he really know what he wants anymore? From the preview of the finale I suspect that whole episode is going to hinge on these questions.

This was also the scene that reintroduced us to Bedelia. Jack says he’s a good fisherman too. While he’s running a team (department?) of FBI agents, we haven’t actually seen him do a whole lot yet besides influence people in his own way. He guides his employees to find answers, to push themselves, to solve cases. In some ways he’s the anti-Hannibal. He is parallel to Hannibal in Will’s life, leading him down a certain path. But we haven’t actually seen Jack produce a lot of his own tangible results on the show besides really effective delegation. To reel Bedelia in was definitely a good one. To be honest I didn’t think we would necessarily see her again this season. Maybe the next, after Hannibal is caught (assuming the next season has him imprisoned, and not on the run somewhere, I don’t know whether or not season 3 is solely Red Dragon territory), but I thought she would reappear later of her own volition.

It was great to have another female character get some spotlight, it would just be nice if it was more than one woman per episode. But Bedelia’s screen time was excellent. It was great to get insight into Hannibal’s mind from someone who is his professional equal. I was surprised when she said to Will that she hadn’t revealed enough at the hospital. She was so much more forthcoming than I anticipated. To Will she said “Some psychiatrists are so hungry for insight, that they may try to manufacture it. How deadly that can be for the patient who believes them” and then “What Hannibal does is not coercion, it’s persuasion.” It never occurred to me to frame it in this light, but that is one of the major reasons why Hannibal hasn’t been caught, and also offers insight on his ‘unconventional’ methods. It’s not just about creating chaos and nurturing violence, it’s about preventing normalcy and boredom. He’s also obviously very interested in human reactions and relationships, but he’s not the type of person who is capable of having them in a normal way. And in this she revealed the way to catch Hannibal: “Hannibal can get lost in his own self-congratulation…” Even in the face of death he has been totally confident. He talks about god and death in grandiose, poetic ways. She’s right, for all his foresight and cunning he’s carrying around an enormous ego. Will is nudging him in the right direction to trip right over this. You can see by the end of the episode in his conversation with Hannibal about mythology, friendship, and Jack.

I was shocked by the reveal that she had killed her patient. Bedelia never struck me as the violent type, which really speaks to Hannibal’s influence. But from the way it was framed in earlier episodes it seemed like he had more of a hand in it. Do you think that’s all there was to Bedelia and Hannibal’s relationship and the murder? Is something being left out?

What did you think of Bedelia’s conversation with Jack about lonelieness and Hannibal’s influence on Will?

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Heather:

There really is a Katz-shaped hole in the show. Without her, the whole thing feels so much more man-centric, even though there are other women characters.

What was so weird about watching Mason and Hannibal interact, for me, was that most of the time I really just wanted to reach into the television and smack Mason across the face. Or at least tell him to shut up.

For all that Hannibal is a murder, he maintains a high level of decorum. Mason, on the other hand, is ridiculously bombastic and entitled. I think it’s that lack of respect for the order of things that Hannibal took offence to. Like, by putting his feet up and stabbing Hannibal’s chair, Mason was indicating he didn’t respect Hannibal’s position as a psychiatrist.

Also, we see Hannibal taking offence at someone who is actually behaving in an animalistic way. Even Will says that Mason is a pig and deserves to be bacon. Hannibal talks about the blurred line between animal and human, but I think he cares more about that distinction than he lets on.

As for Bedelia, I was also quite glad to see her come back. Her character is so difficult to read as she plays everything so close to the chest. She speaks in such a deliberate manner, I never really know what she’s feeling. So when she was talking to Will about how Hannibal persuaded her to kill her patient, I definitely felt like she was leaving something out. She was just too matter-of-fact about it. Despite what she was saying, there wasn’t any real hint of regret in her voice. It was chilling, really.

Part of what makes Hannibal and Will so tragic as a partnership is that it’s come about because they’re both so lonely. I mean, yes, Hannibal is also a manipulative murderous cannibal. But he’s also just really lonely. At one point Will says to Hannibal, “this is unsustainable,” and it just sounded so much like the sort of thing one might say to a lover in a doomed relationship. Will says it’s unsustainable because eventually someone will figure out Hannibal is a killer. But it’s also unsustainable because mutual loneliness is not a way to start a healthy relationship (or friendship).

Will and Hannibal keep talking about fatherhood and children. Really I wonder if they’re both just searching for family.

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Athena:

That’s an interesting thought. Hannibal lost his sister, and appears to have no other surviving family members that he keeps in contact with. He also sort of tried to give Will a new type of family, but then took that away from him so nobody would be more important to Will than Hannibal. A fixation on fatherhood does go along with the increasing man-centric content.

I wish Margot had gotten more screen time this episode. When Hannibal asked Will “Murder or mercy?” and then broke Mason’s neck, I was sure he was screwing Margot out of her inheritance. It was great to see her little moment of triumph at the end. It had a feeling of closure. Is the end of the Vergers? I’m positive Mason wants to take revenge, and it would be interesting to see him try.

A big theme in this episode was loneliness. Bedelia tells Jack that he only thinks he’s about to catch Hannibal, because that’s what Hannibal wants. She says this primarily because she is not convinced of Will’s loyalty to Jack, and suggests that perhaps loneliness and persuasion have Will leaning more towards Hannibal. At the end when Hannibal is talking about Achilles and mythology, he is most interested in “battle-tested friendships”. He takes Will’s bait about revealing himself to his ‘friend’ Jack. But I think he really does feel that Jack is his friend, and I don’t think he is buying that Will says that with no motivations. I doubt Hannibal believes Will wants Jack dead. So what other motivator does he have but friendship and loneliness? I’m very excited to see how this turns out in the finale.

There were moments of symmetry between this episode and the last. Mason wore those terrifying red scrubs as he told Margot he was going to render her forever childless. Then Margot’s last scene featured her wearing a vibrant red. In the last episode we saw Alana sharing her misgivings about Hannibal and Will with Jack, and this time we saw Bedelia doing it. I think these moments signify shifts in the power dynamics. Alana now holds virtually no power over these two men and their relationship and Bedelia is the one who holds the key to understanding them. This is fitting considering the preview of the next episode includes a weird meshing of Jack and Hannibal’s faces together, showing them on an even playing field (perhaps for the first time ever). Did you notice any other moments of continuity?

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Heather:

When Hannibal broke Mason’s neck, I thought he’d killed him. So, I was definitely thinking they’d taken Margot’s agency in the whole situation away from her. However, as you say, considering he’s still alive but helpless, Margot’s definitely come out on top. At least, she’s out on top so long as Mason’s bedridden. The issue of revenge is interesting in that relationship, I think. Margot wants revenge on Mason and Mason wants revenge on Hannibal and Will. Mind, I think Mason deserves whatever Margot gives him (considering he’s a fictional character and not a real human being).

As for moments of continuity, I definitely noticed that the show was shifting from Alana to Bedelia as keys to understanding Hannibal. And I definitely think the show is setting it up so that Jack and Hannibal are on even footing when it comes to their persuasive power over Will. When it comes right down to it, from the beginning Jack’s been manipulating Will too. He had to practically pull teeth to get Will to agree to help his team solve cases. The difference, of course, is that Jack’s remorseful about what came of his manipulation.

As much as the show is all about Will and Hannibal’s relationship, in many ways it’s Jack and Hannibal who are more parallel to each other.

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