Twelve weeks in the future, Jack is at Hannibal’s for dinner when he pulls a gun on Hannibal. However, he is too slow and a brutal fight ensues. It seems like Jack has the upper hand until Hannibal stabs him in the neck with a shard of broken glass. Jack staggers to the pantry and locks himself in as Hannibal works on battering down the door. Twelve weeks in the past, Jack is at Hannibal’s house having dinner to mourn Will’s ‘death’. Jack tells Hannibal that for everyone’s sakes Jack needs to investigate Will’s claims. Will is in a cell and his mind wanders to him idly fishing in a river when he sees a stag across the river. Dr. Chilton is talking but Will is ignoring him, considering him an annoyance. Will tells Dr. Chilton that he wants to talk to Hannibal. In his mind’s eye, the antlered creature rises from the depths of the river. At the FBI, Alana is lodging a formal complaint against Jack for ignoring Will’s condition. The FBI investigator repeatedly presses Alana to drop the charge but Alana refuses. Jack is not angry at Alana but agrees that it will get ugly.
In a river, two men find a bunch of corpses floating in the river as they fish. Hannibal is having a session with Dr. Du Maurier who tells Hannibal that he is obsessed with Will. Hannibal disagrees and says that Will is just a friend. Hannibal visits Will in his cell. Will tells Hannibal that he hears him in his head. Will tells Hannibal firmly that they are not friends. Will tells Hannibal that when Will remembers what Hannibal did to him, there will be a reckoning. Hannibal later visits the FBI lab where he is to be investigated. He meets Beverly Kat who is unhappy that Hannibal did not do enough to protect Will. She reveals that Hannibal is not a suspect – he’s the new Will Graham. Hannibal visits the crime scene with corpses in the river. He is consulting for the FBI in Will’s place. Jack notes that the bodies are well preserved and Hannibal deduces that the bodies are for some kind of model. Jack realizes that the corpses were the discards – the good ones were kept for some purpose. Hannibal visits with Du Maurier and tells her that she has his permission to discuss him with the FBI – within some limits. Du Maurier is suspicious as to why the FBI are looking into Hannibal and why he wants her to lie for him. He says that the FBI is less suspicious than she is and she answers it’s because they don’t know what he’s capable of. He answers that neither does she.
Alana visits Will in his cell. They talk about his defence and his dogs. Alana promises to find him a non-FBI lawyer but Will doesn’t think he has a chance at a defence. Alana thinks an insanity plea has a chance. Will asks her to help him recover his lost memories. They try a hypnotic method and Will pictures himself in Hannibal’s dinner room with a feast of rotting flesh before him and Abigail’s severed ear on his plate. At the other end of the table, he sees the antlered figure. Will violently snaps out of his hypnotic state and is reluctant to share what he saw. Chilton dines with Hannibal later and reveals to Hannibal that Alana visited Will earlier. Chilton also tells Hannibal that he (Hannibal) is Will’s favourite topic of conversation.
Jack is puzzled as to how the killer is selecting his victims and asks the team to look for clues. Beverly Kat skips that steps and goes straight to Will. Will is happy to see her until he realizes that she is there for business. Will realizes in short order that the killer is trying to organize a ‘colour palette’ of different skin tones. Later, Will is eating his meal when a forgotten memory suddenly hits him and he remembers Hannibal forcing a tube down his throat and Abigail’s ear down the tube. Will cokes and throws up some of his lunch in shock. Meanwhile, Jack visits Will’s house where he meets Alana and the dogs. They establish that there are no hard feelings between them but Jack insists that Hannibal is innocent and while Alana doesn’t believe Hannibal is guilty, she thinks that Will is innocent.
Will is back in his mental fantasy where he is fishing. Jack interrupts him. Will repeats once again that Hannibal is guilty but Jack cannot hear this again. They part ways with both parties feeling dejected at their failure to keep the other on board.
“I’m going to remember, Dr. Lector. And when I do, there will be a reckoning.
I have huge faith in you, Will, I always have.”
Welcome back to Season 2 of Hannibal where we come back to a very different status quo from the one we had a season ago. This was a great opening episode for a season and already lays out the ground work for what will happen over the course of the next twelve weeks (both in universe and out). This episode had it all – great dialogue, solid acting, plot resolution and some crazy brutal action. All in all, the stage has been set for Will to get his revenge though based on the episode’s opening (and the season’s ending) things clearly will not work out that conveniently.
Speaking of that opening scene – talk about vicious! That was one of the most violent, no-holds barred fight scenes I’ve ever seen, across any TV show I can think of off the top of my head. Jack Crawford is no scrawny paper-pusher, he is a large, powerful, FBI trained fighter but Hannibal manages himself just as well against a physically stronger opponent. The way he guiles Jack into thinking he (Hannibal) is down is a frightening sign that Hannibal is more machine than man – where other men would be reeling from the sheer force of the Jack’s fists, Hannibal is somehow able to shrug it off and come up with a game plan. Beyond the perfect execution of that scene though, let’s talk about what it means. Clearly, Jack has no reason to go after Hannibal unless he knows that Hannibal is a serial killer and also that he is the Chesapeake Ripper. I feel Jack knowing those two pieces of information is enough to send him into a murderous rage. However, he was not angry during his fight – if anything, he planned the whole thing out. I don’t get why he was there alone though – he has the might of the full FBI behind him but still he goes in solo? Where is Will? There are a lot of questions and of course, we’ll get our answers during the season but I’ll just say that for now, I’m really worried that Will isn’t in that opening scene.
The rest of the episode seems mostly like set-up for things to come. If I’m not wrong, this is the first time that a ‘killer of the week’ was not caught within that episode itself. However, the far more interesting point here is that Hannibal is now effectively the new Will Graham. There was a strange surrealism to the scene where Hannibal crossed the FBI’s lines to consult on a crime scene. He seems to be on the ascendancy and with Will’s credibility utterly shattered, it seems that Will has very few weapons in his arsenal to stop him. Still though, the situation is far from hopeless – if I’m not mistaken there are several loose threads that Hannibal needs to trim off before he’s totally in the clear:
- Will’s memories. By themselves, Will’s words have distressingly little meaning but sooner or later he will begin to uncover the details of what exactly was done to him and if there are any discrepancies that he can exploit, it will lie in those memories that Hannibal tried to hide away.
- Dr. Du Maurier. I won’t say that she is a major threat to Hannibal, but at the same time, this week’s episode seems to strongly hint that she knows more than she is letting on. I don’t think she’s reached the point of accusing Hannibal but combined with her ‘they’re seeing your pattern’ to Hannibal last season, I think she’s too smart to not realize that there is something troublingly ominous about her only patient.
- Alana Bloom. Alana could go either way here – on one hand, she has Will’s messed up clock drawings and she has access to Will. There feels like there could be a chance for her to make the breakthrough if she asks the right questions but given how close she is to Hannibal, it seems equally likely that she might condemn Will herself.
- Abel Gideon. This one just came to me suddenly because I remembered Will’s heartbreaking plea to Hannibal, asking him not to lie to him and Gideon was there watching the whole thing. Gideon doesn’t know for a fact that Hannibal is the Chesapeake Ripper but he knows enough to make Hannibal look extremely suspicious. The question is whether or not he will cave in.
I have left Jack out because I feel like the minute he believes that Hannibal was behind all of this, the tension of the situation is instantly drained away and the season is forced into addressing the conflict that has been set-up right at the start.
Apart from, the highlight in this episode for me was seeing Will’s memories return to him. Not only does it add a new variable into the equation but it also wraps up some questions that I had from the previous season. I still don’t know how Hannibal was in place to take advantage of Will’s episodes though it was still rather shocking seeing Hannibal force a tube down Will’s throat before stuffing the full ear down there too. I guess the effect would have been lost if he cut the ear up a little before doing so. The symbols I love talking about so much have made their return as well and it’s a relief to me that we won’t be seeing any more of Garett Jacob Hobbs – nothing against the guy, but it was starting to get a little egregious. I feel the lack of Hobbs is a sign that Will’s mental health is improving and that he is moving past the Abigail debacle. However, the antlered man and the stag both are troubling in their recurrence in the depths of Will’s mind. The antlered man seems to represent Hannibal while the stag…I don’t know what exactly the stag represents? Is it a darker version of Will? The part of Will that isn’t pure compassion and empathy? It’s hard to tell at this point and I feel like it means something different from the stag we saw last season which was more or a less and hunting metaphor (I think?). Lastly, there is Will fishing when he is spacing out in his own mind-castle. Will is always linked to water and standing in a river is an interesting visual choice since it ties many things together – his love for fishing, the motif of Will and water and the lures that Hannibal used to sabotage him.
And with that, I will leave you guys to ponder what new levels of despair we will reach in weeks to come. Welcome back to Season 2!