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One of the most interesting aspects of Hannibal is how the show walks the delicate balance between highlighting its two stars: Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) and Hugh Dancy (Will). The series is able to make an episode work with either Will or Hannibal in the forefront, and, even though the series is named after Hannibal, it is just as much Will’s story (at least at this moment in time) as it is Hannibal’s. Throughout most of this seasons, Will and Hannibal have been tightly intertwined. And, as Hannibal still has his freedom, Will has spent most of the time reacting to the actions of others. With “Mukozuke,” the series shifts its focus from Hannibal’s actions as the driving force behind the narrative to having Will’s work become the focus.
In last week’s episode, Will finally gave Beverly the last push she needed to officially link Hannibal to the mural killer, causing her to seek out finite evidence before going to Jack. Yes, Will did beg her not to go after Hannibal, but he had to have some inkling she might not listen. As we all expected, this leads to Beverly’s untimely end, and she is found (with the kidneys of the mural killer inside) within the same observatory where poor Miriam Lass was once left for Jack to find. Yet another opportunity for Hannibal to twist the knife into Jack (killing two of his young female protegees) while continuing to play the concerned friend outside of the office.
Beverly’s death does lead to Jack declaring that the Chesapeake Ripper has returned, and Will telling Jack that the copycat and Ripper are one in the same. We don’t receive confirmation of Jack’s own belief in this theory, but it’s getting harder and harder to watch Jack deny the connection- or Hannibal’s own potential link to the murders. Let’s do a quick recap of what Beverly’s death means for the Hannibal hunt:
It seems pretty easy to connect the dots and figure out that Hannibal is, at the very least, the Ripper and the one who killed the mural killer. But Jack STILL isn’t able to figure this out. We know he’ll eventually get there, but with this all laid out in front of him, it’s mind boggling that he hasn’t put two and two together yet.
The death of Beverly finally spurs Will into a revenge cycle. Having spent the season gathering his own evidence and slowly plotting how best to play the long game to catch Hannibal, we finally see the emotional reactions that can spur Will into making mistakes. After failing to get Gideon to divulge that Hannibal is the Ripper (which Will now knows for certain based on his recovered memory from last week), Will learns that his orderly Matthew Brown (the perfectly unhinged Jonathan Tucker) was responsible for the death of his bailiff- but not his judge. Cultivating a fast friendship, Will makes a minor request: kill Hannibal Lecter.
Now, when Hannibal kills, it’s well thought out and methodical. He’s had years to perfect it, and killing has become a refined art. For Will, this is a murder request fully motivated by anger and grief. And a large amount of guilt. It’s a massive mistake. There are a million things to connect Brown to Will, and the death of Hannibal removes the only person who can speak to his innocence. Granted, there may still be plenty of evidence within Hannibal’s home to link him to some killings, but I doubt any is left to link Hannibal to the copycat killings.
Luckily for Will, Gideon feels plenty betrayed by Hannibal, and wants to see Will spared- at least for the moment. With Hannibal alive, and Brown presumably dead (after all, Hannibal more or less confessed his own misdeeds to him), Will can be removed from the suspect list in the attempted murder. But this act clearly displays the divide between our two lead characters. Hannibal kills with precision and an absence of emotion. Will is ruled by his emotions (after all, his “super power” is empathy), and for this reason could never have committed the crimes he is accused of. But, like Hannibal, he does have the capability of killing. And that certainly makes him dangerous.
Having spent so many weeks trying to get into Hannibal’s psyche, both through Will’s own attempts to do so and through watching him in action as he controls the puppet strings of Will’s fate, it is nice to move back into Will’s troubled mind and watch him control the action for a bit. With Will having made his move (sloppy though it may be), it is now Hannibal’s turn. I’m eager to see how he reacts.
— Anyone who has read the novel or seen the film Red Dragon is aware that things won’t end all that well for Freddie Lounds. We get our first indication in this episode that Hannibal has put her on his list, as he remarks “That was rude, Ms. Lounds” as she takes several unauthorized photos of Hannibal.
— Check another iconic Silence of the Lambs image off the list, with Will being strapped up just as Hannibal was in the film.
— Another allusion to Silence? Will reaching out to his admirer through the print media (in this instance, Freddie’s website), much as Hannibal used the newspaper for the same.