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After last week’s weak outing, Hannibal is once again in fine form with “Takiawase.” Serious strides are made within the story as it continues to churn toward the inevitable violent confrontation between Hannibal and Jack.
One of my chief complaints last season was that Hannibal had a serious issue with its supporting cast, who would only appear to offer up key clues for whatever crime Jack and Will were investigating before fading into the background. While there are still some issues (particularly with Zeller and Price, who still serve this function within each episode), showrunner Bryan Fuller and his writing staff have taken great pains to flesh out Beverly Katz throughout this season, turning her into a multidimensional character who we actually care about. She has single-handedly proven that Jack’s team of forensic pathologists isn’t as stupid as we all feared them to be.
In the span of an episode (and with some helpful pushing from both Hannibal and Will) Beverly finally put two and two together and figured out that Hannibal isn’t the calm, cool, and collected psychiatrist he claims to be. But then she has to go and do something absolutely idiotic and head over to Hannibal’s to rummage around for clues. I’m willing to concede that she rightly believed Hannibal to be out at the hospital visiting Bella (more on her later), but this man is a brilliant killer- and she goes alone to his house, presumably without telling anyone. Add to that that anything she finds there is inadmissible in court, and you have a pretty stupid move by a character I certainly thought had more sense.
As for our cliffhanger- Beverly shooting at Hannibal? We know Hannibal survives. But Beverly doesn’t exist in the world of Thomas Harris’ novels. Could she be going the way of poor Miriam Lass and become another victim of Lecter’s? Having Jack lose two of the young agents who worked on his team would certainly add some more fuel to the fire that will erupt once Jack understands what’s happening. However, Beverly going missing would certainly raise a number of red flags- and Will will know exactly who is responsible for her death (and, likely blame himself, despite warning her to stay far away from Hannibal).
The episode’s other main storyline revolves around Bella Crawford’s losing battle with lung cancer and her desire to commit suicide to end her suffering. Jack, as we’ve seen throughout the season, is desperate to keep Bella with him for as long as possible. He suggests a new treatment for her during the course of this episode, and doesn’t seem to hear her when she hints that she doesn’t want to fight anymore. The interesting thing about how this situation is presented is that there’s no clear right answer for us as an audience. We see how Bella is suffering and understand her desire to rest. We also see how deeply Jack loves Bella and how awful her eventual death will be for him (a side note: Laurence Fishburne and Gina Torres, married in real life, have incredible chemistry on screen and I would have liked some more scenes between them this season). Our window into these two conflicting views? Hannibal.
When Bella opts to overdose on morphine, sparing (according to her) Jack the pain of finding her dead in the house, Hannibal cannot allow this to happen. There is some indication that he flips a coin to decide her fate, but I believe the pragmatist within him realizes that saving Bella will make Jack further indebted to him and help pull the wool over his eyes even more. Hannibal thinks nothing of death or killing others, but he knows that with Will deputizing Beverly to take on his case, he needs to keep his allies close. Naturally, this choice has severed Hannibal’s relationship with Bella, but at this stage in her illness she has become far less useful to him than having Jack on his side will be.
In the midst of this great amount of plot movement, there is also a killer (played by the always slightly creepy Amanda Plummer) who “frees” the minds of her patients through lobotomies, but this serves more as a thematic link to the central character driven storylines than as a true plot point of note. With nine episodes left in the season, the plot is moving much quicker than I thought it could, with deepening character development and ratcheting level of tension building each week. I’m eager to see Will and Hannibal’s next moves in their epic chess game.
— Since she may no longer be with us next week, now is the perfect time to give major kudos to Hatienne Park for her work as Beverly. While she was relegated to the background last season (despite being a main cast member in the credits), Park has really done some great work this season.
— During his truth serum interview with Chilton, Will got back some clear memories regarding Hannibal’s conversation with Gideon last season. While I certainly expected Chilton to keep these revelations close to his vest, I didn’t expect him to hint at Will’s revelation and tell Hannibal that they must stick together since they are both accused of letting patients kill. I’m not certain Chilton is smart enough to really be playing the long con of Hannibal, but since we know he makes it through this whole ordeal alive and well (or, at least through the next several stages of Hannibal’s story), I fear I may be underestimating Chilton.
— Lots of callbacks to the first season in this episode with the return of the dearly departed Abagail Hobbs and Dr. Gideon. And, of particular note, Will’s subconscious seems to hint that he new he was setting Abagail up to be a lure for Hannibal. Which is a sad thought.