[This is a review of Hannibal season 2, episode 12. There will be SPOILERS.]
‘Tome-wan’ may well be the most gruesome hour of Hannibal yet. The penultimate episode of season 2 delivers on one of the two promises the narrative has been building toward with the disfigurement and crippling of Mason Verger. As with most other ghastly events depicted on the show, watching Mason slice off his own face and feed bits of himself to Will’s dogs in a drug-addled stupor becomes a rather pointed metaphor for the notion of revealing one’s true self, or disclosing the identity that has been deliberately obscured or completely hidden from the rest of the world.
In a sense, Mason’s transformation from unbearable, psychotic prat to ghoulish monstrosity is really the only place his repugnant personality and nature could conceivably go. Mason was already a monster; his humanity was literally only skin deep. Hannibal’s influence, then, allowed the ugliness to also be represented on the surface – or lack thereof, rather.
Interestingly, as many of the events focus on Mason, Fuller and director Michael Rymer move ‘Tome-wan’ to reflect the character by pushing away from the usual Hannibal offerings of the beautifully macabre into something far harsher and even more uninviting, something that suggests the industrial rather than the more organic return to nature some of Dr. Lecter’s tableaux have featured.
Distorting the figurative language in that scene gave ‘Tome-wan’ a sense of urgency that altered the tension in both episodic narrative, as well as the season’s in interesting and unnerving ways. Upon inhaling the compound Hannibal cooked up, Mason’s view of the world became very sharp and jagged; his focus suddenly narrowed, while imagined sparks flew in the background.
It was as though Hannibal’s efforts to make Mason’s outward features reflect the inside were matched by enhancing the way his patient’s mind interpreted the world around him. As usual, the always-superb mixture of shot composition, editing, and sound design worked to give that transition a greater sense of implication, once more using the show’s tremendous aesthetic as a powerful storytelling device.
With Verger now ostensibly taken care of, that frees Hannibal up to end the season by focusing on Will and Jack’s increasingly precarious fishing expedition to reel in Dr. Lecter. Jack remarks that the “limb” he’s ventured out on is close to breaking, and although hooking Lecter was primarily Will’s idea, the fact that he’s withholding information is more than a little disconcerting.
The episode zeroes in on that notion by having Will and Hannibal discuss the story of Achilles and Patroclus, remarking on the fate of both after Patroclus dons the armor of his friend. The allusion to Will and Hannibal is quite clear, but so too is the notion of concealing one’s identity by taking on the representation of another. What isn’t clear, then, is the purpose Will has for concealing the truth.
On one hand, it all seems like a part of Will’s cunning plan to ensure Hannibal is finally caught, but a new wrinkle is brought into the game when the BAU manage to track down and question Dr. Du Maurier about her relationship with Hannibal. Du Maurier expresses her concerns that Jack and Will have been so focused in their single-minded pursuit of Hannibal, neither have noticed he’s crept up behind them.
“Don’t fool yourself into thinking he’s not in control of what’s happening,” Bedelia warns, suggesting the progress Jack and Will have made against their target may have been all part of his design.
Hannibal will conclude season 2 with ‘Mizumono’ @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview below: