‘Hannibal’: Like Catnip For Killers

Published 4 months ago by

Hugh Dancy and Jonathan Tucker in Hannibal Season 2 Episode 5 Hannibal: Like Catnip For Killers

[This is a review of Hannibal season 2, episode 5. There will be SPOILERS.] 

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When a series dabbles in death as frequently and as expressively as Hannibal does, taking the time to examine how powerless the prospect of grief often leaves the bereaved sounds less like an interesting angle to explore and more like a requirement. Here, Alana Bloom sums it up when she tells Will, “There is no solution to grief. It just is.” Her words are meant to appreciate the gravity of the loss central to the episode, while insinuating any attempt to reclaim that lost power generally takes one down the often-fruitless road of revenge.

The events of last week’s rousing cliffhanger filter directly into ‘Mukozuke.’ Meanwhile, the Damian Hirst-inspired death tableau made from Beverly Katz sets up some downright biblical allusions and imagery – the least of which is Will’s insistence on an eye for an eye that leads to Hannibal’s crucifixion. Although revenge is an oft-used strategy in dramatic storytelling, in this case it leads to the narrative demonstrating two key points: there really is no solution to grief, and in seeking retribution, Will potentially alienates the few people still holding onto the thought he might be innocent.

But ‘Mukozuke’ also affords the story time to linger on Hannibal’s activities – both in and out of the kitchen – while using Will’s predicament to explore the affect it has had on his perception of things. Despite all the iconic similarities Will’s field trip getup has to Silence of the Lambs, the episode primarily works to demonstrate the separation that still exists between Hannibal and Will. While looking over the crime scene, Will describes to Jack the idea that they’re dealing with one killer wearing two masks. That distinction of a fluctuating identity has been seen before, but it becomes even more important once the story makes room for a certain thought-himself-to-be-the-Ripper psychotic like Dr. Abel Gideon and Jonathan Tucker’s disorderly orderly, Matthew Brown.

Laurence Fishburne in Hannibal Season 2 Episode 5 Hannibal: Like Catnip For Killers

This idea that the Chesapeake Ripper moves between the distinctions granted him by his style of killing further hints at the variability of how these characters recognize themselves and are perceived by others. As it so often did in season 1, Hannibal splashes around in the complex issue of knowing one’s self by shifting Will between his passionate, empathetic side, and the manstag he briefly envisions becoming after manipulating Brown on the basis they are simpatico serial killers. It also grants Hannibal the rare opportunity to be placed in the shoes he so often puts other people: that of the helpless victim. In some way, Hannibal’s exhibition of Beverly’s body becomes representative of his and Will’s unseen sides, the intricate, seemingly undetectable components that constitute more than just their bodies.

In the end, however, Will’s plan only makes him look reckless and like a man with seemingly nothing to lose. While the true identity of Will and Hannibal remain secure to themselves, the strategy of employing a murderer to kill Lecter fortifies the erroneous impression people like Jack and Alana have of them both: Will is seen as the agitated instigator, while Hannibal becomes the wounded quarry. The result, then, allows Hannibal to convincingly delay its titular character’s capture, while raising the stakes between the show’s two primary protagonists.

And with Hannibal further distanced from suspicion, grief may not be the only thing Will Graham is powerless against.

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Hannibal continues next Friday with ‘Futamono’ @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview below:

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12 Comments

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  1. One of the best episodes yet! I’ve never been so uncomfortable watching the show while also feeling compelled to not look away. The handling of grief following Beverly’s murder was so perfectly done. Bravo to Fuller and co. And a round of applause for another beautifully written review.

  2. LOVED this one. Also had the highest ratings since the premiere: http://www.deadline.com/2014/03/hannibal-up-ncaa-basketball-cbs-rake-new-low-whose-line-is-it-anyway-down-tv-ratings/

  3. Thanks Kevin for your exceptionally well written reviews, I look forward to reading them as much as the show itself. Your insight helps me comprehend some of the more complex dialogue or plotline. Having said that, NBC would be foolish to not renew this superb show. Although I must admit to closing my eyes at times due to the extreme graphic crime scenes, it’s still edge of your seat viewing. This is by far, one of the best written, perfectly acted (main and supporting cast), directed, amazing visuals, program I’ve ever seen on TV, including cable. My only complaint is the torturous seven day wait to the next episode! Thank you Mr. Fuller, actors and everyone else involved in the production.

    • +1 for the nice review! I`ve been here ever since the series premiere and it has helped me a LOT in understanding the complex stuff.

  4. The plotting on this show is starting to get sloppy. So one of the guys tasked with watching Will just happened to be a serial killer who was willing to off Hannibal for him no questions asked? It’s just a little too convenient.

  5. Anybody else miss this week’s episode thanks to the earthquake coverage?

  6. Jonathan Tucker in spandex….ummm….and that is one bleak episode but it amaze me that I can’t look away even for a second.

  7. It took a full season and a little over 4 full episodes but Friday’s episode is when Hannibal crossed the line into full on villain for me.
    I was never rooting for him but after killing and then… um, ya know, Beverly Hannibal has really crossed the line for me and I’m not anxious to see his downfall.

    Side note…

    I was watching a bit of Red Dragon on BBC America last night so I naturally was comparing Hopkins and Mikkelsen as Hannibal and as of now I have to give Mads the edge.
    Hopkins will forever be praised for his portrayal in The Silence of the Lambs but after that he played the character so over the top that it got way to campy.
    Maybe it’s not fair to compare but I couldn’t help it.

    • It may not be fair, but you are oh-so-correct. Mikkelsen’s portrayal of Hannibal is epic with his inscrutable expressions and chilling half-smiles; his Hannibal is about as close as one can come to the devil himself.

  8. Holy crap! this episode blew my mind! i was nervous, afraid, excited, overwhelmed and felt very sinister for supporting Will’s choice to manipulate a serial killer hitman!
    from the second i saw the asylum orderly/caretaker, he had such presence even when the camera was not on him, so i knew something was up with him.
    This review was fantastic and hit the mark! this show is only gonna get better!

  9. Also caught Red Dragon on BBC America last night (cable channels apparently air the same film presentations for a couple days), and I have to respectfully disagree: I thought that Tony’s performance was very subtle, and not over-the-top at all. In fact, I would say the film came pretty damn close to matching the brilliance of Silence. Certainly, it was better than Hannibal a year prior, which was still okay; not as great, but passable.

    As far as who is the superior Lecter, my opinion is the same as Bryan’s: “I think the key was we had to put up an orange cone where Anthony Hopkins had tread, as well as Brian Cox, because I think Brian Cox’s performance [in Manhunter] is as iconic as Anthony Hopkins. There’s much debate and hardcore Lecter-verse fans of who was the superior Hannibal Lecter, and for me both were excellent. I refuse to choose a favorite. Obviously Anthony Hopkins won the Academy Award, and Silence of the Lambs was a spectacular film, so he’s got more audience real estate than Brian Cox. But if we’re talking about performances, they’re both excellent performances. So we just wanted to make sure we weren’t going in either of those directions.”

  10. I loved the review and the episode, but the one thing that irked me is the guy who was tasked with killing Hannibal had the job done in the pool. Why did he drag him out and do the elaborate display? He knocked him unconscious and he was floating away in water. Hannibal drowns. Mission accomplished. Why the elaborate display?

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