[This is a review of Hannibal season 2, episode 11. There will be SPOILERS.]
"How was my funeral?" Freddie Lounds asks Dr. Bloom late in 'Ko No Mono,' ending the speculation that Will Graham's efforts to bait Hannibal Lecter had indeed driven him over the edge and further into the clutches of his psychopathic therapist. It was the break that everyone needed (characters and audience alike), as the allusions to the demise of Ms. Lounds – complete with the character's flaming wheelchair spectacle from 'Red Dragon' – became the precipice on which Hannibal could very easily peer over. But the act of leaping from that edge would have led to more than the illustrious Freddie Lounds taking a supposed dirt nap.
In that sense, 'Ko No Mono' is the turning point of the season, and the one that may yet prove to have the most impact moving forward. Will's efforts to convince others of Hannibal's guilt in the Chesapeake Ripper slayings (and beyond) have afforded him enough of Jack's confidence that Freddie Lounds has been granted a faux funeral, and when the BAU is called to investigate the tableau of Randall Tier, his real killer is given little more than a proverbial hat-tip from the two most powerful people in the room.
It is also a turning point in that, as much as Hannibal is a series that deals almost exclusively in death, it once again demonstrates an understanding of the value of life – whether in the form of a new life being created or, in the case of Freddie's, being allowed to continue.
'Ko No Mono' opens up with another of Will's ultra vivid dreams. In it, the being that he is becoming, the fusion of Will Graham and the Wendigo that haunts his mind, is born while the intuitive approximation of Hannibal's true form looks on. And as much as the episode is tasked with teasing the fate of Freddie and affording the story more insight into the minds and needs of Mason and Margot Verger, it continues to probe Will's relationship with Hannibal, finding both understanding and significance in their discussion of Abigail Hobbs and what she meant to each man.
Hannibal saw her as he once did his sister Mischa, and apologizes for taking her away from Will, but the act is not merely an admission of guilt; it is a recognition that, though both men are now killers, they have rather profound feelings toward the notion of life. And although the taking of it may be necessary – as Hannibal remarks was the case with Hobbs – or even done for pleasure, there is still significance in what has been snuffed out to fuel their "radiance."
This is wonderfully demonstrated early on, as Hannibal presents Will with the near-ceremonial consumption of an ortolan bunting, the preparation of which is so precise and so peculiar (cruel, some would say) it could serve as the inspiration for one of Hannibal's kills; in fact, he even refers to it as "a rare but debauched delicacy."
But the care and deliberateness Hannibal puts into making a bite-sized meal out of an endangered bird signifies the importance of what he's taking and consuming. It is not just the act in and of itself; it's the meaning behind it and the way the dead will be remembered. That bleeds into not only the emotionally charged conversation of Abigail Hobbs, but also Will's pending – but ultimately short-lived – fatherhood with Margot Verger.
In that regard, Mason's forced removal of Margot's "lady parts" becomes another element of the episode's fantastic and twisted examination of a person's ability to bring about life as well as the seemingly limitless ways they can choose to end it. They are as Will describes Shiva: she "is both destroyer and benefactor," a distinction that adequately describes Will, Mason, and Hannibal to varying degrees of beneficence and menace.
And, it seems those characteristics have placed them all on a collision course with each other, one that may yet prove who will be the benefactor and who will be the destroyer of whom.
Hannibal continues next Friday with 'Tome-Wan' @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview below: