[This is a review of Hannibal season 2, episode 2. There will be SPOILERS.]
As Hannibal spent the majority of season 1 demonstrating – and then re-asserting in its season 2 premiere – the manner in which a presentation is made is, in many ways, just as important as what is being presented. Food is typically the medium in which this series works, so, in this case, the finest cut of beef (or leg of serial killer, for that matter) may find its way to a plate in countless ways, each one perfectly suited to the atmosphere in which it is being served.
But presentation can be important in any number of mediums, and as it pertains to the atypical, utterly eccentric stylistic desires of Bryan Fuller and his Hannibal crew, there is only one way of approaching the question of how anything should be presented: What would Hannibal do?
The idea of such refined, delicate, and precise preparation being combined with the utter gruesomeness of what is being consumed, where it's been and, in the case of 'Sakizuki,' what it's been up to, creates a sensation of exquisite deliberateness that's unlike anything else on television. It's almost as though the creators of the show have decided it exists for the sole purpose of striving to accommodate Dr. Lecter's impeccable sense of taste (aesthetically speaking and otherwise) and sophistication.
Of course, in the case of Hannibal, such taste and sophistication has an application that goes far beyond what any normal human would consider artistic or worthy of merit. So, while the show reaches for the extreme, in terms of elegance and finesse, the pendulum swings completely in the opposite direction, daring the audience not to avert their eyes while a man must peel bits of his own flesh off in order to make a failed escape attempt from a serial killer's disturbingly beautiful mural made of human bodies.
Now that Dr. Lecter has stepped into the role Will formally occupied with the FBI, he has greater access to the kinds of curiosities that seem to spur his imagination and sense of appreciation. With Will locked away, Hannibal has to feed his need to find playthings and eventually destroy them in a more direct manner, which leads him to find and confront the episode's artistic serial killer by saying, "I love your work." Hannibal then demonstrates his appreciation by helping the killer finish his mural (by turning its creator into a part of it), and then transforming a piece of him into another piece of finely crafted art – in the medium Hannibal works best, of course.
For a show about a cannibalistic serial killer parading around in, as Dr. Du Maurier puts it, a "person suit," to turn an entire episode's subtext into a kind of conversation about art appreciation is simply phenomenal. And like all forms of art, it is ultimately subjective, prone to being hated as strongly as it is adored – which is precisely what causes the aforementioned Dr. Du Maurier to cut ties with Hannibal, and whisper to Will, "I believe you," granting the confused prisoner a much-needed moment of assurance, in his otherwise perpetual state of uncertainty.
Hannibal may work best and most frequently with food, but the objective of his art is always consumption. With Will, he's exploring a new medium, but the intention remains the same: To wholly consume something in a refined and sophisticated manner. Although the audience already knows how this piece will turn out, for now, it appears as though this endeavor is shaping up to be Dr. Lecter's masterpiece.
Hannibal continues next Friday with 'Hassun' @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview below: