[This is a review of Hannibal season 2, episode 7. There will be SPOILERS.]
For an episode that essentially attempts to find new stasis points for Will Graham and, certainly, the recently recovered (uncovered?) Miriam Lass, 'Yakimono' is nevertheless quite adept at establishing the ways in which Hannibal has managed to alter who these characters are without resorting to blowing up the dramatic structure surrounding them. Will is free from the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, and Miriam is free (extremely traumatized, but free) after years spent in the clutches of the Chesapeake Ripper. The only problem is: that's exactly how the Ripper wants things.
Demonstrating the frighteningly precise manner in which Dr. Lecter plays the game of cat and mouse is certainly one of the many appealing aspects of 'Yakimono,' as the episode successfully propels the main plot forward while closing out the embedded story of Will's incarceration and the lingering disappearance of Miriam Lass. In essence, Lass was always something of a dangling plotline during the first season, a way to draw Jack Crawford's character in a more rounded fashion.
She was his greatest failure up to that point; an actual human being who was lost – and presumed dead – at least partially as a result of Jack's desire to catch the Ripper. As Jack tells her, "I was reckless with your life. I saw what I needed in you and I used you." While that line makes a great allusion to a future agent of Jack's who will become well acquainted with Dr. Lecter, it also sadly demonstrates the perpetual status of Miriam Lass: that of a game piece to be used by powerful men to achieve their goals.
While Crawford appears to have seen the error of his ways, Hannibal's use for Miriam is revealed to go far beyond simply goading Jack. By ensuring his "friend" Will is released back into the wild, reunited with his pack of dogs, and that Miriam and her scrambled brain are around to recall the false memories he implanted her with, Hannibal doesn't just shift the focus of the Chesapeake Ripper investigation away from him; he practically delivers Dr. Chilton to the BAU gift-wrapped in one of his slightly ill-fitting, Hannibal-esque suits, drenched in the blood of two FBI agents.
In making Chilton his patsy, Hannibal draws interesting parallels between the characters throughout the episode that more clearly establishes how they may be perceived by others, while also hinting at deeper aspects in each that help to keep the narrative going.
On one hand, there is Will and Miriam coming to the understanding that while they may be out of their respective cells, freedom is not necessarily theirs to claim. Meanwhile, Chilton becomes suspect number one because, as he realizes too late, he and Hannibal share similarities that go far beyond their choice in attire. So, once the BAU sees the gory scene at his house – complete with a few choice steaks, courtesy of the late Dr. Gideon's limbs – all the pieces fall right into place. Having Miriam shoot and apparently kill Dr. Chilton just seems like icing on the cake.
There's a wonderfully distressing superficiality to the equilibrium that's achieved in this engrossing and incredibly active episode. In addition to 'Yakimono' upping the stakes, in terms of the setting the table for the upcoming Will versus Hannibal storyline, the episode also raises the bar when it comes to the design elements that make the show as beautifully exaggerated a product as the gruesome tableaus that punctuate so many of the series' chapters.
This time around, Hannibal seemingly accentuates the chaotic score to emphasize the horror of Chilton's discovery in his home, which then rises to a magnificently absurd and frenzied crescendo during his brief flight from Jack.
It's exaggerated to the extreme to be sure, but it's all just another example of how Hannibal continues to use terrifically inflated elements to accentuate its own tremendous, delirious design.
Hannibal continues next Friday with 'Su-zakana' @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview below: