[This is a review of Hannibal season 2, episode 8. There will be SPOILERS.]
What exactly has Will Graham become? Early on in Su-zakana, the subject of his current mental state dominates the pillow talk between Dr. Bloom and Dr. Lecter, wherein Bloom expresses concern that, in the act of trying to have Hannibal killed, "Will opened a door inside himself," and even he doesn't know if it's been shut.
As the episode progresses, there are hints littered throughout out that Will has undergone a psychological shift that goes well beyond some newfound appreciation of everything he'd thought lost while being incarcerated. It is even suggested at the episode's conclusion that all he endured at the hands of Hannibal, including his imprisonment and emergence from the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, was intended to induce a rebirth of sorts, one that has transformed him into a specimen even the illustrious Dr. Lecter did not necessarily foresee.
Many meticulous examples have been placed here and there, helping to indicate this is not necessarily the same Will Graham who lectured to future FBI agents, and reluctantly helped Jack Crawford track down deranged serial killers. There is a confidence and a determination in him during his chilly conversation with Jack on a frozen lake, as well as his therapy session with Dr. Lecter. "I'm a good fisherman, Jack," Will says with a smile on his face, before pulling on a flask.
This intimation that he's assumed the role of the hunter, using the patience and aforethought necessary to lure particularly tricky fish to his line, is just the beginning. Will's appearance has also changed. He's gotten a haircut, and his wardrobe is more precise and refined; no more earthy, loose-fitting plaid shirts, comfy sweaters, or soiled vests. Instead, Will's draped in a much more sophisticated overcoat, with a stylish scarf around his neck; and underneath is a slightly more tailored, monochromatic shirt, indicating whatever the shift may prove to be, he's already dressing the part.
Both Will's manipulation at the hands of Dr. Lecter and his rebirth are given a gruesome parallel when a dead woman is found enwombed inside of an equally dead horse. The reveal is one of the more shocking tableaux to be featured on Hannibal, and the fact that it wasn't the handiwork of the Chesapeake Ripper is definitely saying something. 'Su-zakana' plays with the parallel in overt ways, by having the mentally debilitated, highly empathetic Peter Bernadone (Jeremy Davies, who once again proves there is no haircut he cannot pull off) become the unwitting victim of a psychotic social worker named Clark Ingram (Chris Diamantopoulos).
Hannibal and Will's confrontation with Peter, mid-enwombing of Clark, produces several of the episode's highlights – not the least of which are the amazing faces Hannibal makes at the macabre sight he's witnessing. But 'Su-zakana' boils down not to who's been stuffed inside a dead horse, and what it might look like when he crawls out. It boils down to Will's desire to murder Clark for his crimes – possibly more for his manipulation Peter than anything – which is only stopped by the interference of Will's own manipulator, who tells him "this is not the reckoning you promised yourself."
But Hannibal also hints that Will's urge is a byproduct of the mental tinkering that was done while his brain was on fire. That rebirth into something even Hannibal isn't quite certain of helps reposition the narrative in a place similar to when Will could only question what was real and what was not. Now he is far more lucid, but it seems the lucidity he's been granted may come at the cost of having to qestion his motivations.
Hannibal continues next Friday with 'Shiizakana' @10pm on NBC. Check out a preview below: