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'Hannibal' - 'Hassun': Love Is An Open Door

By Cindy Davis | TV Reviews | March 15, 2014 | Comments ()


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Who’d have thunk it…Hannibal’s a love story? I’ve got to hand it to Bryan Fuller for creating this masterpiece theater, and to Mads Mikkelsen for selling it. From the moment Hannibal understood his plan had perhaps gone a little too far—that Will was about to be found guilty and executed—the very bad doctor also realized the depths of his own devotion. This bizarrely beautiful relationship drew us into what began as a cold, detached hour, marked by Will staring emotionless as witness after witness testified his life away. We were as thrown off balance as Lecter himself, observing Hannibal’s transition from smirking self-satisfaction, to the moment of the disconcerted realization he had lost control. For just as Chilton (Raúl Esparza) described—the killer he believes is Will—Hannibal is measured and controlled; he likes to play god. And Hannibal didn’t like the moment he was no longer Will’s god.

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Let’s back up just a moment. I can’t let that wonderful opening sequence go by without mentioning the utter beauty in seeing Will and Hannibal (my word, that Mads is built for suits, isn’t he?) dress for trial. The juxtaposition of these two men, one guilty, one not; one in control, the other (seemingly) a puppet..the wrong man in jail and the guilty man, free. By the third quarter of the episode, their symbolic roles had reversed. Despite his outward stoic acceptance (and in front of Hannibal, slight despair), Will’s beliefs are turning around. He’s beginning to toy with Hannibal, who seems to suspect nothing. And maybe, just maybe, despite Hannibal’s delightfully wicked courtroom smile, that prosecutorial lawyer was right when she argued Will Graham was the most intelligent person in the room.

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Whether Hannibal is still reeling from the loss of Bedelia (and the sting of her being a step ahead), or he’s merely discovering how much Will means to him, Hannibal didn’t waste a moment taking back control. After setting up a “secret admirer” killer to momentarily take the heat off Will, Hannibal sat across from his friend to offer Will a new defense. Looking over the photos and forensic report, Will quickly found the copycat’s flaw—the victim was shot before mutilation. But Hannibal pushes Will to accept the “acolyte’s path to freedom,” and wants Will to believe the best in him, “Just as I believe the best in you.” There is something so perfectly sick and crazy in Hannibal’s thought process; he doesn’t recognize his own madness. Somewhere deep inside his own broken brain, does Hannibal truly believe he is Will’s friend? He must; the sincerity on Hannibal’s countenance is…undeniable? “This killer wrote you a poem. Are you going to let his love go to waste.” Indeed, I found myself wondering if Will was catching the signs and will use Hannibal’s weakness against him—or is he too focused on proving himself innocent?

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As for the courtroom drama, it was fairly run of the mill, save Fuller’s flair for the dramatic, touched on here and there. A derby-ready hat for poor, discredited Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) here, Doctor Chilton’s aggrandized and self-congratulatory testimony there…and Hannibal in yet another spectacular suit, set against the backdrop of a stately courtroom. Last minute envelopes spilling a bloodied, severed ear aside (“I think I opened your mail”), this was no cheap Judge Judy episode.

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Jack spent most of Hassun beating himself up for not trusting his instincts or being there for his friend, and if he dropped the stick a moment, Kade Prurnell was right there to give him a hand. Hannibal again proved himself a valuable ally, as he advised the grieving Crawford not to throw away his career. Lecter reminds Jack that just because Bella is dying doesn’t mean Jack has to go to the grave with her—“After she’s gone, the FBI could still be there.” Hannibal is the devil, indeed.

In a much needed scene of comic relief, Katz and her fellow lab rats discover the severed ear sent to Will’s lawyer was cut off (like Abigail Hobbes’ ear) with Will’s knife. When later at the crime scene Katz remarks to Jack that there was no evidence against Graham before or since Will was arrested, Zeller ( Aaron Abrams) reminds that Will ate a girls ear; “It was in his stomach—god knows what else was in there!” Jimmy (Scott Thompson) helpfully adds: “We should have taken a stool sample,” and the two argue like children until Jack tells them to knock it off. But of course, that was just Fuller giving us respite between gruesome scenes. After watching Will’s vision of himself as the bailiff’s killer, planting the body atop another set of antlers, slicing the victim’s smile wide and hacking off an ear, what’s an empty-headed judge heartlessly left dangling in his own courtroom? At least we didn’t suffer the preparation…

The artistry of death may be what audiences clamor and cringe over, but for me, Hassun’s truly gorgeous moments came at both beginning and end, and focused the camera eye on Hannibal and Will. After suiting up for trial, Jack poured himself a drink and pondered photographs. Hannibal sat stricken, staring at his empty patient (friend…Will’s) chair. And finally, Will lay on his prison cot, until he heard the clomp of a familiar hoof. Those final quiet moments as Will steps out his unlocked cell door, catches sight of the stag walking through deserted halls and follows until he hears Hannibal—looks to see Lecter holding open the door and calling to Will, that was how I wished the hour ended. But there was a final line of truth, uttered by Alana as she sat with Will and he wondered what the killer—the one who Will felt walk out of the courtroom with him—wanted. “He wants to know me.” Indeed, Hannibal does want to understand Will, perhaps because Graham is his other half—the side of himself he doesn’t know how to be.


Deep thoughts:

Will frying himself in the electric chair read kind of goofy to me. I didn’t mind it, but I could easily have done without it.

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I love how Hannibal outright describes himself to Jack when aiding investigations: “The killer is very goal oriented.” Jack: “Spares the guilty verdict and his life, for the moment.”

Hannibal compares himself to Saint Peter, who thrice denied Jesus. (I’m thinking maybe more along the lines of Judas, my fair Hannibal!) Whatever Hannibal’s plans, Jesus, Will has his number.

“Gratitude has a short half life.” (From The Silence of the Lambs)

These are grand!

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Cindy Davis, (Twitter) will be staring at those dressing gifs the rest of the day.







Are you following Pajiba on Facebook or Twitter? Every time you do, Bill Murray crashes a wedding.


Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Jennifer Anderson Cody

    Hannibal compares himself to Peter thrice denying Will... remember too that Peter cut off the ear of the soldier Malthus when they were taking Jesus away in the garden of Gesthemane.

  • Kate at June

    Will knows exactly what he's doing, and he's paying very, very close attention to what Hannibal is doing. He's been manipulating him since he broke down in tears and cried "I need help." And it's working.

  • lowercase_ryan

    FREDDIE UNF FREDDIE UNF FREDDIE UNF

    Also - Will's bangs. lmfao

  • RilesSD

    Yeah, they need to back away from the Will messy-perm.

  • Dumily

    I'm a little late to this party because I had to watch Veronica Mars 4 times, but is no one going to address the epic eye fucking during Alana's prep? God lord, someone open a window and let some of the heat out.

  • Maddy

    The astounding thing is, I really believe that Hannibal really loves Will (in a super fucked up way obviously). I do wish they would give Alana more to do

  • Kate at June

    The entire episode I was hoping for more Beverly, to be honest
    until I saw next weeks preview and now I'm wringing my hands for her.

  • stardust

    Me too. She's a strong,interesting character.

  • lets_brunch_out

    Does anybody else think that Will is changing his mind about Hannibal's guilt? In the courthouse (and numerous other scenes from this season) he clearly sees Hannibal as the stag when he takes the witness stand. But near the end of the episode, in the scene where the stag is walking in the deserted hallways outside of his cell, he looks around and sees Hannibal standing behind him. Is he now separating the stag image from Hannibal? Is he starting to believe Hannibal isn't responsible? It's confusing to me because Will was quite outspoken about his belief in Hannibal's guilt in "Kaiseki" when he said, "There will be a reckoning". Then in last week's "Sakizuke" he was obviously playing Hannibal in his determination to prove his own innocence. Why the change of heart? Surely he must know that Hannibal could be setting him up again.

  • cruzzercruz

    He hasn't changed his mind, he's turned the tables and is attempting to manipulate Hannibal now into believing that Will is confused. He's never been more sure of who the villain is.

  • lets_brunch_out

    I suppose I'm really just unsure of the symbolic meaning of the stag in this situation. I always assumed that it represented Hannibal and in this scene the cell door opens, Will walks out and sees the stag at the other end of the hallway, then he turns around when Hannibal speaks his name and sees him standing behind him at the cell gate, ushering him back inside. And cue my the confusion...

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I agree, it wasn't clear at all. He followed the stag, always associated with Hannibal in earlier episodes and then suddenly behind him, Hannibal in human form gestures for him to re-enter his cell. I still don't really understand what that's supposed to mean.

  • foolsage

    It wasn't a change of heart; it was a clear association. The stag led him out, and then Hannibal was standing by the open door behind him.

  • Shazza

    I admit I was initially wary of 'Hannibal' and particularly Mads Mikkelson but he and Hugh won me completely over, not to mention the sumptous use of colors and set design. And you're right, Mads has quite the style. Love that gif too.

  • Three_nineteen

    This is the second review I've read that assumes Hannibal killed the bailiff and the judge. I thought it was pretty obvious by the end of the episode that it wasn't him. Hannibal was thrown for a loop when the ear showed up, and says something along the lines of "it wouldn't have occurred to me to send you an ear". Both Hannibal and Will agree that whoever killed the bailiff didn't kill the others. Hannibal could be trying to fool Will, but now that Will's encephalitis is cured and he knows what Hannibal is I don't think Hannibal can put anything past him. If Will thought Hannibal had done it, he would have said that the person who killed the bailiff also killed the others. Also, if Hannibal had done it to help Will, he would have been more straightforward on the stand. The defense attorney asked him "Were the bailiff and the others killed by the same person", and Hannibal elided the truth, saying that a lot of the hallmarks were the same. If he had done it, he could have just said "yes, they are the same person."

    Wild theory alert: Whoever this copycat is, he/she probably works at the courthouse. Maybe a lawyer, or a clerk, or perhaps a lowly custodial worker, who does his floor buffing late at night or early in the morning so he knows the best time to stage a body, but still has time to befriend a bailiff and get said bailiff to both let him into the courtroom to watch the trial (obviously nobody would notice or recognize him) and check out the knife from evidence )because it would be cool to look at, and they could get it back in evidence the next day and no one would be the wiser).

  • Less Lee Moore

    Fuller has indicated there are two clues pointing to the identity of the killer in the episode. So yeah, not Hannibal.

  • I absolutely think it's Hannibal.

  • Three_nineteen

    Hmm. Interesting, but I'm still going with Will on this one. I don't think Hannibal can fool him anymore, and there is no reason for Will to lie about who he thinks the killer is. I'm perfectly willing to admit I'm wrong, since I am wrong so very often, but I don't think the question is settled as so many people seem to think.

  • Pants_are_a_must

    There are theories out there it isn't him, though. I'd wager the bailiff was killed by someone else, but the judge murder looks absolutely like a Ripper case.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    It's a decent possibility. But regardless, Hannibal's handling of the situation is all towards a specific goal. Or, rather, two of them. 1) to get Will off, which is where the actual killing(s) come into it (the bailiff may just be a fan, but the judge is Hannibal stealing the idea) and 2) to regain Will's trust by admitting he knows this isn't the same killer but wants desperately to believe it is because then Will would be innocent. Simply deciding it's the same guy and arguing that, especially when it doesn't really fit, wouldn't quite work in court (or rather, stating it's absolutely the same guy, no doubt, doesn't) and would make Will more suspicious, but admitting it isn't but you really, really wish it were? It still helps Will because it might still be the guy, and this approach also makes Hannibal seem honest-- he is neither trying to handwave it away and declare Will guilty nor is he using it to claim Will is obviously innocent. He's taking a middle path that has a chance of Will thinking that maybe he got Hannibal wrong.

  • foolsage

    Agreed. I think Hannibal invented the copycat as a feint, essentially. When he realized the trial was going against Will, Hannibal took increasingly extreme steps to save his friend. Duplicating the crimes of which Will's accused too accurately would be too on-the-nose and quite suspicious. This bought Will more time.

  • Pants_are_a_must

    Interesting, that he wants Will to think the best of him, even if the best is a lie, isn't it? If anything, I would've thought that friendship would mean Will knowing what Hannibal is and appreciating him all the more for it. Maybe it's the oratory power of Hannibal (drawn from the books, I think), that he could, at some point, persuade Will to think that, still.

  • foolsage

    Hannibal finds very few people worthy of his interest. Those he finds interesting enough, he generally wants to seduce; he wants to slowly and subtly lead them to his way of seeing things.

    I think Hannibal does want Will to know the truth, in time, but only after Will's come to accept that murder is sometimes appropriate, and that there can be beauty and purpose in killing. Hannibal's failure using this approach with Will leads to his change of tactics with Clarice Starling.

  • Pants_are_a_must

    This show constantly pushes the boundaries on what we define friendship as, particularly friendship between stranger, adult men. I'm trying to think of other shows doing it, and I only come up with war dramas, such as "Band of Brothers." This episode pushed the love angle very strongly, at least on Hannibal's part. He seems infatuated with Will, and the aesthetic aspect of the show plays right into this interpretation. But Hannibal and Will's relationship is not sexual, and neither of them knows what a friendship entails, not really. It's a play of affection and distaste in the hands of two extremely capable actors, which has been the forte of Hannibal ever since it started, and by Fuller's pen, I love it so.

    On a side note, the flower crown meme in this show's production is played to perfection.

  • stardust

    It's astounding how this show and Mads' portrayal manages to make me actually makes me feel for Hannibal. It's obvious how much he loves Will (BroTP or OTP, depending on which ship you sail) and in his own twisted way is trying to save his friend. Cindy, I think you're right about Will and Hannibal - Will is Hannibal's other half and Hannibal doesn't know how the hell to deal with that type of friendship.

    Also, I watched the dressing scene at least three times. I'm waiting for the scene to be reversed in GIF form.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    I have to say, I don't see them as complementary halves. I think they're much, much closer to the same man. Which I think is Hannibal's fascination with Will-- Will Graham is the man Hannibal might have been, if it hadn't been for what happened to him when he was young (precise details depending on whether we count the prequel).

    He tears Will apart in the first season, I think, for a couple of reasons. Or maybe more like three. Initially, I think it's just because that's what he does-- he fucks with people, he pokes them to see what they'll do, and then maybe he eats them. It's sport. But then, I think he realized what Will was, and what he could do, and that they were really very, very similar. And I think it bugged him and he started to do it to destroy the competition, out of a kind of jealousy of someone who could see through him (as he does in the first episode via his kill) so easily when Will is such an awkward, nervous wreck. He takes him down because he's too weak to be allowed to keep going, and because if he survives then maybe he's worth something. And that's where I think the third thing is, too. He began to see Will wouldn't go down so easily, that he was mostly just actually sick and that they were in fact very, very similar. So then Hannibal realized that Will is quite possibly the good Hannibal, and his impulse was also to destroy that, or at least to prove he was equally as corruptible, that Hannibal isn't the weak one of the pair. And also to try and takeover the role, to metaphorically skin Will and wear him as a person suit and become the renowned profiler he might have been.

    But now, Hannibal is realizing with Will's recovery that he is totally the weak one of the pair. Will won't be corrupted, or tricked or broken down, while Hannibal succumbed to vanity almost immediately and tried to destroy Will. He's seeing that weakness and feeling the loss and he wants to undo it. Not to return his other half per se, but to prove to himself that he could be in some small way (and his own way) just as good as Will is. If he saves Will, it's like saving himself.

  • I don't think our opinions are at odds, just worded differently. There is a sameness between them, but Will is still able to push himself toward the light, whereas Hannibal has long been taken by the dark. He recognizes himself in Will, and tries to temp Will into seeing himself in Hannibal.

  • ruby

    But also, that similarity is reflected in Will's 'purity' as it were. Hannibal (thus far) mainly kills only those who have themselves killed. So Will wouldn't be marked for death for that reason.

  • Pants_are_a_must

    If I could upvote your comment twice, I fucking WOULD.

    Also, I love how in this season, once more we see Hannibal killing another serial killer who might be as good as he is. Hannibal isn't interested in an equal companion. He's interested in Will because Will keeps his head out of the water, even when it tries to drag him back down. He wants that power.

  • Pants_are_a_must

    Oh honey, tumblr has done it reversed, coupled, mirrored, and my favorite: a gif of Hannibal just zipping up.

  • stardust

    I need to get my lazy ass over to Tumblr then!

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