'Hannibal' - 'Kaiseki': I've Got You Under My Skin Where the Rain Can't Get In
“You may not believe me now, but you will.” (Will Graham to Jack Crawford) And of course, we know he’s right. Half the fun of Hannibal is that we (think) we know the story; we read Thomas Harris’ books and watched the film adaptations. As uncertain as Graham (Hugh Dancy) is of himself, we are sure the tables will turn.
Is it smart to give away perhaps your most exciting scene in the season premiere, or for that matter, in advance? Watching Kaiseki’s magnificent opening fight between Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) (which I’d already viewed multiple times over the past week), I had to admit it probably drew in more viewers. Any worries over whether the episode would still stand out after the fight was done were quickly erased, as Will proclaimed his innocence to anyone who would listen, and Hannibal played mind games all ‘round the town. Of course I’d be remiss not to rave over that Crawford/Lecter dance, the Matrixy slow motion camera work on each actor’s face as Jack clearly came to a realization and Hannibal immediately knew he was in trouble. I wouldn’t have guessed the fight would be so equally weighted; Fishburne’s strength was glorious to behold (Crawford flipping Hannibal over his shoulders!) against Mads’ control and agility. But in the end, Hannibal’s mind games won out and now we’re forced to wait until season’s end to see whether Hannibal gets through that door, and if Crawford will live (or even make it long enough to tell anyone).
While the serial killer backstory was intriguing enough—the latest sicko chooses victims to fill out his color palette, abducts and injects them with heroin, then preservatives, and arranges bodies like an eyeball—it wasn’t until the episode’s last horrifying image and scream we much cared. This hour was all about the games Hannibal plays. As Dr. Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza) so Jan Brad-il-y complained to the man himself, “Hannibal, Hannibal, Hannibal!”
Hannibal Plays Jack: The gentlemen lament over sashimi how they both failed to detect Will’s full psychosis and deceit. Wine and good “flounder” seem to assuage their guilt all too easily, and Hannibal throws in the evening’s catchy entendre, “I never feel guilty eating anything.” Dinner kicks off the games. Hannibal plays up the necessity of being investigated himself. Jack plays hardball with an FBI internal investigator (Cynthia Nixon) who tries to convince Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) to recant the report she made alleging Crawford’s misconduct, but Bloom is standing by Will.
Hannibal Plays Bedelia: The show’s second most intriguing relationship is easily Hannibal and Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson). In the series’ first season, we learned that Bedelia had retired after being attacked by one of Hannibal’s patients, and Bedelia told Jack her life was only saved because the patient had swallowed his own tongue. But there’s always seemed more to that story, and perhaps we got a few more clues (or closer to the truth) in the conversations between doctor and doctor—making sense of them is another thing entirely. Is part or the whole story Bedelia gave Jack a lie; was her attacker possibly Hannibal himself? In a curious exchange, Bedelia asks Hannibal why he’s keeping Crawford so close; “You’re maintaining an air of transparency while putting me in the position of having to lie for you again.” Hannibal replies, “You’re not just lying for me.” Bedelia clearly knows something more about Hannibal, and so far she’s been adept at handling her patient, but when she remarks that Crawford doesn’t know what he’s capable of, Lecter quickly retorts—ever so threateningly—“Neither do you.” The unflappable Dr. Du Maurier is clearly shaken, evident in the thought she holds back. What secret is each holding for the other…was Hannibal there when Bedelia was attacked?
Hannibal Momentarily Plays Beverly Katz: Here Hannibal may have underestimated his match; Katz is already suspicious of the perfectly mounting evidence against Will, though she doesn’t seem to suspect Hannibal…yet. As she collects his DNA and readies his suits for testing, Hannibal reassures her: “The beauty of your evidence…is in its certainty.” Uh, maybe don’t count those chickens quite yet, Dr. Lecter. Although we know it’s Jack who ultimately figures out Hannibal, I’m going to guess something Katz said got stuck in his head and finally made sense.
See Hannibal and Will Play: At the heart of the matter are these two equally intelligent men, each intent on manipulating the other and dependent upon the other in twisted ways. Fuller has changed up this relationship a bit, made Hannibal bizarrely caring toward Will, and turned his scapegoat into obsession. Will knows the truth; he knows its inside him somewhere, waiting to be coughed up like a random ear. Well, not so random as we saw in that horrifying flashback Will had of Hannibal intubating him to plant Abigail’s ear inside Will. It’s time for Will to find a way to fight back, and although hypnosis only seems to bring on more hallucinatory images with a beautifully rendered scene of Alana morphing into the Hannibalstag/Wendigo, then dissolving into splashes of flowing liquid.
Will needs Hannibal, either to draw information from him, or to manipulate the not-so-good doctor into a slip-up, in order to prove his own innocence. As Will confidently maintains to Jack, “I am not the intelligent psychopath you’re looking for.”
Great line straight from the book: I immediately took note of Chilton’s great remark about Will not speaking to him: “Makes me feel like I’m fumbling with his head, like a freshman with a panty girdle.” Of course it was direct (ever so slightly modified) from Harris’ Red Dragon.
That gorgeous, balletic fight was choreographed by Tommy Chang (Robocop, Pacific Rim, Nikita, X-Men). He’s also credited for “Sakizuki,” so we have some action to look forward to next week.
Bryan Fuller originally wanted Angela Lansbury to play Dr. Du Maurier; she wasn’t available so the role was reimagined younger for Gillian Anderson.
Also interesting is Bedelia’s wikia trivia: “The character’s name is a composite of the titular character in Bedelia a 1945 novel about a woman who may have murdered her husbands in a serial fashion, and the author Daphne du Maurier, who wrote Rebecca…”
Just because, here’s that fight again: