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

By Cindy Davis | TV | March 15, 2014 |

By Cindy Davis | TV | March 15, 2014 |

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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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!




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