Through the courses leading up to “Mizumono,” we watched Will Graham undergo a transformation from young buck to powerful, full grown stag. All the while, Hannibal Lecter nurtured his protege, seeing the hopeful signs of darkness in a kindred spirit; mentoring Will through each stage of his psycho-insectual metamorphosis.The second season finale of Hannibal hearkened back to The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon with its moth references, dinner, and Hannibal’s attack on Will. Reader or not, the glint of that linoleum knife was a terrible surprise. “Fate and circumstance have returned us to this moment when the teacup shatters,” and we can’t help but wish it would pick itself up and come back together again.
For anyone who thought he knew how this hour would end — after all, we’d already seen that brilliant Crawford/Lecter fight — not only couldn’t we have predicted the multiple twists and turns, but Fuller threw in a couple surprise guest appearances. Hannibal’s growing suspicion has been alluded before tonight; he knew to empty Alana’s gun and his raised eyebrow, alerted by a sharp sense of smell, went full cock. It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for Lecter, who gave Will every chance, practically begging him to back out. “If we disappear now, tonight. Feed your dogs, leave a note for Alana, never see her or Jack again…I don’t need a sacrifice.” But Will is too far gone, too egotistical to give up his trap. This is the last chance to bring his plan to fruition; Will’s confidence is his own (and others’) downfall. Hannibal is smart enough to have accepted Graham’s betrayal; tossing patient journals and diaries, including Will’s own. As the two men pretend to prepare for their next life together, the fire burns away any clues to Hannibal’s soul. Lecter unknowingly foreshadows his future in prison; ” If I’m ever apprehended, my memory palace will serve as more than a mnemonic system. I will live there.”
What was once his chief weapon, Graham’s duplicitous nature, turns on itself…fools only Will. When Garret Jacob Hobbs pays him a delusional visit, Will points his shotgun out at a sea of stags, unable to differentiate one from the other. Is he aiming at Hannibal, only to shoot himself? With a ticking clock counting the seconds until his plans with Hannibal and Jack play out, Will’s control fades away. In a short visit with Freddie, Will asks her the favor of not writing about Abigail, and Lounds reads Graham’s mind (and ours): “You really don’t know if you’re going to survive him, do you?” All this time as Will waited for Hannibal’s mistake, the fatal ones are all his own.
Dislikable and sensibly efficient Kade Prurnell points out the flaws and crime in Jack’s plan forcing him — on “compassionate leave” — and his hand. Whether she’s right about the impact of Bella’s illness, Crawford doesn’t seem to be thinking quite clearly; he puts up a miraculously strong defense against Hannibal, but his mental weakness (the moment he believes Lecter incapacitated) may have cost his life. Right before the fight, Will makes his final transformative telephone call (exactly — in “Apéritif” — as Hannibal had phoned his warning to Garret Jacob Hobbs) to Lecter: “They know.” And like Jack, we couldn’t wait for this moment, when Hannibal and Crawford face the clearest moment of their friendship: understanding.
The (Will-predicted) kitchen fight was no less thrilling the second time around. In fact, it may have been even more compelling in context, and interrupted by Alana’s uninvited house call. The camera work and effects here were absolutely aces, between the fight and Alana’s shocking crash-through-the-window, glass-shattering fall, the slow-motion captures and the rain on both Hannibal and Alana’s faces, everything was breathtakingly beautiful. Eloquent even under the most stressful situations, Hannibal again tries to show someone he cares about the wide open door. “I was hoping you and I wouldn’t have to say goodbye. Nothing seen nor said — you may find that rude…In your defense, I worked very hard to blind you. You can stay blind. Walk away. I’ll make no plans to call on you but if you stay, I’ll kill you. Be blind Alana, don’t be brave.” But no one wants to listen to Hannibal, only to catch a Hannibal. A few have suspected Abigail was still alive but I was not among them, and as such, was caught completely by surprise. When I saw movement behind Alana, I assumed Hannibal had snuck around through some secret door. But no, it was just another of Hannibal’s hapless, helpless, brainwashed victims, following his dangerous directions, with no reward. (So it must have been Abigail that Beverly saw in the basement before meeting her own demise.)
In the end, Will is forced to watch the last of his power drain away in the form of the dying beast he thought he’d become. Near-gutted by the man who tried to love him, Graham is not only nearly literally eviscerated — also chastised, and shown up for the fool he’s been. “I wanted to surprise you. I knew you wanted to surprise me. Now that you know me, see me. I gave you a rare gift. But you didn’t want it.” Hannibal may have felt something for Will but it didn’t blind him, and in his revenge he takes what he knows Graham loves. Like Abigail’s father before him, Lecter slashes their surrogate child’s throat, leaving a trail of broken (some dead) bodies at Will and Jack’s feet, right where they belong.
A gorgeous, blue-skyed epilogue called us to Hannibal Lecter’s expected escape plane, crewed by French speaking stewardesses offering juice and champagne. As one might guess, Hannibal chooses the celebratory libation; as any Fuller audience sometimes forgets — the man always has a little surprise waiting — this time it’s Lecter’s travel companion, Dr. Du Maurier.
What a spectacular ending to a brilliant second season. It has been an absolute thrill to watch every episode, and not once to feel let down or like I’d seen a filler hour. Mads Mikkelsen earned an Emmy this year.
My head is full, trying to work out what exactly has happened with Bedelia. She left, clearly afraid of Hannibal. The FBI brought her back. Was it all an act? Was it a pact? It’s hard to believe she could be in a brainwashed state at this point, unless Hannibal’s therapy is that refined. Is she with him because now she feels freed by her immunity agreement? It was hard to tell by the look on her face whether she was there on the plane of her own volition; perhaps he’s kidnapped her? Is Fuller taking Du Maurier on Clarice Starling’s (Harris) Hannibal journey? Ooh, that would be creeptastic, twisted-up perfection.
I wish we could have had more Bella, and more Jack and Bella. What a wonderful couple they are, on and off show.
Book readers know (swipe ahead to see) Will is going to survive — he’ll be okay. It’s in Red Dragon that Graham recalls this attack, which was set up like the one we saw happen to Miriam Lass, right before Jack comes to Will’s home to convince him to help catch a fairy…tooth, that is. I expect everyone else is expendable, but hope Jack will somehow make it through. Laurence Fishburne needs to stay on my television. End book spoiler.
Just dessert (the Japanese course Mizumono is a “seasonal dessert”) or just deserts (not misspelled, as many people thought at the end of “Kō No Mono”)?