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Hannibal 2×04 “Takiawase” Recap

Continuing with the Japanese theme, the next dish in Hannibal‘s second season is “Takiawase,” another sequence within the numerous course kaiseki, a type of Japanese cuisine that’s all about art, with the taste, appearance and colors holding high esteem. After the Sakizuke and Hassun, the Takiawase is a vegetable dish served with meat, fish or tofu, or by that definition, almost anything.

And for the show, that means this episode is an eclectic, weird mix, with a psychedelic flair that is all about death. Trying to come to grips with it. Trying to avoid it. Trying to search for meaning in it. So much of it.

Our dish this week begins, as it tends to on Hannibal, with a Will Graham dream sequence. Again, Will is fishing, fishing for answers, for the truth, for ways to expose Hannibal for what he truly is. This time, however, he’s joined by Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl, always great). Abigail was taught to hunt by her murderous father (the Minnesota Shrike), and now Will is teaching her to fish, in a father figure role himself. It’s off-putting, since any father figures Abigail had, have wanted to murder her, but Will’s trying to figure out who killed her. In many ways, Abigail was the bait… and she certainly lured Hannibal right to her.

Will wakes up from his daily creepy standing up day dream to find Beverly Katz there to talk about the deranged muralist. Will posits (correctly) that a separate killer was able to persuade James Grey (the aforementioned murderous muralist) to make himself the centerpiece of his work. He asserts that its Hannibal, which causes Katz to roll her eyes. We thought Will was done raving about Hannibal, but he’s back in full force this time around, with much more success. Will begs her to at least look for evidence. Katz agrees, but isn’t looking for clues about Hannibal. That tune changes in about a scene and a half.

The crazy creative and disturbing body o’ the week is a man found in the forest who’s corpse has become a beehive. The subplot is practically an afterthought in the scheme of things, but it meshes beautifully with the theme. Plus, it’s freaky, and gives a chance for Jimmy Price (Scott Thompson) and Brian Zeller (Aaron Abrams) to geek out over the body. Apparently, the killer “purposefully re-purposed” the body as a bee hive. Awesome/gross (Hannibal‘s motto).

Will meets with Dr. Chilton, offering him an enticing deal. He’ll agree to go into his exclusive care, with a willingness to take any and all tests Chilton wants, as long as he doesn’t talk to Hannibal about the case at all. Chilton agrees, knowing it could bolster his career…and knowing he can lie, because that’s what Dr. Chilton is good at.

Katz brings in Hannibal to have a look at James Grey’s body and Hannibal intuits immediately that everything she says comes from Will’s mouth. Katz admits that they’ve been working together on cases (and she isn’t subtle), putting her squarely in Hannibal’s crosshairs. This also gives Hannibal a chance to be creepy intelligent about the killer’s pathology.

Then things get David Lynch-y, as Will undergoes a narco-analytical interview, as Chilton injects him full of drugs, puts him under, and asks him questions. In the acid trip-like sequence, we get a return of sweaty Will, several Hannibal/Will sessions, a bevy of clocks…and turn up in a familiar sequence. Hannibal’s talking with Dr. Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard), long suspected to be the Chesapeake Ripper, a scene that a sick/messed up Will had walked in on, but hadn’t remembered, thanks to encephalitis, his Will Graham bonkers-ness and Hannibal’s treatment. In the sequence, Hannibal practically admits he’s the Chesapeake Ripper. Will’s mind gets blown, again, with the realization. He begins to make Dr. Chilton see the same thing, that Hannibal manipulated him, caused blackouts and the encephalitis with his treatment.

So what does Dr. Chilton do? He brags about his new found agreement with Will, along with the knowledge that he believes Hannibal may have incited Will Graham to kill people. Dr. Chilton is a moron.

There’s a lot of depressing moments in this episode, but none more than the turn from Gina Torres as Bella Crawford, Jack’s cancer ridden wife who has come to terms with her death. She’s miserably sick, yet meeting with Hannibal to talk about her condition, and Jack. She’s given up, and is ready to surrender to death while she still has dignity. Jack obviously doesn’t feel the same way, and Hannibal is given the unenviable task of maneuvering these murky waters. Back at home, Bella and Jack get high on medical grade Purple Kush. Jack talks about new experimental treatments, while Bella tells him she’s signed a DNR form, as their divide becomes even more pronounced. She witnessed her mother die of the very same illness, and doesn’t want Jack to have to suffer through the same experience. It’s a beautiful, touching, heart-wrenching scene, impressive since Bella’s only been in like 1-2 episodes before this one.

While Zeller and Price wonder if the bee murder had religious motivations, we’re introduced to the killer, a bat$#*! nutty Amanda Plummer (Hunger Games: Catching Fire), who’s an acupuncturist named Katherine Pimms. In a scene that still makes me shiver, we see her gleefully lobotomize one of her arthritic patients, believing that she’s helping ease his pain. In a way, she does, as he’s about to no longer feel anything.

The FBI find the end result, which is essentially a scarred zombie, thus the “living dead” moniker they bestow upon the poor bastard. He’s riddled in bee stings, gross discoloration and disease, but somehow clings to life. The bee stings are hidden by the acupuncture marks, which leads Katz to make a connection to James Grey’s body. What if the killer’s signature was hidden by the stitches? And indeed, she finds more stitches underneath the stitches, and reveals that whoever killed Grey, also took his kidney.

Beverly goes to Will, who’s incensed that she showed Hannibal Grey’s body. He tells her that Hannibal is the Chesapeake Ripper, and comes to another awful realization: that he removed the kidney to eat it, as we flashback to lovely meals that Will has had with Dr. Lecter. Yum. Katz doesn’t really believe him, but that doesn’t stop her from doing something incredibly stupid.

Jack and company track down Katherine, because she treated both victims, and she basically admits to murder, although she thinks she’s saving them. The arthritic man couldn’t walk without pain before her treatment. Now, he can walk just fine. He can’t do much else, however. Amanda Plummer is gloriously creepy here, and would do well as a season long villain somewhere.

Bella visits Hannibal one more time, even further gone. Before arriving, she apparently pumped herself full of morphine. “Death is not a defeat, but a cure.” She wanted to die elsewhere, not at home with Jack, and apparently chose Hannibal’s office. As Hannibal intones, she “denied his goodbye.” But it would’ve been a painful one, Bella insists, and allowed herself a “peaceful one.” She wants Hannibal to tell Jack how much she loves her. Her (would be) final words are “Goodbye, Dr. Lecter…” as she fades into nothingness. Whoa. But then it gets crazier: Hannibal pulls a Two-Face, and flips a coin (a gift from Bella), and immediately acts to revive her, as she comes back to the land of the living after an injection from a magical syringe.

At the hospital, Jack is by her side, messed up with grief over his suicidal and dying wife. Hannibal’s there, and returns her coin. Bella slaps him (despite literally coming back to life and being on her death bed regardless) and kicks him out. Hannibal “saved” her life, but by doing so, took away her chosen ending. It’s another ingenious flip of the script, as Hannibal killed Bella in Thomas Harris’ novels (and still can). By prolonging her life, he’s extended Jack and Bella’s suffering, while making himself look like the hero in the process. It’s F’d up.

But we’re not done, even after this emotional roller coaster. Katz decides it’s a good idea to BREAK INTO HANNIBAL’S HOME AND SNOOP. You idiot. She finds his frozen kidneys, and also discovers his The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo-like underground lair, coming to grips with the truth. But of course, in the reflection of his torture room, we see Hannibal, striking the most imposing stance I’ve ever seen. He’s simply staring at her, ready, awash in light, as Katz is submerged in darkness. Hannibal switches off the light and Katz fires her gun simultaneously, as we’re drowned in blackness, and we hear several more gun shots, but don’t see the results. Considering the show is called Hannibal, I’m thinking things don’t go so well for Katz, and that makes me super sad. Hettienne Park’s increased role had been one of the better developments of the second season…but that was to the detriment for her entirely too curious and ultimately reckless character. Whatever happens (Hannibal could surprise us yet), it’s a fantastic ending, in what is likely the best episode of the second season.

The Hannibal Death Continuum:

Will aims to avenge Abigail’s death, and avoid his certain death sentence if he’s found guilty.

Jack wants Bella to fight, unwilling to ever admit defeat, despite a promise of more suffering and emotional torment.

Bella embraces death, as an end to her suffering, and a way to empower herself with a choice, in face of a disease that aims to eradicate everything.

Katherine, like Bella, sees death as a justifiable endgame, especially when her patients are suffering, making the same choice that Bella has, only without consulting her patients, and doing it for them.

Hannibal, though, has mastery over death, and in some messed up way, almost plays God in this episode. He convinced James Grey to die for his murder masterpiece. He took away Bella’s choice, bringing her back to life, so he can continue to torture the couple. And, he likely ended Katz’s life, to preserve the illusion that he’s created.

Katz likely is dead, a pawn in Hannibal and Will’s chess match, who made the mistake of stumbling upon the truth.

That truth is that Hannibal remains one of the best shows on TV.

GRADE: A

Photo: NBC