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Hannibal 2×05 “Mukozuke” Recap

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Like much of the multi-course Kaiseki meal, the mukozuke’s importance has as much to do with the style and presentation as the taste of the dish. The mukozuke course is served in elaborate ceramic bowls, as an accompaniment to sake.

The politics and decision making behind size, shape and material of the bowl is fascinating. Japanese culture is so above my head. The Japanese theme, as always, is a perfect compliment to Hannibal, as its aesthetic and complicated themes are as important to the show as the meal/plot itself.

There’s a lot to chew on this week, including the kidney of poor Beverly Katz, a loss that really hurts my heart. Bryan Fuller and company made her a bigger part of the ensemble this season, which naturally means she’s dead meat. Katz stumbled upon Hannibal’s creepy murder basement, and instead of going to Jack for help, got caught in the act by Dr. Lecter. Last week ended on a cliffhanger, but there was little doubt as to who would come out on top. Any lingering doubt was erased as “Mukozuke” begins with Hannibal crafting a classy ass breakfast, intercut with the slop and spoonfuls o’ mush that Will Graham gets at the Baltimore State Hospital.

Hannibal’s made the sumptuous breakie for Jack, who’s still in shambles over what almost happened. His wife Bella had tried to take her own life, when she had the chance, and the power, and the ability to do so, to shield her husband and the world from seeing how weak and pathetic she was about to become. Hannibal got in the way of that, saving her life…which, of course, prolongs Bella’s torture, and makes Jack see Hannibal as even more of a hero (“You’re a great friend, Hannibal”). That sly bastard.

While Jack marvels at Hannibal’s friend skillz, Freddie Lounds (the always perfect Lara Jean Chorostecki) marvels at his murdering skillz, when she gets an anonymous tip and finds herself at the Observatory. There…she finds a body, and begins snapping photos. She calls the cops, but warns Jack…”she’s one of yours.” Jack doesn’t listen, and walks in on Beverly Katz…cut in slices like deli-thin prosciutto. Jack breaks down, like we all do. %!#$, Hannibal.

Jack relates the news to Dr. Zeller, Dr. Price and the FBI, as well as Will Graham. Will demands to see her, and Jack relents, bringing him in, in full-Silence of the Lambs regalia to the crime scene. Jack kicks everyone out, and lets Will do his thang, re-enacting the gruesome murder in his head (made more uncomfortable by the fact that Will strangles, freezes and cuts Hettienne Park like stone). He also adds Beverly Katz daydreams to his growing list of delusions. It’s clear to both Jack and Will that this was the work of the Chesapeake Ripper, and the copycat WAS the same killer, wearing different masks. Jack demands more answers (yet refuses to see them), because that’s what Jack does: “Who is he?” Will, knowing a Lecter rant won’t help his cause, tells Jack he has to make his own connections, like Katz did.

Sleazy Dr. Chilton continues to be a more noticeable presence this season, as he meets with Will. Graham immediately knows that Chilton talked to Hannibal, something Chilton promised not to do (Will of course knew he’d break the promise, or should’ve). Chilton inquires about Katz’s meeting before meeting her maker. Will brings up Abel Gideon (the great Eddie Izzard), certain that he knows the identity of the Chesapeake Ripper, suggesting that Chilton could be the one to catch the Ripper after all. This bait is too much for Chilton to pass up, so he agrees to bring Gideon back to the hospital, so Will can talk with him. It seems like Chilton and Graham have entirely too much latitude in the situation, but it also totally seems within their characters and the world of Hannibal.

Zeller and Price learn that Katz’s kidney was removed, and replaced by James Grey’s kidney, coming to the conclusion: “find her kidneys, find her killer.” It’s not exactly save the cheerleader, save the world, but it’s still dead on, as we cut to Hannibal making some delicious looking dish from Katz’s kidney. So much for that search.

Then, Hannibal amps up the subtext, as it’s wont to do, when Gideon and Graham meet. Gideon protects the identity of the Chesapeake Ripper, toying with Will in the process. He also serves up this nugget of wisdom: “If you want him, you’ll have to kill him.” Will’s response is classic, and disturbing: “Fair enough.”

More pairings occur: Chilton and Hannibal sip on expensive liquor, and Hannibal manipulates him again into getting an interview with Gideon. Gideon and Hannibal play a game out of meeting each other for the first time, with glorious double entendres thrown about. When Gideon comments, “I’ve never seen your face,” it’s no lie: he’s never seen Hannibal’s true face, true manner, inner self and dark passenger.

As Hannibal exits the hospital, Freddie Lounds is there, en route to pay Will Graham a visit (who actually called on HER). Hannibal, ever the networker, suggests a therapy session. I can’t wait for that to happen.

Lounds hates Will as much as Will hates Lounds (“Good to see you where you belong”), so she wonders why the hell Will asked to see her. Will has an admirer (the man who killed the bailiff and the judge), and wants to establish a line of communication with the killer through her website. Lounds agrees, once Will proves amenable to giving her exclusive rights to “his story.” Perfect.

Thankfully, Will’s message didn’t need to travel very far: the creepy orderly Matthew Brown (Parenthood‘s Jonathan Tucker) killed the bailiff. He used to be an inmate himself, and learned how to be a convincing orderly, going through the motions, and now wanting to help Will, to work together, two lone hawks teaming up. Matthew doesn’t take credit for the Judge’s murder, which clearly came under Hannibal’s jurisdiction. Will, granted with a devious helper, asks a favor: “Kill Hannibal Lecter.” Gideon, of course, is there to eavesdrop. There’s always someone listening, always someone that can see the truth if they’re open to it.

My favorite moment from the entire episode comes in the form of a nightmarish Will daydream, in which he begins to painfully grow antlers and horns, becoming the stag. Or more precisely, becoming Hannibal, becoming a dark killer himself, having ordered the hit on Dr. Lecter. Graham is willing to make that sacrifice, as blood begins to seep into his cell, and flood his consciousness. Blood isn’t just on Will’s hands. It’s overwhelming him.

Bloom realizes something’s up, because Will asked for Lounds. Will feels guilty; Katz died “because she listened to me.” Which is half-true: she didn’t listen to the “GO STRAIGHT TO JACK” part that would’ve saved her life and gotten Lecter behind bars. On her way out, Chilton delivers the best line of the episode, referring to Bloom as “catnip for killers.” Instead of leaving, Alana meets with Gideon instead, another one of her admirers, who reveals that Will has murderous intentions.

At the pool, Hannibal’s doing laps, because…Hannibal. The insane orderly arrives and shoots him up with a dart, and then hangs him, cutting his wrists. He’s bleeding out, and propped upon a bucket, about to literally kick it. Matthew Brown learns that Hannibal killed the judge, that he’s the Chesapeake Ripper, and speculates that if he kills Hannibal, he’ll absorb all of his murders and take strength from them, sadistically twisting a Iroquois belief. Before he can finish the job, Jack arrives (on Bloom’s recommendation), shoots Brown, and catches Hannibal before he can choke to death. Kinda like this (kudos to Hannibal Silkie Chicken):

Now Will is in even deeper $#!*. He may have been innocent before…but not anymore.

GRADE: A-