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Hannibal 2×09 “Shiizikana” Recap

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Only four episodes remain of Hannibal‘s second feast after this past Friday’s sumptuous “Shiizikana,” referring to a dish added to the festivities, like a hot pot.

Considering how many added elements and characters have been folded onto the dinner table over the past couple weeks, the title makes sense.

We open, as we usually do, on a dark dream from Will Graham, whose descent into insanity has been replaced with a descent into evil. Hannibal is tied to a tree, with the feathered stag manning the ropes, and Will commanding the creature. Hannibal points out the monster growing inside Will, and his ideal of love as truly seeing someone, and allowing that person to unlock his potential. Its clear that that means Hannibal saw the monster inside him from the beginning, and has been cultivating it from the start, and through his therapy and “friendship” and most importantly, love has unleashed the seed of murder within Will. He’s proven correct, as Will orders the stag to tighten the bonds…until Hannibal practically bursts, blood spurting everywhere, and Will wakes up from the nightmare.

In reality, Hannibal is making a lavish sweet bread with liver and eggs, for himself and Jack, because Jack is always at his house, eating his food. I have to admit, I would be too, human remains or no. Jack worries about his memory and how he doubted Will, and Hannibal states that he can’t talk about Will’s mental state, now that he’s a patient again and not with the FBI.

At a snowy truck stop, a man gets into his semi, sipping on coffee. Then some man or beast gets on top of the car… so stupidly, the man gets outside his car, and he’s ripped apart, seemingly from an animal. This episode’s primary concern is the tenuous continuum between man and animal.

Will, back in therapy with Hannibal (not sure how anyone allows this to happen), talks about his regrets. He’d riddled with them, but trying to kill Clark Ingram is not one of them. In fact, he regrets not killing him (as Hannibal stopped him, in a perverse bit of irony). Hannibal tells him to imagine a sequence of events that he wouldn’t regret, and we see Will blow Clark Ingram’s head off. It was a missed opportunity to feel like when he killed Garrett Jacob Hobbs, or when he thought he had killed Hannibal… he felt a “quiet sense of power.” Mads Mikkelsen reveals a flicker of that quiet sense of power, in the form of his should-be Emmy award winning smirk, and demurely says, “Good.” Is Will truly teetering on the edge? Has he gone too deep? Is he trying to play Hannibal at his own game? Or is this all real… and he’ll save himself from evil in the nick of time? Whatever is happening, it’s fascinating TV, as always, on Hannibal.

On his way out of the building, Will runs into Margot Verger (Being Human‘s Katharine Isabelle), a fellow patient of Hannibal’s we were introduced to last week. Margot tried to kill her brother, and Hannibal has encouraged her to do so. She’s clearly intrigued by what Hannibal has been telling Will. In her session, Margot openly wonders what kind of psychiatrist Hannibal is, as Hannibal tells her that humans universally dehumanize their enemies, something Margot has done with her brother, and a notion that the killer this week is wrestling with.

At the crime scene, viscera is everywhere, lighting up the snow. An animal attack is not normally under the FBI’s purview, but Jack believes a man is using an animal to kill, and has adapted the animal for bigger prey. The animal, or whatever it is, didn’t eat the victim. It’s “bloodsport,” “evolving” the animal.

Will visits Peter (the incredible Jeremy Davies of LOST and Justified), the animal-lover from last week, asking him what animal could do this: a wolf or a bear? Peter isn’t really helpful about the animal (“a wolfbear”), merely mentioning that animals can be trained like another, that he could even train Will to do things (like Hannibal is seemingly doing to Will and has been for his other patients). Peter believes that animals and humans are the same, as he cuddles with his mouse, that animals are capable of friendships. But he points out: man is the only creature who kills to kill.

Peter actually proves to be full of wisdom, as we see a man in the shadows, creating a crazy skull mechanism to wear, with frightening bite force. The man attacks a couple, blood everywhere, as this very well may be the bloodiest episode of Hannibal yet. The girl tries to run away, falls (of course), and we see the man, wearing the skull mask, in her pupils, as he gores her and rips her apart. Oof.

At the scene, Will does his thing, seeing the crime unfold, making himself the killer, only now he IS the stag, and not Hannibal. He orders the stag to kill…but as the animal attacks, we see that it’s Will with the horns, blood all over his eager face. “It’s a man who wants to be an animal.” There’s nothing personal about it. The victims are just meat. Prey. He has “built his beast.”

Will and Hannibal talk about the case, indicating that its instinct, not rage, possessing the killer. Will admits that using his hands to kill Hannibal would be more satisfying, because as Hannibal himself points out, guns lack intimacy. “You must allow yourself to be intimate with your instincts.”

Back at the lab, our doctors link the attacks to the jaws of a cave bear or a dire wolf, two species that have been extinct for quite awhile. Of course, they now believe that the killer suffers from species dysphoria, and believes himself to be an animal. Hannibal, choosing to reveal this AFTER several murders, admits that he had a patient years ago who fits the profile. Someone with an identity disorder, a teenager who’s break through came when he realized he was an animal inside the body of a man.

This man, Randall Tier (Mark O’Brien), works at the Museum of Natural History, dealing with bones everyday. Hannibal pays him a visit, pointing out that he’s “ruled by a fascination of teeth,”  apparently the same thing he said to Randall in his first session. Hannibal’s impressed; he’s come so far, and made wonderful progress. He warns him that the FBI will be coming for him, and coaches him on what to say, not wanting him to stop killing.

Sure enough, Jack and company arrive at the museum to ask him about cave bears and their suspicions. Well coached, Randall sends them off the tracks, enough for Will to even believe him.

Margot comes to Will’s house. Will has done some research: she’s the heir to the Verger meat packing empire… though Margot points out that her brother is. She admits that she tried to kill her brother, and Will tells her he tried to kill Hannibal, both revealing their “private carnage.”  Did Hannibal have it coming? “What do you think?” “I couldn’t say,” Margot says, as she sips on whiskey. “Neither could I,” Will responds. Every conversation is so delicious, so teeming with possibility and portent. This episode in particular is like silky, disturbed poetry, a master class in writing.

Will and Hannibal chat again, Will marveling at Randall’s success story (or just puffing up Hannibal’s ego). He wonders how many success stories like Randall are out there? It’s clear that success refers to creating a killer, and that Hannibal has plenty. Will mentions Dr. Bedelia, and asks if Hannibal killed her. “No,” he responds, which is the truth, but asking if he tried would’ve been the better question.

Will asks Hannibal what he thinks about when he thinks about killing? “God,” telling a story of how a church collapsed with dozens of the clergy inside it. Was that an act of god? “Typhoid and swans, it all comes from the same place.” High minded stuff.

Randall suits up, and comes to pay Will a deadly visit. Will’s wonderful dog Buster senses the danger, and goes out to meet Randall, getting hurt for his trouble. Thankfully, Hannibal doesn’t kill adorable dogs, as Will rescues Buster and retreats to his home, realizing Randall is out there. Randall smashes through the window…and we…

Cut to Hannibal’s home…with Randall’s body on the table, the next ingredient in the puzzle. Will stands over him. Will send someone to kill Hannibal, and now he’s done the same. So now they’re “even steven.” Hannibal gives him a slight nod, one that could almost be imagined… and then credits hit. Hannibal is so freaking good.

GRADE: A