WARNING! SPOILERS FOR SEASON 2, EPISODE 5 BELOW
So far, I’ve been able to keep a rather detached tone in my review of the show through these recaps, I’ve been keeping them broad. This week, I can’t keep my writing as detached. This has been, by far, one of the most emotional episodes of the entire series, and there’s lots to talk about and I think I’m not the only one who feels personally affected by it. We lost a major character, and the entire episode is filled with a multitude of different tensions.
The episode opens on a juxtaposition of Hannibal (incredibly dressed down in a cozy sweater) preparing a breakfast of crawfish, eggs, and meat, with the preparation of the prison slop being served to Will at breakfast. Hannibal has a guest: Jack Crawford. He hasn’t slept, he’s been up all night with his wife at the hospital. Hannibal deftly explains that he couldn’t do what Bella had asked of him; as a doctor his choice to save Bella was clear, but as a philosopher, he had many options. He makes it a point to tell Jack that it wasn’t just what he could do for Bella, but what he couldn’t do to Jack; He couldn’t let this happen to him. He tries to come off as humble and self-deprecating, “I guess I’m a better friend than a therapist,” and Jack makes the mistake of trusting him too much, “You’re a great friend, Hannibal.” And that’s just where Lecter wants him.
Freddie Lounds is at the observatory again: the same one at which Miriam’s arm was found, and the same place Freddie helped keep Frederick Chilton alive after Abel Gideon got his hands into him. We find out later in the episode that she’d received an anonymous call to lead her there. She pulls a gun as she climbs the stairs, not knowing what she’s going to find. As her face turns to revulsion, she grabs her camera to take a few shots. We don’t quite see what she sees, it’s not yet time for the reveal.
Jack’s been called, and Freddie heads him off at the pass. In a surprisingly caring moment, Freddie warns Jack, “Have someone else go, Jack, she’s one of yours.” Even though many people seem to dislike Freddie Lounds, she is a human being and she does have scruples. Beverly Katz is dead. She’s been sliced up like bread and preserved between sheets of acrylic like a Body World exhibit. Half of her is still clothed in the outfit she died in, and the rest of her is spread out in a line across the observatory’s top floor. After last week, I thought I would have a hard time accepting this death. This one stung, it created a bit of a rift in the fandom (mostly on Tumblr) for having killed a woman of color, but in the end, this was one of the most beautiful crime scenes I’ve seen on the show. She was an important character, and she was given an important, beautiful presentation in death. Perhaps it shows the respect the Ripper has for her, but either way, I was almost comforted by the presentation.
Jack’s voice follows us as he speaks first to her comrades in arms, Zeller and Price (whose reactions are heartbreaking), then to the BAU at large, and then to Will. Will sits across from Jack and Alana, seeing a visage of Beverly as he tries to wrap his head around his friend’s death. “I want to see her,” he says. Jack understands, and perhaps more than most, wants to catch whoever did this, so he trots his pony out to interpret the evidence. Due to the hospital rules, he’s wrapped up like an S&M Christmas present, strapped up in so many bindings that he can’t do much more than blink.
Once upstairs, Jack clears the room and takes a risk by undoing all of Will’s restraints, letting him walk free. He even leaves the room to let him interpret the evidence. It takes him a second as Will is overcome with emotion. He hears Beverly’s voice, telling him to interpret the evidence, and that is what steels him for his task. As he does so, speaking of how he strangles Beverly Katz (perhaps a important narrative detail, as when he interprets, he doesn’t use names), and that she knew her killer. The killer watches her die, freezes her, and cuts her “like stone” to preserve her. At this point, he sees the Wendigo (or Man Stag) behind the acrylic portions. “She found something,” he says, almost making eye contact with the creature-figment. It’s painful, but he knows just who killed her.
Finished with his interpretation, Jack asks him questions — picks Will’s brain. The pause when Jack has asks him who the Ripper is is so indicative of so many things. Will knows he can’t just tell Jack it’s Hannibal, that he won’t believe him, and even if he did, he would be putting Jack in harm’s way. Having just heard that he was at the hospital last night with his wife, he can’t wish more harm on the man who is being beaten down at every step right now. He tells him that Beverly made her connection to the Ripper, and that he’ll have to make his own. Jack wonders aloud why he brought him here, to which Will’s response is a heartbreaking “To say goodbye.”
Back at the hospital, Chilton has Will in a therapy cage again. Will ignores Chilton when he asks him if he wants to talk about what happened at the observatory. Will is more concerned with the fact that Chilton shared his treatment information with Hannibal he agreed that he would not. Chilton wonders what Beverly spoke about, since they’d met in the privacy room (the only room in the facility he’s not legally allowed to listen in on). Chilton admits to Will that he was wrong about Gideon being the Ripper. He acknowledges that the Ripper is an intelliegent man, with a surgeon’s training, and it’s clear to Will that the wheels in Chilton’s mind are spinning. Will then sets about stroking Chilton’s ego, telling him that he might be able to catch the real Chesapeake Ripper, and posits a little game: both Will and Chilton should say the name of the person they think is the true Ripper at the same time and see if it’s the same name.
Zeller and Price flank Jack as they stare at the pieces of Beverly. He tells them they don’t need to do this, that they should be allowed to grieve. The anger and wish for retribution is apparent on Zeller’s face as Price’s just seems sad, “We’re not running away from this, Jack. Beverly wouldn’t,” he says. Doing an autopsy based on Will’s mention that someone else may be a part of that beautiful crime scene, Zeller finds that the kidneys were the Muralist’s, meaning whoever killed him, killed Beverly, and if they can find her kidneys, they can find her killer.
They will, of course, be thwarted in that, because Hannibal has already created a beautiful dinner using her kidneys, a meat tart, complete with a small, edible version of Will’s face mask. He smiles as he eats his dinner, as we all scream at the screen and curse him. Of course he won’t let them find her kidneys, that would deprive him of a good meal.
Abel Gideon is back, alive, and no really worse for the wear it seems, as Will and he get to chit-chat about the Ripper. One of the best lines is delivered by Will. Gideon calls him “Mr. Graham” and he counters with “You can call me Will, now that we’re of equal social standing.” It’s delivered with such distaste. Gideon just seems to be having fun, getting to talk to the man who nearly killed him a few months ago. He sits in his therapy cage facing Will, while Will faces the front wall, barely glancing at him. Gideon seems squirmy, but oh so intrigued with why he’s back under the care of the man he disemboweled, and he can’t wait to get to the meat of the conversation. He also wonders what Will gets out of this strange deal.
Finally, Will turns to him and they talk, remembering the night he took Gideon hostage and brought him to Hannibal’s home. He tells Gideon that the Ripper sent Will to kill him, which is countered by “you were quite happy to try to kill me yourself. You have it in you, as they say.” The ultimatum is leveled, “If you want to catch the Ripper, you’ll have to kill him.” Will takes the advice of a confirmed psychopath with the chilling response “Fair enough,” and the show kicks into a higher gear.
Coming back from the commercial, Chilton and his gilded pity cane (so-called by Fuller on Twitter) have payed Hannibal a visit in his office. Hannibal pours brandy and asks Frederick why on Earth he’s brought Gideon back to the Baltimore Hospital after what he did to him. We finally see Chilton prod Hannibal when its pointed out that Frederick is keeping his misdeeds under his own roof, Frederick response “my misdeeds or yours?” which gives Hannibal pause. Another blow is dealt as Chilton says he’s picking up the pieces of Will Graham and trying to put his brain back together after Hannibal supposedly failed. Such a wound to his ego won’t go unanswered, Hannibal points out that Chilton’s analyzed his patient, and that he should be allowed the same by interviewing Abel Gideon.
Now there’s the Clash of the proverbial Titans as Lecter and Gideon meet in much better circumstances than at gunpoint. Another great gem of a line now, “Our brains devote more space to reading the details of faces than any other object… dare I say I’ve never seen yours before.” Hannibal introduces himself as though Will never showed up with Gideon in tow, and Gideon plays along(presumably for both their own egos, and for the fact that Chilton is assuredly listening.) We get to watch Chilton squirm as he’s referenced.
Outside, with who knows how much of the conversation between Gideon and Hannibal left to our imaginations, Freddie Lounds is snapping pics of Lecter coming out of the hospital, rudely. When she notes that he seems disappointed, Hannibal says “We evolved the ability to communicate disappointment to teach those around us good manners.” It seems that Freddie has been called in to interview Will, at Will’s request, a fact which Hannibal finds hard to believe.
Barney’s “don’t do this or that” speech to Clarice is delivered by the orderly bringing Freddie to Will, making many fannibals squeal in delight, myself included. Freddie even gets one of Clarice’s lines. Will says his admirer is a fan of Freddie’s type of journalism. He wants to bait the admirer, to find out who he is specifically, and to establish a line of communication. Using TattleCrime.com is a very blatant ode to Red Dragon, one that will hopefully play out brilliantly. But of course, Freddie has a price. She wants exclusive rights to Will’s story. He unexpectedly agrees, showing us that he really is desperate to find this admirer. Of course, Hannibal reads the article and has a micro-smirk. I’m not entirely sure why, but perhaps because he’s proud of Will’s choices, and the line to the admirer is also a bit of a warning to Hannibal as well.
The Admirer happens to be the orderly we’ve seen lurking about the screen most of the day, He’s un-wired Chilton’s eavesdropping mics to allow himself a chance to talk to Will privately, revealing himself and all but gushing about how much he likes Will’s brand of alleged murder. When asked why he’s trying to help him, he gives a speech about smaller birds mobbing hawks to bring them down, likening himself and Will to hawks. Will points out that hawks are solitary, to which the orderly counters “imagine if the hawks started working together.” He asks why Will wanted to talk to him, what the favor is.
“I want you to kill Hannibal Lecter.” The orderly(Matthew Brown, according to Fuller on Twitter) just smiles a bit and walks away with his task. It seems that Gideon’s cell is right next to Will’s, and he assuredly overheard that, something may come of him holding that knowledge, we’ll have to wait and see. We’re treated to Will having a Black Swan-esque moment as he seems to grow a host of antlers out of his back. He’s snapped out of his nightmare-fuel by Alana, a look of concern evident on her face.
She’s worried about Will, he hates Freddie, and his interview is out of character for him. She councils him on grief over Beverly, and wonders if he wants to do something in retaliation, because of his feeling of helplessness and inability to do anything to save Beverly. That worries Alana, “Will, what did you do?” the even more troubling response is “What I had to do.” As she leaves, she notices that Gideon is back, though he’s in a much more high security cell than before, one with a metal door and only a small slat to see through. Before she can digest that fact, Chilton ambushes her, wondering why the most sinister neurochemistry in the field reacts to her so much. She asks to talk to him and Chilton can’t resist.
Alana doesn’t hold back with Gideon, who disparages that Will was a poor shot and sick. She reminds him that he got a shot into him before he could get a blade into her, and Gideon actually says he’s grateful for that. When she asks how he knew where he lived, he evades the question by saying a ‘little birdie’ wanted him to find her. So much has happened to Will that he has become a changed man, says Gideon. Alana still holds hope that he’s looking for redemption, but Gideon corrects her and says that he’s looking for revenge. She starts putting the pieces together as Gideon says that, for the courtesy she’s always shown him, he’s going to give her a gift, a chance to save Will from himself. Gideon gets a bit of a redemption here as he tells her that Hannibal Lecter is in danger.
And now to the scene that tumblr has been awaiting for weeks: The pool scene. Hannibal is swimming at night, and Matthew Brown has seen fit to join him. Matthew, tattooed and be-speedoed, swims a bit, but gets out of the pool and tranquilizes Hannibal, who sees his face and tries to pull the dart out before he passes out and sinks like a rock.
Oh no, what’s going to happen? Commercial!! The twitter-verse explodes into shock as we wait to find out what Matthew is going to do to Hannibal. Alana looks harried as they look through Hannibal’s office, not finding him, and not finding anything on his calendar. Jack asks what she thinks Will’s done, and the FBI calls to say there’s a trace on his cell phone, they’re hot on the trail. More nightmare fuel from Will’s prison sink as it starts filling with blood.
Focus on the floor, a drain filling with blood in a track up stairs. A bucket, precariously perched, and feet carefully trying to stay on top. In all the iterations of the Hannibal Lecter universe, this is the first time where we really see him vulnerable. Even when he was accosted by Mason Verger’s men in the last movie, we knew he wasn’t going to really die. Though we know the same is true now, the urgency with which we hope that Jack, Alana, and the FBI can get there in time is much more palpable and has us all on the edge of our seats.
Matthew has not only cut Hannibal’s wrists, but tied him in a veritable crucifixion position and wrapped a noose around his neck. Hannibal recognizes him as a nurse from the hospital and, even in his state, asks if he’s “setting a new standard of care.” Matthew tells him that Will asked him to do this, and proceeds to ask him questions, starting off with whether or not he killed the judge. He informs Hannibal that even if he doesn’t say a word, he’ll know the answer. The pupils dilate when the answer is yes, and don’t when the answer is know. His pupils dilate when Matthew asks if he’s the Chesapeake Ripper.
When he asks how many times he’s watched people cling onto life that’s not worth living, wondering why they bother, Hannibal says life is precious. Jack and Alana have arrived at the pool and are on the way to save the day while Matthew wonders what moniker they’ll give to him. He says the Iroquois used to eat their enimies to take their strength, noting that “maybe your murders will become my murders.” Hannibal’s response makes us all laugh: “Only if you eat me.”
Jack shows up in Hannibal’s hazy vision. We’ve never heard Hannibal yell before, but he knows he’s in the victim role right now, and Jack’s still on his side. He yells “He’s got a gun, Jack!” which prompts Jack to shoot him without waiting to see his hands. The tension is high as he falls, but is not killed. In a last-ditch effort, Matthew kicks the bucket out from under Hannibal’s feet, hanging him. As Jack runs to hold Hannibal up and keep him from dying, Alana shows up, shocked by the what she sees. She’s sent for an ambulance at Jack’s yell and goes running. The episode ends with Will’s prison sink overflowing with blood and Will’s face, steeled and knowing just what he’s done, even if he doesn’t know what’s just happened at the pool.
This episode is by far my favorite of the entire show. It gives us an insight that we haven’t had before, seeing just how much Will can go into the dark side when he’s threatened, just exactly what Hannibal sees him to be capable of. We also see Hannibal more vulnerable than ever, nearly dying, screaming, and more human than ever, even though he was literally called the Devil earlier in the episode.
Though we see Hannibal has not, in fact, died, his fate is up in the air, and the preview for next week is intense, there’s doubt in Jack’s eyes, and he’s even taking some of Hannibal’s food to Zeller and Price to test. Meanwhile, Hannibal tells Will he’ll give Alana Bloom his best. We see Hannibal and Alana in bed together, which can only be another needle in the side of Will. Either way, we’ll have to wait until next week for context, but I, for one, would almost rather have a time machine to fast forward to next Friday. I really can’t wait.