Hannibal’s “Shiizakana” – Sink your teeth in
By Guest Contributer
This week’s episode of Hannibal took a trip to the pseudo-fantastical with their killer of the week, and Will’s mind continues its steady decline into darkness.
(Curteousy of NBC.com)
The episode opens with Will having tied Hannibal to a tree. He says he wants Hannibal to admit what he is, and Hannibal counters that Will’s still refusing to admit the one growing inside himself. With a whistle, the ropes around his neck tighten: The ravenstag is hooked to the ropes, ready to walk away and tighten them more. Hannibal gives a wonderful speech about being able to see those that they love, and helping their beloved to express their potential. Will steps forward, saying “I promised you a reckoning. Here it is.” Hannibal has turned into the Wendigo, and as the Ravenstag pulls tighter, a spray of blood erupts and Will wakes from his dream.
Hannibal is making omelettes for dinner with Jack and himself. He tells Jack that he remembers his time in Granada with this dish, and that he frescoed the walls of his mind–a clear mention of the memory palace. They talk of forgetting, and Hannibal wants to know what Jack’s trying to forget. Jack wants to forget that he doubted Will, and Hannibal mentions that he can no longer discuss him with Jack because he is officially his patient.
It’s night at a truck stop, and a trucker walks to his cab over a long frozen expanse. Once in, he sips his coffee and is prepared to get back on the road when something jumps on his truck. He takes a light stick and looks under and around the truck, finding nothing, and as he turns to open the door again, that something grabs him and starts ripping him apart. All we see as the camera pans up to the moon is a hideous skull, rending the man apart.
A flashback to the gun pointed at Clark Ingram, Peter’s social worker. It’s therapy time, and as Hannibal and Will speak about regrets, it becomes clear that Will regrets not having been allowed to pull the trigger and kill Mr. Ingram, he regrets that he let Hannibal stop him. The tension is high as Will seems barely able to contain his anger, and Hannibal has to hide his true intentions, telling him he has to adapt his behavior to avoid feeling the same way again. He asks Will to close his eyes and imagine the version of events he wouldn’t have regretted. We see him pull the trigger and shoot Mr. Ingram in the head, but when he opens his eyes, he tells Hannibal that he saw a missed opportunity to feel like he felt when he thought he’d killed Hannibal; to feel a quiet sense of power.
As Hugh walks out of the office, Margot approaches, saying he looks familiar, notes that he must be a patient. Will plays it off and says that he’s the guy who didn’t kill all those people and leave. Now we watch Margot’s session. Hannibal asks if her morality gauge twitches when she sees her brother. Her response is no, she doesn’t see basic human traits, she dehumanizes him as much as he does to her. She says that her brother is definitely less human, and Hannibal calls her less human for that. She derails and changes the subject, wondering out loud what sort of treatment was prescribed to him. When Hannibal asks what she imagines, she thanks him for the support in her wish to kill her brother, and wonders what sort of things he would support Will doing. She asks what kind of psychiatrist he is, and when he dodges the answer by saying she’s had him checked out, she knows what kind of psychiatrist he is, her response is a chilling, “I’m beginning to.”
At the scene of the truck driver’s murder, Will, Jack, and Hannibal (In a rather ludicrous looking fur ushanka), and Will wonders why they’re getting involved in an animal attack. Jack’s response is that someone is holding the leash to whatever’s doing the killing. Price and Zeller say it was probably a bear or wolf, but Will points out that they drag their prey off to eat it. This prompts finding out that nothing here was eaten, everything is accounted for, the man was just ripped apart. Hannibal points out rabid animals attack and don’t eat while Jack and Will say that the animal is becoming adapted to more urban areas, that he’ll kill again, and that this bloodsport is far from over.
Will takes the case file to his new friend and animal expert, Peter Bernardone, in the psychiatric facility he’s been placed in for an opinion on what could have done it. When he asks whether it was a wolf or a bear, he notices a rat in Peter’s sleeve, who he introduces as Kevin, asking him not to stare so the orderlies don’t notice. Peter identifies the bites as both bears and wolves. You can train them, though it takes a long time, and they can be trained to hunt together or hunt as each other. He says that with the right amount of time, he could even train Will, who says that friendships like that keep you on your toes. Peter tells him that animals have friendships just like humans, that they’re the same, and asks Will not to blame the animals, as man is the only creature that kills just to kill.
A slow pan over tools and animal parts, we watch hands putting teeth into a skull. This grotesque workshop is where the killer makes a horrific contraption. He puts a wide stick into the jaw and pushes a button, clamping the jaws shut and shattering the stick. From the back, it appears to be something with straps, something to be worn.
In what appears to be some sort of park at night, a couple laughs near a fireplace, walking around, watching them through the jaws of the skull, the killer gallops towards them, attacking the man first, tearing him limb from limb–literally. As the woman flees, the man’s arm is ripped off. Before she gets too far, she falls, and as she fearfully turns around, the last thing she sees is the manimal’s jaw close in on her, sending her blood spattering over the snow.
The scene during the day is grisly, blood covers the ground, and the bodies are torn apart around Will and Jack. As he takes a breath, Will’s pendulum swings and starts reversing the clock, undoing the carnage. He stands where we saw the manimal, assuming the killer’s position, but next to him is the ravenstag. Instead of describing the scene to us as we’re used to, he only utters one word: Kill. The Ravenstag lunges at them and does exactly what he was told. As they scream, we see horns, but attached to them is now Will, covered in blood and looking like a triumphant animal over his fresh kills. He tells them it’s not an animal, it’s a man who wants to be one. Jack asks him what he wants, why he’s doing this, and the answer is that he wants to maul. This isn’t personal, these people are just meat. This sort of psychosis isn’t something that just slips through the cracks, Jack notes, someone will have record of this somewhere. If it is psychosis, Will says, then he’s tamed it, gotten inside of it and made it a suit, that this killer is a student of predators.
Therapy this week seems a lot less formal, as Will is leaning on his desk. Hannibal says that no beast is more savage than man. This killer is not provoked by rage, it’s provoked by a more animalistic instinct. The way any animal thinks depends on limitations of mind and body. Hannibal says that if we learn our limitations too soon, we never learn our power. This killer, though, has learned it, or, well, claimed it as Hannibal says. He brings the conversation around to the fact that Will fantasizes about killing him with his hands, and asks if that would be a more satisfying way to kill him than pulling a trigger. He asks if he felt like Matthew’s hands were his hands, and tells Will that he was hiding behind the gun the first time he tried to kill him, telling him that he needs to become intimate with his feelings.
At the BAU, the bite marks are matched as a Cave Bear and a dire wolf, but both those animals have been extinct for thousands of years. Jack worries that the barrier between human and animals are much too thin sometimes. Hannibal shows up and is asked about this sort of psychosis. Species dysphoria like this, he says, often comes along with a lot of other conditions, such as mood disorders, clinical depression, or schizophrenia. Sometimes these do not present at all, that he could build a bridge between what how he appears to be and what he now knows he’s become. Jack says he didn’t build a bridge, he built a suit. When Jack asks if he has seen anything like this before, Hannibal has to be careful, as he treated a teen who had what he categorized as an identity disorder, that in moments of clarity he understood himself as an animal born into the body of the man. When asked what his needs would be with such a disorder, Hannibal’s only response is “savagery.”
At the Museum of National History, Hannibal visits a young man, Randal Tier (which means “Animal” or “Beast” in German), who was the teen he treated long ago. They have a short conversation about their first therapy session, that Randall had been terrified about telling Hannibal what was wrong with him, but that he had made it easy. Hannibal notes that Randall has come so far from where he was when he treated him. He compliments Randall’s progress, knowing full well that this man is the manimal who is killing and dismembering these people. When he says he knows what he’s done, Randall asks what that is supposed to be. Hannibal says he bore screams, and he wonders what clings to him now, as that crying boy is no longer there. A poetic description of gore, which Hannibal calls beautiful, prompts him to tell Randall that they’re looking for him, and that when they find him, he must do exactly as Hannibal says.
Jack and Will have shown up the next day, while the museum is open. Randall is asked if he put all the bones together, and what some of the bones are. When he points out the cave bear, Randall quickly covers his tracks and mentions that cave bears are a quite common fossil, thousands of them have been found all over southern Europe. Jack brings up his troubled past, immediately alerting him to their suspicions of him. Randall tells them that he takes his medication, socializes, has a job, and that his mental illness is under control, that it’s treatable.
The dogs bark as a car pulls up to Will’s house. Margot has somehow found out where he lives and wants to come in for a cup of whiskey. When he asks why the heir to the Verger meat packing empire is there, Margot makes it plain that her brother is the heir, not her, due to her being female and having romantic ideations that the family doesn’t accept. Eventually, she tells him that she’s there for a character reference on Hannibal. She questions the therapy, telling Will that her private carnage, the reason she’s in therapy, is that she tried to kill her brother. When she asks Will the same question, he tells her he tried to murder Hannibal. She wonders if he had it coming, and says that they have similar issues, and she tells Will that Hannibal’s advice on the murder of her brother was “if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.”
Will comes to therapy and wonders what it would be like if Lecter’s patients began comparing notes, giving the example of Randall Tier. Hannibal asks what he did say to Will, knowing that the FBI has questioned them, and shows very little response when he’s told that Randall considers himself a success story, that he’s doing much better. Will says that Hannibal can be persuasive, wondering how many patients had been like Randall and himself, and Hannibal gives a glib answer, so Will ramps it up a notch. He tells Hannibal that Dr. DuMaurier visited him in the hospital, that she had said she believed Will. Hannibal has little time for this, telling him the truth when asked–that he did not kill her. Hannibal is questioned about what he thinks about when he thinks about killing, and he launches into a short explanation, he collects church collapses, and that if God is out there, he loves the carnage. Typhoid and swans all come from the same place. Will asks if Randall Tier believes in God, and Hannibal tells him to have a more personal conversation with the man, ask him what he believes. we cut to Randall putting on his manimal suit carefully, a truly horrifying creature, as the music gets ominous.
It’s dark outside, at night, and Hannibal is encouraging Randall, who is prepared to become himself entirely. He tells him that the beast is his higher self, and to revel in what he is, and that’s when we see that he’s outside Will’s house. The dogs bark and claw at the door, noting something amiss, and when Will opens it, one of his dogs–Buster–runs out after whatever he smells, yiping in pain once he’s off screen. Will grabs a coat and his shotgun and charges out after his dog, on the offensive. The snow is deep, but the trail is easy to follow. Buster is injured, lying in the snow whimpering, and will picks him up after checking his wounds. He knows the manimal is there, but he can’t see it, and runs back to the house as quickly as he can, the manimal in hot pursuit. Will slams the door behind him , putting Buster in his bed and turning off all the lights. He backs into the darkness and waits. He is not scared, he is prepared. Tension mounts as part of the Requiem plays, and the manimal bursts in through his window.
At Hannibal’s home, he opens the doors to his dining room to find Will standing at the far end of the table, and Randall lays dead upon the wood. Will says that this makes them even, he sent someone to kill Hannibal, and Hannibal has now done the same. They’re even Steven. Hannibal merely nods.
Next week, the duo have to take care of Randall, and of the injuries Will sustained, how are they going to cover this up? Or are they? The preview leaves so many questions, and we can only wait until Friday to find out.