Nightswimming with Hannibal: "Mukozuke" review [s2e5]

This is the second time since the premiere that we've opened Hannibal with a visual juxtaposition of how similar yet different Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter are. This go round it was meal preparation. Some slices of Beverly Katz as the cornerstone of a healthy sadist's breakfast. Will can brood in his prison cell and retreat to his memory palace and toy with Dr. Chilton and even get all strapped into an iconic mask for a prison transport, but Will is no Dr. Lecter.

We know this. Will insists he knows this, but I think this episode was the first time Will, in all his new found clarity, knows he could be Dr. Lecter if he wanted.

Sure, on the surface, I think we're supposed to believe Will learned that he was not the kind of person who can order a hit on Hannibal in his anger and guilt over the death of Beverly. (A moment of silence please.) But even if Will felt like he had crossed a line by getting his very own swimfan to do his bidding, it would be supremely unsatisfying for Will -- and viewers -- to miss out on Will doing his own dirty revenge work. But, damn, if that creepy orderly didn't come very, very close in making a Hannibal-as-Christ tableau.

And Will would've gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for that meddling Dr. Bloom, aka Miss Chicken Soup for the Homicidal Soul.

Loved the suspense and beautiful underwater cinematography of the last act. The sound of water flowed all throughout the episode, foreshadowing the big setpiece. We listened to drops fall from a thawing corpse, a river rushing through Will's imagination, a leaky faucet, a sink overflowing with blood.

Maybe Dr. Gideon is more to blame for Will's failed vengeance, since he tipped both Hannibal and Alana off that Will is brewing some kind of plot from his cell. The allegiances on this show are getting murky. Especially when it comes to all of these doctors. Chilton and Hannibal are in a professional standoff - "Neither of us gains anything by exposing the others' misdeeds." Of course, Chilton is too vain and stupid to know how he's really serving Hannibal's design. But I can't quite figure what Gideon has to gain by helping Hannibal, the man who nearly let Will Graham shoot him last season. Or maybe Gideon is really just helping Will, in his own twisted fashion.

If only Gideon were as easy to read as Dr. Lecter.

Allow me a moment to say I knew Hannibal killed the judge and staged it to look like the orderly's work. That death had a poetry in it, that's Hannibal's tell. And of course there was a grim poetry in the dissection of Beverly, who walked right into Hannibal's hands by dissecting evidence too closely. How beautiful and creepy was that Damien Hirst-like display? It reminded me of Tarsem Singh's movie The Cell -- a good recommendation for Hannibal fans who enjoy their serial killer dramas art-directed to within an inch of their lives. The Cell also centers on a psychiatrist literally entering the mind of a killer, so it's a fitting cinematic nod.

Beverly's disturbing corpse was made even more obscene not just because we loved her, but because of where she was on exhibition -- the same observatory where Jack Crawford found his protege Miriam Lass' arm. This is another death that will weigh heavily on Jack, even after he was spared losing his wife last week. The professionalism in the face of grief shown by the remaining BAU team was so human and tasteful. Scott Thompson made my heart sink. I'm glad he's still around. I guess that means I'd have been less upset if Aaron Abrams got killed off, but that's only by default I swear.

That's really it for Beverly. What a bummer. Hettiene Park wrote a great essay in response to criticism that Bryan Fuller unjustly fridged her character. It was a smart read and it's easy to see how Park made Beverly come to life in such a likable way. I look forward to watching her career.

On the one hand, I was worried that Beverly's death would be used to make Will do something really extreme in his sorrow -- a classic example of exploitation of a female character's death -- but this hour kind of swung to the opposite extreme and I didn't quite feel like everyone was shocked and suspicious enough. There's definitely more suspicion on the horizon as the evidence presents itself, but I would have appreciated more time to see Jack react.

Next week's promo suggests I might get my wish and also induce some Kermit the Frog-like arm flailing after a series of tantalizing, disturbing images. As we reach the midpoint of the season, Hannibal's coming to a rapid boil not a moment too soon.

Final Bites:

•Well, I'm put off burgers for about a year. Hannibal's smile as he grinds Beverly's kidney was so grotesque. But I loved Janice Poon's madcap hockey mask crust for that Katz-meat pie.

•The pie crust and Will's mask weren't the only nods to Silence of the Lambs. This season's been heavy with them. The orderly's instructions to Freddie were word for word Barney's warnings to Clarice Starling upon her first visit to the state hospital.

•"That was rude, Ms. Lounds." The menace in that voice.

•Still, my favorite line of the night was pretty much anything Eddie Izzard said as Dr. Gideon. It's a toss-up between the ominous "He is the Devil, Mr. Graham. He is smoke," or the cheeky "No need to stand way over there. I'm a cutter, not a pisser." Oh, but you are a pisser, Mr. Izzard. I'm so glad Dr. Gideon is still with us. It's like he gets to do his impersonation of Anthony Hopkins' Lecter while Mads Mikkelsen gets to continue his own interpretation.

•Palate Cleanser of the Week: Not gonna lie, Mads Mikkelsen in swim trunks was not unpleasant. Now we know how he keeps his physique despite all that heavy French food.

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