Hannibal's design takes shape in 'Yakimono' [TV Recap, Season 2, Episode 7]

Hugh Dancy as Will Graham in “Hannibal” Season 2 Episode 7, “Yakimono”

Characters are dropping like… well, like characters on a televised serial killer drama, I suppose.

But I was not expecting Dr. Chilton to be among the dead when he's supposed to be such a big part of the Silence of the Lambs mythology. And not when I've been loving Raul Esparza so much these last few episodes. Messing with a book's canon can be heresy but Thomas Harris' canon isn't quite as hallowed as, say, George R. R. Martin's, so while it was a truly shocking death -- way more than Beverly's, that's for sure -- Chilton's death means almost anyone not Hannibal or Will can die. It definitely makes me rethink how Jack will fare in that fight against Hannibal that opened the season premiere. And it also made me wonder who, long in the future, will be the "old friend" Hannibal has for dinner when he does escape incarceration.

But that's getting way ahead of ourselves. Despite being one of TV's best and most tense series, there's still no promise of a season three. That's the kind of tension I hate about Hannibal.

And yet that axe poised above the show seems to be giving Fuller and co. a license to just go all out and play with Hannibal however they wish. The Red Dragon season might never come, Clarice Starling might never arrive, but for now, while Fuller can make respectful nods to the stories that came before this one,  this Hannibal firmly belongs to just one particular intelligent psychopath. With a storytelling vision.

So how did Chilton meet his demise? It was Hannibal's design, of course. Maybe he didn't foresee Miriam Lass reacting to Chilton's voice with a firearm, but he most certainly did intend to use her testimony as a misdirect and set Chilton up as the Ripper. Because Chilton isn't Hannibal's friend, not like Will. And we got a crystal clear view of what Hannibal does to his enemies. Even if I wish we didn't. And I wish people just wouldn't go into goddamned basements. Or abandoned silos. From the moment Chilton arrived in his (ridiculously modern and chic) home to the time he fled, covered in blood, you had to know he was screwed. The horror was quick and nightmarish. While I have a hard time believing a doctor at a state hospital could afford such a spacious kitchen, Hannibal's handiwork stood out in monstrous detail.

At what point do we think Hannibal stopped feeding Gideon himself? When Gideon could no longer hold a fork?

Still, maybe Gideon got off easier than Miriam Lass did. "Neither of us are really free," she tells Will, and she was right. Only she doesn't know the extent of her emotional trauma. I had to wonder right away when the first thing she asked Jack after her rescue was "Can I see him?" Was it simple curiosity or was it hinting at some kind of relationship with her captor? Now that we know of Hannibal's talent for hypnotism, it almost seems like anyone who comes into contact with Hannibal can fall under his spell, if he desires it. It seems like he already brainwashed Alana Bloom, who really can't see anything off about her new boyfriend. Christ, she's a terrible therapist.

It's so much worse to see Hannibal's crimes than to hear about them secondhand some years in the future, when he's behind bars. Told from a distance, they're spooky legends that add to Hannibal's mystique. But the risk of showing instead of telling in this instance makes Hannibal somewhat less than a fairy tale monster and more simply a seriously disturbed human who painted the walls of someone's home with innocent law enforcement officials. As we head towards Hannibal being revealed as the Ripper, the cavalier murder of those agents crossed a line for me. While we're "supposed" to root for Will, everyone loves a good antihero. But this time Hannibal wasn't punishing the rude, obeying his own code; he was killing out of self preservation and that's just vulgar in comparison. And it demonstrates how deadly a cornered Hannibal can be.

Good thing Will isn't in a box anymore, free to create his own snare for Hannibal. Resuming therapy with his "friend" -- and a dweeby but cute haircut -- seems like just the lure to draw the killer in. Or is Will's therapy also part of Hannibal's ultimate design?

"Yakimono," Episode 207. Raul Esparza as Dr. Chilton (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Final Bites:

• Anna Clumsky is a welcome addition to this show and I'd be happy to have her stand in for Clarice Starling if the story continues that far. Or if her damaged psyche lets her survive that long. Though Miriam is vulnerable now, we've seen and continued to see glimpses of strength, despite whatever Hannibal's done to her. I particularly enjoyed her scene with Will.

• Will's extreme empathy is useful for crime solving, but it sure is a double-edged sword. The hurt look that flashed across his face when he learned, just by intuiting what wasn't said, that Alana and Hannibal are A Thing now. It's just one more betrayal in a string of betrayals from Dr. Bloom. Sure, she can judge Will for trying to kill Hannibal from prison, but it just feels like a forced excuse. She abandoned him long before that, when she wouldn't ever entertain the idea that Hannibal is capable of what Will's accusing him of. Boy, is she going to have egg on her face when she finds out who Hannibal really is. (I had to resort to my own cannibal pun because we got none this week.)

• Man, the BAU team is judgey. They processed Chilton with the same disdain they did Will mere hours after Will was exonerated for crimes he didn't commit. Way to give someone the benefit of the doubt, guys. Do you really think Chilton is that clever? Really? Him?

• "You threw up an ear!" Oh, Chilton, I will miss your special brand of sarcasm. Seriously. Who will make jokes now? Jack isn't ever intentionally funny.

• That said, Jack is unintentionally hilarious when he STARTS TO YELL MID-SENTENCE FOR EMPHASIS.

• Palate Cleanser of the Week: Will's puppy love! Could there be any other answer?

More Hannibal in our review archives.