Hannibal: Guilt is a divine beast of burden in "Su-zakana" [Season 2, episode 8 recap]

In an episode named after a Japanese palate-cleanser, there certainly wasn’t a lot of refreshment to be found among (or within) all the dead horses, Nietzschean fish and damaged souls that this hour contained.

Instead, “Su-zakana” opens a new and final book of the season, introducing a new paradigm for Will and Hannibal’s very distorted friendship. Hannibal doesn’t realize how apt a metaphor the trout he served to Jack and Will really were. They were eating their own tails, much like Will hopes Hannibal will; by using himself as live bait to draw the doctor in with seductive promises of what Will might reveal in therapy, Hannibal’s own curiosity will be what brings him down.

To be an effective lure, Will’s also trying to hide in plain sight, using honesty as a cover for his deeper lie. So we get awkward dinner conversations about who accused whom and who tried to have who killed first. It’s enough to make you wish Margaery Tyrell would show up and exclaim “Oh, look! The pie!” Only this is Hannibal, so the pie would be made out of dead people instead of dead pigeons.

Maybe a turducken would be the ideal centerpiece for the hour, only, yes, this is Hannibal. So it’s a dead horse with a dead woman inside, who also has a live starling in her chest. I loved the case of the week, like some bizarro world version of Hannibal and Will’s power dynamic. Jeremy Davies was perfect as the twitchy, disturbed puppet being manipulated by a cruel social worker, not so unlike Will when he was at his sickest during the first season. Only much sadder, because Peter is too damaged to really grasp what was happening to him. Davies, so fantastic on Justified, made me feel a lot of sympathy for his character in a short time. Maybe showing a character caring a lot for animals is a lazy shorthand for character development, but it definitely works on viewers like me who love animals. It’s also another similarity between Will and Peter.

Looking at Hannibal and Clark Ingram, both men are trusted with protecting vulnerable people and have breached that social contract by making their wards/patients dance to their criminal designs. But Clark was pretty overt while Hannibal is the exact opposite. I didn't think Clark was as good a stand-in for Hannibal as Peter was for Will, but Will disagrees with me, I guess, since he was willing to kill Clark as a surrogate "reckoning." Will's been attempting reckonings all over the place lately. Clearly he's still insane because he keeps expecting different results. Also, damn, Hannibal is nearly faster than a speeding bullet - that was some magical handiwork. I'd love to see how that trick would've worked with Raylan Givens, now that Justified is on my mind.

It's so hard to tell what Will is faking and what's real when it comes to his design for Hannibal. "I envy you your hate," Will tells Peter. "It makes it easier, to know how to feel." Does Will really not know to hate Hannibal at this point? Or is he worried about hating himself after, if he kills Hannibal?

As for Hannibal's designs with Will, neither man really talked about the doctor's relationship with Alana Bloom. And I'm okay with that because I'm still disappointed with Alana and her non-plot. Bryan Fuller can film the most gorgeous slo-mo rippling sheets and flexing bodies ever, and I still couldn't care less about this forced coupling. I'm sure many will disagree, but the writers tipped Alana too far into unsympathetic territory.

The biggest thrill of the night was of course the introduction of Margot Verger. Hell yes! At last. I'm so excited for the upcoming episodes featuring her and her sadistic brother, Mason. This is a very, very different Margot from the one readers remembered from the book -- there Margot was a steroid-addled lesbian bodybuilder who wanted her brother's sperm to make a baby. The book presented Margot's homosexuality in a really unflattering light, so it's understandable that Fuller would want to go in a different direction. While we only glimpse at the abuse Margot suffered, Hannibal thus far has taken a stance against depicting sexual violence. Mason's sickness will be no less terrible for not going to those other places, especially knowing what Hannibal is okay with depicting.

All that aside, the Margot we were presented with left a strong first impression. The tear-and-vermouth martini, the undulating eel, the disembodied male voice chiding "You should have taken the chocolate." We won't see Michael Pitt as Mason until next episode, but his reputation certainly precedes him. Katharine Isabelle (who I've loved since Ginger Snaps) played Margot angry and frankly kind of out of it. Her slow, deliberate speech reminded me of someone taking too many painkillers. Maybe it was intentional, seeing as Mason injured her arm. And she's got a lot to deal with in him, like maybe finding someone to kill him for her since she can't seem to do it herself. WHO COULD THAT BE, I WONDER?

As excited as I was to meet Margot, I'm twice as excited for Hannibal to meet Mason and see what devastation two twisted minds could enable. And all with poor Will Graham, likely to get caught in the crossfire.

Final Bites:

• No Miriam Lass or Dr. Chilton follow-up this episode. Seems a bit suspect after last week's final scene.
• "Peter, is your social worker in that horse?" "...Yes." Too funny.
• Where's Freddie Lounds lately, too? Not that she's my favorite character, but there's a ton of crime scenes for her to report on lately. Maybe she's too busy buying crazy hats or doing important blogger work. At least Margot's unusual collars are providing some sartorial flair.
• After what felt like neverending winter in the Northeast, we're finally getting spring weather. Seeing snow even on TV made me want to punch someone.
• Hannibal's food stylist Janice Poon goes into further detail on the tastiness of trout that doesn't see its demise coming.
• Palate Cleanser of the Week: Just in time for Easter, Hannibal playing with a lamb. Awww. Okay, maybe it was a sheep, but close enough. It was one of the only animals they showed that wasn't dead, okay?