Hannibal's not-so-lovely bones: "Shiizakana" [TV recap S2E9]

Hannibal - Season 2

Analogy: it's what's for dinner. While last week's episode of Hannibal saw Dr. Lecter and Will Graham reflected in a pair of men with a similarly corrupted power dynamic, "Shiizakana" compares Will's inner animal with another hungry beast borne of Hannibal's unique therapy. The hour moved quickly, but wasn't quite my favorite outing of the season. It felt a bit like more set-up (or wheel-spinning if you want to be rude) as we see the finale shimmering on the horizon. Or maybe I'm just impatient because I want to see exactly how Will and Jack land their prize trout.

Fish metaphors are so last week.

Tonight was all about red meat. And sweetbreads. But mostly meat, for the killer of the week, Randall Tier, a Dr. Lecter success story who had species dysmorphia — love that clinical term, much better than "Furry" — and fashioned himself a creepy, steampunk cave bear suit out of fossils. As one does. What an inspired use of office supplies for a man who worked at a natural history museum. Randall was as close to a classic horror movie monster as Hannibal's ever gotten, which was maybe just a bit too campy in execution for it to really work for me. For example, why was that young couple going for a romantic moonlit stroll in the middle of an icy tundra where there happened to be a campfire already blazing away? That was kind of silly. But I appreciated the female victim seemed to be wearing a rabbit fur jacket. Run, little rabbit, run from the homicidal furry! I thought it was also kind of bad form for Hannibal to lead Jack's team to Randall so directly, outing him as a former patient. Isn't this just the kind of pattern Bedilia warned Hannibal about leading law enforcement to, way back when?

The best that could be said about Randall was that he brought Will a larger picture of Hannibal's patterns, while providing an opportunity for Hannibal to have one patient/wind-up toy dance just the right way to make the newer, more favored patient dance to his music, too. Because it wasn't about Hannibal getting even-Steven with Will for his attempted murder of the doctor.


Hannibal and Will's relationship was presented at its most intimate this episode. "No one can be fully aware of another human being unless they love them," Hannibal says to Will and his man-stag. "Through that love we allow our beloved to see their potential." I know it's supposed to be a platonic love, but between Will's dream where Hannibal is tied to a tree not unlike Maggie Gyllenhaal at the end of Secretary, Hannibal's orchestrated "breakup" with Randall (who Hannibal never really loved and easily sent to his death) and especially the extremely close shots of both men in conversation, Hannibal and Will felt infinitely more Tumblr-worthy. Which really worked for me because, let's be honest, Hannibal's bedroom scenes with Alana don't have this amount of chemistry, gravitas, and base need. Hannibal wants Will to kill so Hannibal can see himself in Will's eyes, to have someone to share his secrets with. Will's extreme empathy makes him want to see the world through Hannibal's eyes in return, to a purpose that's getting increasingly murky.

Killing Randall crossed a new threshold for Will. If (when) Will captures Hannibal, "Shiizakana" made it clear that Will isn't going to survive without deep emotional scars.

Will Hannibal have scars, too? Is he even capable of it, way beneath his exquisitely tailored person suit?

Final Bites:

  • • Will spoke to another of Dr. Lecter's patients tonight, when Margot showed up on his doorstep. She is just the right kind of loopy. I love her thoroughness in researching her doctor, trying to suss out all of her options. She's just so matter-of-fact about her "personal carnage." (What a great pick-up line. "What's your personal carnage?") I don't sense a romantic tension in Margot's interaction with Will, just two damaged people struggling with the same conflicted opinions on their therapist, wondering how capable they are of murder and if Hannibal's persuading them or just encouraging something that's already there. (Remember that caterpillar/butterfly metaphor last week? Margot's still in her chrysalis; Will is the beautiful butterfly.)

  • • On a completely superficial level, Katharine Isabelle's blouses are also Tumblr-worthy. Sorry, Freddie Lounds, wherever you are.

  • • Hannibal looked very perturbed (for Hannibal) when Will told him Bedilia visited him, said she believed Will's accusations against Hannibal.

  • • "Typhoid and swans — it all comes from the same place." Lovely line, direct from Silence of the Lambs, with Will standing in for Clarice Starling.

  • • I never thought we'd see Jeremy Davies on this show again, but I'm so glad we did because he's too good to use just once. I like that Will went to check in on Peter to get some animal behavior advice, though I don't think animals never kill to kill. There are a lot of species out there. But anyways. It's good to see Peter feeling less damaged and making new furry friends. When Will interacts with people not Hannibal, we see those parts of Will that are most like how he was before Garret Jacob Hobbs and everything else weighed him down. That good person is still there, fighting against the animal Hannibal wants to bring out.

  • • So how badly does Jack want to catch Hannibal that he'd eat a liver and sweetbread omelet with him? Going from "Mmm, that smells wonderful!" to "What I wouldn't give to forget a thing or two now" before taking a big bite. Ha! Choke that dinner and doubt down, Jack.

  • • Palate Cleanser of the Week: They tried to kill Baby Buster! We know Will isn't a complete monster because he smiled at Kevin the rat and didn't try to fight Randall, instead putting the poor injured puppy under his arm and running back into the house.