Hannibal's long(pig) con "Naka-Choko" [TV Recap, S2E10]

"Boundaries will always be subject to negotiation," Alana tells Hannibal. It's almost like she's watching this show.

This week's offering was another "palate cleanser" course in Japanese cuisine and that slice of ginger became much, much more literal. Yet "Naka-Choko" seems to be a retread of last week's themes — the growing intimacy between Will Graham and the serial killer he's trying to snare as well as Will's further descent into his psychological darkness. After Dr. Lecter sent his former patient Randall Tier to basically get murdered by Will, we saw Will fully commit to his role as the bad doctor's star pupil. We saw Will cross that line last week and, naively perhaps, thought the journey ended there. But in a show with cannibalism at its grim heart, there's always room for more.

Will's sense of self couldn't be more blurred than it is in that final scene. And where does it leave us as an audience? Do we still root for Will? Do we have to root for anyone on this show? (As a Game of Thrones fan, I say a firm no.) He killed someone. In self-defense, but… actually seeing him enjoy the act changed the context for it. More than that, Will helped Hannibal stage a particularly grotesque tableau and he helped Hannibal prepare a meal of what we're supposed to assume is human meat. Or did he? As the borders between Will and Hannibal shift and crack, I'm finding myself a bit lost on what is Will's long con and what is him really losing himself.

No small part of this is due to directorial hand-waving and misdirection. We didn't see Will kill Randall outside of a dream. We didn't see how that tableau was created, but it is pretty clear that Will helped, and while Will wanted Hannibal to think he brought him some sliced ginger in the form of Fillet o' Freddie Lounds, I'm almost entirely positive that our favorite obnoxious journalist is safe and sound. But then there was that freezer full of Randall. Will has been a really unreliable narrator in the past, but we saw that rubbery jawbone through Freddie's eyes before Will "killed" her.

Could it be Will knows nothing escapes Hannibal's tastebuds, so he needed to serve him human meat? And what about that citrus, scared tinge to the food? Hannibal told Will that fear changes flavor when he was serving him that damned metaphor-trout a few weeks ago. This gave me a little chill — if the meat was Randall, was he terrified when he died? I'm really wondering if we'll get a big Rashomon-style episode that will cover some of these plot questions. They're not quite holes, but they distract instead of making me wonder how "good or evil" Will is. Like, I know I shouldn't be questioning how Will's plan won't land him right back in jail at the end of the season. But I do.

And then the show gives us a completely WTF protracted orgy scene — with erotic theremin foreplay, no less! — and I'm completely okay with Hannibal being a Vegas magic act sometimes. If the "romantic tension" factor between Will and Hannibal seemed high last week with all those tightly framed camera shots, I think Tumblr broke last night. And I love that they showed this kind of a scene on network TV. It was disorienting and bold in a way few directors not Gregg Araki would film. It was uncomfortable. Again, Alana is pretty much just a sex object.

I'm less bothered than many by the act of Margot, confirmed as a lesbian, sleeping with Will because of things that were foreshadowed in her earlier conversations with Hannibal and her brother Mason. I remember Book-Margot as wanting to steal her brother's sperm to have a child and secure a legacy. At least she's not doing that. But I have to wonder why someone with as much money as Margot would have to go the old-fashioned, way more unreliable route. I suppose she's under so much scrutiny from her brother, a few months' visits to a fertility clinic wouldn't go as unnoticed as a one night stand or two. It just seems like a really weak plan. And Margot's not weak.

Nothing about this encounter between Margot and Will suggested anything remotely romantic for either party. What was equally squirm-inducing and depressing was Will's fantasizing about sleeping with Alana, about being one with Hannibal completely, about watching that wendigo-man watch him.

I'm just thankful that Jack Crawford didn't make a cameo during this party scene.

There are some boundaries that should remain non-negotiable.

mason verger

Final Bites:

    • After weeks of anticipation, I'm not entirely into Mason just yet. I was expecting a dark and sexy Michael Pitt and instead I got Jerry Horne from Twin Peaks. That could just be me and my David Lynch obsession speaking, but Mason definitely felt out of place on this show. The hair, the nasal voice, clutching a baby pig like Reese Witherspoon in American Psycho… It's not necessarily a bad thing that Mason sticks out so much — he's clearly going to be an adversary for Hannibal in some capacity and that makes him special. But I think I need another episode to make up my mind about him. He's a little too cartoon-y in his villainy.

    • "Hello again." Watching Will step back into a tableau of his own design was all kinds of wrong and wonderful. The Saber Tooth Tier was so well done. "This is my becoming," he said. That's an echo of Francis Dollarhyde and Jame Gumb, and it puts Will closer to their level. I also loved the back-and-forth conflicted explanations behind the tableau's staging as Will baited Hannibal at every turn, as if he was trying to get Hannibal to slip up in front of everyone. It was a definite highlight of the episode. The look that flitted over Jack's face suggests he's more aware of the situation than he's willing to let anyone know right now.

    • Got a great chuckle out of Alana's audible "UGH" when she got ambushed by Freddie. That post-threeway glow didn't last long.

    • I'm glad Freddie did her research on Dr. Chilton. And that she brought up Abigail Hobbs. A little continuity to characters goes a long way. And it humanizes Freddie to have her say she cares about the late girl more than the story, just this once. That said, I wish she or someone would've said something about Miriam Lass. I still think she's going to be important to Hannibal's capture.

    • "I had a sister." A little tease of the Hannibal backstory. That's the flashback story I'd want to see a bit more of. Especially if David Bowie gets a cameo as Hannibal's uncle.

    • While Will chasing after Freddie reminded me of what Beverley Katz might've faced, Freddie's probably way luckier that she didn't go to her hotel room and find Hannibal in his plastic suit.

    • Palate Cleanser of the Week: It's a tie between theremin romance and Pavlov the piglet. You'd die of cuteness before he ever got to take a bite.