First things first: We've got two more episodes to go before the season finale. Not the series finale. Hannibal has escaped the NBC chopping block and will live to see a third season. (My condolences to Community fans. NBC giveth and NBC taketh away.)
As we approach the last chapters of this season-long twisted romance between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter, Will's creation of a wendigo in his own image is complete. The symbol of his deeply denied euphoria in murder, both real and staged, is now equal to his adversary's own beast and ready to strike. Will needed to get to this place to face his foe — this courtship has been building since Will sent the orderly in the Baltimore Hospital to kill Hannibal back in the fifth episode of the season. While Will's circumstances behind bars necessitated that he send a surrogate to do such distasteful work, it was the first time he consciously decided to kill someone and that moment of weakness was all Hannibal needed to worm his way deeper into Will's psyche. That Will can use his lapse in judgement to make himself more appealing to Hannibal's ego is definitely one way of taking lemons and making bloody lemonade.
But again, knowing his enemy to defeat him is costing Will too much.
A Will-digo wasn't the only thing Will fathered this week — his encounter with Margot last week left her pregnant. And being pregnant means Margot's in danger because Mason's life is in jeopardy if Margot can provide a legitimate Verger heir. But before Will learned all of that, he learned he was going to be a dad in a pretty strange joint therapy session with Margot and Hannibal. Did she request Will's presence? Did Hannibal? Normally he's so concerned with patient confidentiality. Except for when he isn't. And what was behind Hannibal telling Mason that his sister was pregnant? Was he feeling like his murky relationship with Will was being threatened by Margot and a baby? Was it jealousy? Was it necessary to Hannibal's design?
While Will wrestled with his feelings of impending fatherhood, Hannibal, too, talked about his feelings on being responsible for someone — his late sister Mischa. And in a wonderful moment of resolution, Abigail Hobbs. I loved to pieces Hannibal's reference to the shattered teacup, calling back to a season one scene when Abigail stood in Hannibal's kitchen, high on mushrooms. Hannibal's murder of Abigail has hung over him and Will all season, as both men saw themselves as fathers to the damaged young girl. In another bit of fancy camerawork, both men also saw themselves in each other as Hannibal explained that Abigail's death was needed to give birth to Will. While Hannibal didn't like killing her, God makes sacrifices to the greater good. Will's pain was real. And so was Hannibal's, yet his hubris is second only to Walter White's.
Alana did more than have sex with Hannibal this week, so that's an improvement to her storyline. This big conspiracy to capture Hannibal is requiring Inception-levels of explanation. Alana watching Will as Jack watches Hannibal and Will and Will watches Hannibal and Hannibal watches Will watch him. No wonder Alana's feeling paranoid. It seems like every man in her life is out to use her as a kind of bait or an alibi or a weapon. I really liked Will's cool reaction to her showing up on his doorstep to accuse him of murdering Freddie Lounds and the way he quickly turned those suspicions around on her boyfriend after Freddie's corpse was turned into Shiva, pointing to a duo of murderous co-conspirators passing ghoulish love notes to each other.
It certainly sounds like two people she knows. Loved the moment of realization when Hannibal smelled gunpowder on Alana's hand. Does he suspect Will put her up to it? When Jack and Will spoke of luring in Hannibal, they had agreed Hannibal would know when they were lying. After everything that's happened, is Hannibal really convinced of Will's rebirth?
And how relieved are you to see that Freddie's alive? I didn't think it was possible, but Alana looked even less happy to see Freddie turn up this week than she did last time. For entirely different reasons, but it still made me giggle because Will told her her boyfriend was a psychopath. I wanted balloons and confetti and a singer belting out "NO SHIT, DUMMY!" In my gut I knew that despite Lounds' flaming fate in Red Dragon, there was no way Will could kill her and remain one of the good guys. And Will has to be the good guy ultimately, or what does that make Hannibal? And what does it mean for the overarching mythology of Thomas Harris' world further down the road?
A big showdown is approaching, but will it be between Hannibal and Mason first? When Will found out that Hannibal told Mason about the baby and learned what he did to Margot (oh God, that was one of the worst things this show has shown), Will was quick to threaten Mason with his own pigs. But it looks like once again Will is sending someone else to do his own reckoning. I get the feeling Jack knows nothing about Mason Verger, so what else might Will be hiding from Jack? Jack probably wouldn't support Will putting another hit on Hannibal, but what Jack doesn't know won't hurt him.
But it'd be extremely unsatisfying (and highly impossible) for Hannibal to die at the hands of someone as rude as Mason.
• Roast ortolan bunting sickens me at the same time it intrigues. I first read about this dish in Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw. It's way more controversial than veal. But knowing the birds served here were really made of marzipan made me smile for some reason. I wonder how many takes it took Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen and how much marzipan they had to eat that day.
• I adore the horror movie references on Hannibal and last night's homage to David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers might have been my favorite, as it's one of my favorite Cronenberg movies. Red scrubs and gynecological surgery, the surest way to make a female viewer cringe.
• Margot has a Muskrat Farms vanity plate. Nice detail.
• Michael Pitt's take on Mason Verger has grown on me. He's a bit Heath Ledger's Joker, with that tone of voice and campiness — people named Franklin never do well on this show. His weird tics and weirder hair and ability to steamroll over everyone makes him quite a foil. But that look Hannibal gave him when he left his jacket crumpled on the sofa… he's a goner.
• Jack spent the majority of his scenes passing weighty looks between Hannibal and Will as they verbally… well, I kind of want to say fucked each other, speaking in their secret code of benefactor and creation metaphors. But as many have suspected, Jack knows much more than he's outwardly displaying. As we're only two episodes from the season finale, Jack seems ready to show his hand. And answer some audience questions about the how of it all. Glad to see him back in the game.
• "How was my funeral?" You know Freddie rehearsed that line in her head a zillion times before Alana walked through the door. Total drama queen.
• Palate Cleanser of the Week: Of course this week's good news is that HANNIBAL WAS RENEWED FOR SEASON 3! Break out the Chianti and breathe a little easier.