Yakimono is a dish that's marinated, skewered, then fried. It's an appropriate title for the latest installment in a grand series... but the premise of the second season is beginning to flag under its own weight. Spoilers follow.
After the arboreal display from last week (including materials only the true Ripper would have), Will Graham is exonerated in full, and removed from the dwindling pool of suspects.
The reveal that Miriam Lass is alive and has been "saved for last" has pushed the plot into uncharted territory. In the history of the books— the source material— the only person (other than Will Graham) to survive Hannibal's attentions was the sadistic quadriplegic, Mason Verger. Miriam's very existence leaves fans of Thomas Harris' books wondering what will happen next.
This creates one of two main problems for this episode: 1. Hannibal's capture (always a foregone conclusion) is now right around the corner, yet urgency about the event is non-existent. 2. The unspoken promise of the TV series (that it will be faithful to the books' canon) took a serious blow tonight, when Miriam Lass shot Dr. Chilton in the head. But we'll come back to that.
Mysteries create tension. Not knowing whodunnit puts you on the edge of your seat, racing along with the protagonist to get to the bottom of things. (The antithesis of the premise, Columbo, proved that you can still be intrigued enough to watch the detective sort out how to catch the killer when the audience already knows who he or she is.)
But Hannibal doesn't have that tension, anymore. Will Graham knows Hannibal is the Chesapeake Ripper. Three other characters have deduced this, and two of them are dead (Beverly Katz and Dr. Abel Gideon). Shoehorning Jack Crawford into the role of stubborn, obstructing law man isn't helping. We know he'll come around. So the rest of it feels like stalling.
And then there's Dr. Frederick Chilton: our entrée personified. Just like Yakimono, Chilton has been marinating (in fear) for over a week now. He's skewered by the frame-job Hannibal does at his home, lavishly displaying enough evidence to convict Chilton three times over. Finally, he's fried by the smoking-hot bullet, fired by one Miriam Lass. Spending two years in the tender care of the Chesapeake Ripper, Hannibal had ample time to condition her into believing Dr. Chilton was the Ripper.
And so, during a panic attack triggered by hearing Chilton's voice, Lass grabs Jack Crawford's pistol and shoots Chilton in the face.
Which from a narrative standpoint, doesn't really work.
There are two possible outcomes here: Chilton dies, or he lives. If he dies, then we're officially off the map, and any events beyond this episode will be solely at Bryan Fuller's discretion. Which would be a shame, because half the allure of the show up to now has been that Hannibal's been able to do all these despicable things, while remaining true to what's in the books. That's the premise (and the promise) of all prequels. It's what they do.
If Chilton survives being shot in the face (which Fuller certainly hints at), then he'll make a 'miraculous' recovery, enabling him to retain his position as the head of the asylum, where Hannibal will eventually reside. If he survives, then his getting shot in the first place doesn't alter the story; it only postpones it. That's just... irritating.
It irritates as a promise going unfulfilled, or a gun that is not fired— such as the one Will pulled on Hannibal in his own kitchen. Miriam Lass pulls a trigger, yes. But it's not the same weapon, and it's aimed the wrong way.
Talk about misdirection.
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