Far and away, Hannibal is one of the strongest, most consistent, well-done shows on the air right now. It is also, at times, damned confounding. Strap yourself in for the big blows from episode six: Futamono.
Watching this episode for the first time, my hand covered my mouth for half of it. There's no denying it's good TV. However, this same episode seems riddled with inconsistencies, misleads, and actions that seem— at the moment— ill-advised. It's also rich with Bryan Fuller's usual macabre wit.
From a plot standpoint, the noose is tightening around Hannibal's neck as he falls under heavier and heavier scrutiny. (If Jack Crawford suspects you of wrong-doing, you'd best start packing.) Hannibal has an alibi for the night— which is convenient, since this is the first time Jack's asked him for one— he spent it in the arms of Dr. Alana Bloom. (He apparently drugged her afterwards, to ensure she slept soundly throughout the night.)
While this keeps him from deeper suspicion for now, Hannibal's choices only shrink the corner he's painting himself into. Simply put, his steps as the Chesapeake Ripper are not the actions of a man who wants to remain free. He breaks into the Baltimore Hospital for the Criminally Insane, abducts Dr. Abel Gideon, and deliberately exonerates Will Graham of any wrongdoing— while providing a new corpse, of course.
Fannibals will claim Dr. Lecter seduced Dr. Bloom to garner the alibi, but that's not entirely fair: she initiates the romantic interlude, not him. He can certainly use the experience to his advantage, but it'd be wrong to say he planned it.
Likewise, we enjoyed another montage of the cannibal gourmand culling his rolodex (and his recipe box) for inspiration, and to stock his larder for another charming dinner party. Except... not. The food selected at random and taken away for testing proved expensive, but not human. So we have three possible explanations:
1. Hannibal served mundane and cannibalistic dishes together, and was very lucky in terms of what Jack grabbed. This is unlikely, as Hannibal leaves nothing to chance.
2. Hannibal served cannibalistic dishes, and somehow broke into the FBI to replace the samples with mundane specimens. Given how busy his night was already, what with abducting Dr. Gideon, this seems highly unlikely.
3. Hannibal served only mundane dishes at his dinner party, and the cooking montage was an enjoyable but misleading waste of time.
With any breakout character (let alone the titular one), you run the risk of 'Flanderization': where his best-known traits become his only traits. At the midway point of season two, Hannibal is a glib, harpsichord playing, custom-made-suit wearing polymath who can break into any building, and compose and deliver horrific murder-amas without leaving a single trace of evidence. He's essentially become Santa Claus, if old St. Nick left feet in the stockings. He's the boogeyman. I found him scarier when his feats (and his ability to appear innocent) were still in the terrain of the realistic.
And yet. And yet. Hannibal 'spared' Will Graham. Anyone else who's discovered the Chesapeake Ripper's secret has wound up a meal. Will Graham is something special. Of all mankind that Hannibal's met, Will Graham is the one person who could best truly understand him. That's hard to throw away.
Not unlike Miriam Lass. Futamono is a lidded dish— not unlike the lid Jack pries off the reservoir beneath a farm Somerville, Virginia, to reveal the one-armed agent-in-training that disappeared years ago. She's discovered via a clue that only Jack's team could decipher, revealing the Ripper's intent that she be found. Nothing about this is an accident.
The Chesapeake Ripper is deliberately giving the FBI ample clues to find him. It's confounding behavior from a man as intelligent and resourceful as Dr. Lecter.
To be honest, the scene that hit me the hardest was not the reveal of Miriam Lass, but rather, the last supper of Abel Gideon... in which Hannibal serves him his own roast leg. Dr. Lecter eats his flesh, then watches Gideon swallow it himself. It is unnerving in ways I don't have words for. It resonates more deeply than simple horror... and the episode still bugged the hell out of me.
What do you think?
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