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On Hannibal and 'Takiawase' [Spoilers]

There are any number of things that can be said about last night's episode of Hannibal. "Holy $#!t" and other such euphemisms come to mind. Three different stories, barely cross-pollenating. That buzzing noise you hear is the sound of human beings, dropping like flies. [Spoilers below.]

Safe in his cell, Will Graham retreats to his memory palace— for him, a gently flowing river on which he fly-fishes. He's teaching the late Abigail Hobbs to fish, and contrasting the sport to hunting. "One you catch. The other you shoot." In no uncertain terms, Graham is fishing for Hannibal, trying to lure him into a trap he can't escape. Unfortunately, Will's not free to see his plans through. Right now, he's at the far end of his fisherman's pole, while his lure does all the work, on the other end of a very long thread.

Takiawase is a dish in which you simmer the ingredients separately. It's a fitting title for tonight's show, in which extremely important things happen with almost no interaction between the stories.


First you have the killer of the week, doing grotesque things w/ human remains, re-purposing them as beehives. (I'm not complaining, but this isn't the first time Bryan Fuller's used fictional dead bodies as a makeshift hive. I miss Pushing Daisies, too.) The killer— beautifully portrayed by the always memorable Amanda Plummer— isn't vindictive, for once. She sees what she's doing as a kindness, puts up no fuss when the FBI come calling, and confesses before Jack Crawford can suggest she had anything to do with it. He looks perplexed, almost annoyed, as if to say "This isn't usually how this happens."

Then, there's the ongoing arc plot of Will's pursuit to clear his name and incriminate Hannibal. He's recruited Beverly Katz (Hettienne Park) to investigate the crimes he's accused of with fresh eyes. This... backfires.

Finally, there is the heartbreaking story of Phyllis Crawford. She has stage four lung cancer, and tells Hannibal (in confidence) that she's strongly considering taking her own life— to leave on a relative high note before her gradually increasing pain consumes her entirely. Sure enough, later in the episode, she returns to Hannibal's townhouse, having overdosed on morphine. Her final moments have the grace and dignity she'd hoped for... which are ruined when Hannibal plumbs new depths in cruelty. The son of a bitch flips a coin to decide whether or not to revive Phyllis. It must come up heads, because he retrieves what I presume is adrenaline and uses it to revive her. Poor, poor Phyllis. Her weak, little "No" at realizing she's come back... would crush your soul.

While we're on the subject, I'm less than thrilled with how Phyllis is defined, in terms of the show. Gina Torres is a wonderful actress. This isn't about her. It's about how Jack says he's going to remember her: the beautiful woman chased after by Italian signori. A gardener, returning to the house with Thyme on her hands. The wife that leaves the kitchen smelling of garlic and onions. That's all great, Jack, but what about her? What about her strength, or her own wants and desires, instead of just how she's your wife?


By ignoring her wishes to die with some dignity, Hannibal and Jack are denying her her own agency. They don't respect her enough to make her own decisions. When she wakes up in hospital, she lashes out at Hannibal with what little strength she has. Jack doesn't understand. He's there by her side, kissing her hand, welcoming her back to a life she doesn't want anymore. Good lord. The fact that he doesn't see that he doesn't see is beyond my ability to comment further on.

Aaaaaand then there's Beverly. Well. There was Beverly. Since the character was first introduced, she's been portrayed as a brusque, invasive personality who disobeys orders when she thinks she knows better. Which are fine qualities for an FBI agent, but not so fine for a character on a horror show. Don't go in alone. Don't go in without telling your superiors where you're heading. Don't underestimate your quarry. Beverly Katz was many things, including quite smart... but not as smart as Hannibal.


She ignored Will Graham's warnings not to confront Hannibal directly. She ignored his warnings that she was being toyed with. She thought she knew better. Her instinct to go on the hunt (versus, say, using a lure) overcame her training. She broke into the man's home. No warrant. No probable cause. Anything she'd find there would be inadmissible as evidence. She's not going to catch him, she's going there to satisfy her own curiosity.

I don't envy her. The last two things she saw were A) something so unspeakable as to make an FBI agent utter "Oh my god", and B) Hannibal Lecter... shutting off the lights.


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