At its core, Hannibal is about personality and motivation. Even the Cases of the Week play into this study of psychology and madness. What is causing these killers to tick, and why? Throughout this, Hannibal’s control of Will — his tending to and moulding of his psychology — has been about cause and effect. Hannibal knows Will has a monster within him. His desire is to get Will to acknowledge it, and then work to control it (as Hannibal does). Hit the jump for why you need to get intimate with your instincts.
Hannibal doesn’t address nature versus nurture overtly, but it’s a constant, underlying theme. Hannibal seems to believe, as was evident in “Shiizakana,” that if he sees the nature there, he can nurture it in a way that allows the person to become fulfilled. Will unraveling after killing Garret Jacob Hobbs (the murder in the first episode that brilliantly ties the entire series together) wasn’t because he felt guilty or bad about the murder itself. He felt guilty because he liked it. Will has mentioned several times about the power, “the quiet power,” he felt when he killed. Since then, Hannibal has tried a number of methods to get Will to pursue this part of his nature.
Though Will resists this aspect of himself, he chooses to continue his therapy with Hannibal, knowing that Hannibal is continuing to goad him (an odd choice, and some kind of permissive consent). When he brings up how Hannibal stopped him from killing the murderous social worker last week, it’s not because Hannibal thought that Will wasn’t up to it, it’s that it was not a good enough progression. Will has already used a gun to kill; Hannibal wants him to “evolve” to something more visceral, something more personal.
This idea of “becoming intimate with one’s instincts” played out in Randall’s story. He desired savagery, and Hannibal then shaped him in therapy to control his impulses in a certain way: he doesn’t repress them, he just compartmentalizes. During his day job, he’s seen as a success story. At night, he becomes a monster, wrapping all of his psychoses up into a cave bear suit, terrorizing local farm animals and a few very unlucky humans.
While Randall seems like a very willing participant in Hannibal’s murderous mentorship, Margot hesitates. We know that she tried to kill her horrible brother, but she’s curious about why Hannibal is not only so supportive of it, but that he gives her tips on how to do it better the next time. It’s nice to see a woman back on the show who questions Hannibal, and it was clearly purposeful that this was the episode duMaurier was brought back up (by Will to Hannibal), as the only other woman who, so far, knows who Hannibal is, and lives (R.I.P. Beverly).
“Shiizakana” was gruesome, but still visually tantalizing as always. It tied in beautifully with the major arcs in the series, using Randall as a pawn in Will and Hannibal’s game, while also expanding things more with Margot (because Hannibal’s world is incredible insulated. It’s one of the biggest reason the show can feel like a nightmare). On the other hand, the coincidence that Hannibal had once treated Randall as a patient was a little too neat, especially because it was looking in this hour like Hannibal is essentially just creating a legion of murderers to deploy for his own amusement. And while this isn’t hard to believe (thinking back, again, to his mentorship of Garret Jacob Hobbs), sicking them on one another was a little cartoonish. But, Randall was really a sacrifice so that Hannibal could make Will kill again. He goaded Will, and he won. Does sending Randall to him make them even? The game continues.
Episode Rating: A-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— By comparison, Peter always makes Will look really sane.
— I hope poor Buster the dog is ok, I was surprised he made it out alive. A man with a shotgun and a dog (under his arm) running AWAY from the animal was a great subversion of a hunter, too.
— Margot is great, I’m loving her as an addition to the cast. She has such a strange way about her, like when she confronted Will outside of Hannibal’s office. I’d like to see where this partnership goes.
— Randall: “You think I killed someone with a fossil?” Jack: (shrug).
— I’m not going to address Hannibal’s theology. The show could have done more with it. The writing there felt lazy and like an afterthought.
— “I’m the guy who didn’t kill all those people” – Will.
— Fantastic scene where Will dreams about squeezing Hannibal on the tree, and having the stag pull the ropes. Hannibal turning into the stag and bursting … gross. Wonderful.
— “I used to be afraid of losing my memories. What I wouldn’t give to forget some of them now” – Jack.
— “Memories hold moments in immortality, but forgetfulness promotes a healthy mind” – Hannibal.
— Hannibal: “Why not appeal to my better nature?” Will: “I wasn’t aware that you had one.”
Watch the promo for next week’s Hannibal, “Naka-Choko”: