Can you believe NBC renewed Hannibal? I can't stay mad at you, NBC. Not when you do great things like this. There have been some complaints about this sophomore season of Hannibal, so allow me to put my two cents in. I think that maybe this is one of those seasons of television that might actually be better in a binge-watching session instead of on a week-to-week basis. Let's call it the "Season Four of Angel Effect."
The fourth season of Angel was also an intensely serialized season of television, drawing heavy inspiration from the world of comic books and graphic novels. That sort of thing isn't easy breezy weekly television. When it aired, I (and a lot of people, actually) found myself very frustrated with it on a week-to-week basis. (It also had two really horrible things that sullied the overall greatness of the season though, which separates it from this season of Hannibal, in my opinion.) However, rewatching the show on DVD, after the fact, I've grown to really appreciate the season, despite its glaring weaknesses that managed to cloud my feelings on the rest of the season.
Basically, Hannibal too is a dense show for sure, to the point where it's like watching a novel. You don't read a novel a chapter a week, do you? I think expecting everything to come together after the end of one episode is asking too much of a show that's looking toward the bigger picture of the season (and the intended series as a whole). But I don't want to start things off on a negative note, so let's get to talking about psychopaths and serial killers.
"Insane isn't really black or white, is it? We're all pathological in our own way."
That's a personal favorite Freddie Lounds quote, and if there's one line that best defines the show, I'd say it's that one. Despite how much better it would probably be for their sanity or their lives, none of these characters can just let something go. It's the reason Alana won't just cut Will out of her life. It's the reason Hannibal still goes to Bedelia Du Maurier for therapy. It's the reason Will still goes to Hannibal for "therapy." It's the reason Alana keeps digging for the truth, whatever version of it there may be.
However, Freddie Lounds would probably agree that Mason Verger is most definitely insane. That fact feels very black and white, especially after every single scene we've with him.
The episode begins with a dream of the re-birth of Will. Birth is a running theme of this episode, and in a show that, at its most surface level, is about serial killers, the act of birth is just as visceral as the act of murder. In fact, there's a necessary balance between the two in this episode and in this show's universe. Destruction is simultaneously creation. Creation is ultimately destruction. As Will says, "it is mythical."
There's the flaming body of Freddie Lounds—burned beyond recognition—as it comes careening down a parking structure in a wheelchair. As Will puts it, she had to burn because she was fuel: "Fire destroys and it creates... She won't rise from the ashes, but her killer will." The construction of the Shiva from her dug-up remains continues the thread, with Shiva being both destroyer and benefactor (or creator). While the flaming Freddie was definitely the doing of her killer, the Shiva was the benefactor's doing. "It's a courtship," says Alana, providing the perfect quote for quite a few fanfiction writers, one would imagine.
All Hannibal has done to Will has molded him into the form that he's currently in. Something not quite whole, but still, something very new. And in the process, their bond—be it the relationship of enemies or something much, much more complicated—has deepened in a twisted way. Because for all that he's done, Hannibal actually shows something resembling human emotions in "Ko No Mono." Instead of speaking in riddles, he finally speaks the truth to Will. He talks of his younger sister Mischa—who Abigail Hobbs reminded him of—and how he was a father to her. He expresses his regret for killing Abigail, someone who both he and Will loved and who he may have loved even more than Will had. There's a tinge of regret in the things Hannibal has done.
"I don't pray. I've not been bothered by any considerations of deity. Other than to recognize how my own modest actions pale beside those of God."
Hannibal continues to be the mastermind behind nearly everything with his "modest actions." He's the reason Margot Verger goes for the loophole in her father's will and gets impregnated by Will. He's the reason why Mason Verger knows that she's done such a thing and puts an end to it immediately. Hannibal has a need to orchestrate things presumably for his own twisted entertainment, and when his plans don't follow through exactly the way he wants, his facade starts to slip. With Will, there's barely even any facade left.
"Occasionally I drop a tea cup to shatter on the floor. Not on purpose. I'm not satisfied when it doesn't gather itself up again. Someday, perhaps, that cup will come together."
For all of his orchestration though, he can't undo what has been done. That's what makes Hannibal merely a man at the end of the day. He can obviously change the narrative, as he has been doing, but people will and are catching on. The damage has been done, and there's no way to undo that. There's no way to get Abigail Hobbs back, no matter how much both men may want that.
However, Will has another chance at fatherhood with his and Margot's baby. What kind of father would Will be? Honestly, in the state he's currently in, the very thought is extremely troubling.
Alana versus Will.
"Are you profiling me, Dr. Bloom?"
With the death of Freddie Lounds, Alana's prime suspect is Will. She even goes to his house to personally ask him if he did it. He dances around the question, asking her if she thinks that he did it. Dancing around the question is all they do now, actually, and it's a terribly choreographed one at that.
The contention between Will and Alana now is just palpable. There's not an awkwardness between the two of them, that would be too easy. Instead, there's a vindictive nature behind all of their actions. On Will's end, it's because Alana of all people should have been the one to believe him when he was incarcerated. On Alana's end, it's because she can't believe she didn't know Will as well as she thought she did, murderer or not. There's a tinge of disappointment in all of their interactions. He's the one who literally shuts the door on her. She's the one who literally walks away from him.
And yet, Alana spends so much time demanding the truth that she doesn't really consider the fact that the truth is the last thing she really wants to hear. Even if she doesn't say it out loud, she wants to live in a world where Will is the Ripper and Hannibal is her stable boyfriend. Ignorance is bliss, and Alana Bloom has been trying to live in such a state. She tells Will that she doesn't think Hannibal is a good influence on him, yet as Will points out, Hannibal's apparently good enough for her.
Honestly, neither one of them is handling the situation rationally, but rationality flew out the window a long time ago, didn't it?
The Verger family.
"Papa was a prodigy in the field of meat. But his real genius was for human nature. He could look at a man and see his weakness... My sister loves me, Dr. Lecter. She has to, or she's destitute."
From the moment Margot's pregnancy was revealed, there was only one way this could end. However, I never expected anything as cruel as the removal of her reproductive organs, even though I probably should have. Mason Verger is a monster of the most flamboyant order, after all. Watching Michael Pitt transform himself for this role is an amazing turn but also a terrifying one. The way his voice changes, his physicality—it's a sight to behold. While the also terrific Katharine Isabelle has been holding the bulk of the Verger weight, "Ko No Mono" is Pitt's time to shine. And shine he does.
As I said before, the thought of Will Graham as a father is troubling, but the very idea of him and Margot bringing a child into the world of the Verger family is downright horrifying. Margot utters the understatement of the year when she tells Hannibal that Mason isn't good with children. He takes joy in emotionally torturing an orphan child and doesn't even think twice about preventing his sister's child from ever seeing the light of day (even with the 50/50 chance of her having a girl instead of a boy).
Mason's hubris, however, will obviously be his downfall. It is Will who has to inform Mason that they—Will, Mason, and even Margot—have been played by Hannibal. Mason may see himself as the heir to his Papa's empire, but it is Hannibal who is truly able to look at a man (or woman) and see his weakness. Mason's sadism is no match for Hannibal's intellect, but it will be entertaining to see how he plans to proceed with the good doctor.
Freddie Lounds is dead. Long live Freddie Lounds.
"I was euphoric when I killed Freddie Lounds."
Despite Will's declarations to Hannibal, Freddie Lounds is alive and well, under the protection of Jack Crawford. Just the possibility of Freddie Lounds being dead after the end of "Naka-Choko" upset me greatly, because, simply put: Who would wear fabulous hats? I don't see Alana wearing fabulous hats. Jack wears alright hats at times, but not fabulous ones. I would love if Will started wearing fabulous hats, but that is just a lofty dream. So, if Freddie Lounds were to truly be dead, a piece of my Hannibal-loving heart would die with her. But as that flaming carcass came rolling down the parking structure, I knew she had to be alive. Dental records mean nothing if the body is unrecognizable—I learned that from television.
When Jack reveals Freddie to Alana, all is right in the world again. Well, as right as it can be in this world. Long live Freddie Lounds. In order to defeat Hannibal, they have to come at him from all sides. Convincing one man to try to kill him obviously wouldn't do the trick. Getting Mason Verger to direct his insanity at Hannibal is good, but again, he's just one man. But having Hannibal believe Will has embraced the darkness has clearly allowed him to lower his guard. And with the lowering of his guard, again, comes the fading of the facade. Hannibal can barely hide his frustration with Alana constantly bringing up Will or the fact that she feels so unsafe that she's started going to a gun range (with a gun that Will gives her). Hannibal Lecter is slipping. Bring on his destruction.