Hannibal Ep 2.04 “Takiawase” continues to prove this is the most criminally underrated series on television

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Hannibal Season 2, Episode 4 “Takiawase”
Directed by David Semel
Written by Scott Nimerfro & Bryan Fuller
Airs Thursdays at 10pm ET on NBC

Hannibal continues to prove why it is one of the very best TV shows on the air and yet, the most criminally underrated series on television. “Takiawase,” is another standout episode full of horrific imagery, twisted mind games, swirling aesthetics and overwhelming emotional moments. The two major themes this week: Having your identity taken from you, and dying with dignity.

Will wastes no time in trying to convince Beverly that Hannibal is guilty of the crimes he is accused of committing, and while she walks away a non-believer, Graham sends her in the right direction. It begins with the autopsy of the colour palette killer as Beverly decides to invite Hannibal along to assist. “You have to get to the truth beneath the appearances,” he tells her. “Only by getting deep beneath the skin will you understand the nature of this pathology.” It turns out Hannibal has a point, as Beverly discovers a missing organ beneath the stitching of his body. One has to wonder if Dr. Lecter wants to be caught, or if he is simply looking for an excuse to kill Beverly? “One you stalk, the other you lure. One you catch, the other you shoot,” says Will in his vision while teaching Abigail Hobbes the art of fishing. Unlike a fisherman, Beverly acts as the huntress, only her method is all wrong. Hannibal is not only too smart, but too dangerous to catch on the run. Which leads us to the episode’s final scene in which Beverly breaks into Hannibal’s home and discovers his basement of death. “Takiawase” gives the series its first real cliffhanger, and in one of the series’ most terrifying moments, Lecter appears standing behind Beverly right as she turns on the light and makes a gruesome discovery. And as we are left sitting in the dark, and several shots ring out, we can only assume Katz will not make it out alive.

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Back at the prison, we get to see Will use Chilton’s own narcissism against him, but it comes with a heavy burden as Chilton helps him unlock his repressed memories through narco-analytic therapy. By perfectly manipulating Chilton, Graham not only finds a way to distance himself from Hannibal, but convinces Chilton that Dr. Lecter has been experimenting on Will with unethical forms of psychotherapy. “You’re not the only psychiatrist accused of making a patient kill. We have to stick together,” Chilton tells Hannibal, while gloating about the fact that Hannibal’s visits with Will have been revoked. Clearly Chilton, despite being extremely intelligent is too dumb to realize that Hannibal is a killer. In the end he is fully aware that Hannibal is responsible for Will’s memory loss, but still believes Graham is the true killer.

Given several vantage points, Bryan Fuller and Pushing Daisies scribe Scott Nimerfro offer us an alternative view on death. The theme about dying with dignity is prevalent through “Takiawase,” beginning with the returning Bella who isn’t in favour of continuing the chemotherapy requested by Jack – a treatment that is only causing her incredible pain and prolonging the inevitable. In meeting with Hannibal, Dr. Lecter shares with her the tale of Socrates’ death, and his offering of a rooster to the gods as payment. “I’ve always found the idea of death comforting,” he says, “The thought that my life could end at any moment frees me to fully appreciate the beauty and art and the horror of everything this world has to offer.” Hannibal, like Socrates sees death as a cure, rather than an end, and in hearing this story, Bella decides once and for all, she will end her own life. Just seconds after overdosing on morphine in Lecter’s office, Hannibal driven by his own curiosity and amusement, uses a coin flip to dictate her fate. To Lecter, everything is a game, even dying. By bringing Bella back from her suicide attempt, Hannibal has secured Jack’s trust and support, but given the season’s cold open, we know it won’t last very long. One can very well assume that Hannibal respects Bela and Jack on an equal level. Perhaps the reason he chose to toss the coin was because he simply couldn’t decide who deserved what; should Bella be allowed to take away Jack’s opportunity to say his last goodbye, or should she be allowed to die as she see fit? Gina Torres (Laurence Fishburne’s real-life wife), is absolutely brilliant in this episode – from her pot smoking free time with Jack, to her suicide attempt, to her slapping Hannibal for denying her the painless goodbye – her performance might just be the best the series has yet to offer. Imagine what would happen if the coin landed on the other side?

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“Takiawase” also features a guest appearance by Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction‘s Honey Bunny), as the honey-obsessed/acupuncturist killer-of-the-week who lobotomizes her clients. Hannibal wouldn’t be the same without some truly horrifying images on display, and “Takiawase” offers the first scene in which this critic just had to look away. Watching Plummer’s character twisting a spike into a man’s eye is truly unnerving. Worth mentioning: in an interview with Bryan Fuller, the showrunner stated that this is the only scene NBC censored so far. Imagine how grotesque the original cut is? The case-of-the-week doesn’t do much to push the main plot forward but it does offer a nice parallel to Bella’s current situation. Both Bella and Katherine use death as a means to fight hopelessness, and thus justify their actions as an act of good.  

Hannibal - Season 2

As for the rest of “Takiawase,” this episode offers us some visceral reminders of just how badly Hannibal tortured Will back in season one. In incorporating Will’s mind palace along with the narco-analytic scenes, both the viewers, and Will Graham get a better understanding of just how Hannibal took control of Will’s mind, to the point in which he was able to induce seizures and blackouts in Will. In a flashback to his conversation with Gideon, we learn that Hannibal, much like Will, is angry over his stolen identity. I guess they really do have more in common than Will would like to admit.

– Ricky D

Other thoughts:

Bella and Jack’s best moment is when they smoke her medical marijuana to relax.

In Greek mythology, Charon is the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron that divided the world of the living from the world of the dead. A coin to pay Charon for passage was sometimes placed in or on the mouth of a dead person. Some authors say that those who could not pay the fee, or those whose bodies were left unburied, had to wander the shores for one hundred years.

Jimmy: “Did you know the male’s ejaculation is so powerful it can be heard by the human ear?”

Jack: “Oh you are harshing my buzz right now.”

Any of you fucking pricks move and I’ll lobotomize every last one of ya!

How awesome is it to see Will realize, for the first time, that Hannibal Lecter is a cannibal?

The sequence in which Hannibal’s face is warped is a callback to a Picasso painting, hence the blocky style. See the image below painted by Zi. You can see more of the artist’s work here.

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