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Hannibal Ep. 2.12 ‘Tome-wan’ sets a new benchmark for grim television

Hannibal Ep. 2.12 ‘Tome-wan’ sets a new benchmark for grim television


Hannibal Season 2, Episode 12: “Tome-wan”
Directed by Michael Rymer
Written by Chris Brancato, Bryan Fuller, and Scott Nimerfro
Airs Friday at 10pm ET on NBC

You can always count on Hannibal for a grim spectacle, and last night’s ‘Tome-wan’ was no exception. What began as a pretty standard episode, if a little more revelatory than the last few, worked its way to some of the show’s biggest moments yet (but more on that later).

Let’s start from the top, shall we? The episode opens with some typical Will/Hannibal banter as their therapy sessions continue. The conversation makes it clear that each is weary of the other but neither is willing to show their hand completely, and both maintain their poker faces, even as they hurl half-hearted truths, ill-meaning metaphors, and thinly veiled threats at one another between their more standard philosophizing on the human condition.

Will has now set Hannibal and Mason against one another, and is manipulating the outcome, while simultaneously hedging his bets. If Hannibal kills Mason, he’s got his evidence. If Mason kills Hannibal, than his nemesis is dead, and the Chesapeake Ripper’s reign will come to an end. And if they both kill each other…well than, all the better, that’s two animals put down by their own savagery. Will has set up a no-lose scenario–or so he might have thought.

As Mason and Hannibal meet, they begin to exchange barbs of their own, while each probes the other for weakness. We learn still more about Mason’s unsettling pedophiliac past, and there follows more of the religiously motivated judgments and assertions to which these psychopaths seem so terribly drawn. As Mason grows increasingly wound up he shows just how unhinged he has become, stabbing Dr. Lecter’s chair in a fury of tense interrogation. “Send me the bill!” he laughs, when he notices the damage. By the episode’s end, Hannibal sends him all of that and more.

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As Margot informs, with her reproductive faculties robbed from her, the only way she can have her vengeance on Mason would be to rob herself of any and all inheritance to the family dynasty. But a man like Hannibal is not near so small-minded as all that. After all, there are many ways to destroy a man, and not all of them need involve the termination of his life. The fact that the good doctor is abducted and nearly killed by Mason is the final straw, and with Will given the choice to either end the monster once and for all, or release him against his captors, the final stage becomes set.


Mason awakens to find himself in the care of the good doctor, and having been fed a psychotropic compound, Mason’s Psychedelic Breakfast allows for some truly striking imagery, arguably some of the best that the show has ever produced. Hannibal is seen as a man-eating pig (not too far off really), and Mason is encouraged to check his own body for fat as his father was wont to do with the bevy of show pigs he once visited.

Mason does more than that, and in the most gruesome sequence the show has ever produced, the iconic face cutting scene is produced with more grim detail than the R-rated feature film ever dared. When Will enters his home it is to the most horrifying circumstances imaginable: he finds Mason gleefully cutting strips from his face and feeding them to Will’s collection of happy strays. The macabre scene takes on a further edge when Dr. Lecter encourages Mason to try a piece for his own palette. Mason obliges with a slice and a  swallow of his own nose. Finally the proceedings come to an end when Hannibal breaks the wretch’s neck, setting the stage for the disfigured and crippled individual we’ve come to know (and despise).

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Unfortunately, Will and Jack are still unable to get their man as Mason concocts a fable to cover for his hideous accident, while promising to repay Dr. Lecter, his “benefactor”, for his kindness. Whether we will see that in the timeline of the established canon or sooner remains to be seen, and with Margot offering her care to Mason, the show is left with the option of removing them for the time being or keeping them in the background.

Either way, I eagerly await the coming finale, as you should too. With Hannibal S3 now a guarantee, I can’t wait to see what Fuller and co. have cooked up for inevitable end.

Side notes:

-Finally Bedelia offers some clarity on what actually occurred between her and Hannibal, something that has only been alluded to since the show’s beginnings.

-On that note: an X-Files reference in a scene with Gillian Anderson! I could scarcely contain my nerdly delight!

-Some great dark humor infused the episode. Mason’s “I’m full of myself!” was a highlight.

-Michael Pitt has been a welcome addition to the show, and I hope we see him back to his scenery-chewing ways soon.

-Hannibal stabbing an intruder in the femoral artery is another great callback to Ridley Scott’s Hannibal.

-It’s interesting that one episode from the end, there is no Alana or Freddie to be seen. I imagine we will see both next week, but I have a bad feeling that Alana will not survive the finale.

-Finally we will get to see the follow-up to the seasons fantastic cold open.

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