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Hannibal, Ep. 2.13, “Mizumono” is one of the greatest television episodes of all time

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Hannibal Season 2, Episode 13: “Mizumono”
Directed by David Slade
Written by Steve Lightfoot and Bryan Fuller
Aired Fridays at 10pm ET on NBC

I would imagine that if “Mizumono” screened in front of a live audience, it would get a ten minute standing ovation. Let’s just get this out of the way real quick: “Mizumono” will go down in the books as one of the greatest season finales of all time. There is a seriousness and an intensity here that is unlike anything on the small screen; everything that sets Hannibal apart from every other television show is contained in this season’s riveting last installment. This is a truly inspiring example of classy storytelling and unforgettable characterization, and the collaborative effort of Bryan Fuller, Steve Lightfoot, and David Slade has resulted in something very special for fans of the show.

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Before the blood begins to spill, everyone speaks the truth. Truth has something in it which cannot be explained, but is felt when spoken. “This is the clearest moment of our friendship” says Jack to Hannibal, before the proverbial shit hits the fan. Bryan Fuller has a six year plan for this show, yet “Mizumono” has the emotional charge of a series finale. There are a number of eye-popping moments in “Mizumono”, enough to give “Ozymandias” a run for its money, but more important are those moments of sheer beauty. Take for instance Alana’s dream of water engulfing her and later, her bleeding out on the sidewalk, surrounded by shattered glass—“Mizumono” is beautifully designed and full of its own, unique strange poetry. From the broken glass symbolizing broken promises and shattered expectations, to the blood in her tear, to a scene in which Will fires at a stag, Hannibal’s season two finale is awe-inspiring in its artistic aspirations, so technically adept, so morally expansive, so fully realized that it defies critical blather. A stag has the capacity for infinite generosity; their heart rhythms pulse in soft waves of kindness. When Will takes aim at his spiritual animal, all hope is lost.

“In your defense, I worked very hard to blind you,” but there’s no turning a blind eye now. —Hannibal

Save it for a rainy day: Water has been a reoccurring motif all season, but Alana isn’t the only one drowning this week; the entire cast is drenched in despair and hopelessness. Rain can represent the absolute definition of living and the continuation of a way of life. It can also be seen as the loss of salvation for those to whom a downpour will bring the end of days. For Hannibal, the rain washes away his sins, and “Mizumono” marks a new beginning for America’s most popular sociopath. Credit to David Slade, who manages to deliver an episode full of power, beauty, horror and ultimately, sadness. And in between the carnage, Bella Crawford returns to relay the theme of the episode: forgiveness.

“Forgiveness is such a profound, conscious, and unconscious state of affairs. You can’t actually choose to do it. It simply happens to you.” —Bella

Hannibal is a peculiar genre mash-up, and Fuller revels in his passion for horror. The last act of “Mizumono” unfolds like a slasher film with a single murderer picking off his victims one by one. Only “Mizumono” excels where most slashers fall short: it carries an engaging narrative heightened by an unpredictable course of events and a truly surprising ending. And those aren’t secondary players left to die—Hannibal absolutely wipes out the main cast.  

The entirely of the episode is paced deliberately, thanks in part to the brilliant, anxiety-inducing score by Brian Reitzell. We know stepping in that Jack is going to fight Hannibal, but that foresight doesn’t mitigate the tension. There is a sense of forward momentum throughout, tied to the sound design; time is running out, and the ticking sounds by Reitzell don’t allow us to forget, not for one second. When we come full circle on the Jack/Hannibal encounter which opened the season, we think we know how it will end, but Fuller and co. draw a wildcard from the deck. To see Abigail surface from the dead, and then to see Hannibal take her from Will, is utterly heartbreaking.  

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“Fate and circumstance have returned us to this moment, when the teacup shatters. I forgive you, Will. Will you forgive me?” Hannibal

No matter how monstrous Hannibal is, deep down inside he truly cares for Will, and the final scene between them is weirdly poignant. One of the most difficult things we humans are ever called upon to do is to respond to evil with kindness and forgive the unforgivable. In their final encounter, Hannibal forgives Will. Perhaps there’s a bit of humanity in Hannibal after all.

Ricky D

 

Other thoughts:

“Love and death are the great hinges in which all human sympathies turn” —Hannibal to Bella

“Did you believe you could change me, the way I’ve changed you?” Hannibal

It’s exciting to know that next season, the series will essentially begin anew. I assume Hannibal will be on the run and is most likely headed back to Europe, but who will still be around, and where exactly will it take place?

Hannibal figuring out Freddie is alive by smelling her on Will is great.

Silence of the Lambs reference: “When the fox hears the rabbit screaming, he comes running, but not to help.”

“They know.” —Will Graham

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