Hannibal Season 2, Episode 3 “Hassun”
Directed by Peter Medak
Written by Jason Grote and Steve Lightfoot
Airs Thursdays at 10pm ET on NBC
Legendary filmmaker Peter Medak (The Changeling, Romeo Is Bleeding) returns to direct his second episode of Hannibal. This week, Will Graham goes to court, and despite knowing his innocence, he has no choice but to play victim to mental illness in an attempt to avoid the electric chair. Amid the courtroom circus, Graham’s trial becomes complicated when Will’s lawyer opens a letter sent to him containing a severed ear. As it turns out, the ear belongs to a bailiff who is found mounted on a stag’s head in his home, just moments after it is rigged to explode. The newfound murder sheds doubts on Will’s guilt, as the bailiff was killed in the exact same way Will supposedly killed his victims… or so it seems. The killer has perfectly replicated the presentation, only reversing the mutilation process, and making use of a firearm.
Hannibal’s deep admiration and other feelings for Will is on full display this week. Hannibal seems driven by his own sick and twisted love for Will, just as much as by his curiosity. “Will Graham is and will always be my friend,” he tells the courtroom; later informing Graham that the killer (possibly Hannibal) wrote a poem for Will. It seems the only person who understands a man like Hannibal is Dr. Chilton, only he’s too blinded by his jealousy of Graham to see the real monster standing right in front of him. In describing Will, Chilton claims there is no definition yet to characterize Will, nor how his mind works. “Will has a very high opinion of his own intelligence and likes to play God,” he says, not realizing he’s actually describing Hannibal instead. And how great is it to see Hannibal smile to himself when hearing the prosecutor describe Will as the smartest person in the room.
An episode of Hannibal without the requisite WTF moment, would be equivalent to an episode of The Walking Dead without a zombie kill. This week the judge’s decision leads him to be mutilated, strung up and left hanging in the middle of the courtroom, with his heart and brain cut out of his body and placed on the scales of justice. While this scene will surely burn in our memories, the highlight of the night is found in the opening minutes. “Hassun” begins with a disturbing look at Will’s inner thoughts. Will dreams of his own execution, and the man pulling the chair’s switch is none other than Will Graham himself. Perhaps Will fears his defence won’t hold up in court, and perhaps Will also feels he is all to blame for his current situation. Will may be slowly gaining control of his mind, but he still has a long way to go before he’s back to ‘normal’.
Alana Bloom isn’t given much screen time this week, but the final scene of “Hassan” speaks volumes with little, if no dialogue. It is always important that viewers care, or at least remain interested in the characters, and Will and Alana’s holding hands makes us realize how crucial she is, in assisting Will in his darkest time. And in another fantastic sequence, Will, and his lawyer prepare Alana for any personal attacks that might arise when called in for questioning. The series has taken some criticism in how it treats its female characters, but Hannibal, for my money, does a better job than most shows in female representation. We can only assume that Bloom will have much more to do in upcoming instalments.
While most of the events of “Hassun” don’t do much to push the season arc forward, the episode affords some nice shading to Jack who finds his loyalty called into question by his peers as the FBI agent continues to blame himself for Will’s predicament. The standout moment for Jack this week comes when he chooses to do what he felt was right over any concerns about his personal well being. Crawford’s career is at stake if Will is found guilty, but deep down inside he knows Will can’t be a killer. As Jack discusses how he wishes he can leave the FBI and spend his time with his dying wife Bella in Italy, Hannibal is there to talk him out of it. Clearly Hannibal loves playing mind games with the people who surround him, but it is still unclear if he respects Crawford, or if he’s just another pawn in his sick, twisted game.
“Hassun” isn’t the series at its best, but it still delivers some memorable moments. Will needed to stand a trial sooner or later, and getting it out of the way this early in the season is a wise move on the part of the writers. “Hassun” provides gratuitous gore and the shocks that provide the backbone of most thrillers, but focusses more on the characters at the heart of the show. Underneath the slick cinematography and haunting score, the episode is sincere and moving. As per usual, the devil is in the small details.
– Ricky D
Notice how the camera pulls out from the inner portion of an ear. This is clearly a nod to the famous shot from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.
This episode also sees the return of Freddie Lounds and her wild hat.
Don’t forget to listen to our Hannibal podcast. New episodes are released every Sunday evening.