“Adapt. Evolve. Become.” Will Graham thinks aloud during therapy with Hannibal Lecter. (Major Spoilers)
This episode was quite possibly my favorite of this second season. It contained some truly wonderful dialogue, as do most episodes, admittedly, however, this episode managed to engage me so completely, and watching Mads Mikkelsen’s nuanced performance and his hypnotic deliveries, really made this one memorable. Now, during season one, I was usually annoyed at Hugh Dancy’s overacting while Will Graham was under Lecter’s care, but I did eventually get used to it. Seeing him smile this episode — titled Shiizakana — actually took me by surprise, as I’d forgotten this was a facial-feature he was aware of, and could indeed still do it. I think it’s finding a kindred spirit in Peter Bernardone that’s really helping Will, emotionally.
It’s good that we’re getting an unexpected version of Will Graham, who appears to be becoming that which he normally hunts, and Hannibal is the one responsible for shaping and molding him into the killer he’s turning into, worthy of even Lecter himself. I was so sure it was all a ruse by Will, who planned to draw Lecter in, then when it was too late and Hannibal was backed into a corner, bang the trapdoor shut. After seeing next week’s trailer (see attached), it’s either Will who’s created the death tableau with Randall Tier’s corpse, or Lecter has posed the body, perhaps to show his new Padawan how it’s done. Or, I could be completely wrong … again!
Watching the nods to the movies and books is something I delight in, and this week opens with a scene right out of the last film made about Hannibal Lecter’s exploits, Hannibal Rising, from back in 2007. Will Graham has Lecter tied to a tree, with his Petronis lashed to the rope, so that when it pulls on it, it tightens around Hannibal’s body and neck, ready to crush him to death. Before the act, Will tells Hannibal, “I promised you a reckoning. Here it is.” With a sharp whistle, the stag pulls hard, then we witness an explosion of blood, right before Will awakens from a dream. What are we to make of this? Is he still determined to have his revenge, even though it’s unclear if Will actually wants to punish Lecter, or, have the lines blurred so thoroughly for Will’s new version of reality, he now wants to kill more, as he has developed a taste for it?
This week’s killer turns out to be an old patient of Lecter’s, Randall Tier, who was treated as a young boy because he was confused about his identity, preferring to think of himself as an animal. Thanks to Lecter’s treatment, Tier is now a feral killer, who uses a prehistoric bear skull to maul his victims to death. I wasn’t buying the way we saw the first killing, as it led us to believe we were dealing with an X-Files monster. Some poor trucker is dragged high in the air by Tier, who was standing on top of the truck looking down on his victim, and then rips him limb-from-limb.
After Lecter helps Jack identify the killer as an old patient of his, Lecter pays Tier a visit. He warns him his capture is inevitable, with Tier telling Lecter “I don’t think I can stop.” Lecter replies, “I don’t want you to.” Lecter has a use for him, but does he know he’s sending Tier to his death, or is it a case of a win-win situation for Lecter, no matter what the outcome? Lecter sends Tier to kill Will Graham, but obviously Tier fails, with Will not only being the victor, but also enjoying that he’d killed a man.
The other point of interest in this episode is when Margot Verger visits Will Graham at his home, and they compare notes. Margot is curious about why Will is being treated, plus the fact she knows he’s famous. Will doesn’t volunteer much, so Margot explains to Will why she’s in therapy, that she tried to kill Mason. After Will finally tells her he’s attending therapy because he tried to kill Lecter, he then asks her what advice Lecter gave her; “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” I hope we get to see Michael Pitt’s Mason Verger soon. According to one source, Pitt’s portrayal will be nothing like Gary Oldman’s Verger, as it was “compared to Andrew Scott’s portrayal of Moriarty on BBC’s Sherlock in a casting description for the role.” It certainly sounds intriguing.
TV Recap by Lead Entertainment Writer, Ed Blackadder