“This is merely an act of God.” Hannibal Lecter discusses cannibalism with Will Graham. (Major Spoilers)

While this episode, titled Naka-Choko, was as fantastic as the others, I still don’t fully know how to feel about it. Hannibal has consistently made me feel every emotion while watching, yet this episode had me laughing or smiling more than any other. Last week I expressed concern over Will’s behaviour, and how I’d been sure he was bluffing, then changed my mind. Well, it would seem I was right the first time. I have to confess to being fooled by the act but now that Will’s true intentions are known, albeit only hinted at, but it’s continueing roughly in a similar vein to the Thomas Harris novel.

We also finally get to meet the infamous Mason Verger, in the shape of the talented Michael Pitt. Pitt’s take on Verger was very good, showing just how versatile the former Boardwalk Empire cast member can be. Anyone expecting Gary Oldman’s approach will be disappointed, but what we got was 10 times better. Oldman was truly great at the injured, horribly-disfigured, bed-ridden Mason Verger, and other than a few quick scenes of him dangling from a rope and laughing maniacally, that was the only fully-abled version we ever saw. Pitt’s reimagining of the cruel, sadomasochistic Verger was quite brilliant, plus he had the advantage of working more or less from scratch.

Created by
Bryan Fuller
Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Laurence Fishburne, Caroline Dhavernas
Episode Release Date
2 May 2014
Ed’s Grade: A

This episode begins with Randall Tier, last week’s serial-killer, being killed in self-defense by Will Graham. We didn’t see what happened between them, only that Will killed Tier after Tier lept through his window. Will then took the body to Lecter’s office, correctly guessing Hannibal had sent Tier to try and murder him, telling Lecter they were now “even Stephen.” It was the way Will Graham killed Tier that was of most interest, as he beat him to death with his bare hands, in preference to the shotgun he’d just been aiming, all the while imagining he was hitting Hannibal. Will was also suffering from his usual ‘stag’ hallucination during the attack, however, these appear to be growing in intensity though less in frequency.

Will Graham then allows Hannibal to ritualistically wash his cut hands, while they speak about what this act of killing meant to Will, and by extension, their strange relationship and new-found respect. This is the first of two instances where Will attempts to bluff the master bluffer, but, of course, Will Graham is also an expert on criminal behaviour. You have to wonder how Hannibal is expected to take this, because, while this first act was seen as a bit of a triumph for Hannibal Lecter, particularly what is finally done with Randall Tier’s body, the second, and arguably more effective, may seem too much, too soon. It could also be seen as borne out of necessity, thanks to Freddie being at the wrong place at the wrong time, but, I’ll speak of that in a moment.
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Will expresses a form of twisted gratitude for Randall Tier making him feel more alive than ever, with Hannibal asking “how will you repay him?” Creating another monument from Tier’s corps and prehistoric bear bones, was a good bonding tactic, then hearing the pair explain to the highly astute Jack Crawford how and why the killer murdered Randall Tier, was not only entertaining, but quite a gamble. I’m sure Jack knew something wasn’t quite right with Will and Hannibal.

Not only did Jack spot something off, Freddie Lounds also smelled a rat, so much so she approached Alana Bloom about her suspicions, with Alana shrugging the reporter off, however, the seeds of doubt had now been planted. The previous night saw Margot enter Will’s bed, this was after a strong hint from Hannibal about getting pregnant before killing big brother Mason in order to secure the vast legacy, and Lecter was in bed with Alana. During the carnal act, Will begins to imagine he’s having sex with Alana, which then becomes a threesome, as they appear to fuse in Will’s mind, all the while being watched over by the Lecter stag.

Freddie knows something’s up so heads over to Will’s house, where she breaks into his outbuilding and makes a shocking discovery. The bones of a large prehistoric bear and a freezer containing human remains. This is where Will created or stored what was left of his Randall Tier creation, but Freddie has found it, taken photos and starts shooting at Will in terror when he shows up. “There’s a very good explanation for all of this,” doesn’t help calm the reporter down, who eventually has to be bodily dragged from her car, kicking and screaming, with Jack Crawford listening on the other end of the phone. A recording of the assault is played a few hours later for Will and Hannibal to hear, with Hannibal sticking up for Will, when it’s learned Freddie went missing near Will’s home.

The trap is almost set. Will arrives at Hannibal’s with a gift of meat, for Lecter to cook. After Hannibal cooks the meat and has his first bite they discuss how the “animal” was scared when it was slaughtered, causing the meat to taste acidic. Lecter then says to Will, “this meat is not pork.” It’s “long pig” Will explains to a pleased Lecter, meaning Will is now actually eating Randall Tier’s flesh to help seal the deal. Will Lecter see through the ruse? I think that’s some serious “beyond the call of duty” by Will Graham, right there.

I have no idea how long we’ll have the pleasure of Michael Pitt’s Mason Verger, or even the lovely Katharine Isabelle’s Margot, but I’d like to think, even in a show where they bump off characters rather unexpectedly, they haven’t gone to all that trouble getting actors of this standard and in such high-profile roles, only to dump them at the end of the season. We barely got two scenes with Mason, both of which were memorable. Upon meeting Lecter for the first time, Mason explains how Margot may be telling him some “horrible things that I’ve done.” Lecter replies, “I can’t tell you what Margot’s confessed to me. Fortunately for you, I can’t tell anyone.” He then mentions to Mason that he should try therapy. I bet this will be a part that Mason will replay in his mind, over and over, after he’s been left disfigured with a broken neck.

TV Recap by Lead Entertainment Writer, Ed Blackadder

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