“Futamono” marks the halfway point in our season two journey and is, aptly, a major turning point episode, an opinion I held before I even got to that ending. And, holy shit, what an ending. It’s also a strange duck of an episode in terms of the Hannibal canon: the plot barreled forward, making major leaps and bounds; tonally, it felt a bit all over the map, veering from darkly hilarious to ethereally creepy. This episode was the roadmap the rest of the series will follow, I’m certainly ready for the rest of the journey.
The most controversial move, perhaps in the entire series so far, is the coupling of Hannibal and Alana. They’re drawn together because they’re both in mourning for the loss of their faith in Will, albeit for very different reasons. Their affair served as a means to give Hannibal an alibi for the death of the prison guard and the abduction of Abel Gideon. There’s precedent for Hannibal’s sexual relationship with Alana, namely in the first season episode “Sorbet,” but I didn’t like it then and I’m not particularly a fan of it now, especially considering that as one of the few female characters remaining on the show, Alana’s main purpose this season is to be a sex object. Although that uneasiness could also be intentional. The idea of a sex, of creating that most primal of human bonds, humanizes Hannibal in way that is entirely uncomfortable.
Alana is a marked woman, not just because of Will’s opening conversation with Jack—”Who does he have to kill for you to open your eyes?”—that gorgeously transitions into Alana face. Hannibal threatens Will, in a fantastically passive aggressive scene, telling Will that he is the cause of the murders by Hannibal’s own hand. Abel Gideon foreshadows a potential future for Alana, he got too close to Will and ended up being served himself. It’s never made clear how Hannibal knows Gideon is in the hospital, but Hannibal has always preferred to abandon veracity in favor of a good story.
While there were major plot elements in “Futamono” that boldly changed the stakes, the big turning point for me came in the way that I view Hannibal Lecter, a turning point that has been in the making throughout the entire second season. Most of my revulsion toward Hannibal Lecter has come from the idea of him, knowing what he’s capable of from his history as already laid out by Thomas Harris and brought to life by the likes of Anthony Hopkins and Brian Cox. As a prequel of sorts, Hannibal the show has spent a good chunk of time reinforcing why Hannibal the person could get away with what he did for so long—he’s successful, charming, alluring. There’s a reason all those fancy people show up to his dinner party. But the legend of Hannibal is why he’s never portrayed as some sort of anti-hero.
It was always clear that Hannibal was doing terrible things, but those terrible things mostly seemed to take place on the sides of the frame. Hannibal had his victims, but rarely did we see him commit the crime. Knowing what Hannibal is capable of isn’t as visceral as seeing what Hannibal is capable of. Take the death of Abigail Hobbs versus Beverly Katz as a prime example: As viewers, we knew about the former and (partially) saw the latter. Despite knowing both characters well, Beverly’s death hit home so severely, in part, because we saw her initial struggle, her battle with Hannibal. His brutality, rather than the idea of his brutality, was put so squarely in the middle of “Futamono.” There’s a big difference between watching Hannibal prepare his trophies, already literally and figuratively disembodied, and watching him serve Abel Gideon meat from his own amputated leg (“You intend me to be my own last supper?”). Just as the flower imagery bloomed throughout the episode, so did Hannibal as the masked serial killer we know mainly behind bars.
Just as Hannibal’s brutality is amped up for the viewer, so is the skepticism of the rest of the team. Beverly may be gone, but “Futamono” proves that Will is no longer alone. Jack and the team no longer believe that Will is responsible for the murders he’s currently detained for because remains from Will’s supposed victims are found on the lures holding up the murdered guard, presented as a nod to the unfortunate flayed guard in The Silence of the Lambs. Those lures lead Jack to Miriam Lass, still alive after all these years, stuck in a pit much like the victims of Lambs’ Buffalo Bill. The question is why Hannibal lured Jack to the warehouse. Hannibal has proven that carelessness is not a trait he possesses so one must assume he has intentionally kept the lungs in the body of flowering councilman Sheldon Isely, as well as placed the rare bark in the lures. So why does he want Jack to find Miriam? Perhaps as a means distraction for Jack? As a way to keep toying with the team just as he abandons it? We’ve got half a season to figure that out.
- Recipe of the week: Beef Roulade
- “Futamono” brought back some of the off-kilter humor that has defined much of Bryan Fuller’s work. Raúl Esparza’s Dr. Chilton continues to be a treat: “I’m grateful I have trouble digesting animal proteins as the last meals I have shared with Hannibal Lecter have all been salads,” “Needless to say, I won’t be eating the food.” He’s such a wonderful weasel. Aaron Abrams (“They’re varicose vine”) and Scott Thompson also deserve yet another odd couple shoutout.
- “If the Ripper is killing, you can bet Hannibal Lecter is having a dinner party. You and I probably sipped wine while swallowing the people who who we were trying to give justice, Jack.”