RIP, Beverly Katz.
It’s official: The crime scene investigator ran afoul of Hannibal in the worst possible way and ended her life tragically. While other characters have certainly been threatened over the course of the series, Beverly’s death was the first real blow to the team as a whole, especially considering her increased participation in the first four episodes of the second season. Hannibal brings Beverly back to the observatory, a place that haunts those in the Behavioral Science Unit: It’s the location of Miriam Lass’ lone arm and Dr. Chilton’s non-elective surgery in “Entree.” It’s also worth noting that Miriam and Beverly died by strangulation after figuring out Hannibal’s true secret. Now the observatory is Beverly’s mortuary.
Bryan Fuller and company are no strangers to incorporating artful images into Hannibal’s visual schema. In my eyes, Beverly Katz got the Damien Hirst treatment. Her corpse, dissected so expertly and precisely, reminded me of Hirst’s “Mother and Child (Divided),” in which a mother cow and calf are bisected in half. Hirst has referenced how this bisection is a reference to the religious iconography he grew up with. Yet in Hirst’s version, he is separating the ultimate mother and child both by proximity and through their bisection. They can never be whole. But Beverly is not bisected, she is cut into many pieces, perhaps symbolizing the fractured nature of the team now that Will is behind bars, Jack is distracted by his dying wife and Beverly is no more. Yet, Hirst has also discussed how bisection allowed his subjects to be viewed in new lights, and Beverly’s death—including the realization that her murder is linked to muralist James Gray through the kidneys found in Beverly’s body—will allow the team to turn their eyes to the Chesapeake Ripper case anew (“We find her kidneys, we find her killer”). Will won’t tell Jack who Beverly was going to see while he tended to his suicidal Bella, because Jack must come to the conclusion himself. Now, having seen Beverly inside and out, he has the fresh perspective to do so. Even Will’s empathetic recreation of Beverly’s death possibly foreshadows how Hannibal’s actions will affect his future: “I pull her apart layer by layer as she would a crime scene.”
While the “Mother and Child (Divided)” connection may only be my critical theory, it’s impossible to ignore the religious iconography that ends “Mukozuke,” with Hannibal positioned with his arms outstretched, as blood drips down an altar as if he is a sacrifice. The episode starts with Will and Hannibal’s parallelism, albeit of the unequal sort, while they both dine on very different breakfasts. By the end, they are both killers. For the first time, Hannibal is no longer in control. He is bested by Will, or Will’s admirer Matthew Brown (Jonathan Tucker). The episode marks such a seismic shift in the power dynamic of our two central figures, Beverly’s death acting as the ultimate catalyst for this shift. Just as the Behavioral Science Unit is hopefully given a new set of eyes because of Beverly’s peculiar death, Will is pushed from empathizer to attempted killer. Or murderer in his own right if Matthew Brown’s death by Jack’s hands can be construed as Will’s fault.
(Spoiler warning for those who don’t want Red Dragon details:) There are shades of Red Dragon all throughout “Mukozuke,” namely Will’s manipulation of Freddie Lounds and her access to the press in order to smoke out his admirer (much like he does with Francis Dolarhyde, although that doesn’t end up so well for poor Freddie), as well as his eventual communication with Brown to do his bidding while he remains in lock-up, much like Lecter’s communication with Dolarhyde. “Mukozuke” isn’t Matthew Brown/Tucker’s first appearance in the season, showing up in “Hassun,” as well. A returning Dr. Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard, who I enjoyed much more this episode than I did in his initial appearance in “Entree”) reminds Will that he has murderous tendencies inside of him and just because they are dormant does not mean he cannot kill. Gideon reiterates this to Alana Bloom. “Will isn’t the Chesapeake Ripper,” she says. “Not yet,” he retorts.
Will’s own transformation is writ large when he imagines growing the stags horns—the accepted symbol for Hannibal. Yet, it’s important to note how uncomfortable he seems with the process. But the symbol that interested me the most about the switch in power dynamic was the use of water. Both visually and audibly, water was a major element (pun totally intended) throughout the episode. Water has been used symbolically before in Hannibal, namely in the first season’ “Rôti.” While the element so regularly symbolizes cleansing or rebirth, in “Mukozuke,” it represents a different kind of rebirth for Will. First, we see water drip off of Beverly, signaling that she had been frozen in order to cut her so precisely. But that water run off is eventually mixed with her own blood, signifying that the rebirth will be a tainted one. Will realizes his full transformation, into someone who is capable of murder rather than just imagining it, when he sees the water dripping from his sink turn to blood. His own face transforms in the altar where his admirer is torturing the true fiend—Hannibal.
For a series that is masterfully visual, that scene fade was one of the series’ more stellar moments. And, for a series that has been consistently great throughout its short run, “Mukozuke” was a standout in excellence.
But, you guys, I’m still a little sad about Beverly.
- Recipe of the week: Mincemeat pie
- If you haven’t seen it yet, Hettienne Park wrote an excellent defense of her death on her personal blog.
- This episode was so packed with plot and symbolism, but many props should be given to Laurence Fishburne, Aaron Abrams and Scott Thompson (not to mention Hugh Dancy) for handling the emotional weight of the death of their colleague. There was little dialogue extrapolating these feelings but their silences spoke volumes.
- Usually Hannibal gets the best lines, but this one goes out to Dr. Chilton, or really Raúl Esparza who delivered it oh-so-perfectly: “You thought Abel Gideon was the Chesapeake Ripper.” “Evidently, I was wrong about that.”
- Second place for best line goes to Abel Gideon: “You don’t need to stand way over there. I’m a cutter, not a pisser.”