Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Hannibal: “Sakizuki”

Illustration for article titled Hannibal: “Sakizuki”

Manipulation is the name of the game in “Sakizuki,” but this time Hannibal isn’t the only one playing: Will manipulates Alana and Hannibal into believing that he no longer believes his own innocence. If the characters around him will only view him in terms of what they perceive, then he will take control of that perception. Will’s grasp of his own power was foreshadowed in “Kaiseki,” when Dr. Chilton (the always welcome Raúl Esparza) has dinner with Hannibal and discusses Will as a patient: He’s interminable because he knows all of the tricks of the trade. Then again, he also learned how to manipulate his own perception from Hannibal, the master himself. For the first time in the series, Will has the upper hand. And it seems like Hannibal is slowly losing his. Just like the human-brushstrokes of the mural, Hannibal’s cracks are beginning to show. He’s interfering with the design.

What I loved about “Sakizuki” is that it perfectly blended the more episodic elements of Hannibal with its overarching themes. These two elements did not exist on two different planes, perpetuating their own meaning, but working in tandem to bring the two aspects of these characters lives together in synchronistic meaning. What’s interesting about the episodic element of “Sakizuki,” though is that the killer is almost a non-entity. That’s not bad, it’s just different from how the series dealt with the murderers of the first season (with a few notable exceptions, like Lawrence Wells, the totem pole killer). Partially, it’s out of necessity. There’s just so much else going on that the muralist doesn’t get a backstory or a reason for being that serves anything else to but to move the seasonal arc along. At the same time, it shows how rich Hannibal in that it does not need to rely on the traditional episodic killings that fueled its first season.

I’ll just put it out there that my buddy Todd Van Der Werff’s walkthroughs of the second season with Bryan Fuller (don’t sleep on last week’s) should be required post-show reading because they give a definitive sense of curatorial meaning to Hannibal that will certainly shape how I view it as a critic. For “Kaiseki’s” episode, Fuller says that the first two episodes are like one movie that “is really about the metaphor of a guy who’s constructing a human mural, which is essentially what Hannibal Lecter is doing with all of the characters in the piece.” I immediately thought of that line when Hannibal talks to Jack about what he thinks the meaning of the human mural is: “The eye looks beyond this world into the next and sees the reflection of man himself. Is the killer looking at god?”

At this point, I must mention the fabulous thread of dark humor that runs throughout Hannibal, and all of Fuller’s work. I loved when Hannibal, clad in his plastic suit-protector (seriously, does this man not own any jeans?), peeked his head into the silo to say, “I love your work.” There’s certainly a new sense of joy to Mads Mikkelsen’s portrayal of Hannibal in this season that absent perhaps because the audience was not as privy to the character as we are now. It’s subtle, not overpowering, but each episode contains sly smiles or facial expressions that bely Hannibal’s true intent. Despite the references to god, I don’t see the aforementioned minuscule cracks in Hannibal’s perfect reputation as hubristic. That seems too sloppy for a man as fastidious as Hannibal. But he’s certainly playing too much a part in how the killer’s narrative plays out. In this way, Hannibal also separates himself from the other anti-hero killers. The muralist doesn’t see Hannibal as enemy, but as an ally. Neither of them are fighting for the side of good. No matter how much we as an audience have grown fond of the gentleman killer, it’s always nice to be reminded of how much of a psychopath he is firsthand.

While Hannibal may have directly interfered with the investigation by checking out the muralist’s silo, it looks, at this point, as if he will reveal his true nature by how he presents evidence. He withholds and distorts. Will knows exactly what Hannibal is doing (if only because that’s why he’s in a jail cell), which is why he asks Beverly to ignore the already-gathered evidence against him and start from scratch. Will wants Beverly to ignore essentially what Hannibal is telling her, not what Hannibal knows. The constructed evidence and Will’s incarceration proves to be another miscalculation Hannibal’s part if only because everyone else’s eyes are beginning to blink open. Jack thinks that the muralist is the one having the existential crisis, but really, it’s Jack himself. As Jack tells the FBI-mandated psychiatrist (Martin Donovan), “Knowing that Will has descended into such savage behavior has changed the way I see him, the way I see other people.” That includes Hannibal as well.

Stray observations:

  • Recipe of the week: Veal Oso Buco
  • Sakizuki is the first part of the kaiseki meal and is akin to a French amuse bouche. Fun fact from KyotoFoodie.com: “The chopsticks are special too, both ends are tapered, the tapered end is used for eating. Symbolically the meal is shared with god.”
  • I will not lie to you, I could not watch the opening scene where poor Roland Umber rips himself off of the rest of the mural. Sound effects were horrifying enough, thank you very much.
  • I mentioned Hannibal’s new wiliness, but everyone else seems have upped the sass factor as well, specifically Beverly (“Do you mind if I look at this in private?” Will asks. “Yes,” she deadpans), and Will (“Hannibal Lecter’s therapist. What’s that like?”). I like it!
  • I really hope this isn’t the end of Dr. Du Maurier. Gillian Anderson was so wonderfully icy and perfect and I loved that she was the one character that Hannibal had trouble playing. There’s a sense of melancholy in the final scene, not because Hannibal is unable to kill his no-former doctor, but because he’s lost what he considers a friend.