Hannibal "Ko No Mono" Review: Parental Expectations

By Noel Kirkpatrick

May 10, 2014

Hannibal S02E11: "Kō No Mono"


Well, that was a relief.

Freddie being alive, I mean. And Alana beginning to wise up. Not Margot's abortion or the removal of, as Mason not-so-charmingly said, her "lady parts." That was not a relief. That was just super-horrifying.

While I didn't think that Will had actually killed Freddie, both last week's episode and much of "Kō No Mono" were intent on leaving the answer to that question up in the air, down to having Freddie "die" in the same fiery manner as her literary incarnation does (Hannibal does enjoy messing the part of the fandom that's read the books). Much of my anxiety around the idea that Will had killed Freddie centered on the idea that Hannibal had established enough of a foundation for it to be possible, given Will's apparent instability and his slaying and displaying of Randall Tier. The episode was so committed to the idea that Will was even having nightmares about whatever corpse he and Jack had rigged up in that wheelchair—a bizarre thing, at least for the moment, for Will to be having stressful, sweaty dreams about.


Freddie being alive, and in Jack's care, confirmed that Will and Jack are plotting to capture Hannibal, and that Will's doing his damnedest to play a willing student to Hannibal's murder tutor, to aid in this apparent transformation that Hannibal believes Will is experiencing. It's a balancing act for Will and for the show, since we're privy to Will's mind and his darker, stag-related impulses. Hannibal may be conning us as much as Will is conning Hannibal concerning Will's enjoyment of murder, since Will only ever talks about his murder feelings with Hannibal. We have to rely on those dreams/fantasies of Will dealing with the ravenstag and the manstag/wendigo to get a sense of how Will is thinking and operating.

But even those feel a touch misleading, along the lines of Will's dream about the fiery wheelchair. This episode opened with an antlered Will being born (it certainly seemed like an amniotic sac he was ripping apart) from the ravenstag, while the wendigo watched. If we take the ravenstag as a sort of totem animal for Will—a guiding force, if you will—and if we treat the antlers as a sign of Will's murderous transformation and we position the wendigo as Will's psyche's representation of Hannibal, what does that scene mean for Will, and for us? Did Will feel quietly powerful when he killed Randall Tier, as he told Hannibal, or is it all just a lie he's convincing himself of so that he can, in turn, convince Hannibal? Is Will struggling with keeping his empathy disorder in check again? Or is he in fact being born again, more assured of himself than ever, destroyed by the events of this season so far only to be recreated, as the ShivaFreddie and ShivaWendigo were supposed to indicate?


That brings us to childbirth and parenting, the episode's primary concern. The theme appeared throughout the episode: there was Mason's chat with Franklin the foster child ("Franklin, you can't stay there with Mama, Shirley, and Kitty Cat"); Margot spending the night with Will in a plot to conceive an heir of her own to dethrone Mason; Papa Verger's influence on Mason; and Hannibal and Will's talk of Abigail and Hannibal's sister, Mischa. Some of it served to flesh out Mason's behavior—a clear case of arrested development and daddy worship mixed with psychosis—and that's necessary as Mason becomes more prominent in the narrative. Mason is clearly still a kid who Papa Verger used to bail out, and now he's modeling himself into a warped version of his father, down to medically cutting away Margot's ability to inherit the Verger fortune in the same way that her father attempted to do it legally. 

Of course, all of this comes back onto Will, and how he will likely never get over losing Abigail. Season 1 played up the My Two Dads aspect between Will, Hannibal, and Abigail, and this episode returned to that, with Will mourning the loss of a surrogate daughter and Hannibal mourning the loss of a replacement for Mischa. There was a painful tenderness to their scene as they discussed Abigail, with Hannibal seemingly genuinely apologetic that he had to kill her. She meant so much to both of them, but Hannibal still sacrificed Abigail, saying that "What happened to Abigail had to happen. There was no other way." Part of that was protecting himself as a killer, but now it's growing ever more apparent that it was just another bit of psychological coercion to push Will into becoming a killer too—the same way Mischa's death likely spurred on Hannibal's own serial killer transformation.

Pile on the loss of Margot's child, and that's twice now that Will's been denied a sense of fatherhood, hence his storming out of Mason's pig barn and threatening Mason's life. If Will's outrage here didn't entirely click in for you, I wouldn't be surprised. It was an emotional act connected to emotional baggage, but the swiftness of it may ring hollow... until you consider the fact that Will doesn't blame Mason for the loss of his and Margot's child so much as he blames Hannibal. I'm sure he blames Mason as well, since Mason carried out the deed, but it was Hannibal's prodding and seed-planting that put Mason on that path, and so it's Hannibal who has, again, taken away fatherhood from Will.


In other transformations, Freddie's "death" had Alana finally getting involved and thinking about everything that's been going on around her. It's probably too little too late for this to be happening, since many of you have written off Alana entirely, and even I'm a touch frustrated at how abbreviated Alana's plotting has been to get to this point. It's relied on big events, like Freddie's "death" and Will's attempted murder by proxy, to push her around the narrative, a contrast to the more subtle approach that Hannibal takes with most everyone else. The show owes Caroline Dhavernas the biggest fruit basket ever for making it seem like all the dots have been connected through her performance, because she was really selling that confusion, paranoia, and anger. 

And so it was nice to see Alana actually doing something that illustrates why her opinion is supposedly valued by Jack, providing counterarguments and insights into Will and Hannibal's read of the desecrated corpse/body/dummy/whatever. In doing that, and in Jack's apparent lack of consideration that Will had anything to do this, she managed to piece together the idea that Jack was likely scheming, and with Will. Her explosion in Jack's office was the result of that, of realizing that Jack is likely repeating his past mistakes and pushing Will too far.

At least now, all the cards are apparently on the table, so the show will, hopefully, have Will and Jack actually discussing some stuff, and maybe Alana can be there, too.



À LA CARTE


– Hannibal's talk of teacups pulling themselves together was lifted from the novel Hannibal, itself referencing and thinking about Stephen Hawking's ideas on entropy, the past, the future, and the universe and time contracting. Here's a video to help visualize the concept. Mason's chat with the foster kid Franklin was also lifted from the novel.

– Hannibal's first therapy session with Mason was a delight. "I want to tell you about camp!" I just want to watch it over and over and over again. Hannibal's frustration with Mason's behavior made it so very funny.

– "How was my funeral?" I love Freddie, I really do.

– Only one bit of classical music this week, and it was something we've heard before: The aria to Bach's Goldberg Variations played as Will and Hannibal dined on their ortolan buntings. We last heard it back in Season 1, and as a little movie tie-in, in Silence of the Lambs, it scored Hannibal's escape from his cage in Tennessee.

– What a relief: NBC has agreed to continue paying the comparatively measly $750,000 an episode (an amount that likely to go down, according to Deadline) to air Season 3. So, more Hannibal for everyone! I wasn't surprised by the renewal because NBC pays so little for the show that, at the very least, the network can break even in advertising sales, regardless of the show's ratings. Factor in the cut of streaming cash it gets from Amazon, and Hannibal might actually turn a small profit for NBC. Broadcast television economics are a-changin'.


How did "Kō No Mono" taste?


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  • marcusj1973 May 20, 2014

    "...or the removal of, as Mason not-so-charmingly said, Margot's "lady parts." That was not a relief. That was just super-horrifying."

    It isn't very often that I'm subjected to something so disturbing that I have to turn my head away or close my eyes...but that scene accomplished both. I presume that's a good thing, but still.

    This show's on network TV, huh?

  • jeroenoostveen1 May 12, 2014

    Hannibal and Will happily ever after

  • Deee May 12, 2014

    Goof ball. I didn't know we could link things.

  • jeroenoostveen1 May 13, 2014

    Yeah something like that, i'm new on this forum and trying a few things

  • Deee May 12, 2014

    I am not so sold on Will's goodness. This is no hero.

    He may be part of the elaborate design, but Will is dark. We feel right now he is the great betrayer of Hannibal, putting the teacup back together - oh how great he is for sacrificing his mind to be the lure of the century...but we don't really know where this is going. Will's a sick man, he's never been anything other. Will he really conspire with Mason and pull that off the feeding of Hannibal to the pigs (as seen in the previews) without a hitch? Well, we know Hannibal lives and lives on and on, so something saved the day, as we will see.

    I'm past fantasizing that a betrayal didn't happen; it did...but I do not trust Will to be as pure as everyone else seems to believe. I think Will has a heart as black as night. I think he is like Hannibal in this way; like the devil, he has convinced everyone he doesn't exist - as the 'bad guy'. But look at his dreams...look at what he did to lure Hannibal!!! That's not the work a light-hearted, well-intentioned agent of the law would do... you don't chow down on (Randall's) human flesh and just merry your way through life as a hero after that.

    Don't trust Will. That's what my gut says. And it's way past what he did to Hannibal at this point...it's what he's about to do that none of us know and will no doubt shock the shit out of all of us - hear me now: it's going to be DARK.

  • jeroenoostveen1 May 12, 2014

    I agree that will is not truly a good person, or at least sane. If i found out that this guy(Hannibal) who i though was my "friend" turns out to be the guy that framed me, skull f**ked me and kills and/or is a threat to innocent people, college's, friend's, loved ones, unborn baby's etc. etc. I would like every normal thinking/functioning person would normally go over there and pull the trigger on Hannibal without remorse. But there's this big possibility that they didn't write this in to the show(but did show the intention) because in effect it would be the end of this great show. So in effect when i think of it, Will is a normal person but his moral compass is compromised by the genius of Bryan Fuller. And also Hannibal therapy worked. Will was a total mess in season 1 from the start, and look at him now!

    On the eating of Randall's flesh. In the end flesh is just flesh. It's not about what kind of meat you are eating, it's all about how you got your hands on the meat. Randall had it coming.

    Thinking out loud:

    I think if Will would survive season 3 and isn't turned into a serial killer! It wouldn't be a bad idea to pull him of the show for a season or two. Or maybe just in a smaller role of the psychiatrist of Hannibal when he's in prison. At least until Hannibal escapes or something. Some kind of cool-down period. For the sake of dynamics. although i can't think of anyone else dancing the Lambada with Hannibal. ;-)

    That being said. I'm not worried that if Will stays for all season that it becomes boring or something. Bryan and his team are really doing a great job here.

    PS: Sorry for my lousy grammar but English is not my native tong!

  • ChicN May 12, 2014

    Will is definitely...grey. I figure he'll "save" Hannibal and they'll dispose of Mason and they'll murkily carry on their courtship/reckoning into season 3. Unless Alana shows up with Chekov's Will's gun and fucks shit up somehow. Though Will getting shot is soooo last season finale.

    I do adore Hannigraham, but their love can never be! People in long lasting relationships have to be on the same page, even in compromising. Will will never be 100% darksided, like Hannibal. He may want to eviscerate a murderer, but he doesn't keep a To Do List of people who mildly offend him in his daily life. Hannibal will never show restraint in his urges in a way that would preclude him from inadvertently hurting Will (Abigail, mental ward, Alana, unborn child). He may think better of it after the fact (what if he had trusted Will with his secrets and Abigail's would he have protected them both? What if he hadn't told Mason about the baby and had offed Mason when he became aware?).

    Oh, but what if? What if?

  • Deee May 12, 2014

    Or the biggie: Abigail, still alive and living in the Lecter Nether Dungeon, aka Bev's last stand. Abigail, the teacup come back to wholeness - because Hannibal didn't say the words, "I KILLED HER," to Will in confession-like sadness, he said something like, "it had to be done." Wellllll...as we've seen, proof of death isn't so obvious in this show. I mean, we STILL never got a confirmation on Chilton's death, and we know an arm severed from it's body doesn't mean its host is dead...did we ever see Abigail dead? We know they cross meats very easily in this show - Randall/Freddie Abigail/Veal...who's who? So...why Abigail alive, and perhaps allowed to come up now? Because Murder Husband #1 doesn't want to lose Murder Husband (and recently de-fathered) #2 - "You see, Will, you can still be a father..."

    Of course I don't know how they'd shut Abigail up at that point but OH THE FUCK WELL.

  • ChicN May 13, 2014

    I really, really, hate long con fake-out deaths on shows. Freddie doesn't count, because no one seriously thought she was dead, and we still need more, "is Will slouching towards [Hannibal] to be (re)born?" moments (I promise that will be my one and only mangled poetic allusion, lol).

    The controversial dish was a great scene as was Will's last time seeing Abigail (An ear, Hannibal? That cannibal joke was uncouth!) and I don't want the impact lessened by contrivance. However, I really loved MurderFamily, hmmm. Resurrected zombie!Abigail? I'll allow it, though I will give it serious side-eye.

  • jeroenoostveen1 May 12, 2014

    Point taken. Hannibal could use her as leverage on Will in case of an emergency.

  • tobsh May 12, 2014

    Thanks Noel, your reviews have so much insight into the show's imagery and backgrounds. I can't really add anything you haven't said already.

    Now who was ShivaFreddy? Am I correct to assume that Hannibal killed her and we'll see it investigated next episode? Or will this just be dropped?
    Also, I really don't think Hannibal himself wouldn't taste that what Will gave him last week wasn't human meat.

  • ChicN May 12, 2014

    ShivaFreddie was some desecrated donated body (in place of Freddie, you'll notice she's alive and inquirying about her funeral at the end of the episode) and supposedly the remains of Randall Tier, but I don't know where Hannibal got the arms from because I thought Will used the hands and such in the Tier Bear monument?

  • MelodyParis May 13, 2014

    They said in the episode that the extra arms were taken from other graves around the graveyard.

  • danricherson May 12, 2014

    Hannibal is still 2 or 3.....or 4 steps ahead of Will.... you really don't think that Hannibal has considered the fact that they "could" be conning him. A psychopath as brilliant and cunning as Lector will NOT go down easily to anybody

  • tigger_bounch May 12, 2014

    Love how Bryan Fuller brilliantly incorporated the novel saga into his own version of Hannibal, kinda like win win for both the old timer and the novelty
    Now all we all Fannibal can do are hoping NBC will be generous enough "and put on their smarty pants" to keep up the show till the end *finger cross*

  • jeroenoostveen1 May 12, 2014

    I Hope so too. But almost nobody likes a "smarty pants".

  • tigger_bounch May 13, 2014

    hohoho... the extra Y shouldn't be there.... heeemmm what is the right phrase for someone to use their brain/common sense to do the right/obvious thing ??
    english is not my common tongue so.... *shrug*

  • jeroenoostveen1 May 13, 2014

    So many variables. This person does he do for personal gain? for instance ,by doing good he doesn't have to feel bad about him self. Or maybe he does this because there are people with him and he's showing of his (fake?) righteousness.

    Sorry i need more information in my effort to answer your question.

    A (wise) man once said to me "You really should know when to speak up or to shut op! Now go to your room!".

    Uuugh sorry have to much time on my hands.

  • jeroenoostveen1 May 11, 2014

    I recommend some good old fashion group therapy


  • MarlboroMagpi May 11, 2014

    This few past episodes of Hannibal are my favorite. I never did really like the murder "art". I mean it was arty but at the same time gory. I sit through all that to see the story unfold. All that happened in the last few episodes.

    Now it is clear that Jack and Will put into actions what they had plan during the fishing trip. Will is a very good bait. Hannibal has verbally confessed to Will, something he had never done before. I guess they still needed hard evidence or Will could have arrested him there and then.

    I was a little worried about Alana "waking" up. I fear for her life and Hannibal somehow finding out Will's plan through her. Now it seems more and more people are aware of Will's plan. Is that smart?

    For a second, I thought Will is going to throw Mason into the human eating pigs. He seems to be provoking Mason to kill Hannibal. Why is Will doing that?

    I have not read the book but my guess is perhaps he wants to catch Hannibal in the act of murdering Mason? Is it so simple?


  • jeroenoostveen1 May 11, 2014

    Yeah, i'm also worried that Alana will screw things up.

    I think Will didn't throw Mason in the pig pit, because he is not a murderer even though he has Manslaughter on his name. I think it's a pretty clean way to get rid of Hannibal by letting Mason do it. And this would put Mason behind bars should he succeed. Or maybe Will thinks that Mason will get what he deserves trough Hannibal.

  • MarlboroMagpi May 11, 2014

    I liked that Will did not actually murder anyone or it would defeat the main purpose of the show.

    I think Will now wants Hannibal behind bars more than dying so I guess it could be he wants Mason to die under the hands of Hannibal. Catching Hannibal in the act could be a bonus.

  • jeroenoostveen1 May 11, 2014

    Yes that's the most logical thing when you think of it.

  • Geertvdheide May 11, 2014

    Seeing as how the show is already in the danger zone of being cancelled each year (yay for the season 3 renewal!), I'm a little worried we won't get to see Fuller's entire vision for the show fulfilled. He originally wanted 7 seasons, covering the events of the novels / movies as well as a last season that would wrap it all up. What are the odds of that actually happening?

    The best course of action for the show's creators might be to shorten the plan to around 5 seasons (even though that would mean rushing through some great material possibly), while keeping costs low and hoping for the best. If the ratings stay stable they could get another few seasons after the third, but... I'm worried.

  • bhammer100 May 12, 2014

    If season 3 is the manhunt for Hannibal, as Fuller has said in interviews, that means season 4 is Red Dragon. I'm sure that will be something to consider when NBC decides to whether or not renew next year.

  • Whadini May 11, 2014

    I think the show will succeed in airing all 7 seasons. It's a quality show so the audience should grow. But if it was cancelled, there are networks who've reportedly expressed interest in picking it up. FX would be a good home for Hannibal, but I'm sure NBC realizes it has a gem :)

  • jeroenoostveen1 May 11, 2014

    I understand your point of view, but i hope Bryan Fuller doesn't compromise on his own view. He is doing such an amazing thing with the story of Hannibal here. I think by forcing any real artist to change his view on a project is even worse then cancellation. I'm so glad that this is not a "Case of the Week" tv show. I guess if it ever get cancelled and not picked up by a cable network, then we the fans have to crowd fund it or something else. Just make me more sad that i'm not a millionaire.

  • MinitureMo May 11, 2014

    I love Mason! He is such a cruel, captivating character that you love to hate. Loved the episode

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