Hannibal Season 2 Finale Review: Would You Stand Up and Walk Out On Me?

By Noel Kirkpatrick

May 24, 2014

Hannibal S02E13: "Mizumono"

Television is littered with failed romances. Relationships crumble as November or May Sweeps roll around, or as a show's writers struggle to make their happy couple seem interesting. Sometimes these break-ups land particularly hard; at other times they barely register, for whatever reason. But friendships on television—well, they rarely end. They sometimes grow strained, sure, but more often than not, the "warring" parties are reunited as companions once more, their bonds renewed, the friendship ultimately strengthened.

That will not be the case with Hannibal. Friendships were shattered in this finale, and irrevocably so. There can be no replacement for the losses these people have suffered, provided that some of them actually survive in any condition where they're able to reflect on those losses. For all the craziness that Season 2 has bestowed upon us—with a mural depicting an eye built of bodies, a guy in a hydraulic beast suit, and the Vergers—"Mizumono" was a powerfully intimate hour that tore away hearts and breaths.

The way that everything in this episode led to Hannibal slicing Will's stomach and slitting—surprise!—Abigail's throat was remarkable. Much like a suspicious lover, Hannibal caught a whiff of Freddie Lounds on Will, and the tumblers fell into the place in Hannibal's mind. At that point, the jig was up, and Hannibal should've just gotten the hell out of dodge. He stayed. He stayed because the teacup of entropy and time reversed itself with Will and Abigail, and he wanted them to remain a part of his life. In their last supper together, he even offered Will a chance to come clean, to tell him everything, and to receive forgiveness for the deception. But Will kept to his and Jack's plan—he remained committed to the lie, and Hannibal offered a toast to the truth "and all its consequences."

So the hurt is real. It's deeply real. Hannibal himself is a serial killer and a master of deceit—"In your defense, I worked very hard to blind you"—and that's why it cut so deep when Will didn't all-out confess. It was a rejection, even in those fleeting moments when Will, echoing Hannibal's own call to Garret Jacob Hobbs in the series premiere, warned Hannibal that "they know." It was as close to an apology as Will was going to get. The one person Hannibal had connected with, the one person he'd found in this crazy, mixed-up world who he thought could understand him, had played him: "I have let you know me. See me. I gave you a rare gift. But you didn't want it." It's not the risk of being caught as a serial killer that frustrated Hannibal; it's the fact that he let his guard down, that he shared himself with another person, and that this other person didn't reciprocate.

Mads Mikkelsen held nothing back, allowing pain, sadness, anger, and contempt to inflect his line readings, with director David Slade's blocking—particularly in the moment when Hannibal hugged Will—emphasizing the intimacy of it all, and focusing on the grave wounds that Will had inflicted. Hannibal was gutted emotionally in the same way that Will was physically. In fact, Hannibal's experience may've been even more painful, because it seemed that Hannibal not only wanted to believe that Will was his friend, but to spare Jack—if not for Jack's own sake, then for Bella's.

How much empathy did you have Hannibal leading up to his bloody departure from his home? Did you have any at all? He's a monster straining against a person suit, a monster who believed he had, at long last, found friends—a family, even—in Will and Abigail. While Hannibal mocked Will's idea that he could change the monster, Will was correct that he did have an effect on the doctor: He made Hannibal think there was someone who could understand him, something I doubt Hannibal could say about any of his other patients/wind-up toys, save for maybe Du Maurier.

Did it change us, though? If Hannibal's first season was about our relationship to serial-killer programming on television and the psychic toll that mediated violence takes on us all, Season 2 may be about our relationship with the TV anti-hero and the question of how various narratives entangle and seduce us with him. At the very least, many of us follow the stories of mobsters, drug kingpins, other serial killers, corrupt politicians, and political fixers, even if we're not encouraged by their respective shows to identify with them. It's an extension of the argument about horror films that I made in response to "Shiizakana,"; such films provide a release valve for our darker impulses, and anti-heroes provide us that same sort of release.

So Will once again played audience surrogate, coping with the conflicting impulses of wanting to see the charismatic anti-hero to get away with his machinations while understanding that such machinations have no place in the world. It was rather neatly visually summed up by that disturbing split-screen image of Hannibal and Jack asking the significantly-less-disturbing split-screen image of Will whether he was prepared to do what needed to be done. Will grappled all season with the desire to kill Hannibal, to succumb to his darker impulses, to take Hannibal's place in the narrative and become the wendigo of psyche. Certainly, killing and displaying Randall Tier took care of some of that, but killing Peter Bernadorne's social worker might've felt even better.

But what did he (we) get for falling under the spell of Hannibal and Hannibal's anti-hero? Lots of people people on the ground, bleeding to death—a reminder that the 'anti' is still a very important prefix in this formulation. Hannibal has never shied away from reminding us that its title character is a horrible person, but it's also never shied away from playing up the qualities that so many of us respond to. Is there an ideological takeaway to about our media consumption? Will's conflicted feelings resulted in serious injuries for four people—including himself—while the man responsible for the carnage jetted off to another country in first class, sipping on champagne and letting out a sigh of relief. Where do our clashing feelings about our anti-heroes leave us when the hour's up and the show's done?


– Freddie's going to get two or three books out of all this. She's going to make so much money. Also: I'm sure she's loved staying at what looks like the FBI trainee dorms that Miriam Lass lived in after she was found.

– "I found more bullets!" I am still sorting out my thoughts on Alana for this season. 

– The only friend break-up in recent memory that gutted me—HA! No pun intended!—as much as this did was likely Alicia and Kalinda's on The Good Wife. Admittedly, that one yielded far, far, far less blood.

– So was Abigail what Beverly saw down in Hannibal's basement? I need Abigail to not die again so that she can answer some very pressing questions.

– This episode's notable piece of classical music was the return of—what else?—the aria from Bach's Goldberg Variations as we watched the plane whisking away Hannibal and Du Maurier. Though, really, the sound note for me was the unrelenting and dread-inducing tick-tock sound.

– Can you imagine if this had been the series finale? MOST DEPRESSING SERIES FINALE EVER.

– If you want to hear me discussing the finale, the hosts of Sound On Sight's Hannibal podcast graciously invited me back! It's nearly two and half hours long, so set aside some time!

– My favorite Season 2 episodes: "Sakizuki," "Mukozuke," "Shiizakana," "Tome-wan," and this one, "Mizumono." Which ones would make your list?

Was "Mizumono" a satisfying final course? What about Season 2 as a whole? What do you think Hannibal will serve up in Season 3?

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  • slayme3 Sep 15, 2014

    Best show on tv - including cable!

  • PDZombie Sep 15, 2014

    It's incredible how a story in which we all know what's going to happen can surprise us in such way. I thought Hannibal would get caught so the incidents from 'Red Dragon' take place in season 3, 'The Silence...' in season 4, and 'Hannibal' on final season 5. This series totally blows my mind.

  • thesnozzberriestastelikes Jul 24, 2014

    I mean seriously, Alana called the cops, and then Will called an ambulance for her...and none of them got there yet. Hannibal had the time to stab Will, and hug him for a while and then stab Abigail and say a few words, and nothing? That one was kinda mind boggling. =\

  • Alastor7800 Jun 05, 2014

    It was one of the most heartbreaking episode I've seen on tv, and a display of all the cleverness of the season. I like how the cliffhanger works both as a cliffhanger and as a series finale. It would indeed have been a heartbreaking series finale but there is something finale about this episode. In a way, Will and Hannibal's journey together have been completed.
    This time I'm not even sure who is going to be alive next season.

  • AEMEYSCREATIONS Jun 09, 2014

    The Journey, the chase is not yet completed. Will is alive and so is Jack. Dr.Chilton is alive too. Jeez, didn't you read the book?

  • Alastor7800 Aug 13, 2014

    No I did not. I didn't know it was an obligation to read a book before watching a tv show. Hope they arrest me for that soon.

  • Linc-o Jun 15, 2014

    Troll alert *DING* *DING* *DING*

  • slayme3 Jan 01, 2015

    no - you mean spoiler alert.. cause it's true

  • ABCRobbieB Jun 03, 2014

    Excellent! They've killed Chilton and they've changed the Verger timeline = anything could happen. The creator now says there will be 6 series not 7. But Francis Dollarhyde aka The Toothfairy & Red Dragon are, or should be covered next. Originally it's Will Graham that catches Dollarhyde and Lector corresponds with both whilst in hospital with Chilton. But it looks like they're going to cover Red Dragon with Hannibal on the loose.

    And, it seemed like Will Graham is dead, didn't it? With his surgical knowledge and the way he cut him, and with his goodbye, it seems as though Will is dead?

  • WeepingAngel Jun 03, 2014

    Abigail being alive was rather annoying. Didn't see it coming and didn't want it to happen. During the end of the finale I was sure Hannibal was going to be caught as everyone died. I was wondering if season 3 could have started up similar to 'The Silence Of The Lambs' with a whole new storyline and different characters. But the thought of no new Will-Hannibal interactions makes me sad... D:

  • Alastor7800 Jun 04, 2014

    I knew she was alive just because the first rule of tv is: if you don't see someone die, he is not dead. Which, by the way, also happened to the journalist.

  • ABCRobbieB Jun 03, 2014

    I suspected that she might still be alive, I was disappointed that they brought her back just to slit her throat, there wasn't much point.

  • thaniahenriqu Jun 01, 2014

    Hannibal Lecter is a villain, not an anti-hero. In any case, Will Graham is the anti-hero.

  • bhammer100 Jun 25, 2014

    I agree with you. Hannibal Lecter is a villain.
    I don't agree with you. Will Graham is a hero. There is nothing anti about him.

  • marcusj1973 Jun 06, 2014

    Agreed. I always categorize an anti hero as one who does bad things for good, or at least understandable reasons. Jax Teller, Walter White, Tony Soprano...none are particularly good guys, but I think most can empathize with why they did what they did.

    Without empathy, there can be no anti hero. And if anybody's empathizing with Hannibal...not for nothin', but they need some psyciatric help.

  • mdoz34 May 31, 2014

    Just caught up, last 4 episodes in a row (probably have some messed up dreams tonight). What makes this finale so good and so big is that on this show, anyone could die, with the exception of Hannibal. While I do consider Will the main character, even if the show is named Hannibal, his death could very well lead us to meeting Clarice. Jack is alive longer in the movies (not sure about the books), but than again so was the hospital administrator, so this show could go anywhere it wants. I personally think Will, Jack and Alana are alive and Abby is dead for sure, but again, they could blow our minds completely and all 4 be dead. This ending will have my mind going until I know how it will continue.

    My own notes... Abby being alive took me completely by surprise, more so than leaving us with what appears to be everyone dead or dying. I love Alana's line about the bullets. And I figured Hannibal was with someone on the plane, and when I saw "Scully" my immediate thought was, damn, I should of seen that coming before they revealed her.

    Great finale, but of all the shows I watch, it is the one that will tear at me the entire time I wait for its return. (the only other thing even close is Sleepy Hollow - but for different reasons)

  • AriSky May 30, 2014

    BAH. Freddie wins. But it was beautiful. I have the deepest respect for them for having this as their possible series finale, and even moreso to see where they plan on going from here, because it definitely did double duty. Spectacular season, episode, and show.

  • TrevPlatt May 29, 2014

    I can't help but wonder if Du Maurier was manipulating Hannibal the same way Hannibal was manipulating Will? Hannibal was maybe trying to pass on the teachings of Du Maurier and continue the line of succession?

    Still, that was an excellent Season finale, one of the best I can remember. I knew jack would be hurt and I knew Abigail would make an appearance but I never expected Alana to be mortally wounded at Abigail's hands, and for a TV show to leave three of it's main characters - plus a manipulated young woman who's been living a nightmare - dying on the floor of a bloodbath whilst the big bad (titular character no less) jets off sipping bubbly took some massive balls. I've been waiting for a show to 'go there' for years and now that it's actually happened I find that I'm not surprised by the architect behind it all. Pushing Daisies has suddenly jumped to the near-top of my summer catch-up list.

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