Hannibal "Yakimono" Review: Undue Influences

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Apr 12, 2014

Hannibal S02E07: "Yakimono"

I guess we're going off-book, as it were.

Frederick Chilton wasn't long for this narrative for any number of reasons, including 1.) his firm positioning in the "Hey, that posh guy with the great kitchen is killing people and eating them" camp, 2.) being the ideal patsy for the Chesapeake Ripper ("I have the same profile as Hannibal Lecter"), and 3.) the fact that Raúl Esparza has a full-time gig on another show. But, given that Chilton was a mainstay in both Thomas Harris's novels and in their cinematic adaptations, I fell into the trap of thinking that Hannibal's poor self-preserving Chilton would survive this. Sure, Beverly Katz was part of the novels as well, but her role had nowhere near the prominence and importance that Chilton's did, and was thus a little more narratively expendable in the grand scheme of things. But Chilton! Chilton was supposed to be there to be proud of having Hannibal in his care, the crown jewel of Psychopath's Row, as it were.

Chilton's sudden and surprising departure, however, served as a not-so-pleasant reminder that, while Hannibal is using Harris's novels as inspiration for its style and tone, the show is by no means beholden to them. Hannibal has always been its own creature, there's no doubt about that, but for it to shift away from its sources, and in such a bold, mic-dropping manner, is a sign of its confidence in its own narrative abilities.

Quite frankly, I'm all for this. Faithful adaptations can be tedious, reduced to a series of checking off boxes and going through the motions. Indeed, if you'll excuse a soft cross-medium comparison, Hannibal is to its source material what the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was to its corresponding novel: a distillation of a narrative made distinct, thanks to a bold approach in style and tone. Adapted characters are recognizable alongside their original versions, but still unique to their now visual (as opposed to written) world, an important aspect when you're adapting something for television and film.

Hannibal, of course, has the freedom to veer further from its source than Harry Potter did, making it a bit more similar to, say, The Walking Dead's desire to keep audience members who've read the comics on their toes than it is to those films about wizards at school. So while Hannibal rewards fans of its previous incarnations with re-contextualized visual nods and quotes, it also wants to surprise them—to inform us that, like Hannibal said to Will, we don't know everything, that only the show has all the answers. It's much more exciting when we can't anticipate the show's every move, even if there's some pleasure to be had in that as well.

Of course, none of this means that Hannibal won't still find itself looping back to the novels at some point. Will's confidence and his bitterness that no one who can actually do something is listening to him reeks of the Will Graham that Jack Crawford visited at the start of Red Dragon, a man who was tired of having to prove himself to people who kept turning to him for help in the first place. So while Hugh Dancy has been great in the episodes up to this one, his performance felt even sharper as Will returned to the field and donned his glasses. He had a certain swagger that we'd never seen from him before, a swagger that Dancy put into Will's voice in the last few episodes and supplemented with physicality this week, which served to remind us of just subtle his performance is. He's a new man, this freed Will Graham.

And then it all turned on a dime at the end, surprising us yet again. Will's unkempt appearance was gone, his hair trimmed, his shirt a solid instead of a checkered or a plaid, perhaps indicating a more put-together mind (look how nicely he folded his coat over his arm instead of simply wearing it indoors!). The confidence in his voice and demeanor were replaced with soft politeness. It may've been a mask of respectability and meekness to lure Hannibal into a false sense of security, but Will tried that approach earlier in the season and abandoned it for more aggressive hunting tactics. Then again, Will's always been a fisherman, not a hunter, so perhaps he was just returning to his wheelhouse.

And it may be for the best, too, since between the over-the-top evidence that Hannibal left in Chilton's house and Miriam identifying Chilton as her captor, Jack was seemingly happy to draw the conclusion that Chilton was the Ripper and that this case was all tied up in a pretty bow made of entrails. Which, of course, is exactly what Hannibal wanted the entire time; it's why he allowed Jack to discover Miriam, it's why he abducted Gideon, and it's why he didn't kill Chilton. It's probably why he even copped to the psychological priming when Chilton confronted him earlier in the season. Everyone's dancing to Hannibal's harpsichord.


– In his honor, some prized lines from Chilton this week: "The Chesapeake Ripper has set you free. Mazel tov." "I have no intention of ending up on his menu." "I would like to remain not dead for the foreseeable future." "May I use your shower, please?" "Abel Gideon was half-eaten in my guest room. I had corpses on my property. You just threw up an ear!" R.I.P., Frederick. I'll miss you.

– If you're curious, the first two Harry Potter films would be akin to the Red Dragon film: uninspired slogs that rather missed the point in an effort to ensure the narrative beats were served.

– So Alana and Will are firmly on the outs. Applesauce will not be visiting to play with Winston anytime soon. I really enjoyed their scene and the tensions between their two sets of knowledge and beliefs about Hannibal's nature and Will's actions. Good and necessary stuff.

– I am so very curious about how Hannibal conditioned Miriam to associate Chilton in her psychological priming, especially as the show played up Hannibal, both aurally and visually, in her initial flashes of those events. Also: I loved that shot through two-way glass as she fired at Chilton and how the cracked glass looked oh-so-much like an eye.

How did "Yakimono" taste?

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  • Alastor7800 Apr 17, 2014

    I will miss Chilton's character. I thought he was a great addition to the regular cast of this second season, he brought a touch of dark humor the show needed.

    And of course the episode was fantastic, but Hannibal reached such a great level of quality it almost feel normal to expect such a degree of smartness from it. If it is cancel (and I don't think it will be) TV will certainly be a bit dumber next year without it.

  • Lefin Apr 17, 2014

    This episode was so obviously great on its own that I don't feel like I have much to say about it. Shocking, surprising, and quite compelling. Keep up the good work, cast and crew!

  • andreea03 Apr 15, 2014

    I always like to enjoy my breakfast with a slice of Hannibal...what a brilliant way to start a day!

  • claudia40 Apr 15, 2014

    Awesome episode asusual ...please renew it already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • ManuelValero Apr 15, 2014

    I´m sure Chilton is alive...(comatose or some such but alive), one thing is revamping/adapting a book´s story and another thing is totally altering the chain of events/characters. I´m sure the wirters of the show are smarter than that since Chilton will be very important in Hanniball´s life in few chapters of his journey, iactually Chilton is pretty much his actual archenemy not Will.

  • silversurfersgp Apr 15, 2014

    In any other cop/FBI show, 24/7 surveillance would have been put on Hannibal Lecter. And he wouldn't have been able to go anywhere at will to set up his tapestries of death.
    In any other show. But this isn't.
    Kudos to "Hannibal". And its art direction. And sound. And music. And acting. And writing. ...

  • Deee Apr 15, 2014

    Also, there would have been surveillance on Frederick's groovy pad as well. I'm sure with a crib like that, there would have to be some kind of video security...but no. This is Hannibal - it doesn't need to make 'that' much sense.

  • ThoNonofyabiz Apr 14, 2014

    I thought Miriam's face was very familiar. I tried to figure it out on my own, but couldn't think of anything I might've seen her in. so, I checked imdb.com and holy cow, it's the girl from My Girl! :O

  • bballer151 Apr 19, 2014

    She is awesome on Veep as well

  • marcusj1973 Apr 14, 2014

    More often than not, I'm glad I haven't read the books. When it comes to watching the show, I'd rather it be fresh. Much in like it's been so long since I've seen any of the films, much of the character dynamics are all "new".

    This however is one of those times where I wish I was more up to date because Chilton being setup to take the fall seemed like the obvious "solution" to Hannibal's problem and the plan he'd been working on since he really began feeling conflicted about Will carrying the blame. Taking a bullet to the melon while in the interrogation room I didn't see coming...but not an, "OMG!!!" type surprise.

    New confident Will, now THAT is a BAD man right there and one that I can see going head to head with Hannibal in a battle of manipulative wits and holding his own.

  • made2105 Apr 14, 2014

    As many have said, playing with somebody's mind isn't that difficult, more so for someone like Lecter. Knowing both Chilton and Lecter have similar backgrounds and techniques, we should consider the possibility that Hannibal planned to use Chilton all along as a scapegoat, using a recording of Chilton's sessions to "program" Miriam. Maybe he had this ace in his sleeve and had to use it now that the circle around him was getting closer.

    Will tells Hannibal that he has to deal with him, and that Miriam shot Chilton as a way to take her life back. Then Hannibal asks Will how would he recover his life and Will says by resuming therapy. IMO, this is Will's way to "deal" with Hannibal, playing the friend and the patient to finally expose Lecter for what he really is. He's totally throwing a bait there :)

    BTW, Alana is a moron!!!

    Wonderful show, excellent actors and brilliant writing and direction!

  • jjafargi Apr 14, 2014

    What I don't get is that Will knew Chilton was innocent, so why turn him over to Jack? What did he hope to gain from that?

  • Mate Apr 15, 2014

    Because Chilton was supposed to be safe inside. And would have been had it not been for Jack letting Miriam in the observation room. In fact Jack let that happen and let Alanna Bloom interview Chilton, who has a bias and a current need for Chilton to be the Ripper over Hannibal. Jack is really dropping the ball.

    Perhaps Will thought that Chilton would be able to do what he did and organize his thoughts in order to find a course of action to work against Hannibal, except this time, Chilton in Will's position would have had Will to support him and vice versa.

  • hanktuco Apr 18, 2014

    bet this is how jac kat least tempo loses his job

  • jjafargi Apr 15, 2014

    Very salient points, thank you!

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