Shit just got real, folks.
That's a ridiculous thing to say about a show where a man was driven to the edge of his sanity in the first season, but it does feel accurate. We've known about Hannibal since the start, and while Will figured it out at the end of Season 1, there wasn't anything he could do about it thanks to the evidence that Hannibal had delicately arranged in order to frame the fragile criminal profiler. Between the two of them, it was just a one-sided game of psychological (and now chemical) manipulation, with Will only being able to fight back from his new jail cell.
Will needed help. He needed Alana to maintain his defense and be a form of support. He needed Chilton to be oblivious before it became apparent that he could be useful. Most importantly, he needed Beverly to reexamine the evidence, and to keep investigating how that evidence had been put in place to, in turn, put Will in his current place. He needed Beverly to be his hands and his eyes in the world where the physical evidence was located while he delved deeper into his mind to find out what, exactly, Hannibal has done to him.
And it resulted in Beverly's death. A shot through the floor indicated that Hannibal got to her, and at that range, well, as we know from Hannibal's fight against Jack, Beverly would've had to be strong and well-trained to survive against the doctor in such close proximity, and even Jack didn't get away cleanly. What hope would there have been for Beverly in a dark room she didn't know, other than Hannibal's fickle, coin-flipping sense of mercy? Sadly, she knew too much, and with Will's words tumbling out of her mouth, Hannibal likely wouldn't have risked anything at all.
With Beverly's death, the show changes gears. This will only enhance Will conviction about Hannibal (if the memories weren't already doing it), but it will also only drive him into a new pit of loss since Beverly's death is all on him. Her death, however, may also signal the the drawing of the net around Hannibal. Yes, he got away with killing an FBI trainee, but killing an FBI lab tech—and one as heavily involved in these gruesome deaths as Beverly was—will only shift attention away from Will (to a point, anyway) and likely renew the hunt for the Chesapeake Ripper.
It may not seem like it, but I'm pretty distraught over Beverly's death. Not only is it an issue of me liking the character and Hettienne Park—who has done great work up to this point and especially this season—but it's also an issue of Will losing an ally, losing his "presence" in the physical world. I'm also not thrilled that it resulted in the loss of one of the show's two female series regulars, which may make the loss all the harder to bear.
Will, at least, was doing what he could to peel back the layers of his rotten onion of a memory, and he used Chilton to do it. It was delightful to watch him play Chilton, knowing that Chilton would return to his favored tactic of psychic driving to get a deeper sense of Will's particular damages, and that it would actually stir up memories for Will.
Will's newly unearthed memories of Hannibal performing similar psychic driving techniques on him during Season 1 were new for us as well. Normally, I'd be dismayed by this sort of pseudo-retconning, but so much of Season 1 was told from the perspective of Will's burning brain that the reliability of his point of view was, to a certain degree, always in question. The show's shiftiness with time and place didn't help as far as we viewers were concerned, so having Will just appear in Hannibal's office sometimes could've been a clue to Hannibal's scheming while also just being artful continuity-editing. It'll be something to watch for in going back to Season 1.
This is a good, if harrowing way, of keeping Will active in the hospital. There's only so much pleading with so few visitors that Will can do, and his options for interaction are rather limited. So keeping Will as an active agent in his own narrative would be tricky enough from this location, but Hannibal has done a fine job so far in preventing the "Oh, Will's in his cell having another visit to his memory palace" from feeling stale or repetitive.
If there was one stale bit, it was the show's return to less-than-stellar form with our murderer-of-the-week, an acupuncturist (Amanda Plummer) who was lobotomizing her patients to "quiet" their pain. The procedural beats for this case were resolved fairly quickly, with the acupuncturist confessing as soon as Jack, Jimmy, and Brian arrived at her door, and considering the deft way the muralist was handled and how they're handling Will's admirer, this felt considerably unimportant as a narrative aspect for the episode. As we've discussed though, the murderer-of-the-week often suffered from this in favor for playing up a thematic parallel to something else, and in this case, the acupuncturist's mercy killings of her patients tracked alongside Bella (Gina Torres, back for more heartbreaking scenes with her real-life husband Laurence Fishburne) and her desire to end her own life as cancer continued to ravage her body.
What, this subplot asked, is the quality of our mercy? Did the acupuncturist's patients deserve to die and might-as-well-be-dead? Is there quality of life so terrible that it is a cure and a relief to die? Does Bella have the right to decide her own fate in this situation? She decides, to a degree, with a do not resuscitate order, but taking all your morphine is a bit more of an active decision than saying, "No, you're not bringing me back." It's a question that a number of societies grapple with, and to no clear legal or moral consensus.
Hannibal being Hannibal, however, decided to let Bella's fate rest on the flip of a coin. I'm rather surprised he flipped a coin of it since, frankly, resuscitating Bella does cast him away from the eye of being a sociopath, another bit of character evidence that he couldn't possibly be the Ripper or setting Will up for all these crimes. What crazy person would save another person like that, after all? Of course, it gives the fight from the premiere a fresh layer of emotional complexity for Jack, knowing that he man he's been searching for is also the one who kept his wife alive for him.
– Abigail! Hi, Abigail! We all miss you!
– I love that Jimmy loves bees.
– The muralist was named James Gray, yet another nod to Jame Gumb from The Silence of the Lambs.
– Updated: So I suck. I totally left off this very fine essay on truth-telling in Hannibal by harpier that was posted in the community. Go read it, discuss it! And forgetting something like this is why I shouldn't write reviews while on vacation/am seriously jetlagged. Apologies to harpier for not including it when the post originally went live this morning.
How did "Takiawase" taste going down?
AIRED ON 8/29/2015
Season 3 : Episode 13