This was an odd episode of Hannibal.
The series has proven that, despite being on network television, it can be very cerebral when it wants to be. The show often challenges its viewers, unlike its network brethren, to actually think, to use your brainpower to actually see what’s beyond the surface on episode.
However, by the end of tonight’s episode, ‘Naka-Choko’ you might be left scratching your head in confusion, stumped at what the hell is actually going on in the series.
The episode begins where we left off last week, with Randall Tier dead on a table in Hannibal Lecter’s home. We flash back to Will Graham, shotgun in hand, waiting for Tier to enter his house. The barking of Will’s dogs alerts him that Tier is coming through a side window. Will anticipates the move, ducks, then surprisingly drops his gun and savagely kills Tier with his own hands. He brings the corpse to his enemy/friend/therapist/soulmate Hannibal Lecter and is convinced that must show off his work. Will then dissects Tier and puts him on grotesque display in the museum Tier worked at.
From this point on, you have to wonder the following — is Will Graham becoming a disciple of Hannibal Lecter or is this a really, really messed up way for Will to regain Hannibal’s trust in order to out Hannibal as the Chesapeake Ripper? Remember it wasn’t that long ago that Will was telling Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) that he was going to set a trap for Hannibal. So this is a very distinct possibility. Yet, with the events that happened tonight, including Will possibly murdering and then carving up a major character in the show (no it’s not Jack), you gotta wonder.
So, throughout the episode you’re scratching your head because you don’t know which way Will is going. Which is fine, but the character that addresses this weird “where does Will stand” question is probably my least favorite character on the show — Dr. Bloom. She’s such an annoying character at this point as she has blindly thrown herself at both Will and Hannibal, sexually (with Hannibal) and emotionally (with Will). Her inquisition into Will and Hannibal’s relationship comes off more like a jealous girlfriend, completely passive aggressive. If say, Jack Crawford, been the one to question and not Dr. Bloom, this part of the show would’ve been less clunky, less grating
As a standalone episode ‘Naka-Choko’ is a hard-to-follow, vague chapter of Hannibal that’s luckily punctuated with cinematic flair and stellar acting. But even then, you’re left with a look of “what happened” scrawled across your face. This episode focused on random things like Freddie Lounds and and a random megalomaniacal pig farm magnate played by Boardwalk Empire star Michael Pitt. None of it really made much sense. But, again this could be a “forest from the trees” kinda deal. Once we’re able to see how it applies to the entire story arc of Hannibal Season 2, we’ll get our eureka moment and appreciate the episode more.
Don’t get me wrong, this is still a fine installment of episodic television, but for Hannibal, it’s not the show’s finest effort. This is a piece of the puzzle episode, not a great standalone like last week.