TV Recap: Hannibal, ‘Su-zakana’

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Plot: A dead horse is examined by a local vet and it’s discovered a human corpse has been sewn inside of it. It’s suspected a mentally disturbed farmhand, with an undying love for animals, might be the one to have placed the body in the horse, but is he the killer? Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) decides to engage in his own aggressive form of human chess to lure Hannibal Lecter (Madds Mikelesen) into the his and Jack Crawford’s (Laurence Fishburne) hands, where they hope to prove Lecter is the Chesapeake Ripper.

Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC

This week’s installment of Hannibal was more about watching a new dynamic between Will and Hannibal unfold than it was about anything else. Yes, there was a truly horrific crime that the FBI had to solve, but, it wasn’t as important as driving home Will’s deadly move in the game of chess he and Hannibal Lecter have been engaging in, whether he knew it or not, since the day they met. So, to go into detail about the actual episode, isn’t all that interesting. (There is one thing we’d be remiss in mentioning about this episode and that was an awesome inside joke the series pulled tonight when, during the climax, Hannibal is seen petting a lamb. Bonus points for you tonight Hannibal you clever series you.)

Dangerous Will Graham is as equally exciting and enthralling as last season’s Will’s “The Most Tragic Man Alive” persona. Last season the man was a complete and utter emotional disaster; breaking down at an accelerated, runaway train-esuqe pace. Drenched in an unstoppable sweat and shaking as if nerve endings and synapses were exploding within him, last season’s Will garnered so much sympathy from audiences. How can you not feel for the guy? This season, we see an empowered Will, who while still battling his own demons and delusions, is now an aggressive hunter, an animal who’s been poked by the stick too many times who is now lunging back at its antagonist. You’re also afraid of Will now.

Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC

Hugh Dancy does a fantastic job as the new, in control and aggressive Will. He has a slow, steady, almost chilling calm to his voice. It’s almost frightening to hear him speak when he’s in his game with Hannibal. The production team also has done something subtle, whether intentional or not, to show a new Will. Gone is his trademark disheveled (and often sweaty) mop of hair and in its place is a neater, more professional and smart cut. Will is in control of his own mind, for now, and a minute detail like this really drives that point home.

Madds Mikkelsen, as expected, is brilliant as Hannibal Lecter. We also see a new side of Lecter this season — a hopeful and delusional side. It seems he picked up a little of Will’s madness. How so, you might ask…isn’t he already insane? Yes, of course he is, but he’s actual becoming more like Will from last season. He has this undying belief that, even despite Will’s repeated attempts on his life, the two of them still can have (or do have) a strong professional, clinical and personal relationship. He believes despite Will’s madness and bloodlust, the two of them can be (and probably still are) friends and that he (Hannibal) can still cure Will of his mental infirmities.

Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC

Who would’ve thought a series adapted from a series of popular books and movies, that created such an iconic character, and sold itself mainly on graphic and gory violence, would be such an intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking series. One has to credit NBC for having the guts to keep a show like Hannibal on the air. Yes, it has a lot of investors not named NBC who helped fund it, which helps, but truly this show could’ve been thrown on the garbage heap last season with its ratings. Yet, here it is, killing it every week.

In regards to the episode itself, go into “Su-zakana” without any expectations for the procedural, crime of the week storyline (next week will make up for it). It’s there, it’s fine and it serves as a solid framework for the bigger picture. What you really need to do with this episode is really dig your heels into the ever-evolving Will Graham/Hannibal Lecter storyline and prepare to be blown away.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites

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