TV Review: Hannibal, ‘Shiizakana’

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Plot: A monstrous killer is on the loose, eviscerating his victims in the most gruesome of ways (is there a pleasant form of evisceration?). The FBI forensics team determines that if it’s an animal committing these killings, which is a distinct possibility, it would be an ancient, extinct cave bear who is the culprit. Obviously since they don’t exist anymore, despite the evidence pointing otherwise, the light is shone upon one of the former clients of Hannibal Lecter’s (Madds Mikelesen) who works in a museum and had a traumatic personality disorder. Meanwhile, Hannibal and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) continue their game of human chess.

“Shiizakana” was an excellent return to form for Hannibal.

Photo Credit: Sophie Giraud/NBC
Photo Credit: Sophie Giraud/NBC

Let’s clarify that statement shall we? Every week of Hannibal is amazing. Had True Detective not aired this season, Hannibal would undoubtedly be the best show to air on television in 2014. This season, for the most part, has seen the “killer of the week” plots be rendered rather pedestrian or completely unimportant. Remember Amanda Plummer’s killer acupuncturist? How about last week’s psychotic social worker? They grossly pale in comparison to last season’s crop of killers.

Tonight, however, saw the emergence of one of the most unique and threatening killers seen on Hannibal since we first encountered Eddie Izzard’s now deceased Gedeon. Randall Tier (Mark O’Brien) is a fascinating character — he’s a man who believes he is an animal in a human’s body. He engages his animal instincts and urges by constructing a suit made of cave bear skeleton and a hydraulic system which makes the suit’s jaw crush, slice and pulverize his victims. If there’s one complaint to be had about Randall Tier it’s that we could’ve spent a little more time on him as he’s such a fascinating character. Let’s hope we get a little more on him next week.

The game of human chess between Will and Hannibal was another tense and methodical one with control of the game seesawing back and forth between the two. The newly empowered Will, with his smart haircut and his honesty about his own murderous feelings, is actually what stirs the drink of this game. If Will had not evolved from the complete, tragic mess he was last season, this show would be spinning its wheels. However, having Will have the upper hand only makes the Hannibal character that much dangerous, unpredictable and in a strange way, more emotional. Despite his raspy monotone voice, you can feel the hurt and pain in Lecter’s voice when speaking of Will’s attempts on his life and Will’s hatred for him. Hugh Dancy’s intensity is racketed so high, but delivered so clearly, that it makes their scenes together just that much more charged.

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

These emotions, from both men, are conveyed perfectly in the therapy sessions. In lesser hands the therapy sessions between Will and Hannibal would come off weird, awkward and absurd. However, the team behind Hannibal and the actors in the scene are able to make an odd situation work. These sessions shine a light on the highly dysfunctional yet passionate (in a non-sexual and romantic way) relationship between the two. As the old saying goes, there is a line thing between love and hate.

The ending to ‘Shiizakana’ was one of the most white knuckle endings the show has had in weeks. No spoilers here, but Will’s life definitely comes into danger at some point and his way of resolving it is jaw-dropping. This resolution will fuel next week’s episode, which looks extremely twisted and for this show, that’s saying something.

“Shiizakana” was an excellent installment of Hannibal and with four episodes left, you know things are going to start heating up real soon. Oh, also, look for a nice little nod to Red Dragon in the beginning of the episode.

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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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