Hannibal: “Shiizakana”

Photo courtesy of NBC.

Photo courtesy of NBC.

Spoilers ensue.

Ah Hannibal, you’ve been listening to the 90’s classic dance track “What is Love?” by Haddaway, haven’t you? Why else would you tell Will that love is about bringing out potential in your beloved. So for all the strife that you put Will through, it’s a labor of love. Let’s continue the show/song comparison a moment longer. The show and the song are about a painful relationship. Hannibal often tells us that pain is important: it cleanses, strips us down to our essentials, transforms. Pain is the baptism that Hannibal has prepared to turn Will into a killer. As a theme for the season, it’s gotten a lot of mileage. This episode adds a new perspective – how many other ‘lovers’ has Hannibal transformed?

We meet one of Hannibal’s past creations in the ‘case of the week.’ The serial killer is simple and terrifying, making him an interesting distinction from past, more intellectual, cases. The killer has created a suit that renders him a beast. When he wears a mask fashioned from a real animal fossil, he can bite off limbs, tear throats, and wreak monstrous havoc. What makes him different than other killers on the show is his philosophy or lack thereof. He kills to kill. While other killers were concerned about the messages their crimes relayed to society, god, themselves, etc. this guy has no finesse. In turn, the show portrays his murders with more vulgarity and typical horror tropes than their normal artistic bent. The variety actually makes his murders very entertaining, if less aesthetically pleasing.

The killer’s methodology reflects on Hannibal’s goals for Will. Hannibal still intends for Will to ‘become’ and embrace his baser nature. Enjoying killing as an act rather than a message is a good starting point. The show has used death as power, death as mercy, and death as vengeance before. Killing for killing’s sake is about as basic as it gets. Interestingly, the act of meaningless murder can be seen as psychotic, or sadly human. People kill each other for no reason all the time. Although Hannibal functions around mental illness and disorders, it has a lot to say about the effects of violence on ordinary humans. The more people Hannibal has successfully converted to psychopaths, the more potential we see in humanity to act inhuman. Perhaps Hannibal’s point is that human suffering is much more understandable if we realize we’ll all crazy. In addition, when we see people for who they are (and thus their potential), then can we love them. Embrace the darkness of fellow man, and you appreciate him more. That is a twisted thought, but right in line with Hannibal’s world view.

That’s why Hannibal engineers the ending to emphasize the human capacity for murder. He sends the serial killer to get Will. Will survives, but only by killing his enemy first. Did Will enjoy it? Not really. Did he kill for killing’s sake? Nope. But he has more blood on his hands, courtesy of Hannibal Lecter, and probably zero guilt for what he did. Just one more step in his baptism.

Final thoughts. There is a lot of stuff I don’t have space to discuss in detail, which I will summarize here. I do appreciate that Peter returned for another episode. The writers respect his character. In addition, I’m sure that Will and Margot’s conversation will resonate beyond the episode. They may become allies against Hannibal, lovers, adversaries, or something I can’t predict. Will didn’t dissuade her from visiting Hannibal, but he didn’t endorse the man either.





“Typhoid and swans. It all comes from the same place.” – Hannibal

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