I apologize for delay in my Hannibal coverage, but the two final episodes presented so much information to process, that I thought I’d combined them in one epic review/rant. I’ll start my analysis with an interesting observation. The finale’s title, “Mizumono,” is not a culinary reference but a phrase loosely translated as “a matter of chance.” However, the season began in media res, and nothing that occurs in the episode – while often surprising – is not the result of inevitable consequences. The bloodbath in “Mizumono” is a different beast than shock; it’s the dread of storm a long time coming.
The first cracks of thunder came in the penultimate episode, “Tome-wan.” The episode has several important outcomes. Mainly, we understand the stakes of Will and Jack’s plan. Will did in fact mutilate Randall Tier’s body. He’s liable to go to jail for that, or worse. Meanwhile, Hannibal is at the top of his game at avoiding their traps. For example, we finally learn Bedelia’s past with Hannibal and it doesn’t help them. She’s not a star witness. Most importantly, Hannibal seriously messes up Mason, but doesn’t kill him. Mason can assume a role like the one he has in the canon, as a disfigured millionaire with a big old grudge. Expect big things in season 3.
How can I discuss perfect television? On a technical level, David Slade brought a flawless episode. Whether it is the two faces of Will merging in to one as he lies, the clock-ticking score, or the heart-stopping slow motion fall, this episode worked. It was simultaneously ethereal and propulsive; dreamlike and relentless. In my opinion, the show has been a little indulgent with its trippy sequences before, but these succeeded because they advanced plot and highlighted the themes of the episode.
So let’s talk about those themes. For a show with so much blood and sacrifice, friendship is awfully important. But in the show’s logic, that violence is needed to make the friendship possible. Through the bloodshed comes the baptism; the reveal of one’s true self. For Hannibal, the privilege to see another’s true self is the basis of friendship. He and Will are great friends because of that progression. The most important scene occurs when Hannibal smells Freddy Lounds on Will and learns he has been betrayed. Hannibal, who’s propensity to play God is on full display, first chooses mercy on Will. However, inevitably he is forced to defend himself, which means hurting a lot of people. Thus, all of the pain in “Mizumono” comes from Hannibal’s pain, not Will’s anger, not Jack’s justice, or Alana’s sadness. Had Hannibal denied himself from being vulnerable, we’d have a very different ending.
It’s fascinating that in an episode where Will is gutted, Alana is tossed from a window, and Jack and Abigail have their throats slit, Hannibal (a psychopath!) is the nexus of emotion. Don’t get me wrong, I’m more concerned that Jack or Alana pulls through. In addition, I recognize that Alana’s nightmare is a high insight into her feelings and fears, but the weight of the episode rests on Hannibal’s reaction. It reminds us that for a show about Will Graham, it’s called Hannibal.
We can only guess who’s still alive next season. The show has already said that unless you see someone die, they might not be. (See Miriam and Abigail). At the episode’s end, all of the wounded characters are still somewhat alive. It’s a safe bet that Will is around. Between the other three, I’d say that Abigail has the worst chance. I’m not sure how the show would play if both Abigail and Alana die. In addition to a deficit in female characters (though Bedelia is around), Will wouldn’t have a daughter or romantic interest.
And then the cap. Hannibal on a plane to Italy is understable. But Bedelia joining him. Everything we’ve seen from the show would point to that being against her will. She despises him. In their private counseling, she was afraid. However, she didn’t seem uncomfortable or agree or drugged or anything. Has she been brainwashed. Seeing her on the plane wasn’t just shocking it was a WTF moment. Needless to say, I eagerly await the return next year. Hannibal is my favorite show on TV and I’ve been honored to share my thoughts on it.