Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Hannibal Review: "Hassun" - The Smartest Man in the room

Will Graham is on trial in "Hannibal"

If you want reason for why I am so in love with Hannibal right now, it is in a smile.  Hell it’s not even a smile – not even really a half-smile.  Maybe a smirk?  Not quite that, though, either.  It was more of a twitch at the corner of Hannibal Lecter’s mouth at the prosecutor’s mention that Will Graham was the smartest man in the courtroom.  That tiny, infinitesimal, literal blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment gives us an enormous amount of information about his state of mind in that particular moment.  Hannibal Lecter is really the smartest man in the room, but nobody knows it.  And that seems to be a problem for him. 

Hannibal Lecter is lonely.  We saw it in the season premiere as he was keeping Will’s session time open for what was apparently nothing more than reflection and staring at an empty chair.  We see it in the fact that he keeps going back to Will in the hospital.  Hannibal needs another mind to play with.  At times last year it was Will, at others it was Abigail.  He got different things from each relationship, but it was clear that merely being the smartest man in the room wasn’t enough for Lecter.  He needs somebody to recognize that genius, to accept him as the smartest man in the room, even as he does his best to hide his true nature. 

It seems like Lecter is trying to mold Jack Crawford as his new foil/protégé, but Crawford is so wrapped up in his guilt over Will that he is unable to really create any kind of connection with Hannibal.  Lecter is also a little less willing to tip his hand and invest emotionally in Crawford, likely because Crawford is much less empathic than was Will.  Will’s mind is like a diary, capable of recording everything but also open to manipulation and entries written by others.  Jack doesn’t possess the same gift/curse, which would prevent Hannibal from changing his perception the way he was able to with Will.

This loneliness plays out in Hannibal’s actions this week.*  One could call it pride that causes Lecter to kill again in such a public fashion.  Perhaps he doesn’t like seeing Will getting all the credit for his crimes.  But that seems out of character.  Instead, I think that Hannibal just can’t stand the idea of losing access to Will.  He doesn’t want to prove that Will is innocent, which could ultimately lead the law to look his way. He just wants to plant enough doubt in the jury’s heads to keep Will in the mental hospital.  It’s a dangerous play that makes Hannibal seem desperate, but maybe it’s his loneliness manifesting itself.

* I’m assuming that Hannibal was behind this week’s two murders.  It may very well be revealed that he’s not, but at this point all signs point to his involvement.

While the character beats in “Hassun” were fantastic, the actual storyline left something to be desired.  It was very mechanical and nobody seemed to be terribly invested in it.  It was delightful to watch Dr. Chilton just tear into Will and meticulously destroy every possible defense he could use.  But that the judge would ignore a murder almost identical to those committed by Will seems far-fetched.  I would think that, at the very least, the trial would be delayed until the police could determine something more than “maybe it was the same killer, maybe it wasn’t.”

Hopefully, the trial stuff won’t come up again because Hannibal as a court procedural isn’t terribly interesting to me.  But the fact that the show can branch outside its comfort zone to tell a different kind of story while still doing great character work makes me extremely happy.

A couple of spare thoughts –

The Will-Alana relationship still confuses me a bit.  I’m just not sure where it’s going.  But, again, the work here by Hugh Dancy and Caroline Davernas is just top-notch.

How great was that opening scene with Will and Hannibal getting dressed to Don Giovanni?

So thoughts?  Comments?  Just want to tell me my blog sucks?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @TyTalksTV

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