Season 2, Episode 1: “Kaiseki”
Directed by Tim Hunter (River’s Edge, Carnivale, Mad Men)
Written by Bryan Fuller & Steve Lightfoot
* For reviews of Season 1: start at either Episode 1 “Apéritif” or the finale “Savoureux”
* For a review of the next episode, “Sakizuke” – click here
In the opener for Season 2, Bryan Fuller and Co. treat us to an Alfred Hitchcock concept – if there’s a bomb, show it, under the table or wherever, ticking away, and then let the audience sweat it out until the thing goes off.
So the first episode lays it out for us.
Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) have an incredibly tense, brutal fight in the former’s kitchen. As Jack walks in, it’s already clear Hannibal expects something. Jack pulls his gun, or tries to, and it’s on.
However, poor Jack, as he gains the upper hand, takes a jagged shard of glass in his neck from Hannibal, and then stumbles back into the wine cellar, closing the door behind him. Hannibal jumps and slams himself into it, trying to open it up.
BAM! Oh, Fuller and Lightfoot— you devils. I dig it, though. Because this way, there’s even more at stake than just the plot for us viewers. We know that eventually, we’re going to see the ultimate fight between Jack and Hannibal once more, then we’ll end up seeing exactly what happens at the end.
For now, we zip back to a very friendly dinner between colleagues. Hannibal and Jack share a typically fancy, highbrow meal at Lecter’s table, nice wine, some conversation. This is a great technique, and as someone who is caught up right to current episodes, I think it plays out nicely over the course of Season 2.
“I almost feel guilty about eating it”
“I never feel guilty about eating anything“
Back to poor Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) who, in an extremely neatly tweaked adaptation, is under the care of Dr. Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza) at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Just like out of Harris, Chilton is recording sessions and peeking into the lives of his patients, his inmates, and fumbling at their heads like a freshman at a panty girdle.
Will is locked in a cage – probably the worst place of all to put a guy like Graham. Of course, he accuses Lecter, and of course… nobody believes him. Still, Will tells Chilton he has no time for their sessions, instead he wants to see Hannibal.Loving the dream imagery that surrounds Will’s discovery of Hannibal as the things of his nightmares. Evolving from the Nightmare Stag, there’s now the antlered man, the dark being which represents Hannibal. Before, it took that form of simply the stag, as it appears again briefly in Will’s dreams in this episode. Now it has become a man, it has shape and form, it is human; not merely an animal thing. The closer Will gets to being able to prove things, the clearer it all is in his mind, the clearer Hannibal as a person becomes; the person suit wears thin, and the person, the monster underneath becomes exposed.Meanwhile, Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) has filed a report because of what happened to Will Graham. This, naturally, involves Jack Crawford.
But Jack has bigger problems. Some bodies turn up in the water in Rockyville, Maryland near a dam after workers try to unclog an area. Even worse, Jack still can’t see exactly who and what Hannibal is yet – all made even better because of that taut opening sequence three months into the future – so Dr. Lecter is brought in to help look at the case. Unfortunately, Jack does not know how curious the bad doctor is, just how naughty his social experimentation can get, and so this is not a good thing for Crawford and the FBI.
Not only that, Hannibal still has the inside track on things. Clearly nobody is going to take Will and his accusations towards Lecter seriously, therefore, the doctor has that ability to stay behind the curtains, not only of his human veil but of the law and justice.
“He sees his own mentality as grotesque but useful. Like a chair of antlers.“
Beautiful scene of imagery, as Hannibal comes down the hallway towards Will’s cell – watching Will, we hear what he hears: the hooves of the Nightmare Stag, clicking, clopping, moving towards him. Then, it is Lecter, greeting Will Graham as we’ve seen Graham do to him in other adaptations of Red Dragon by Thomas Harris.
There’s a lot of interesting repartee between Hannibal and Will, as usual. This time it’s excellently dark. Will understands exactly what Hannibal is, but he just can’t put all the pieces together yet. He wants to, it’s just that Hannibal had too much dominance over him in the period of time which preceded these events that Will can’t be sure what did or did not happen.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, and Will Graham has promises to keep, but there are miles and miles to go before he sleeps.
What I love is that Graham makes things so obvious, he does not try and hide from Lecter. Everything is out in the open, on the table, and there’s nothing Hannibal can do except go forward trying to keep himself covered at every step before Will exposes him for the monster he is underneath the exterior personality he has built around his monstrous interior.The Killer of the Week in this first episode of Season 2 is interesting because the murders, the bodies, all the purpose behind them, it has a grandiosity and epic quality about it which intrigues Hannibal. Not just that, the whole thing this killer does is super disturbing, real twisted. I love that stuff, in the way we horror fanatics love the terror and gore of horror movies. Mainly, though, it’s how Lecter comes to fit into this killer’s life.
What we’re seeing here in “Kaiseki”, and what will continue a bit into the next episode “Sakizuke”, is Hannibal Lecter flexing his invisible muscles. He’s showing off, inserting himself into the investigation – not just on one side, at the request of Jack Crawford and the FBI, but we’ll see in the next episode how he directly puts himself into the killer’s path.
Furthermore, we’re seeing more and more of the relationship between Hannibal and his psychiatrist/who knows what to call her Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson). There are now, clearer than ever, lies being exposed – albeit ever so slightly – in terms of what Bedelia is hiding about Lecter. She knows more about him than anyone else, and Hannibal is also using her/her position as his psychiatrist, plus something involving her dead patient Neal Frank (who was once his patient), against her to leverage his image in the eyes of everyone else; particularly Crawford and the FBI.
We’re setup with an excellent Season 2 premise here with all the stuff going on surrounding Will and Hannibal, the idea that Graham knows Hannibal is the culprit yet it’s locked inside him after what Lecter did with his brain. There are so many places to go. Plus, nearing the end of the episode Beverly Katz (Hettienne Park) goes to Will for some help with the current investigation, the one Hannibal is so willingly indulging. So now we’ve got him still in the mix this way, which comes out with very, very interesting results.
Alana Bloom is doing all she can on her end to try and help her friend, and almost lover, Will Graham. With a little of her help, along with some light therapy and other psychiatric tricks, things start to trickle down out of the deep recesses in Will’s dark and damaged mind. I like the relationship going on between Alana and Will throughout Season 2. There are many, many more bits of this which come out, and it gets very deep; not in the way I ever expected at the start. It’s interesting stuff, especially considering Bloom was a man and a pretty minor character in the novel. Love the way Fuller and Co. have adapted this character, even more so that it’s a strong female lead.
My favourite part of this episode is when Will remembers a portion of what Hannibal did to him: the infamous ear swallow. Amazing, perfectly sick, and such an intense, black-and-white flashback to the horrific moment when Hannibal forces Abigail Hobbs’ (Kacey Rohl) ear down Will’s esophagus, using a pretty damn good setup if I might add. Wickedly devilish stuff.“Sakizuke” is next, directed by Tim Hunter once more.