NBC’s Hannibal
Season 2, Episode
3: “Hassun”
Directed by Peter Medak (The Changeling)
Written by Jason Grote & Steve Lightfoot

* For a review of the previous episode, “Sakizuke” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Takiawase” – click here
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In this episode, the season brings us to the trial of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). With a snappy lawyer, Leonard Brauer (Shawn Doyle, from my home province Newfoundland & Labrador), in his corner, everyone is out to be questioned, cross-examined, and judged for everyone to hear: Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), Dr. Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza), and last but certainly not the least – Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen).
The beginning of “Hassun” sees Will in his cell, waiting for the first big day in court. He’s dreaming. In his head, Will sees himself strapped into the electric chair. Parallel to the chair, another Will— this one pulling the lever, flipping the switch on himself to fry his brains out. Really enjoyed the little montage as Will is getting ready – it juxtaposes him, in jail getting a suit on, with Hannibal, luxurious and comfortable, putting his own suit on in the comforts of home.IMG_0883Kade Prurnell (Cynthia Nixon) from the FBI expresses to Jack Crawford that if he can’t represent his own beliefs, “represent the bureau’s.” Against the wishes of the FBI, and probably his own best interest, Jack makes it clear to the court, to everyone, that he is the one who pushed Will over the line.
I always knew that Crawford felt responsible for Will in so many ways. He played a sort of father figure to Graham, in a way of being the protector. He tells the court he “put those checks and balances in place then I ignored them,” which so clearly pisses of Prurnell, certainly the entirety of upper management in the FBI won’t be pleased either. But it’s clearer now, more than ever, Jack is not willing to just write Will off completely. He feels that he plays a part in Will’s downfall, either way. He is determined to make it known; Jack wishes to be punished for his sin.IMG_0866Somewhere, waiting in the wings, is a killer who reaches out to Will Graham. Not in a literal sense, but figuratively. First, Will and his lawyer sit chatting after court is out of session. The lawyer receives an envelope, opens it, and a human ear falls out, dried flakes of blood floating down along with it. The FBI Forensic Team – Jimmy (Scott Thompson), Beverly (Hettienne Park), and Brian (Aaron Abrams) – determine, obviously, it wasn’t Will who could’ve sent the ear, as he has been in custody, in a cell. Not all are on board with the idea perhaps Will has been telling the truth, however, Jack is definitely sceptical of what they know for sure. Also, now that Will has everything out in the open with Hannibal, he isn’t afraid to outright argue with him in private.
What I enjoy so much about this is that the other side of their relationship, the one we know well from the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon and its adaptations, where there is a contempt in the way Graham talks to Dr. Lecter. Slowly, we’re moving more and more towards that other side. We’re halfway there, in a new territory not seen in any other adaptation as of yet, so onward we move into that side of the Will-Hannibal dynamic.IMG_0874The ear from the envelope turns out to have been cut with the same knife that cut Abigail Hobbs’ (Kacey Rohl) ear, the one from Will’s stomach. It had been taken out by a bailiff from the courthouse, never went back in.
Then at the bailiff’s house, they discover a homemade explosive that lights the place on fire. The FBI finds the bailiff murdered in the exact same fashion in which one of Will’s supposed victims was murdered – the one committed by Garret Jacob Hobbs’ copycat. This sheds a ton of doubt over the facts again Graham, now Jack is even more convinced something is not quite right, and nothing is what it seems.

Is Will Graham an intelligent psychopath?
There is not yet a name for whatever Will Graham is.

Again I say it: I feel terrible for Will, in so many, many ways.
Even as he’s being put on trial, Hannibal, Beverly, they’re still coming to him to get help with the murders. While he’s supposed to be worrying about his own well-being, they’re still making him do all the legwork really, and it’s only serving to mess him up worse. By the end of it all, Will Graham won’t trust anybody because he’s simply being used as a means to an end. I feel more and more the reckoning Will promised is coming.
There’s an excellently tense scene between Hannibal and Will, discussing the “acolyte” of Will’s as the bad doctor puts it. You can see and feel the noose tightening around Hannibal’s neck. And as we’ve already seen what will happen at some point, the opening scene of Season 2 which pitted a savage Lecter versus Jack, that Alfred Hitchcock bomb analogy works on us here: as the rope tightens, sometimes it slips, and Hannibal has room to play, then another step forward, two steps back. It’s a process, and I’ve enjoyed how it plays out in the writing of each episode from one to the next.IMG_0880Best of the episode is how, once more, we see Hannibal’s distaste for the rudeness of others around him drives his urge to kill. Not only that, we’re again seeing the overarching theme of friendship come out again here. Shots of Hannibal sitting alone, no friend in the chair across from him. He misses Will, he declares in open court that Will has always been and will always be his friend. So I think not only does rudeness drive him to commit another murder, but his want to see Will be exonerated now, even after all of what he’s previously done, is what makes him kill the judge. Of course, it gets passed off as another one of the copycat murders, someone writing “a poem” for Will Graham, as Hannibal so eloquently put it earlier in the episode. Or does it? Hannibal throws doubt on whether or not it is the same killer.
Either way, this kill is a savage one. Rough stuff. Love the brutish imagery of the judge having his brain on the scales, skin peeled back down over his face. NASTY HORROR!IMG_0882More great imagery of the Nightmare Stag, as well as the Nightmare Man as I call him. My favourite moment is when Will is dreaming, he walks out of the cell seeing the Nightmare Stag, clopping down the hall. Then from the darkness behind him: “Will.”
It’s Hannibal, waiting to guide Will back inside.
There’s a moment where we see Graham’s face, as if he is unlocking more chambers in his mind, finding the keys to memories and things which will help him finally go free. Much of what he sees has to do Hannibal Lecter, as always. There are more things coming back to Will and he’s figuring out the puzzle, where things fit together as once they seemed so far apart.
Solid episode. Drives things forward in plot, so that we’re seeing plenty of stuff not yet seen in the adaptations of Thomas Harris. All this is great tension and suspense. Keeps even avid Harris readers on their toes, as the source material is used so wonderfully. Coupled with the intense performances, amazing sound design/score, and all the nasty and gorgeous visuals, this may forever be my favourite series.
“Takiawase” is next.

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