Season 2, Episode 4: “Takiawase”
Directed by David Semel (The Strain, American Horror Story)
Written by Bryan Fuller & Scott Nimerfro
* For a review of the previous episode, “Hassun” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Mukozuke” – click here
Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is living more of the memories he wants to at the beginning of the episode, in a river somewhere with Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl); though, it is most certainly a dream. Their conversation is a metaphor about the hunt – for the Nightmare Stag, the Nightmare Man.
Will is starting to remember bits and pieces about what has happened to him, more with every session alongside Dr. Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza). Luckily for Will, the thought of any kind of fame drives Chilton to a frothing mouthful. So essentially Graham uses him to help progress his knowledge of what Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) did to him, as the encephalitis was wreaking absolute havoc on his brain, memories, and his body is breaking down.
With a bit of drugs, Chilton sends Will back to a moment where Hannibal is injecting him, using a flashing light to induce the appropriate reactions – appropriate at least insofar as naughty Dr. Lecter is concerned. This is an excellent visual scene, as often there is in the series. We get to watch Will flash back and forth between past, present, and the memories start to come to a head at the edges of his brain. Again in this episode, Will scratches and claws his way closer to the truth. Later in the episode, he remembers fully the conversation between Hannibal Lecter and Dr. Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) from Season 1, when he’d been having a mild seizure, unaware of what was going on; at least at the time.
Unfortunately for poor Will Graham, there are other, much darker things happening in “Takiawase” than simply his memories coming back.
Will (to Chilton): “Do not discuss me or my therapy with Dr. Lecter.”
Bella Crawford (Gina Torres) is seriously considering taking her own life. She does not want to die at the wish of her cancer. Bella wishes to end life on her own terms, instead of succumbing to death at the hands of her illness. While filled with curiosity, as always, Dr. Lecter tries to assuage Bella’s suicidal feelings. While most likely not getting all the way through to her, Hannibal – a serial killer cannibal of all people to be telling her this – expresses how the fear of death is not simply fear: it is also life. This is so in the sense that realizing death is always knocking, maybe waiting at the other side of each and every, any, door, this helps us appreciate life and all it has to offer: good food, good wine, good friends, good music, et cetera. It’s a weird, beautiful moment. One of my favourites out of all the scenes in Lecter’s office.
For what I call the Killer of the Week, we’ve got a real treat of a guest star in “Takiawase” – the ever weird and wonderfully talented Amanda Plummer, well-known for her role alongside Tim Roth as his Honey Bunny Yolanda in Pulp Fiction, and I also know her well personally from the film adaptation of Stephen King’s Needful Things.
It’s incredible, the character Plummer plays – Katherine Pimms, homeopathic healer. The crimes are so nasty and interesting!
Here we’ve got a woman whose first victim found is a man she converted into a working beehive, one filled with bees mining honey and working away. Then we later see her giving another man a nice, old fashioned prefrontal lobotomy; nice ones, like they did in the Golden Days for the mad men and women in the asylums. Good ole tap tap tap with the tiny little pick, right at the corner of the eye, and BAM – takes away all those silly things like motor skills, reactions, and many other activities of the human body. She leaves this man wandering out in the park, the sun shining into the holes of his head.
Katherine: “I didn’t kill him. I quieted his mind, so that he could die peacefully.”
The most incredible thing about this episode is how the Killer of the Week, once again as usual, plays into the thematic elements of the plots and the situations in which the characters find themselves.
For instance, you’ve got Amanda Plummer playing this woman who is, albeit misguidedly, trying to ease the suffering of others, by helping them ease back into nature through death. All the while you’ve got Jack Crawford worrying about his wife Bella, who seems to want to slip away into death quick as she possibly can, but he is not so quick to let her go. This resonates with him, the crimes of this killer, because he sees her as a personification of evil: a doctor doing wrong.
This brings us to the other half of the amazingness happening here. When Hannibal saves Bella from taking her life before the cancer can do anything further, this juxtaposes this killer, for whom Jack has contempt, with Hannibal directly. Just another way in which Hannibal Lecter is able to now stay in the blind spot, right out of the way of Jack’s clever vision. So I love how this episode’s killer plays such a direct role in exemplifying what’s happening in the life of Jack, Bella, as well as Hannibal.
I have to take another timeout from just generally recapping and reviewing the plot/themes, and so on.
We really need to speak of the sound design, the score, the visuals, all together as one cohesive and gorgeous unit which brings forth an impressive universal aesthetic to the Hannibal series. One that sets it apart from everything else on television. Honestly, the aesthetic of the series sets it apart from every series that’s ever been. Many great hour-long drama style shows have went for beautiful looks – The Sopranos had a great atmosphere especially in the last 3-4 seasons, Mad Men though I don’t dig it has wonderful style, and Breaking Bad had both a grit and beauty to it at so many points, these are only but a few – but there’s ultimately something so fresh, innovative, and completely different about Hannibal that the series stands heads above the rest of television. Meanwhile, it’s on NBC, which still surprises me, and I continually believe that’s part of why it is being cancelled; wrong network for this show to end up on. But either way, added to the Bryan Fuller & Co. adaptation of Red Dragon and Hannibal by Thomas Harris, the score and sound design, the visuals, they make for immersive, visceral television, the likes of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen. Nothing else, for me, compares to this.
Will: “Stay away from Hannibal Lecter”
Beverly: “The Chesapeake Ripper kept surgical trophies. If Hannibal’s the Ripper what’s he doing with his trophies?”
Will: “He’s eating them”
When Will finally comes to the realization Hannibal is a cannibal, it is incredibly moving! What a disturbing moment. He flashes back to the breakfast they’d had one day, one of the many, and a look of disgust runs across Graham’s face. It’s just perfectly nasty.
What’s worse is that Will sort of sent Beverly in, not knowing enough, and that’s what leads her to where she heads at the end of “Takiawase”.
It’s tragic what happens to Beverly Katz.
Or at least, we’re pretty sure something bad will happen. Of course it’ll be until the next episode before we, as the viewers, truly find out. However, safe to say that on his home turf, not to mention in the dark after he flicks off the lights quickly before darting into the shadows, Hannibal has an ideal upper hand.
Regardless, soon as I could see Hannibal sniffing out Will’s influence over Katz, that she was still going to him for help, I could see there was some sort of confrontation between the two brewing. Whether it would be a big one or not, I was never sure. Now it’s one of those super tense, suspenseful situations. The final moments of “Takiawase” had me on edge. I love the way Semel shot those bits because it built up so well, as is usual for this series. Left things on an exciting cliffhanger, which isn’t always the case at the end of every episode – not that the endings are bad, they are not at all, though it isn’t typical for many episodes to end on a true cliffhanger. I dig this and it made me want to just jump right into the following episode, “Mukozuke”.
There are a ton of things to love about the fourth episode out of Hannibal‘s Season 2.
One scene, in particular, that I have to mention is when Jack and Bella get stoned together, toking up on her medicinal marijuana. It’s not simply because they’re silly together for a moment, getting high, it just shows this beautiful scene where two married people – surely helped by the fact Fishburne and Torres are together in real life – break down a terrible situation, bare to the bones, and talk about it, truthfully, out in the open. It’s a hard, raw conversation, especially for Jack because he’s clearly trying to be supportive yet no one wants to hear their loved one talk about how they feel like a burden; all the while, Jack knows the underlying issue, that Bella wants to die. Yet as he always does, Jack pushes. He’s not alienating Bella, however, he’s not helping either. He cares too much, is Jack’s problem in the end; about his wife, about Will, about the job. Crawford has a heart that is too big, and a head too stubborn.
Before I finish, I have to mention how awesome both Scott Thompson and Aaron Abrams are, as a sort of half comic relief half procedural pairing in the forensics department of things. I’ve always loved Thompson from his days as a Kid in the Hall, but here he gets to show off more than simply comedy chops; he really strikes me as a guy who knows what he’s talking about, as he plays the character of Jimmy Price. Same goes for Abrams, playing Brian Zeller. They’re too nerdy forensic scientists who love their nasty job, which is fun and interesting at times. Their rapport both together and with Laurence Fishburne works incredibly well and adds a little levity to the grim, macabre Hannibal universe.
The next episode, as I’ve mentioned, is titled “Mukozuke” and is directed by series regular Michael Rymer; he has also directed episodes of American Horror Story, The Killing, and Battlestar Galactica, as well as the film Queen of the Damned based off of the works of Anne Rice.
Stay tuned, my fellow Fannibals! #SaveHannibal