Season 2, Episode 11: “Ko No Mono”
Directed by David Slade
Written by Andrew Black/Bryan Fuller/Jeff Vlaming
* For a review of the previous episode, “Naka-Choko” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Tome-wan” – click here“The start of this episode is fantastic. Watching the Nightmare Stag is the Nightmare Man – the stag gives birth to a dark Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). One of the more shocking – to me – moments of the show. It combines imagery from the Vincenzo Natali-directed episode “Su-zakana” with current events: Will is seemingly being birthed by Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) into a new man: a killer, a supposed cannibal.
They eat a delicacy: ortolan buntings roasted, after being drowned in Armagnac and soaked in it awhile, then consumed whole.We see what is supposedly Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) being sent careening down a ramp into a parking garage, set on fire in a wheelchair. This is ripped straight from Thomas Harris and his book Red Dragon, though, it was at the hands of Francis Dolarhyde— someone we’ll see later in Season 3. I like how this has been switched around. Graham has supposedly killed her, now this; it’s gruesome. Interesting adaptation, and despite what others say about its apparent use again in Season 3, I think it works so well both times.
Will Graham and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) are manipulating Hannibal, as well as anyone else they need to in order to lure the big fish. This is obvious, even if you haven’t already seen the rest of the episodes. We know from a few episodes back now, Jack and Will are on a fishing expedition trying to make sure they reel in the Chesapeake Ripper. This is, no doubt, a small part of their long game.More scenes now with Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle) and Hannibal Lecter, as well as an addition of Will Graham in the mix. Will discovers Margot has been trying to have a baby, and part of his use in her life/situation has been as a means to an end. He doesn’t like this, of course, as Graham has always had trouble connecting with others. Both on a mental and physical level. So it’s a shock to him. While Hannibal certainly knows everything going on, he continually plays dumb in front of everyone; mostly Will, because it serves his own ends, as well.
In the Harris novel, Hannibal, we learn that Mason Verger – played here by Michael Pitt – is a sadistic paedophile. We don’t get much of a glimpse into that anywhere, even the novel, other than small bits and pieces. What we get here in “Ko No Mono” is more of a view into the terribleness of Mason. He specifically makes a little boy cry in order to soak up a tear, put it away in a little case for later; something he’ll toss in a martini afterward. In the book we find out how he likes to drink the tears, he’s a truly sick fuck. So while there isn’t too much explicitly shown, thankfully, we’re getting a nice look at his psychology. The series benefits from being a prequel, so that we’re able to not only see Will and Hannibal before the novel Red Dragon, we also get to see other characters from the Harris novels before the events in which we’ve already read them. Lots more interesting stuff where that came from.The scene between Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) and Will Graham speaks volumes. While Will plays the part of sore loser in the lover department, in terms of his non-relationship with Alan, he’s also looking out for her. He cares, just as she so obviously cares about him regardless of her affiliation with Hannibal; lover or otherwise. Nice, brief scene where we learn the feelings of both sides. Will gives her a gun, for safety. This also sets off a little event later on.
When Alana sees Hannibal during the final ten minutes of “Ko No Mono”, he smells gun powder on her fingers. This is an important division now, as Hannibal realises Alana has actual doubts concerning him. She may not fully show that, but just by taking that gun and going to the range to shoot she has given in, if only a little, to the thinking of Will Graham.
Seeing Mason Verger in Dr. Lecter’s office is almost like the old adage of a bull in a China shop. He so evidently pisses Hannibal off, even in the way he moves around; sitting in the chair, jumping up then laying on the couch over near the window. Furthermore, Hannibal is on Margot’s side and that is something Mason just cannot tolerate. He hates his sister, but loves her in the way an owner loves a pet. It’s a terrible relationship between the two remaining Verger children, I feel for poor Margot. This all balls up into a tension now between Mason and his new psychiatrist. Of course, we know where it’s all heading to a point, however, it will be interesting to see how it develops and where it goes – we know Bryan Fuller & Co. lead a daring adaptation, so I can’t wait for the macabre fun we have in store for us Fannibals on the Mason-Hannibal front.Hannibal lets slip bits to Will about his sister, Mischa. He considered himself a sort of father to her; she was his “charge.” He admits also that Abigail reminded him of Mischa, but that “what happened to Abigail had to happen; there was no other way.” There’s a great discussion about fatherhood, now that Margot having a child is in the mix. Although, there’s something else in Hannibal other than interest. He’s sorry that he took Abigail from Will, as Graham says she was similar to a daughter for him. An intensely emotional moment between the two men – Harris’ mention of the shattering teacup comes back once more over and over as Hannibal says he’s not happy unless it gathers itself back together again. Very deep scene with these characters.
Love that we’re seeing pieces of Hannibal Lecter history come out from the original Harris work. Mischa is a huge part of Hannibal and his psychology as a serial killer, so the drops we get are highly welcome. Can’t wait for more on all this angle, it’d be nice to watch it flesh out onscreen further than we’ve already seen.
Gruesome, macabre stuff when they find the remains of Freddie Lounds – dug up from her newly laid grave – posed like a Hindu god (sorry if that’s wrong but I believe I’m right). Nasty moment, but it’s also showing how Hannibal is being lured out like Will is hoping. Or… at least that’s what we hope is happening. If not, Will Graham has absolutely, unabashedly fallen down the rabbit hole, headlong, deep into the darkness and right down in the wrapping arms of Hannibal Lecter. The remains, though, are no doubt someone praising Will and his work; albeit in a behind the curtains type of way. And who do we know enjoys working like that? The Ripper.Most devastating and even MORE gruesome than the dug up corpse of Ms. Lounds in “Ko No Mono” is the savage sequence involving Mason and Margot Verger. I’d like to believe there’s a bit of David Cronenberg Dead Ringers homage in one of these scenes, as the red hospital dressings resemble so vividly the Jeremy Irons characters from that film. If not, it’s simply excellent costume design on the part of William Ng.
Sadly for Margot, having a child makes her brother paranoid. Because now, with an heir on the way, there’s nothing stopping her from killing him. Somehow. The baby is in the way. The disgusting pig that Mason is – just like the fat killer swine he raises on Muskrat Farm – he won’t let even an unborn baby, or Margot’s reproductive organs, get in the way of continuing on torturing the world with his existence. Chilling stuff during the SURGERY SCENE – it isn’t graphic, however, I find it beyond disturbing and utterly depraved. The line below which Mason speaks ends on such a cold note, as he wipes away his sister’s tears for another martini later.
What I find wonderfully disturbing about this portion of the episode is that it turns Hannibal further against Mason than he already was – being on Margot’s side pretty much the entire time as he finds her brother a rude piggish type (ironically) – and also it drives Will Graham completely mad. He was already lamenting the loss of his surrogate daughter, Abigail Hobbs, but now a true, palpable loss by having an ACTUAL child of his taken away. His rage returns now, first time in a long while, and it is not focused on Hannibal at the moment: it takes aim straight at Mason. Having these characters come together, something we’ve never seen from Harris obviously, is amazing and another reason to love this fantastic adaptation!Alana Bloom is finally let in on the big secret: Will Graham never killed Freddie. In fact, nobody did. She is alive and well, still kicking, still beautifully ginger and sassy. Now, if the audience wasn’t clear (some apparently were not as is evidenced by much online quarrel), along with Alana we learn for sure that Will and Jack have been on their fishing trip this whole time. Great scene between Caroline Dhavernas and Laurence Fishburne, they’re a good pairing for so many moments throughout the series. Excellent actors working well together. Plus, having Lara Jean Chorostecki in there adds a touch of finesse because I love the way her version of Lounds is written, and she pulls that attitude off with ease.
Also, Hannibal and Will come together at the end in the hospital where Margot is lying, her insides torn out by Mason. Then we watch Will storm Muskrat Farm – which I love because while we’ve seen crazy Will, now we’re seeing an INFINITELY CRAZY WILL! He is beyond angered and it’s all headed towards Mason. So I think the last 2 minutes or so are viciously enjoyable. It sets up a fitting end for Season over the next couple episodes, as we’re anticipating an intriguing road there.
Will has a very intense yet enlightening conversation with Mason, opening Verger’s eyes to the possibility it might not be the two of them who ought to fight to the death.
“Tome-wan” is next.