08th Mar2014

Hannibal 2×02 – “Sakizuke” Review

by Nathan Smith

Stars: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas, Laurence Fishburne | Created by Bryan Fuller


Sakizuke: an appetizer similar to the French amuse-bouche.

Not so long ago, (okay, a REALLY long time ago) a friend and I had an argument about the actors who have played Hannibal Lector. I was staunchly opposed to his declarations that Anthony Hopkins was THE only Lector, because I loved Brian Cox’s performance as Hannibal Lector (or Lecktor) in “Manhunter.” Cox’s performance in that film was all subtlety and nuance, where I saw Hopkins as a crazy person, plain and simple (that’s not to say that I hate Hopkins’ performance in the film, I just prefer Cox’s take on the character). I bring this up because I prefer the way that Mads Mikkelsen has cultivated the subtlety of Hannibal Lector in such a powerful way. It’s all in his eye movements, it’s all in the way a smile just traces his lips as something comes to him. It’s in the way you can literally see him formulating plots in his head. This is evident this week in several scenes, really any time that Hannibal is on screen. And frankly, it’s quite chilling.

Dr. Lector hides himself in plain sight. He wears a mask that hides others from who he truly is, and yet still cultivates an air of openness. Look at the scenes with himself and Will. He’s telling Will to his face that he wants to help him, that he wants to restructure some semblance of friendship that was destroyed in the wake of Abigail’s death. It’s incredibly gut-wrenching that he’s doing this, because he knows that Will knows what he is, and yet still the façade remains. Look at his interactions with Du Maurier, his doctor. The scene in Hannibal’s office is particularly intense stuff, because for a moment, a brief moment, it could go two ways. Du Maurier walks out and goes on with her day. The other way? It ends badly for her, and the way the scene was acted, he: being malicious and downright scary, and her: defiant and but a sliver of fear running throughout her, it really could’ve gone the other way. And bravo Gillian Anderson for the subtle nuances in displaying her fear in confronting this man. See, we don’t precisely know what secrets she and Hannibal share (though I suspect we will soon enough), although we get that it’s a big one, and I love that Fuller and his writers are stringing out that piece of plot in a way that has you craving it, and not rolling your eyes when they don’t reveal precisely what it is.

Hannibal factored in nicely to the killer subplot that was introduced in the premiere, by continuing his work with the FBI. We get a little bit of everything in this plot, frankly, and it doesn’t feel overloaded, it just feels complete. We get a fantastically gory (wonder how they got that scene where the victim unhooks himself from the other bodies past the standards and practices folks) horror movie opening scene that morphs into a pretty thrilling chase movie where the victim we met at the end of last week’s episode, makes a valiant attempt to escape and loses his life in the process. The serial killer plot allows for Hannibal and Will to go out and do their things, and especially freaky is Hannibal’s putting the killer into his own tableau, and then using the killer’s leg to make a meal. The subplot allows for a bit of existentialism to wander into the serial killer drama, and while we don’t clearly understand the killer’s motives, that’s okay, because sometimes we don’t need to know inner workings. Inner working can disappoint us.

But that ties into how the writers deal with the subtleties in the dialogue. They don’t need to blatantly tell us why the killer is doing what he’s doing, or even tell us that Hannibal put him into the mural. They just do. The lack of hand holding on this show sets it miles apart from any other television series. They use emotion to get their points across, like in the scene with Jack and Beverly, and wow, Laurence Fishburne just nails the hurt colleague part down pat. They don’t tell us why Du Maurier and Hannibal have a schism between their professional and personal working relationship that’s causing her to recuse herself and that’s causing Hannibal to show up at her house in the middle of the night in his kill-suit. I love the whole Will subplot and not just because he gets launched back into the action, he brings back “this is my design,” with lots of relish in those words (and we see the freaky Man-Stag), but because we learn that he has many tricks up his sleeve as well.

The idea of Will selling himself as the “unreliable narrator” in his own story to his colleagues is a fascinating one for many reasons. It allows Will to keep up the air of unstable, fractured personae that he’s been forced to live through while slowly chipping through to his colleagues that he’s not exactly the person they may be looking for. Hugh Dancy sells the breakdown and desperation, in his tear laden plea that he needs help … until he gets to his cell and we see that like his former collaborator, he’s just wearing a mask. And that final scene between Du Maurier and Will in the hospital when she leans in and tells him those words that will tear him deep down, words that will vibrate across his swollen psyche,

“I believe you.” With those words, you can feel the wound tearing open.

It seems that the course being served this week is emotional catharsis. Everyone has wounds deep down as a result of Hannibal Lector, and that makes for great drama.

One Response to “Hannibal 2×02 – “Sakizuke” Review”

  • Brenda

    Every ep of Hannibal is getting better. Mads is doing a really good work hhis facial expression is amazing.
    Will is manipulating Hannibal,and the question is Hannibal knows??
    I believe that Hannibal kill/help Bedelia with her pacient whom attack her.