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‘Hannibal’ Review: “Hassun”

Hannibal Season 2 Hassun Review Jack
NBC

Hannibal’ season 2 serves a third course with its latest installment, “Hassun,” as Will Graham (Hugh Dancy)’s trial becomes complicated by an apparent copycat killer, while Jack finds his loyalty called into question by the FBI for his lingering doubt.

Last week’s ‘Hannibal’ episode “Sakizuke” saw Will helping the FBI identify their latest killer from within his cell, while Dr. Bedelia du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) began to shift allegiances against Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) — so how does the third course of ‘Hannibal’ season 2 taste?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Hannibal’ season 2, episode 3, “Hassun!”

Will dreams of performing his own execution, just before the hospital guards bring him a suit for his trial. During the event itself, the prosecutor attempts to display that Will had been unable to escape the profile he’d made of killer Jack Hobbs, eventually killing four women as a result. Out in the hall, FBI oversight investigator Kade Prurnell advises an uneasy Jack about testifying in favor of the bureau, but when Jack takes the stand, he admits that it was his own lapse in judgement that caused Will to have a psychotic break. Will’s lawyer Leonard Brauer is ecstatic by the turn, noting the difficult road they have in convincing the jury, before an underling brings him a package that apparently contains a human ear.

Sharing a drink with Hannibal, Jack admits that his testimony may have cost him his career, but lifted a significant weight off otherwise. Hannibal inquires about Bella, to which Jack updates that she continues to do well, but that he’s considered retiring to spend her final days with her in Italy. Later, the pair are brought up to speed on the ear, which was apparently off a fresh corpse, even if it seemingly points to Will being at least somewhat vindicated.

Meeting with Will, Hannibal expresses his relief that another killer seems to be showing his admiration for Will, somewhat exonerating him in the process. Will insists in his new-found sanity that he knows there to be no evidence against Hannibal, while Hannibal points out that the new killer may simply wish to be seen. Later, at the next round of cross-examinations, Freddie Lounds insists that Abigail Hobbs had on multiple occasions expressed her fear of Will killing and cannibalizing her, but Will’s lawyer quickly invalidates the testimony by reminding the court she’d been sued for libel six times, settling every one.

Prior to Alana taking the stand, Will’s lawyer and he rehearse with her to make sure the prosecuting lawyer doesn’t harp on their brief romantic involvement, instead pushing Alana’s “professional curiosity” of Will. Meanwhile, the team discovers that the ear was indeed cut off with one of Will’s knives, as checked out by the courtroom bailiff, and never returned. That night, Jack and a team attempt to breach the bailiff’s home, but accidentally trigger an incendiary device that burns most of the scene. Inside, the team finds the burned body of the bailiff atop a set of antlers, with a Glasgow smile and a severed ear, “Will’s greatest hits,” as it were.

Despite Kade’s doubts, Jack pushes to the judge that the new murder at least creates a few reasonable doubts against the case, though the judge reminds him it’s for Will and his lawyer to decide. Later, Dr. Chilton testifies adamantly that Will’s confused persona covers an intelligent psychopath for which they have no name, but who absolutely committed the crimes, and “likes to play God” to satiate his own vanity.

Hannibal meets with Will to show him photos from the crime scene, as Will uses his intuition to find how the bailiff had been killed. Will realizes that the man had been shot first, then mutilated, while all the other victims had been mutilated first, something he sees Hannibal had already realized as well. Hannibal suggests they both ignore that and accept the “love poem” the killer has given him as a means out of incarceration. Later, Alana bristles at the thought of Will changing his defense, but his lawyer suggests it as their best option, with Hannibal providing testimony instead of Alana.

Hannibal testifies in Will’s defense that his examination of the bailiff’s body led to alarming similarities that cast doubt on Will’s guilt, even after Will had previously tried to accuse Hannibal of the same crimes. The prosecutor points out that the causes of death in Will’s murders and the bailiff don’t match, and while the judge had previously considered Will’s new defense, he still declares it inadmissible under the circumstances. The next day, a janitor enters the courtroom to find the judge’s body strung up from the ceiling, his brain and heart removed, and placed on the scales of justice.

In light of the newest murder, Hannibal admits to Jack that he can’t be certain the evidence exonerates Will, before Kade Prurnell shows up and reminds Jack to testify for the bureau in order to end their circus and save his own job. Meanwhile, Will dreams of his cell door opening, as he follows the stag down the prison hallway, before the real Hannibal motions back to the cell. A while later, Will meets with Alana worried that the new killer will likely reach out to him again, wanting to know him, as Alana admits she wants only to save him.

OUR REVIEW:

We’ll be perfectly honest, ‘Hannibal’ reviews are going to prove a bit difficult across the rest of the season, at least in a timely manner, as we’re given to understand that very few (if any) screeners will be available for the remaining episodes. NBC likely knew that they’d tax the viewership in moving the drama to Friday nights, and for as much as we love Bryan Fuller’s darkly delicious drama with enduring aplomb, staying in every Friday night to begin reviews at 11:00 P.M. is asking a bit much, at least for 10 more weeks.

That’s our burden, admittedly, and while we in no way intend to abandon coverage of the series, it’s certainly troubling to see ‘Hannibal’ given such an uphill battle as it fights for ratings and a potential third season, let alone the six or seven Fuller has supposedly envisioned. On the plus side at least, the Fannibals are always out in force, and managed to get a number of topics trending tonight (#StoolSample, seriously), and the series still performs well enough internationally with relatively little financial strain to NBC that ‘Hannibal’ certainly shouldn’t be counted out of the renewal race, at least yet.

Furthermore, it actually helps somewhat that tonight’s “Hassun” didn’t really show the series at its best, or twist the narrative in any way that viewers would be lost to tune in during the subsequent weeks. Will needed to stand some kind of trial sooner or later, and it was certainly food for thought the manner in which Hannibal seemed to stick up for his friend, apparently providing enough copycat murders to at least cast doubt on Will’s charges, even killing the judge for ruling the new defense inadmissible. It isn’t explicitly shown that Hannibal committed the “greatest hits” murders (to be fair, his crimes aren’t often actually depicted), though the manner in which he spoke of the crimes as a love letter to Will again casts their relationship in a fascinating light that remains one of the series strong-suits.

And while most of the events of “Hassun” prove to be of relatively little consequence, the episode continually affords some nice shading to Jack and Alana, as Laurence Fishburne’s weary FBI agent still struggles to reconcile his own culpability for Will’s predicament with the evidence in front of him, and the needs of his organization. Alana remains a fascinating contradiction as well, as Caroline Dhavernas neatly undersells her indelible affection for Will Graham, which similarly tortures her amid what doctrine tells her of Will’s unreliability. And hey, we even got a return appearance from Freddie Lounds, however inconsequential, and an update on Bella Crawford’s condition, so maybe “Hassun” really was intended as a “greatest hits” of sorts.

As we said, it might get increasingly difficult to make ‘Hannibal’ season 2 reviews a regular option every Friday night, but even with “Hassun” the most uneventful episode of the three we’ve seen thus far, the series remains in good hands, properly artful and alarming in every way.

Well, what say you? Did you feel that ‘Hannibal’ season 2 hit the spot with its latest episode? Were you as surprised by the developments of “Hassun” as we were? Stay tuned for our ongoing coverage of ‘Hannibal’ season 2, and join us next week for another all-new episode recap of “Takiawase” on NBC!

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