‘Hannibal’ Review: “Sakizuke”
‘Hannibal’ season 2 serves a second course with its latest premiere, “Sakizuke,” as Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) helps the FBI identify their latest killer from within his cell, while Dr. Bedelia du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) begins to shift allegiances against Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen).
Last week’s ‘Hannibal’ premiere “Kaiseki” saw Dr. Lecter stepping into Will Graham's shoes as the FBI's new criminal profiler, while Will himself struggled to remember how it is Hannibal landed him behind bars, so how does the second course of ‘Hannibal’ season 2 taste?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Hannibal’ season 2, episode 2, “Sakizuke!”
The awakened victim from last week’s tableau gruesomely tears himself away from the other bodies, fleeing the silo into the adjacent corn fields, only to be spotted by the killer. The man chases his victim through the fields, before the victim takes his chances jumping off a nearby ledge, only to hit a rock before landing in the water below. Elsewhere, Will meets with Hannibal and Alana, admitting that he needs their help to figure out what he’d done, but dropping the broken facade upon returning to his cell.
Bedelia du Maurier visits Hannibal in his office to declare that she won’t be his therapist anymore, having grown uncomfortable with her knowledge about the man. Hannibal menacingly intimidates the woman, but accepts her resignation, admitting that he will himself be resuming treatment of Will. Later, Jack and the team identify the victim’s body as a man named Roland Umber, whom Hannibal poses must have been torn down from display by the killer. Beverly proposes Will’s color palette theory as her own, leading both Hannibal and Jack to realizes where the idea originated. Jack admonishes Beverly for her actions, but subtly implies she should continue visiting Will, while Hannibal sniffs the body to deduce it had been in a corn field.
Hannibal meets with Will for a session, pointing out how Will had sworn a reckoning, and that Jack might advise against his helping Beverly Katz with the mural killer, even if Will insists it helps him to feel normal. A while later, Beverly herself stops by looking for more assistance, to which Will agrees if she’ll indulge his own case by disregarding the existing evidence. Using his gifts, Will imagines himself in the lab with Roland Umber’s body, reasoning that Umber might have had enough tolerance for heroin to survive his overdose, escaping on his own from a farm upstream of where they found him. Meanwhile, a plastic-suited Hannibal explores the cornfield and observes the eye mural from above, announcing his presence to the killer to say “I love your work.”
Some time later, the FBI pores over the crime scene, having followed both Will and Hannibal’s leads. Jack leads Hannibal in to observe the tableaux, which appears to have been finished with the killer in the center, notably in contrast to the other skin tones and missing a leg. Later, Jack recounts his own failure with Will to his FBI therapist, while the team finds themselves unable to identify the center body against all the others. As Jack theorizes that body shouldn’t have been in the center of the mural, Hannibal unwraps and prepares the killer’s leg for a meal.
While Dr. du Maurier informs Jack that she will no longer be able to offer the FBI insight on Hannibal Lecter, Beverly and Hannibal show Will the photo of the killer’s completed mural. Will’s insight sees into the killer’s vision of a dead eye of consciousness, immediately recognizing that the central man wasn’t there by design, and was likely the killer himself. Will sees Hannibal’s stag form at the top of the silo, as the real Hannibal tellingly poses that the killer must have had a friend to stitch him into the mural. In flashback, we see Hannibal coaxing the killer into completing his eye toward God with his own body, as if to say that the eye of God should have his image reflected back in it.
Will next finds himself visited by FBI oversight investigator Kade Prurnell (Cynthia Nixon) to discuss his defense, as Kade suggests that Will plead guilty to the murders in order to spare himself the death penalty, lest the jury come to believe over the course of the trial that Will deliberately planned the crimes with his neurologist. Later, Bedelia du Maurier introduces herself to Will outside of his cell, wishing to meet the object of Hannibal’s fixation before she withdraws from social ties. Bedelia impresses upon Will that he can survive what was done to him, as she crosses the white line to whisper in his ear that she believes him, before guards escort her out.
Elsewhere, a plastic-suited Hannibal slips into Bedelia’s home, finding it empty and all the furniture covered, save for a vial of her perfume left out for display.
What we said about last week’s ‘Hannibal’ premiere still largely remains true of “Sakizuke;" the NBC drama can be a bit difficult to review from week to week, given the artful, almost poetic nature of its visuals and dialogue can prove a bit subjective in nature. So much so, in fact, that it wouldn’t be uncommon for any minor potholes to end up lost in the shuffle, overshadowed by an otherwise consistently-compelling narrative.
Like last week however, and to an extent last year’s finale, we still might have wished not to have an advanced knowledge of Hannibal’s ultimate destination, to at least have gotten into a deadly brawl with Jack. Thrilling as the sequence proved in opening up the new season, it’s hard not to see something of a ticking clock, to know that Hannibal will be a hunted man in a matter of weeks. We never saw the full context of the brawl, leaving plenty of material to explore in the intervening episodes, but it still makes for a few awkwardly ineffective moments now and again.
Most notably, Will’s predicament behind bars naturally feels like an impediment to the natural flow of storytelling, even without our foreknowledge that Will ends up vindicated at some point in the future. Will drove the action throughout the first season, not only in the various cases, but also within his own internal narrative, and one thing “Sakizuke” fumbled with a bit was keeping the story in motion without him. Multiple points would feature Character A coming to visit with Will in order to inform something about the hunt for the killer, only for the next scene to show Character B similarly coming to converse with Will, if only in a different location for variety’s sake. The episode isn’t lacking for things to explore, between Jack’s sense of guilt, Beverly’s investigation, Bedelia’s crisis of conscience and Hannibal’s interference in the case, but Will’s current position and one-of-a-kind skillset keep the action fixed in a way that becomes repetitive, if left unchecked.
On the positive side at least, it’s a relief to see Will gaining his faculties back, presumably with his own plan in motion to manipulate Hannibal and others, something clearly reinforced by Bedelia’s admission in the final minutes. The later installments of the show’s first season felt a bit weighted down by Will’s increasing breaks with reality, almost to the point of difficulty watching such hefty despair, so the sooner Will catches a break, the better, quite frankly. Given Gillian Anderson’s availability this season (note the absence of Raul Esparza’s Dr. Chilton as well), Bedelia may not be the one to provide it, going forward.
It’s equally fascinating to see the angelic Hannibal in his shimmering plastic suit as he manipulates a fellow killer with philosophic rhetoric about man’s divinity, something the first season only occasionally had time to play with. Mikkelsen in particular gets to display a number of colors within “Sakizuke,” from effortless menace, to graceful gourmet chef, and especially effective is the manner in which Hannibal manages to infiltrate the minds of those around him. We see it with Jack, as he uses the man’s literal words to ascribe his own failures with Will, just as we had Will touting Hannibal’s actual voice in his head, tonight emerging with unconscious word-for-word repetitions like “what’s to be done about that?”
It’s the subtle moments that fill in any cracks with ‘Hannibal’s facade, though occasionally episodes like “Sakizuke” bristle against the holding pattern they seem to be caught in.
Well, what say you? Did you feel that ‘Hannibal’ season 2 hit the spot with its latest episode? Were you as shocked by the revelations of "Sakizuke" 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 "Hassun" on NBC!