We start this week’s episode of Hannibal with breakfast. It’s the morning after Beverly Katz was caught snooping around in Dr. Lecter’s basement, and while Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) expertly prepares eggs for Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), Will Graham has his scrambled and served on a plastic tray and handed to him by an orderly at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
This little bit of mirroring is a clever departure from what we’re used to in the show. Usually when two scenes are juxtaposed like this it serves to draw comparison between Will Graham and the cannibal psychiatrist, but in this case it is very clear that the hands working in the kitchen are very separate from the sad men awaiting their meals. The orderly, Matthew Brown (horror veteran Jonathan Tucker) is being compared to the expert breakfast maker in a handsome sweater. One of these men thinks he’s just like the other. Hannibal doesn’t even think about Brown.
The opening scene tells you everything you need to know in order to hear the plea in Hannibal’s favour that is “Mukozuke,” which in addition to giving ample grieving time for the dearly departed Beverly Katz also challenges us to place the blame of her death where it rightly belongs, knowing the entire time that we won’t. Some breakfasts, like villains, are just better than others.
While this allegorical double-breakfast is taking place, Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) is getting the scoop on the latest Chesapeake Ripper murder story. She’s out at the observatory where agent in training Miriam Lass’ arm was once found in a “catch-me-if-you-can” jab to Jack and where the tabloid journalist manually pumped air into Frederick Chilton’s lungs as the deranged Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) disemboweled him.
It is fitting that this is where Katz is found, considering that just like the agent in training before her, she was snooping around on behalf of someone else, off the books without a warrant, and got a little too close to the BFF of Jack Crawford.
In classic Chesapeake Ripper style, Hannibal has made a poetic display of his latest victim: turning the forensics expert into a twisted and unlicensed Body Worlds exhibit. She is standing upright, facing forward and half of her is meticulously sectioned in thin slices displayed between slabs of plexiglass and spread out in a very morbid joke.
The blood dripping down the plexiglass slides is punctuated with wooden block percussion, in some clever and welcome sound design. Despite Freddie’s advice, when the FBI arrives Jack goes in to see what has become of his friend. He weeps and sets the tone for the first half of the episode. This is going to be a time for mourning.
After the title sequence and Friday night timeslot commercials, we get a montage set to Jack’s FBI debriefing in regards to the death of Beverly Katz. Jimmy and Brian hear it in Jack’s office, the extras hear it in a conference room, and Will is told the bad news in the private patient interrogation room. The guilt of pushing Katz to do this manifests immediately as a vision of her in the corner of the room.
“I want to see her,” he says.
And thus we begin the ultimate display in meta mirroring as Will Graham – who has been imprisoned in the hospital that will one day protect the world from Hannibal Lecter under the accusation that he is responsible for the cannibal’s crimes – suits up, so to speak. He is wrapped in a straightjacket and has the iconic Hannibal mouth-mask strapped to his face so that he might be wheeled out to the crime scene in safety.
Inside the observatory turned museum of Beverly Katz, Jack removes the Hannibal Lecter costume from his friend in grief and allows him to do his patented Will Graham metronome trick (for the first time this season). Will walks us through the missing scenes from beneath Hannibal’s kitchen. She is strangled into unconsciousness by someone she knows, has her body frozen, and is sawn in to the many pieces that stand on display.
For Will, there was never a question of who was responsible. The Manstag that represents the presence of Hannibal Lecter lurks behind the Beverly slides as Graham wonders what the Ripper took from her as a trophy.
Lucid, Will tells Jack that this is the work of both the Chesapeake Ripper and the copycat that’s put him in the straightjacket. The same killer with two masks.
“Who is he, Will?” asks Jack, feeling the air of season one that’s been released from Will’s empathy magic.
But Will just gives a defeated sigh. Unfortunately no one can be told who the Chesapeake Ripper is, Laurence Fishburne, you have to see him for your self. Will just came here for a chance to say goodbye, he already knew his answers and he is well aware of his current lack of credibility in regards to pointing fingers.
Back in the cages, while the CSI team work in solving the death of their friend back at the lab, Chilton and Graham start striking up another deal. Will is disappointed that Dr. Chilton was convening with Hannibal despite their prior arrangements, but the jilted patient is willing to forgive his psychiatrist, agreeing to help him find the Chesapeake Ripper on the condition that Abel Gideon be transferred back to the Baltimore nut house.
The CSI team discovers that the Ripper’s Beverly trophy was her kidney after all. The one that was present in her corpse actually matched the Muralist from the season premiere. Hannibal is being very clear about signing his works now, because there are apparently a few too many cooks in the kitchen for his liking.
Hannibal grinds Katz’s kidney, cooks it and eats it alone.
After Will and Abel’s first group therapy session, which clears up any confusion about what happened to Dr. Gideon (Will shot him before he could give Alana a Colombian necktie in “Roti” but failed to murder the poor man). Chilton pays a visit to his fellow malpracticing quack, Hannibal, who has already done the guess work that Gideon and Will are talking it out behind bars. The two agree that they are best served as allies, and Hannibal gets access to Abel Gideon as his new psychiatrist.
Abel lets Hannibal get close (“I’m a cutter, not a pisser”) and, with Chilton listening, warns him about Will. That whatever he did to Graham has ignited something terrible inside the empath.
Gideon sure knows how to call them too. In the privacy room, away from Chilton’s microphones, Will has a meeting with Freddie Lounds. He trades his exclusive story rights for the opportunity to reach out to the secret admirer he believes saved him from the electric chair two episodes ago with a greatest hits tribute performed on the bailiff.
It works. These theatrical serial killers sure do love recognition, so after the Tattle Crime guest editorial goes live, Matthew Brown (the orderly who fixed up the cold open prison breakfast and has momentarily disconnected Chilton’s spy-mics) admits to Will that he is the one who killed the bailiff, but curiously not the person who shot and mutilated the judge.
Matthew Brown is the key to everyone’s grieving. Will asks him a favour, to kill Hannibal, and Gideon overhears the deal.
Will has been pushed too far again, by Hannibal, so he has turned to the man who wants to be him so badly in order to put an end to this whole grisly theatre piece. But this act of planned vengeance only completes his transformation into the very thing he’s been trying to convince the world that he’s not: alone in his cell Will painfully sprouts antlers from his back.
Alana visits Will and can tell something’s off, but it’s too late. On her way out he sees Abel Gideon on the security camera feed and, bumping into Chilton, gets an interview with the one-time Chesapeake Ripper wannabe.
Abel confesses that a little birdie wanted him to kill Dr. Bloom back in season one, that’s how he got her address. He then warns her that Will has been transformed by the recent events, and though he’s not seeking redemption, revenge is definitely on the list of things Will is capable of form his current position.
Dr. Gideon’s cooperativeness is a testament to the quality of therapy he must have been getting at the other hospital, because he doesn’t play any mind games. Because Alana has always been courteous to him he gives her a gift, the name of the little birdie.
The info is just in time too. Hannibal is taking a sexy night swim in a public pool when Matthew Brown tranqs him with a dart gun (presumably stolen from his workplace).
As this is happening, Will’s grief is manifest before him as a sink filling with blood. A crossfade back to the pool has a floor grate superimposed with his mouth as Hannibal’s blood drains into it.
Brown has crucified Hannibal, slit his wrists “down the road” style, and placed the cannibal atop a bucket with his neck in a noose.
Still always in power, Hannibal makes a joke that Matthew is setting a new standard of care as the orderly gets confessions out of the strung up cannibal.
He is the Chesapeake Ripper, maybe he was the guy who killed the judge (we don’t get to see Hannibal’s pupil dilate on that one), but when Matthew muses that maybe he will be given credit for Lecter’s body of work, the greatest movie serial killer of all time mumbles the challenge: “Only if you eat me.”
Earlier, when the orderly was introducing himself to Will, he likened themselves to hawks that little birds flock around. He fancies himself a predator among prey, and he wanted to team up with Graham because he saw another hawk.
It is the classic folly of a lesser villain, and the fact that he made Hannibal into a religious icon just makes his weakness that much sweeter. There is only one hawk in this world and it’s the impossibly handsome cannibal with his name on the front of the show. Everyone else is a smaller bird, flocking around him.
It is a perfect bow tied on to an episode made for us to grieve the loss of a beloved character. Yes, Hannibal took Beverly from the mob, she is a little bird that flew too close to the hawk. As little birds ourselves, we want that death avenged, but we are also reluctant to follow anything but a hawk.
When teased with the death of Hannibal, an event that we know will never happen, we don’t get the sensation of gratification we want for Beverly based vengeance, what we experience is a profound sense of outrage.
“Who the fuck does this little bird think he is, trying to kill our hawk?” sang my outraged avian heart as I stewed in the self satisfied knowledge that Matthew Brown isn’t a character from the Thomas Harris source material and is therefore fair game for vengeful living mutilation.
That response was all it took. When Jack and Alana busted in and shot the orderly, rescuing a hanging Hannibal, all I wanted was for the man who killed, mutilated, and ate Beverly Katz to make a full recovery and quickly make a nightmarish example of Matthew Brown.
“Mukozuke” succeeds in providing the contemplative space that other serial killer centric shows don’t. It’s a case study in what we will let our icons get away with and what makes them different from us and the fictional people they prey on.
“I know why life is precious,” our hawk says to the soon to be late (and hopefully ate) Matthew Brown. If only that little bird listened to Will Graham when he said, “Hawks are solitary.”