In “Shiizakana” we are asked to forget the fast paced, twisty-turny, Will Graham-on-trial arc that velocitized our television watching appetites earlier this season, and to get used to the emotional and psychological contemplation of the now classic Hannibal as an episodic nightmare format.
In “Su-Zakana” the cocoon constructed of mystery novel pages, fond pop-culture memories, Hollywood disappointments, and countless other symbols that once encased Hannibal has cracked open, and out of it has come a new and unpredictable kind of butterfly.
The middle hour Hannibal's thirteen episode season, “Yakimono” is tasked with wiping the slate clean for a strong second half story arc. Hannibal Lecter is in complete control and no one, not even characters from the books, are safe from his voracious appetite.
When Dr. Lecter is plucking the strings and writing the notes, Hannibal is thrilling, unpredictable and disgustingly beautiful to look at. In “Futamono” we get all of that, some meta humor, and the most disturbingly delicious looking human leg eaten on network TV. Also a fun dinner party.
“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.
“Takiawase” is as close as we will ever get to a Jimmy, Brian and Beverly episode. Because of that it is hilarious at times, but that doesn’t prevent it from being stomach churningly disturbing, perfectly thrilling, tearfully heartbreaking and as thematically tight as a well tuned pressure cooker.
“Hassun” is perfectly distilled Hannibal. It takes the conventions of a well established television format - the courtroom procedural - and mutilates it into a nightmarish message about the kind of love that compels you do horrible, violent things.
The great mandala that is Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal is only just beginning to reveal itself. We know slightly more than the characters about the overall design, and this new territory will be adding a different nightmarish colour to our palate.
Hannibal’s greatest strength, the one that produces the most gut-wrenching moments, is the most viscerally sterile: Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham in a room trying to destroy each other while falling irretrievably deeper into a mad sort of love.