Monday, July 20, 2015

RECAP: Hannibal 3x07 - All The Feels All The Time

Quick reminder that we have Kyla Furey of Feedback Force doing weekly Hannibal recaps for us right now because she is awesome.

This week was the mid-season finale of Hannibal. It wasn’t exactly marketed as such, and there’s no hiatus between this and the next episode, but it was clear from the episode itself: things wrapped up. Climaxes occured. Catharses were catharted. Major storylines came to a close and character arcs came to satisfying resolutions. It was a symphony of emotional resonance as everything fell where it must and came together to an inevitable, beautiful finish. By the end of the episode:

Mason: is dead
Margot: has killed someone
Alana: has somehow managed to reconcile her old character with her new persona in a way that makes sense, go show
Chiyo: is explained... ish
Will: desperately tries to let go of Hannibal
Hannibal: refuses to let Will have closure
Jack: has caught the Chesapeake Ripper... sorta

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The episode. So, we do actually get to see what happens at the end of the previous episode when Mason’s goons - in the form of the Italian police - show up to kidnap Hannibal and Will. The police nab the two of them, and then their leader orders Jack killed because he’s a witness, intending him to be “the final victim of the monster of Florence.”

Fortunately for Jack, Chiyo - being the absolute badass that she is - snipes the last few guards before they can get rid of him, and sets Jack free.* In exchange, Jack tells her where they’ll be taking Will and Hannibal; Muskrat Farm. Jack then proceeds to concentrate for most of the episode on getting out of Florence alive, which would frankly be my priority as well in his situation, and so we don’t see much else of him.

At Muskrat Farm, Mason reveals his evil evil plan - and it’s a pretty darn disturbing, Mason-style plan too. He wants to eat Hannibal piece by piece - keeping him alive as he does so, like Hannibal did to Abel Gideon - but he wants to do it while wearing Will’s face. That’s right. For some reason, Mason wants to get a face transplant from Will to himself so that he can eat Hannibal, in front of Hannibal, while looking like Will. 

There’s some pretty silly wheeling around of people on pig-carts and stretchers and dressing them in nice suits and restraining them in pig pens and etc etc, which would all be cute fun and games if the entire thing weren’t so fraught with the tension of what’s coming. Will and Hannibal are both on a time limit and they know it.

Possibly the best moment amidst this tension comes when Mason, Will, and Hannibal are seated at a dinner table and Mason instructs his nurse/caretaker/personal human-meat chef to moisturize Will’s face. When the man, Cordell, gets too close, Will leans over and bites a chunk out of Cordell’s cheek, spitting the blood-soaked lump of flesh onto his plate with a red-stained face and giving Hannibal a sidelong glance. Hannibal, for his part, looks like a proud mama bird whose baby has just left the nest.

It’s worth noting that never once in what might be the most tense episode of the series (barring maybe Mizumono) does Hannibal ever seem distraught or nervous or out of control. Only in one moment at the very end is he even vulnerable, but we’ll get to that.

Meanwhile, Alana and Margot are lurking and scheming. Margot learns from Mason in a horrifying twist that when Mason stole her “lady parts,” he kept some of her eggs and had them implanted with his own sperm, and now he has a surrogate pregnant with their baby. The surrogate is supposedly somewhere at Muskrat farm, but Mason refuses to let Margot see her.

Margot does go to see Hannibal, however, and he gives her an out - she can kill Mason, and he’ll take the blame/credit. He’s already known to be the Chesapeake Ripper, after all; what’s one more kill added to his body-count? But Margot knows that she can’t get rid of Mason without verifying that she has an heir; otherwise she loses everything she’s ever had. Hannibal reminds her that Mason is never a man of his word; this promise of a surrogate will be just another game to him. Mason will never give her what she wants. He will never relinquish his leverage over her.

Alana, meanwhile, seems to be harboring some second thoughts now that Will is here. It becomes slowly clear that her goal in all this was not merely revenge on Hannibal - she wanted to protect Will. She realized that Will is completely incapable of making a sensible decision where Hannibal is concerned, and so she sought to take any such decision away from him. 

I kind of love this, actually, because it reconciles for me the character that we know Alana to be - kind-hearted, compassionate, protective - with the character she has become; ruthless, hard-hearted, and bent on revenge. It reveals the remaining presence of the former character without undermining the latter transformation. Her goal may be protection, but her methods are still ruthless and unflinching.

Alana was willing to let Hannibal be tortured and maybe even killed, but it’s different now that Will’s involved. After a stiff conversation with Will, where he informs her in a very Hannibal-esque manner that if she wants things to turn out well, she’s going to have to kill, Alana seeks out Hannibal himself.

He repeats to her the offer he made Margot; take some of his hair for DNA evidence to frame him, cut him loose, and he’ll make any statement they like about what actually happened here. Alana agrees, but not before she makes him promise: he must save Will.

He promises, and as she cuts him loose they have their own closure. “Could I have ever understood you?” Alana asks Hannibal.

No. No she could not.

With a knife and one hand free, Hannibal (who is naked and trussed up in a pigpen at this point, it should be noted) escapes the rest of his bonds and proceeds to murder an undetermined number of people with a hammer. Meanwhile, Alana and Margot go searching for this supposed surrogate that Mason is keeping somewhere in the house. And elsewhere, Cordell preps both Will and Mason for the facial transplant surgery. Mason gets to be unconscious for the procedure; Will does not.

Alana and Margot find the “surrogate,” but it’s more horrible than they could have imagined. The baby is inside a large sow pig, the pig itself arranged grotesquely in a sort of baby crib. It’s hooked up to a variety of medical equipment, so that two things are equally obvious: there was a human fetus involved; a real, mostly-developed baby.** Also, it is dead. Margot demands Alana cut the baby out of the pig.

In a typical Hannibal montage, the images of Alana removing the human fetus from inside the pig are intercut with surgery of a face being removed elsewhere in the building. We see the scalpel go into the side of Will’s face, and our hearts leap into our throats - or at least mine did.

Margot holds the dead baby-that-might-have-been in her arms. Elsewhere, Mason wakes up with a new face.

He sits up, groping for the mirror, and looks at himself; the skin that is loosely overlaying his own is Cordell’s, and falls from his face as soon as he sits up, leaving his usual visage a bloody mess in its wake. Hannibal is nowhere to be seen, and neither is Will.

He does however find Alana and Margot, who show up for revenge. Mason is cocky, knowing that Margot can’t afford to kill him without some kind of genetic insurance to create an heir. 

What he doesn’t realize is that the mock face-transplant was not the only thing that happened to him while he was unconscious. Apparently Margot and Alana, with the help of Hannibal, “milked” him while he was asleep by applying an electric cattle prod to his prostate. They now have a vial full of viable Verger sperm that can be used to create an heir.

Realizing his danger too late, Mason tries to raise a gun to shoot them, but they rush him and knock him off-balance. The bullet instead shatters the glass over the eel tank in the floor of Mason’s room, and the two women drown him, holding him under until he stops moving and the eel begins to first eat his face, then burrow down his throat. Yes, that’s as gross as it sounds. But you know what? Margot is free. She and Alana can do whatever they want. If Alana wants to have Margot’s baby, she can. And Mason can’t stop them. Good riddance.

Hannibal, meanwhile, carries an unconscious Will away from Muskrat farm, as a hidden Chiyo snipes down their pursuers behind them from her perch amidst the trees. Somehow Hannibal manages to get Will all the way back to Will’s home in Wolf Trap***, and puts him to bed before he and Chiyo finally have a heart-to-heart that’s been a long time coming. 

Chiyo, it seems, is remarkably patient, stable, and single-minded; more even than we gave her credit for. Her motives are actually very straight-forward: she came to protect Hannibal. She’s been protecting Hannibal. She doesn’t want to see him caught. She won’t let him push her around, she’s not doing it out of any particular love for him, but she doesn’t think he should be caught or harmed. 

When Hannibal asks her if she’s doing all of this for him or for herself, she says she’s doing it for Mischa’s sake. She makes Hannibal finally admit what happened to Mischa, giving Chiyo closure of her own: Hannibal ate her, but he was not the one who killed her. I’m sure finally knowing the truth, no matter what it might have been, must be a huge comfort to Chiyo after all this time.

Back inside, Will is just waking up, and he and Hannibal have yet another in what have been a series of heart-wrenching moments this season, again set to the sad slow music of Mizumono.**** Will draws his line in the sand - he’s had enough. He’s not angry, he’s just quietly sad as he lays out his intentions. 

He needs to be done with Hannibal. He can’t go back to the way things were. He doesn’t want to keep thinking about Hannibal, obsessing over him, always wondering. “I don’t want to know where you are, what you’re doing.” He says. “I don’t want to think about you anymore.” It’s quiet and heart-broken. “I miss my dogs,” Will says. “I won’t miss you.”

Hannibal, for once in the entire show, actually looks vulnerable. He looks like he wants to say something, but can’t make himself. Instead he seems to accept Will’s “goodbye” and stands, leaving the house. Later that evening, Jack arrives with a fleet of black SUVs full of FBI agents, intent on storming Will’s house and dragging Hannibal out. Will greets them on the porch.

“He’s gone, Jack,” Will says, but as it turns out - he isn’t. Hannibal appears from the shadows and surrenders, finally giving Jack custody of the Chesapeake Ripper. Jack is unimpressed. “You surrendered.” He’s clearly skeptical. Hannibal answers him, but looks to Will as he does so: “I want you to know where I am. And where you can always find me.”

Even now, even after Will’s goodbye, Hannibal refuses to let him go. He must play this one last mind game, knowing that closure was the only thing Will truly wanted and that Hannibal has the ability to snatch it from him. Giving up his freedom is a smaller price to pay than the thought of Will being able to move on, to finally give up on Hannibal. 

And so Hannibal maintains his control over the situation even unto his own capture and arrest. What this will do to Will remains to be seen, but I look forward to the Red Dragon arc that begins next week to give us some sense of the answer.

* Well, she removes the drug that’s paralyzing him and lets him get out of the restraints on his own time. ...Good enough, I guess?

** For me, at least, this is possibly the most horrifying thing that’s ever been on the show. I feel like everybody who watches this show has at least one thing above all others that just freaks them the hell out in a deep and visceral way, and it seems I have finally found mine. It’s unclear if the fertilized egg was implanted into the sow to grow to begin with, or if the fetus was surgically implanted in the pig’s uterus just for this tableau, but either way it is profoundly messed up.

*** He probably doesn’t just walk, carrying Will, the entire way, but we don’t actually know what happened. Maybe he killed someone on the road nearby and took their car or something. Maybe Chiyo rode shotgun while Will was passed out in the back seat, and wouldn’t that just be the world’s most awkward drive.

**** I believe this music is actually a slowed-down version of the Goldberg Variations, a song that has significance in the Hannibal canon, all the way back to the books.

Kyla Furey is an independent game designer and writer. She is also one of the hosts of the game-analysis podcast, Feedback Force, and hosts a weekly Saturday night game livestream on Twitch TV. She enjoys the surreal and the moody in her media, hence her great love of NBC’s Hannibal. You can follow her on Twitter @Kyla_Go where she livetweets Hannibal on Thursdays at 10pm Pacific, following which, she posts delirious stream-of-consciousness reaction videos on YouTube.

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