Hannibal Recap: 'Pity Has No Place at the Table'

Hannibal - Season 2You are what you eat.

That’s an old adage that takes on disturbing, oftentimes sickening connotations in the deranged tableau that is NBC’s Hannibal (AKA the prettiest/scariest show on television right this second).

In Season 2’s penultimate episode, “Tome Wan,” Will and Hannibal tackle the subject of codependency; Gillian Anderson’s Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier returns with some whispered warnings; Jack asks the question “Who’s zoomin’ who” (though in less Aretha-like fashion); and Mason Verger acts out one of Will’s darkest fantasies (or at least part of it).

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Let’s review the major plot points (and ponder some of the key questions they raise):

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THE LADY IN RED | Bedelia’s back — the FBI tracked her down and is offering her immunity in exchange for intel on her deadliest patient — but she’s got nothing with which Will and Jack can implicate Hannibal. “You were attacked by a patient who was formerly under Dr. Lecter’s care. That patient died during the attack. A report said he swallowed his tongue,” Will notes, and Bedelia replies in the macabre fashion one would expect from Hannibal’s long-suffering therapist: “It wasn’t attached at the time.” Which isn’t to say Anderson’s character isn’t helpful. “Hannibal can get lost in self-congratulation at his own exquisite taste and cunning: Whimsy — that will be how he will get caught,” she tells Will, while also noting how effective Hannibal can be at convincing others (even herself) to commit murder. “It will be somebody you love and you will think it is the only choice you have,” she adds, blankly, and we’re all left wondering if Will or Jack might ultimately do harm to Alana or Bella or possibly one another. Later, alone with Jack, she shows what’s possibly the most terrifying card in her deck of knowledge about Dr. Lecter: “If you think you’re about to catch Hannibal, that’s because he wants you to think that. Don’t fool yourself into thinking he’s not in control of what’s happening.” In other words, is it possible the smartest psychopath in the room can’t see right through Will’s diguise? Is he aware that Freddie’s not dead, that Jack and Will are working together, that even Alana is growing cold to his charms — and using them all as notes in his horribly, bloody symphony? It seems more likely than not, no?

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THERAPY HOGS | Will and Hannibal open the hour discussing their similarities — and how they can be used to deceive one another. “Why did you tell Mason Verger I wanted to kill him?” Hannibal finally gets around to asking. “I was curious what would happen,” says Will, responding in a fashion the good doctor surely appreciates, possibly even delights in. This leads to a discussion of Mason’s murder-worthiness, and the episode’s best quote: “Discourtesy is unspeakably ugly to me,” Hannibal notes, in a moment of chilling irony. “Whenever feasible, one should always try to eat the rude.” (“Free-range rude,” adds Will.) When Dr. Lecter finally asks Will to close his eyes and imagine what he’d like to happen, though, it’s not Mason who’s on the receiving end of some Very Bad Things, but the good doc himself: Will imagines cutting Hannibal’s throat, the flow of blood turning the victim’s straitjacket crimson, his exposed feet dripping in gore, as he’s lowered into Mason’s sea of carnivorous swine. Will and Hannibal lock eyes as the latter descends into this hell…and dare I say there’s a flicker of passion in Hannibal’s eyes at it happens? The whole scene put an exclamation point on Alana Bloom’s observation last week that there’s a “courtship” in the air, but the question that always looms is just how far down the rabbit hole Will has slipped. As he baits the hook for Hannibal, is there a chance he’ll be the one who ends up on the line?

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In a followup session, Hannibal courts Will by revealing his murderous feelings toward their common enemy: “Mason Verger is a problem. Problem-solving is hunting: It’s a savage pleasure, and we are born to it — a pleasure we can share,” he oozes in the most terrifyingly logical way. But Will looks past Mason’s awfulness and wonders what Lecter’s end game might be. His best guess? “You’re fostering codependency… You don;t want me to have anything in my life that’s not you.”

FOWL BUSINESS | Mason comes for his own session with Dr. Lecter, and winds up plunging his knife into… Dr. Lecter’s leather chair-arm. (How unspeakably ugly of him! I mean, Hannibal’s place is positively HGTV-worthy!) “What game of chicken are you and the sperm donor playing?” Mason asks Hannibal, barely acknowleding Will’s existence in the process. But Mr. Verger is clearly also waiting to see if Hannibal blinks, too, possibly unaware of the depth of blackness in his rival’s eyes. Nope, Dr. Lecter will not be shedding tears through which Mason can flavor his martinis.

THE ETERNAL CHASE | We also get a brief dinner scene with Jack and Hannibal, the latter whipping up an elaborate fish-and-gelatine mold that — from a cinematic standpoint — made my mind briefly wonder why Food Network hasn’t tried to poach Hannibal‘s director of photography to oversee some kind of Bacchanalic new programming bloc. Hannibal and Jack use the fish dish to ponder questions of who’s pursuing whom, but only verbalize the portion of the debate that pertains to Will. Both men, however, are too smart to not know, deep down, that they’re talking about each other. And we, as an audience, know that next weeks’ season finale will pay off this read-between-the-lines chit-chat with a bloody, violent kitchen confrontation.

WHAT HAPPENS IN THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE… | Finally, Mason’s henchmen descend on Hannibal’s office, but while Dr. Lecter dispatches one of ‘em with a knife — “Did he foul himself? I imagine he smells worse than you now,” he later asks, perversely, about his victim — he’s eventually subdued with a stun gun. Back at the pig farm, though, Mason miscalculate’s Will’s loyalties, and Will slashes Hannibal’s restraints instead of his throat before being knocked out from a blow to the head. When Will comes to, Mason’s main man has lost his lower half — not to mention his life — to the oinkers. But where’s Mr. Verger? (Oh, you know if dude didn’t get fed to freakin’ meat-loving pigs, that there’s something even worse in store. But how the heck is that possible?)

MASON, YOU IN DANGER, BOY! | In one of many moments of exquisite cinematography, Hannibal forces psychedellic compounds into Mason’s system, the cold, murderous desire in his eyes matched by Mason’s giddy realization that something mercilessly bad is about to happen. “I am enchanted and terrified,” he howls. And Hannibal, his pulse clearly not elevated in the least, makes a request: “Show me how Papa would check the depth of a pig’s fat.” (Gulp.)

MASON GOES TO THE DOGS |  When Will arrives home and finds only Winston on his porch, you know you’re about to witness something you’ll wish you could unsee. And sure enough, when he gets inside, there’s Mason, hacking off pieces of his own face and feeding them to Will’s pack of strays. Just in case we’re starting to feel bad, Mason shares a tale of how he once left two starving dogs in a cage for so long that “one of them died hungry; the other had a warm meal.” And then Hannibal emerges from the shadows, trying to reassure Will that no puppies were harmed in the arranging of this carnage. “He broadened their palates as I broadened yours.”

But wait… there’s more! “I’m hungry,” whines Mason. “Eat your nose, then,” commands Hannibal. And suddenly, there’s our villain, slicing off a chunk and noting, “I have a taste and consistency thay’s similar to that of a chicken gizzard.” Somehow, it’s all less comical and campy than it should be, the over-the-topness muted by Hannibal’s shark-eyed pleasure. “Pity has no place at the table,” he tells Will, but his protege declares that Mason’s life or death is Hannibal’s problem. And so Dr. Lecter cradles Mason’s head in his hands, then snaps his neck. Don’t break out the arrest warrant just yet, though…

REVELATIONS | …it turns out Hannibal only left Mason paralyzed, not dead. And Mason, it seems, fears Hannibal’s wrath so much that he won’t implicate him when Jack comes around with questions. “I took a terrible tumble in the pig pen,” he explains, then adds, “I will always be grateful for how much [Hannibal] helped me; I only hope that I may be able to repay him one day.”

Will, meanwhile, reasons it’s time for Hannibal to reveal himself to Jack, to give him the Chesapeake Ripper (because, after all, hiding and revealing, as well as battle-tested friendships, are central to Greek mythology). But are Hannibal and Will like Achilles and Patroclus? Are they warriors who stand alone from the unworthy masses — and possibly a little gay for one another? Is Will about to become Willdigo? Or is Will merely playing the longest of long cons, letting the undertow of madness drown him if it means Hannibal will be stopped, too? Perhaps next week’s Season 2 finale will tell us.

Your turn. What did you think of “Tome Wan”? What parts freaked you out the most? What burning questions are percolating in your brain? Sound off below!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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45 Comments
  1. bhammel103 says:

    I know I shouldn’t have laughed so much at Mason getting doped up and disfiguring his face… but I did. “I’m full of myself.” LOL.

    I’m so glad they decided to not show much of Mason’s face. The mind’s eye can conjure up more disturbing things that they can show on TV.

    “I an enchanted… and terrified.” – Mason Verger.
    This describes my whole relationship with this show.

    • Annie says:

      ^THIS, holy merde, SO much this. Just when I thought they’d topped themselves and gone as far as they could possibly go, they rip *that* up and toss it into the air like glitter confetti and I’m sitting on the couch in a fetal position laughing and shaking and fearing for my very soul. I am SO going to hell for loving this show so much but I.Don’t.Care.

  2. tigersmurfette says:

    fave line of the night(and there were so many) i’m full of myself.
    and i too was thinking, why hasnt any show on the food network taken tips on how to shoot food preparation scenes.

  3. Joey says:

    Craziness! The last 15 minutes of the episode was so raw (pardon the pun) I was surprised this was airing on NETWORK tv!!!

  4. Diz says:

    I love how stunningly sick & twisted this show can be. They keep surprising me every week with what they come up with.

  5. jackis1974 says:

    “Enchanted and terrified” sums up this episode perfectly. My favorite of the series by far. Watching the cat and mouse game between these two but still not knowing which is which, I can’t wait until next week.

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  7. Nate says:

    That was just. ….. can Showtime pick up this show when (hopefully after “season 6″) NBC cancels it

    • KevyB says:

      It’s a miracle it’s getting a third! And remember how Dexter fared after so many seasons… be careful what you wish for!

      • Angie_Overrated says:

        Dexter was never even 10% as intelligent or gripping as Hannibal. Even in the “good” seasons it was well-executed schlock. (full disclosure, I loved seasons 1 and 4 of that well-executed schlock).
        I say let Fuller keep making Hannibal until he feels the story has been told. I read an interview with Fuller where his roadmap is to have 7 seasons. Ergo, I want 7 seasons of Hannibal!

  8. Michael says:

    Next week’s finale is going to amazing! I have a feeling that Season 3 of Hannibal will be about Will hunting down the now wanted “Hannibal the Cannibal.”

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  10. jack the zipper says:

    this show is too real, cant watch straight thru, but cant stop watching!

  11. jack the zipper says:

    have you ever tired to eat meat wathcing this show?

    • Danish says:

      I have, and I enjoyed it… in fact, this show was the motivation behind me wanting to cook more, it all just looks so delicious and tempting… may be creepy to say that, but its not like they’re actually eating people… or are they?? *dun dun dunnnnnnnn*

    • abz says:

      I refuse to eat a single thing while watching this show. I just can’t. :(

  12. kirads09 says:

    If you have read the books you may understand where I am coming from. Don’t think Mason is so much afraid of Hannibal. Think Mr. Verger simply wants to take his own revenge on Hannibal now and will plot (for years) for the perfect moment he can get it. That’s why he had no interest in letting the FBI get him. Just my sense of Mason’s character.

    • joelscorp says:

      Absolutely correct. I was going to make that point myself. I’m amazed how much of the books’ mythology they’re able to weave in without having to produce Clarice. I just wonder if next season will be about Hannibal on the run or Hannibal in prison.

    • Chris says:

      Definitely agree. I think Mason couldn’t stand the idea of the FBI getting Hannibal instead of him. Also, maybe it was just me, but Mason voice when talking to Jack was so reminiscent of Gary Oldman’s from the movie.

  13. pamela says:

    Finally a comment about Hannibal not liking it when someone is rude lol, great episode!

  14. CBWBDK1 says:

    Another fantastiv episode!! “I’m full of myself”! That line was pure gold!

  15. ca_ says:

    where´s the emmys? c´mon….hugh dancy…mads….michael pitt, writers, bryan fuller, thanks nbc for the renewall

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      No way this wins a major Emmy with Mad Men in its final year, GoT firing on all cylinders, and perennial favorite of Dowton Abbey even though I have no comprehension as to why anyone likes DA. Let’s face it, DA sucks.
      That being said, Hannibal and Orphan Black are criminally underrated in the awards circuit.

      • jouiie says:

        Breaking Bad is still in the running, so all these you cited have already lost :)

        • jouiie says:

          Though my comment does not mean that I think Hannibal should not be at least nominated. On the contrary. “Enchanted and terrified.”

  16. Babybop says:

    I’m just going to sit here and pray that Will won’t go over to the dark side…

  17. michele says:

    I was a little surprised that the face cutting came so soon, but I guess my favorite actor michael pitt isn’t sticking around :( I thought the infamous face cutting scene was done absolutely brilliantly.brilliant camera work, leaving most of Mason’s face in the shadows, and letting us see just enough. Michael Pitt was of course absolutely brilliant. Seems like the may be the last of we see of him :( because in the books he’s left bedridden after the incident, with Margot as his caretaker,plotting his revenge for years.

  18. DL says:

    Unbelievable episode. Did anyone else feel while watching this that, should they eventually decide to bring the Joker into the Affleck-rebooted Batman series (or FOX’s Gotham), Michael Pitt should be the #1 pick?

  19. N says:

    It was all very creepy…..

  20. abz says:

    I’m new to everything Hannibal. I only got to know the mythology when the show started last year. This was absolutely one of the most disgusting things I’ve probably ever seen. And just when I was thinking the show couldn’t up the creep factor any more than it already has. That face cutting had me literally squirming and almost in the fetal position. I could barely watch. It was so terrifying. This show is just crazy, and yet I can’t seem to quit and keep coming back week after week. Excellent acting. The show sometimes makes me never want to cook a meal or eat meat ever again.

  21. Ha!! I love that this show drops funny little things…like Hannibal mentioning an “event horizon”!
    Love this show……

  22. j. says:

    I enjoyed the episode — especially on the second viewing. Loved all the cannibal lines and I really enjoyed watching Gillian Anderson.

    BUT, anyone who says that queerbaiting isn’t taking place should now stop with the “gay subtext” and “it was unintentional” excuses. A lot of queerbaiting tactics have been used in Hannibal this season and last night’s episode really showed that those “misinterpretations” weren’t merely subtext and were intentional.

    After all, when the lead characters start comparing themselves to two men who were historically believed to have been homosexual lovers, that’s a lot of winking and nodding to make it seem like there’s far more going on than a deep bromance or hetero friendship.

    • Angie_Overrated says:

      I think we’ve moved past the point of subtext. I’m half expecting Dancy to tear off Mads’ clothes in just about every scene they’re in together. I’m not sure if the homoerotic tension does much for the narrative, but I enjoy screaming “rip off his pants” at my tv every Saturday morning when I’m watching this on my dvr.

  23. andy says:

    glad to see some of the original story finds it’s way into made for TV place settings, although I wonder how Hannibal can be so adept at so much at his young age, before Anthony Hopkins gives his turn as an older incarcerated version. I’d like to see more of Hannibal’s glaring supremacy in becoming the consomme predator with aspic on the menu.

    He’s got shares of surgeon, chef, profiler, head shrinker, and apparently exacting standards of couture, but the books are shy on the building of a better beast, I think that some flashback, retro Hannibal as student, would help develop his constancy in finery. I would like to see where Hannibal fashion got it’s primary colors, small Hannibal in boarding school, Hannibal as a teenager, Hannibal with,, and without pets…

  24. jack the zipper says:

    tv shows like hannibal, that are written so well and are fascinating to watch. have a recurring theme. wills in prision nanibals out. next season it will be hannibal in prision will will be out, jack will still be trying to cath the chspk ripper, people will some how keep getting eat’n and hannibal will always be in control.

  25. Cate53 says:

    This show is simultaneously one of the most beautiful and handsomely shot shows on TV and one of the most gruesome and disturbing! No, not possible to eat ANYTHING while watching. Almost enough to turn me vegetarian at times!
    Gillian Anderson was terrific, and I wonder whether the vivid splash of colour of her red dress and blind hair amongst the greys and blacks of the FBI, Will and Jack was deliberate.
    I was put off for a moment by Hannibal seemingly killing Mason Verger, but we see just a nice friendly paralysis instead. He nibble is such a skilled killer he can break a neck to paralyse instead of kill I assume.
    I wonder how they are going to take this show further and tie it with the books. In Red Drafon, Will says he caught Hannibal after seeing a book of war wounds. Something they sort of did with Anna Chulmsky’s proto-Clarice last season seeing a picture and being attacked – which is what happened to Will in the original book. Assuming from the Jack/Hannibal huge fight in the premiere, will Hannibal’s secret be out and the next year about Hannibl incarcerated?

  26. rev says:

    The sketch scene between Hannibal and Will on the last half of the epi nearly made me scream ” Now can you both just kiss and get this over with?” in a positive and relishing way.

    And Mason’s scene in Will’s house…just art, madness and horror in a really tight package. Michael Pitt just blew everyone out in the ballpark in this scene…unfortunately also my meal an hour ago.

    I can’t wait what’s cooking for the finale!

  27. zanzaboonda says:

    The nose thing… I was *this* close to throwing up. So grateful the sound design gods were merciful on this one. Or maybe all the rocking and covering my ears blocked it out. Lol Either way, kudos to them.

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