NBC’s Hannibal returns with its latest episode that explores and develops on the complicated relationship which Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) share. The two have had their differences – including Will’s intentions to have Hannibal killed – but now their friendship has advanced to a new level: playing mind games on each other. The opening scene reiterates Will’s desire to torment and kill Hannibal, yet ‘Shiizakana’ seems to shift from that tone as the episode progresses, suggesting that Will’s fishing metaphor may come into effect in the final few episodes of season two.
Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne) and Hannibal’s dinner sessions are always a talking point from the show, principally for how each dish is normally a reference to the name of the episode or adds a little more history behind Hannibal. It’s not a make-or-break scene which every episode must feature, but its addition is always welcomed for what the conversation may hold in regards to the plot or Lecter’s knowledge of culinary.
Will’s exploration of his ‘sensations’ in a psychiatry session with Hannibal is simply some of the best acting, writing and dialogue exchange on television. Lecter’s sessions serve as the best moments when they’re offered on-screen time, which keeps in tone with the seriousness of the conversation but also underlines some exchanges with a sense of humour: this includes Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle) asking him what kind of psychiatrist he actually is, which is in reference to Hannibal supporting her idea of killing her brother.
‘Shiizakana’ is a prime example of Hannibal’s ability to feature exceptional and distinct cinematography. Randall’s (Mark O’Brien) method of complete dismemberment of his victims is captured perfectly through the combinations of shots and editing. Furthermore, the dramatic effect intensifies the satisfaction he obtains from tearing his victims apart – which is strange, as compared with the previous psychopath roster from Hannibal, they all seem to want to create a unique design for their victims. However, that’s not criticism towards Randall, but praise for how it has shifted from what his predecessors have offered.
Developer Bryan Fuller has woven in a subtle theme into his selected psychopath this week and it’s interesting to pick up on it during the initial viewing. Randal proclaims to Will and Jack that “Do you know what it’s like when the skin you’re wearing doesn’t fit?” The character’s history of an identity crisis adds some real depth to this psychopath, which emphasises Hannibal’s merit for the detail behind each of the killers that are brought into the show.
Will’s acquaintance with Margot Verger changes the tempo of the story. Her conversation at the Graham residence seems to suggest that her and Will share a connection on Lecter’s true intentions and her role can only become more significant for the rest of season two – hopefully this is the case, as Isabelle has a lot more to offer for this role. Hannibal’s concluding scene is one of the best season two has offered and reiterates the superb performance that Mikkelsen and Dancy cannot be praised enough for. Lecter arrives home to discover Will with the lifeless body of Randal on his dining table (surprised that Hannibal didn’t consider this as a rude). Will suggests to Lecter that they are ‘even-steven’ on the attempt on each other’s life, with Hannibal offering a simple but chilling nod in his direction.
‘Shiizakana’ reinforces the excellent relationship between Hannibal and Will but also sets the stage for the latter’s transformation in next week’s episode. Hannibal’s application of this ‘psychological warfare’ motif between these two characters drastically changed both the tempo and atmosphere of the show, leaving little room to guess what either character would do next.