Hannibal’s penultimate episode of season two faced the challenge of flawlessly setting up the narrative for the finale. However, this was never a real concern for the show, considering the calibre which has been produced and maintained across this season, with “Tome-wan” another exceptional addition to episode catalogue.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Mason Verger (Michael Pitt) return for another one-on-one session in this week’s episode. Lecter elaborates on how he considers Verger’s attitude and behaviour as discourteous, which is highlighted with Mason stabbing his knife repeatedly into Hannibal’s chair. Michael Pitt’s portrayal of Mason has been nothing short of a standout performance from season two, with fans even considering him to be the perfect actor to assume the role of the Joker in future Batman films. Additionally, a comparison with the Joker isn’t far from the truth with Mason, as he seems to share a similar taste for anarchy.
Jack Crawford’s (Laurence Fishburne) frustration continues to intensify in a conversation with Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), regarding his failure to capture Hannibal Lecter. These conversations have been known to produce some form of a twist in the story, which occurs with the return of Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson). Du Maurier reveals the truth behind the incident with one of her previous patients, and how Hannibal spurred her into killing him. Her conversation with both Will and Jack adds some depth to both the plot and characters in this universe, but it also serves for a brilliant scene when she selects the word to describe how Lecter will be caught: ‘whimsy’. Hannibal and Will’s conversation during the episode is a highlight for what the two characters share, with Will describing it best: ‘we’re both alone… without each other.’ Reiterating the conversation Will has with Du Maurier, she said that Hannibal would take everything away from him, which is later emphasised in this scene with Will reminiscing about the people he’s lost like Abigail Hobbs and Beverly Katz. It is sheer brilliance for how in-depth the conversations are in the show and, for that matter, how it offers an insight behind each character.
Hannibal spends most of his time tormenting people through suggestion, so it’s a delight to see when he gets up close and personal in an episode like this. Mason’s thugs are sent to capture Hannibal and they eventually succeed in doing so, not until we see Mikkelsen pull off some of his physical, stylistic fighting ability. This was one of the best scenes from the episode, specifically for how it’s underlined with the humour that Hannibal is often not praised enough for – this is where Hannibal makes a witty remark when one of the thugs pulls out the scalpel he has been stabbed with. Hannibal’s capture and his feeding to Mason’s pigs is a phenomenal scene from this season, particularly for how Mikkelsen keeps a calm exterior for Lecter and precedes to torment Carlo for killing his friend during their initial confrontation. When Will releases Hannibal from his straightjacket this puts into motion the collection of disturbing scenes Hannibal has produced thus far, including Will raising the dismembered body of Carlo from the pigpen.
Lecter’s doping of Mason is combined with exceptional cinematography, which demonstrates the drugs taking their effect in Verger’s body and also the hallucinations he begins to see. Now, this is the most disturbing moments from the episode or, for that matter, the entire show: it’s when Will returns back home to find Mason slicing the flesh from his face and feeding it to his dogs. The entire scene is the most powerful, well-executed segments Hannibal has produced, with it combining exceptional use of lighting, acting and dialogue. Furthermore, the truly chilling moment occurs when Hannibal recommends to Mason that he should eat his own nose, if he is actually as hungry as he claims to be. The conversation exchange between Will and Lecter on what to do with Mason is another excellent addition from the show, with Hannibal eventually snapping his neck – this was a shocking moment, considering the initial thought was that Hannibal had killed him and Verger is yet to play a crucial role in Thomas Harris’ Hannibal. Jack’s conversation with Mason in his bedroom is superb, with the latter wearing a mask to cover his wounds. Additionally, Mason’s true extent of insanity is shown in this scene, claiming Hannibal helped him and how he will one day repay him. Margot Verger’s (Katharine Isabelle) return in this scene is exceptional for the obscure brother-sister relationship they share, especially as how Margot now has the upper hand on her brother’s fate.
“Tome-wan” is a superb episode delivered from the show and perfectly sets up the tone for the season finale. Hannibal never leaves a moment which isn’t enticing or crucial to the story, with Michael Pitt once again stealing the episode with his clinical performance. Now, 12 weeks on from the first episode, which offered us a glimpse at Hannibal and Jack having their showdown, Hannibal’s season finale is imminent and shaping itself to deliver an unforgettable conclusion to the season.