These reviews were also published at Forced Viewing.
WARNING: While all of my Hannibal reviews/recaps have contained spoilers, this write-up of “Mizumono” is particularly reliant on explicit spoilers. I strongly suggest you watch the episode, in its entirety, before reading further. Continue at your own risk.
Much of the time, I think, showrunners and superfans overstate the emotional power of their shows’ finales. I can think of very few cases where a finale left me on the verge of tears or with my jaw touching the floor. Even Hannibal‘s inaugural season finale, “Savoureaux,” though excellent, failed to blow my mind.
“Mizumono,” on the other hand, did, and that’s not hyperbole. The difference is the real shock here doesn’t come from rivers of blood or the plot twists. It comes from the emotional violence.
Hannibal, in its first two seasons, is the story of an intense friendship between two men; I hate the term “bromance,” but it’s not entirely inappropriate here. “Mizumono” tells the tale of how that friendship ends. And intense friendships…they don’t die easy, they don’t fade away.
They die violently.
“Mizumono” (Season 2, episode 13; May 23, 2014)
“…a seasonal dessert; may be fruit, confection, ice cream, or cake”
This week on Hannibal: Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham prepare to put their plan to murder Jack Crawford into motion. Lecter soon realizes that Jack and Will plan to use the opportunity to entrap and arrest him. Justice agent Kade Prurnell disapproves of the plan and places Jack on compassionate leave, stripping him of his law enforcement powers. Once she realizes this won’t stop Jack and Will from going ahead with their plan, she calls for their arrest.
The interesting thing about “Mizumono” is that for an episode with a lot to process, it’s pretty light on incident. As opposed to some of the earlier episodes which have taken for-freaking-ever to summarize, I can whip up a synopsis of this one right quick.
It’s a thing of halves, neatly cut down the middle by Jack arriving at le maison Lecter for dinner. The first half of the episode consists of two plot points: the first, that Hannibal susses out Will’s betrayal by smelling Freddie Lounds on him; the second, that Kade Prurnell (whom I was pretty surprised to see pop up again) ratfucks Jack and Will, first by demanding Jack’s gun and badge, then by issuing warrants for the two when Alana makes it clear to her that Jack and Will are going to do what they’re going to do whether they have official sanction or not.
The bleeding-heart-liberal part of me, that hates it when police procedural shows give their cop characters a pass to break laws and behave unethically in the name of “catching the bad guy,” would be remiss in pointing out here that Prurnell has a point. The FBI caught the Chesapeake Ripper, who everyone knows is Frederick Chilton. Jack and Will aim to entrap Dr. Lecter, whose record is clean. On the other hand, Will conspired to kill Lecter while in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane; after his release, he actually did kill Randall Tier and mutilate his remains post-mortem.
Other than those two plot points, you get a lot of philosophy and other thematic stuff. Hannibal and Will prep for life on the lam. Lecter has a series of conversations: with Bella Crawford about death, with Will about his “memory palace” (it’s mentioned in the novels, and is not something Steven Moffat invented for Sherlock), with Jack about transformation. Brilliant visual sequences bracket the opening titles; before, Hannibal and Jack both give Will pep talks and end up turning into each other; afterwards, in a dream, Will slays the Black Stag while Garrett Jacob Hobbs looks on.
Crucially, Hannibal takes a sort of confession from Will, and offers him an out, which he refuses.
Then it’s dinnertime, and shit gets real pretty quickly. First, Will calls Hannibal and speaks two words: “They know.” The circle neatly closes. Jack and Hannibal try to kill each other, as was foretold thirteen weeks and a lifetime ago in “Kaiseki.” You’ll remember that particular scene left Jack in the wine cellar, safe from further predation but bleeding like a mofo. Alana arrives on the scene; after trying to shoot Hannibal (another betrayal!) with an unloaded gun, she tries to flee her former lover, only to get pushed out a second-story window by Abigail Hobbs.
Then Will shows up. After exchanging some more thematic dialogue, Hannibal guts him with a linoleum knife.
Throughout the episode you can see Hannibal’s anguish at the betrayal, and at the necessity to counter-betray Will, on his face. Last season the series made very obvious that Hannibal sees himself as a loner, set apart from the rest of humanity, and that Will Graham might be the first person he’d ever met whom he could genuinely be friends with. (“Do you know how you caught me?” Hannibal asks Will in Red Dragon. “The reason you caught me is we’re just alike.”) And now that chance at friendship is gone.
I never thought in my life I would ever feel sorry for Hannibal Lecter, but here it is. Mads Mikkelsen’s performance, of course, is a large part of it, but the writing also helps. In order to catch criminals, Will has to empathize with them, to think more like them, to become more like them: that’s how his “gift” works. Since we see the world of Hannibal through Will’s eyes, as Will empathizes more and more with Lecter then, ideally, the audience does as well. So Will’s betrayal hurts.
And, as much as I delighted in predicting the season would end with Hannibal’s capture, I’m not entirely disappointed to see him get away. He’s not a MacGuffin, like Red John of The Mentalist; he’s a multi-faceted personality whom we’ve come to know.
Abigail turns up and gets just enough time to sorta-kinda explain herself (“I didn’t know what else to do, so I just did what he told me”) before Hannibal slits her throat. Then, with Will, Jack, Alana and Abigail all dying, he leaves and hops on the first flight to Europe with Bedelia du Maurier.
Brian Zeller and Jimmy Price are in for one hell of a shock next time they show up for work.
Full season rating—season 2: ★★★★☆
Final season 2 episode ranking:
- “Mukōzuke” (2.05)
- “Takiawase” (2.04)
- “Su-zakana” (2.08)
- “Mizumono” (2.13)
- “Tome-wan” (2.12)
- “Futamono” (2.06)
- “Sakizuke” (2.02)
- “Yakimono” (2.07)
- “Kō No Mono” (2.11)
- “Naka-choko” (2.10)
- “Kaiseki” (2.01)
- “Shiizakana” (2.09)
- “Hassun” (2.03)
I’ve received some…not really criticism, more like disbelief for not using half-star ratings. (My friend Robin, who covers The Vampire Diaries for Forced Viewing, once told me “I have no idea how you get by without half-stars.”) To be honest, the lack of halves only bothers me when I look at my rating patterns for Hannibal episodes. Of thirteen episodes, three got ★★★★★, two got ★★★☆☆ and the remaining eight got ★★★★☆. Season one was almost as ridiculous. I stand behind the ratings (although in retrospect, I think I probably should have given “Hassun” two stars), but the final episode ranking doesn’t communicate much nuance to the reader. I’m considering instituting half-stars for TV episodes with the next review project.
And Season 3…?
Here are my predictions, some based on this interview with Bryan Fuller.
The big question: who lives and who dies? Fuller says, “Not everybody is dead. But not everybody lives.” Of the five characters “Mizumono” leaves at death’s door–Will, Jack, Alana, Abigail and Bella–all of them are alive as of Red Dragon. (In all fairness, Harris implies Abigail is still alive, but doesn’t outright state it.)
Obviously, Will survives. At this point in the story, no Will equals no show.
Jack probably lives as well, as killing him blows the canon up in a major way. That’s something he hasn’t attempted yet: Beverly Katz was a minor character in Red Dragon, and Fuller has all but admitted that Frederick Chilton is still alive. Thanks to the low ratings, it’s not likely NBC will give Fuller the full seven seasons he’d planned on–which could make him more willing to boldly contradict Harris’s canon. If he goes that route, killing Jack could be a great way to do that. In any event, Laurence Fishburne’s commitment to the upcoming ABC sitcom Black-ish suggests Jack’s role might be reduced in the third season.
Alan Bloom is a minor character in Red Dragon, so Alana’s death would also contradict canon, but not as drastically as Jack’s. Fuller might shy away from killing both the series’ main female characters in the same season. Plus, he’s likely to introduce Molly Foster in season three, and showrunners just adore love triangles. Abigail’s death, I figure, is certain.
So, what will season three be about?
In the A.V. Club interview, Fuller says, “I think for season three, in continuing our mash-up…we will blend…the novel Hannibal and also the novel Hannibal Rising and [will do] our own version of the Hannibal Lecter origin story, which will bear no resemblance to what is in Hannibal Rising.”
“Mizumono” ends with Hannibal and Bedelia du Maurier aboard a flight to France (or at least a French-speaking country). This is an obvious setup for an international police manhunt. In season two’s arc with the Vergers, Fuller transplanted brothers Carlo and Matteo Deogracias, and their related subplots, from the novel Hannibal. If he wants to do that again, it makes sense for him to incorporate Rinaldo Pazzi’s story from the same book. This provides an easy vector for the Vergers to get involved; if they need an FBI mole, Cynthia Nixon’s Kade Prurnell could stand in for Paul Krendler (the same rights issues that prevent Fuller from using Clarice Starling and other characters introduced in Silence also prevent Fuller from using Krendler). Several fans have already speculated that season three’s episode titles might be Italian.
Fuller may have originally intended to address Hannibal’s “origin story” in the second season; that would explain his several public statements during last year’s hiatus about his wish to cast David Bowie as Hannibal’s uncle Robert Lecter–Bowie was reportedly unavailable–and the Japanese episode titles (Hannibal’s aunt and Robert’s wife, Lady Murasaki, is Japanese). Fuller’s interest in Bowie hasn’t waned, so that’s something to hope for.
Of course we won’t know anything for sure for another few months. Season two will be difficult to top, but the series’ comparative unpopularity gives Bryan Fuller lots of leeway to plot big moves and take huge creative risks. Should be a wild ride.