Hannibal 2×06 ‘Futamono’: Born again

Hannibal 2x06 Cover

It’s strange to consider that Hannibal has an ounce of humanity in his body.  He’s been portrayed as a demonic figure, as superhuman, to the point where seeing him engage in human acts is somewhat bizarre.  That demonic portrayal works on multiple levels: it heightens the tension by having Jack and Will go up against a monster far more powerful than they are, as well as contributing to the show’s fantastical and dream-like presentation.  So, when Hannibal shows emotion, there’s a risk that the show will ground itself and lose some of the fantastical quality that keeps it so eerie.  But to shy away from that emotion would be to deny the Hannibal character the potential for complexity.

Hannibal 2x06-5

Source: NBC

The question here is: Can the show balance Hannibal’s humanity with his divine qualities?  Now, his humanity is crated on a firm foundation.  Hannibal is clearly distraught that Will had tried to have him killed, to the point where he is visibly shaken by what had happened to him.  He can look at his wrists and see the physical evidence of the damage that a caged man like Will was able to do to him.  That distress causes him to react on two levels: he finally and sadly realizes that Will can never be his friend, and he confronts his mortality with the re-ignition of his life’s work.  He resumes the killings and harvesting by another symbolic murder, where a man is disemboweled and surgically integrated into a tree.  It’s a way for Hannibal to say that he’s rising again, growing from the roots up in order to commit to his life’s work.  The episode constantly compared his murder to a musical composition, where every note is a piece of a measure, every measure being a piece of a movement, every movement being a piece of a whole song.  Note by note, Hannibal is crafting his own song, but there’s never really an end to his work, as he noted when he was playing the piano with Alana.  It’s not necessarily that Hannibal is having an existential crisis, but there isn’t a way to end it, not unless he dies

Hannibal - Season 2

Source: NBC

As Hannibal continues to craft his work, we see more and more the monster that he is.  Just as Jack is beginning to see who Hannibal is, we’re seeing the increasingly gruesome side of his actions.  We saw Beverly dismembered in last week’s “Mukozuke”, and this week we see him disembowel two men, stringing them up as if putting on a show.  And that’s not even the worst of it, as he sneaks Abel Gideon out of the hospital before feeding him his own leg.  Out of all of the disturbing things I’ve seen on the show, that was certainly up there.  When the show inevitably catches up to the big fight between Hannibal and Jack, we need to not only be on Jack’s side, but we need to understand just how brutal Hannibal can be.  Sure, we’ve seen him kill people before, but we never saw him kill Abagail, nor did we see the end result.  Here, we’re seeing in gruesome detail what happens to characters we’ve connected to.  And the effect on us is absolutely different.

Hannibal 2x06-4

Source: NBC

Now that Hannibal has come to the realization that Will isn’t ever going to be his friend, he’s decided to go to vicious lengths to control him.  If Chilton was correct in saying that cannibals want to assert dominance, then Will’s attempt at his life has Hannibal scrambling for dominance once more.  So, what better way to assert dominance than go after the one thing Will cares for most: Alana.  It would be easy to just kill her, but Hannibal uses her in the most effective way possible.  He sleeps with her in order to not only completely control her, but also to give himself another ally.  Because the odds are beginning to stack against Hannibal.

Hannibal - Season 2

Source: NBC

It was inevitable that the season would shift to a place where Hannibal is beginning to be cornered.  Beginning the season in medias res made it so that we know that, by season’s end, Hannibal is going to be on the run.  Of course, the season’s tension comes from the casualties that Hannibal leaves in his wake and the quality of that cat-and-mouse game.  It certainly didn’t take long for the odds to stack up against Hannibal.  With Gideon’s return, Will was able to manipulate him into revealing that he knows Hannibal is the Ripper.  Which, of course, Chilton hears because he listens to his inmates’ conversations.  And, while Chilton is sure now that Hannibal is the Ripper, Jack’s still skeptical.  Not only is Chilton’s voice not exactly the most credible, but Jack still doesn’t know what to believe about Will.  Those messages are continually muddled as the episode goes on.  Jack keeps getting false results and alibis, but he can’t help the nervous feeling in his gut.

Chilton is certainly nervous about Hannibal, and rightfully so.  Even though everybody is more skeptical of Hannibal, even though Hannibal seems to be losing as much control as he is taking back, he’s still very much in control of what is happening.  As Jack uncovers Miriam Lass after all of this time, we see these cuts back to Hannibal, playing away on the harpsichord.  Hannibal wanted to give Jack food that wasn’t human.  Hannibal wanted to lead Jack to Miriam.  Even when Jack thinks progress is being made, Hannibal is still pushing him around the board to where he wants him to go.  Everybody is still a puppet to Hannibal, and even though they’re beginning to close in, Hannibal still has a great deal of control, enough so that Hannibal knows when to hit the self-destruct button.  We’ll just have to see what happens when that button is inevitably hit.

What did you all think of “Futamono?”  Do you think Alana is going to make it out of the season alive?  Let me know in the comments!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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