Hannibal 2×10 ‘Naka-Choko’: The price of intimacy

Hannibal 2x10 Cover

When we think of intimacy, we think of romantic intimacy.  We think of sharing emotions, sharing our darkness, sharing our bodies.  We think of sex and the closeness that comes from that.  But Hannibal has always inverted the notion of intimacy.  There’s intimacy in death as well.  There’s intimacy in experiencing death with another person, as well as grieving with them.  It’s not bizarre to think about intimacy in terms of death because we’ve all experienced a death in the family and we know it’s death that brings people together.  But, more than that, Hannibal talks about intimacy in murder.  There’s intimacy in sharing a person’s final moments, in being the last thing they see before the life fades from them forever.

Hannibal - Season 2

Source: NBC

If anything, the sex scene in “Naka-Choko” is the episode’s thesis on intimacy.  The scene is constantly shifting and spinning, focusing on pieces instead of the big picture.  Intimacy is intoxicating, dulling the senses to heighten only a select few.  And people rarely know what they’re becoming intimate with.  They might learn more about a person, but there’s more deep down that’s hiding, either waiting to be unleashed or staying tucked away forever.  But it’s still there, exerting its influence.  Becoming intimate with a person means becoming intimate with their darkness.  When the sex scene finally ends with an inclusion of the wendigo, we see that darkness personified, fusing with all involved.  Sex may be an act that creates life, but the intimacy involved creates an unexpected fusion between people.

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Source: NBC

The episode’s discussion on intimacy is absolutely its strongest point.  We see the relationship between Will and Hannibal blurring to the point where Will is creating his own murderous displays.  After killing Randall with his bare hands, something he did to truly experience the intimacy of the action, he tears him apart and fuses him with his animal exoskeleton in order to transform Randall into the animal he’s always wanted to be.  It’s almost a “thank you” for giving Will a rush like he’s never experienced before.  And then when Freddie Lounds finds the exoskeleton at Will’s house, she ends up murdered by Will as well, after which he and Hannibal both eat her.  Will is sharing these intimate moments not only with his victims, but with Hannibal as well.  He wants to use himself as the bait so that he can lure Hannibal into a false sense of security.  And, so far, it’s working.  Hannibal believes he’s found the friend he always wanted and Will is close enough to turn everything around when he so desires.  The only issue here is that Will doesn’t know if he can fight against that dark influence that comes with being intimate with Hannibal.  It’s that the dark influence is omnipresent, always inflicting itself upon those who are close enough to touch it.

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Source: NBC

But there’s a lot here that’s beginning to become frustrating.  Hannibal has never done very well with periphery characters (though they’re dropping like flies this season), and the periphery characters present at this point are somewhat weak.  Jack has still been built up fairly well, so his character is always a strong presence, but Alana hasn’t done much lately other than sit on Hannibal’s lap.  It would be nice to see how Hannibal’s influence is affecting her, but that hasn’t been explored up to now, and there’s little chance it’ll be explored much further as we transition to the season’s endgame.  Margot and Mason Verger aren’t very interesting either, even though it’s obvious that they’re going to be a huge part of the season’s endgame.  We know that Margot has been damaged by Mason, and that Mason is a psychopath that wants to feed humans to his pigs, but neither character has been rounded out very well.  Even Freddie’s death (even though it hasn’t been confirmed, I’m making a strong assumption here) was somewhat inconsequential, despite her being around for the duration of the series.  We don’t know a whole lot about Freddie, other than her being this immoral journalist who will do anything for a story.  She hasn’t had much of a presence this season either, aside from a couple scenes where we’re reminded that she liked Abagail.  The thematic complexity and the beautiful imagery that the series is known for is absolutely present, but the characters still sometimes fall flat, and that’s a big deal when it’s the characters that communicate that thematic resonance.

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Source: NBC

Overall, “Naka-Choko” is still a fairly strong entry in Hannibal’s second season, and it looks as if the series is preparing for the season finale’s knockout punch.  The entire show has been about intimacy, even though it hasn’t been clearly communicated thus far that the show has been about sex as well.  Juxtaposing sex with death and reminding us of the price of intimacy is a great way to examine just how Will and Hannibal’s relationship is shifting under their feet.  And it’s a great way to examine how difficult it is for Will to remain in control of himself, especially after exposing himself to Hannibal’s darkness.  Because it’s possible to touch the darkness and repair the damage that it does.  But it’s something else entirely to submerge yourself in the darkness and expect to come away in one piece.

So, what did you think of “Naka-Choko”?  Is it another strong entry in the Hannibal series or is it inadequate setup for the season finale?  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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