“Su-zakana“, “Hannibal”‘s eighth episode of season two, sees a return to the episode structure we became familiar with in the show’s first season; Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is free and back in therapy with Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) — though all cards are on the table now – and there’s a case-of-the-week that needs to be solved; with the help of Will’s special talents, of course.
The episode opens with Jack (Laurence Fishburne) and Will ice fishing while discussing the difficulties of trying to catch a fish that won’t bite in such conditions. Will, whose side of the conversation is clearly about Hannibal, too, tells Jack that you have to change your tactics, “Use live bait that moves and excites them into action.” Their fishing trip is clearly successful as Hannibal prepares their catch in his kitchen before serving them dinner. Will, now vindicated and with nothing left to lose, tells Hannibal it was his turn to provide the meat for their meals, at which Hannibal questions Will’s suspicions. With Jack there, Will gives no answer, but Jack reassures Hannibal that all of that is in the past, and it’s time for the three of them to heal and move on.
Elsewhere, at a stable, we’re introduced to this week’s case. The discovery of a dead horse, who had given birth to a dead foal naturally the previous day, now bearing stitches from a caesarean, prompts the stable hands to cut the horse open and investigate this strange occurrence. What they can’t have been expecting to find, however, is the dead body of a woman that they pull from inside her! This is definitely one of the show’s strangest cases so far.
Jack and the lab team arrive on the scene with Hannibal, who seems to still be the FBI’s new Will Graham – at least for now. Hannibal quickly decides that whoever is responsible for these deaths doesn’t think like anyone else, and to understand him, they’ll need to bring in someone who also doesn’t think like anyone else: Will Graham.
Before Will makes his return to the field, we’re taken to the Verger estate where we’re introduced to Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle), a character who will be familiar to fans of the novel “Hannibal,” but was sadly ignored in the film adaptation. We meet Margot as she’s held to the floor by her brother Mason, whose face remains off camera. She later recalls this abuse to Hannibal in his office and, not one opposed to ridding the world of the rude himself, he asks Margot what she has planned for Mason. Very aware that doctor/patient confidentiality only applies to acts already committed, however, Margot seems unwilling to share any more information on the subject, even when Hannibal tells her that killing Mason would have therapeutic value. Thus begins another unorthodox relationship with Hannibal and a patient.
Sometime later, at home, Hannibal is back in bed with Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), and we’re given the show’s first sex scene, which is artfully shot and just tame enough for network television.
Post-coital, they return to the topic that sex was apparently a distraction from: Will Graham. Alana wonders why Hannibal is seeing Will as a patient again, especially after Will tried to have him killed, telling him that “the only thing stranger than finding a woman inside a horse, is seeing you back in therapy with Will Graham.” Hannibal, smug as ever, reassures her that it’s actually a good thing Will is back in therapy, especially with a great psychiatrist like himself.
In the lab, Jimmy (Scott Thompson) and Brian (Aaron Abrams) are examining the victim who was found inside the horse. Soil obstructs her airways and they’re confident they can find where she was killed by testing a sample. As they remove the obstruction from her throat, Jimmy feels what he believes to be a heartbeat, which is obviously impossible as the victim is very much dead. Both Jack and Brian feel the supposed heartbeat too, though, and they proceed to open the chest cavity to investigate further. With the ribs forced open, we’re given a view of the heart which seems to beat – the cause of this movement, a bird, quickly flies from the victims chest, moving around Jimmy, Brian and Jack before it comes to rest on a rafter high in the lab; shaking blood from its feathers and finally stilling, we see that the bird is a starling.
Back at the stables, Will has finally joined the investigation. After re-imagining the crime, he tells Jack that the killer had intended for this death to be a coffin birth, and that the victim would’ve had rebirth as she was forced from the horse’s decomposing body. He also concludes that the killer will have known the victim and likely works at the stables, as he was aware the horse was sick and dying, too.
Following this new lead, Jack and Will make their way to visit Peter Bernadone (Jeremy Davies). They find him in a menagerie of other animals, mostly birds, so he looks like a likely suspect. As they begin to question him, it becomes apparent that he did know the victim, but as Will observes him further he realizes Peter suffered an injury when he worked at the stables – a horse kick to the head – which affects his motor skills. As they leave, looking to return with a search warrant, Will tells Jack it’s unlikely Peter is the killer, but “If he is, he never meant to be, and if he isn’t, he knows who is.”
Will then returns to Hannibal’s office to resume his therapy. They discuss his return to the field with the FBI. “Last time it nearly destroyed you,” Hannibal says. “You nearly destroyed me,” Will replies, which Hannibal tries to play this off as another suspicion, but is immediately shot down by Will who tells him to stop with the lies. The tables have completely turned now, and with Hannibal no longer able to apply his unorthodox therapy methods on a patient who is well aware of their previous use, it’s going to be interesting to see just how honest these sessions become.
Later, the FBI have tracked down where the soil from the victims throat came from, and they’ve uncovered a number of other graves in the area. It seems that all Peter is guilty of is grave-robbing, not murder, and Will returns to see him to question him further about this.
As they talk, it becomes clear that Peter knows who is responsible for the murders, but he’s too afraid to give up the information. “No one will believe me,” he tells Will, who can obviously sympathize given all he’s gone through. He promises Peter that he’ll make sure he’s listened to, and eventually gets a name.
In the FBI witness room, Clark Ingram (Chris Diamantopoulos), Peter’s social worker and the man he named as the killer, sits across from Alana Bloom. She notes that he has a surprising lack of empathy for Peter, which is strange for a social worker, and continues to push forward on this point. He flinches away when she reaches for his hand across the table. Watching from behind the mirrored glass, Will, Jack, and Hannibal also take note of his lack of emotion and behavior towards Dr. Bloom. Hannibal argues that this doesn’t necessarily make him a psychopath, but Will is unconvinced, and calls Clark Ingram a predator. With no evidence to hold him on, though, Jack has to let him walk.
Will, who is still very much sympathising with Peter, tells him he’s making a mistake, claiming Clark Ingram abuses the trust of the people he’s meant to care for. Peter Bernadone should be listened to, regardless of evidence because “I know what it’s like to point at a killer and have no one listen to you,” he tells Jack. Who still doesn’t listen.
Back at the stables, Peter finds his menagerie completely ransacked, with all the animals missing from their cages. Running to find them, he comes across another dead horse in the stables and breaks down crying. As he’s distracted, Clark approaches him holding a hammer. “This is the horse that kicked you in the head,” he tells Peter, before blaming him for the other murders.
Meanwhile, Hannibal has listened to Will – though likely more through curiosity rather than any genuine concern – and they drive towards the stables in his Bentley.
They arrive to find Peter stitching up the horse, Clark Ingram nowhere in sight, and in one of the funniest lines you’ll hear on tv in a while, Will asks, “Peter, is your social worker inside that horse?” Even the cannibal psychiatrist accompanying him seems taken aback by the absurdity of the question.
Will takes Peter out of the stables, and away from Hannibal, he tells Peter than he envies him, as hating someone makes killing them easier. Only, Peter never killed Clark Ingram…
Back in the stables, the horse’s stomach begins to move and stitches are torn open, as Clark Ingram, now awake, breaks free. Hannibal is there to observe, and as Clark finally notices him he warns “Mr. Ingram, you might want to crawl back in there if you know what’s good for you,” stepping aside to reveal Will with his gun raised.
Clark drops to his knees, trying to appear the innocent victim. Will, who sees himself mirrored in Peter’s situation, is looking for a reason to use his gun though and in his mind, taking down the person who ruined Peter’s life would feel as good as taking Hannibal’s.
Hannibal is there to talk him down though. “This is not the reckoning you planned for yourself,” he tells Will, before finally taking the gun from him, and delivering a line that belonged to the Hannibal and Clarice relationship in the books. It’s a moment that likely made many fans ecstatically happy; Hannibal and Will forehead to forehead, the closest they’ve been on the show so far. But on a personal level, it’s a moment that’s going to annoy this blogger for a good while to come (some things are just too sacred to swap and change like that, Bryan Fuller!), and I look forward to next week’s episode hopefully washing away the disappointment of “Su-zakana”‘s last 30 seconds.
Next week it’s “Shizakana” where it seems like the animal theme will continue.