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Recap: “Ko No Mono,” Hannibal, Season 2, Episode 11

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The theme of the last episode was becoming, transforming what from one is now to something else, in the case of killers, something that (they think, anyway) transcends humanity. This episode seems to be stalking the same ground, opening as it does with Will’s dream (vision?) or the dark-beast version of himself being born onto the grue-soaked earth. He doesn’t stay monstrous long, though.

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This is extreme food porn: Hannibal preparing an Ortolan Bunting for Will. The Ortolan, a tiny bird considered a national treasure in France (and topic of an excellent This American Life segment) and thus a crime to eat, is cooked and eaten whole—as Will says: “Bones and all.” To which Lecter replies, “Blood and breath are only elements undergoing change, to fuel your radiance.” Becoming again.

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Hannibal‘s glorious close-ups. The choice of an Ortolan for this meal is significant. Just as humans tower over these tiny birds to such a degree that they’re practically from another plane of existence, a perfect predator, so too does Hannibal believe that he and Will, master killers, are beyond the reach of banal humanity.

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As noted in other recaps, Hannibal enjoys taking scenes and tropes from earlier works—the books, the movies—and recreating and recontextualizing them. Here, Freddie Lounds meets the same fate that her male counterpart did in Manhunter/Red Dragon. As we’ll see, though, there are important differences here beyond simply that Freddie is now a woman.

Upon seeing her charred corpse, Will comments, “she won’t rise from the ashes, but her killer will.” The theme of transformation.

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In the episode that introduced Margot Verger, we saw a scene similar to this, with Mason (not yet introduced) absorbing tears into a piece of paper. The sequence was so dislocated, had so little physical context to it, that it was very hard to understand what was happening. Here, it’s clear: Mason causes people to cry, absorbs their tears, and then soaks the tear-filled paper in his martinis. It’s an absurd idea, probably laughable in another series, but in a series as rococo as Hannibal, it seems entirely reasonable and strengthens Mason’s character.

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Last episode, Hannibal handed Will a knife, symbolically sharing his bloody world. Here, after telling her she should be afraid, Will gives Dr. Bloom a gun and counsels her to learn how to use it. Symmtery and, perhaps, foreshadowing.

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Mason’s first session with Lecter (we learn here that perhaps Mason is not a very smart person) . Hannibal, ever the dangerous doc, puts a thought in Mason’s head designed to ensure that there is no competition for Will’s affections.

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Speaking of those affections, this is probably the most emotionally vulnerable either character has been all series, when the pair discusses the people they’ve lost; Hannibal his sister, Will Abigail Hobbs. When Will expresses real sadness and loss about Abigail, Hannibal—his show of real regret a testament to the friendship he feels for Will—replies “I’m sorry I took that from you. I wish I could give it back.”

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“Occasionally, I drop a tea cup to shatter on the floor, on purpose. I’m not satisfied when it doesn’t gather itself up again. Someday, perhaps, a cup will come together,” says Lecter. Another of those beautiful lines of dialogue the show is increasingly offering. In this case, he’s commenting both on his fascination with killing and his disappointment in its result and what he believes he’s doing to Will—breaking him and then reshaping him in his own image.

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The kind of monumental, breathtaking image the show excels at. The beast-creature reimagined as Shiva, god-sized, presiding over them.

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Hannibal‘s beautiful, detailed close ups. Gunpowder residue on Dr. Bloom’s hand as she learns to fire the gun Will gave her. The sort of thing we might see on CSI as part of the conclusion of a case. Here, a small moment between characters transforms it into something much more revelatory.

The tear trickling from Margot’s eye across her makeup, encapsulating so much fear, sadness, and defeat.

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Freddie, alive. Will is playing a long game with Hannibal, getting so close that Lecter won’t see the threat. He’s fooled Hannibal and he certainly fooled me. I was sure after last episode that Freddie was dead, Will a killer (though he did kill Randall Tier, I now suspect that it was Lecter who staged the body in the museum). A great reveal.

Ko no mono is the kaiseki course of seasonal pickles.

(As in previous posts, I’ve lightened these screenshots to make the detail easier to make out.)

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