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Recap: “Tome-wan,” Hannibal, Season 2, Episode 12

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An episode about dreams starts with Will fantasizing, at Hannibal’s invitation, about how Will would like Lecter to get his just desserts. It is, unsurprisingly, thick with the hot spray of blood.

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As Will’s fantasy continues, it turns strange. Look at Hannibal here: impassive, expressionless, being carried to his demise with no emotion or even reaction, almost floating away. Here, the scenario stops resembling a fantasy and borrows the uncanny logic of dreams.

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There’s always a woman between Will (a bit hard to see here, is at the left of the image) and Lecter. In the past it’s been Dr. Katz, Abigail Hobbs, Alana Bloom; now it’s Margot Verger. The Vergers, especially Mason, play a big role in this episode.

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Will and Jack Crawford disagree about how best to catch Hannibal. Jack has told the FBI’s Office of the Inspector General about some aspects of their plan, but he’s starting to feel at risk. And look at that ceiling: that huge, heavy expanse, hanging so close over them. Their margin for error so thin, the situation so precarious.

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“What Hannibal does is not coercion, it is persuasion,” says Gillian Anderson, playing Lecter’s therapist. Which is an interesting point. Hannibal hasn’t made so many people killers; he’s facilitated them expressing one aspect of themselves. That’s part of what makes his behavior so slippery, so diabolical.

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Hannibal’s office is always a dark place (this image, and the next two, aren’t lightened), but this is a different kind of darkness. It has a different meaning, as we see in the next two images.

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Hannibal takes visual risks that no other show would. Look at this: The two main characters, having an important conversation, almost entirely occluded by a black haze. The haze is symbolic, and serves to make the episode all the more dreamlike. Who hasn’t had dreams in which they are talking to someone but can’t quite see (there’s the season’s theme of seeing again) the person? That mysteriousness is one of the most unsettling things about dreams.

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There’s that low office ceiling again, pressing down as if they could barely stand up beneath it (another dream construct, at least for me).

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It’s shocking how gruesome Hannibal is, especially given that it’s a network show. These are the tattered remains of a man’s legs after being eaten by pigs.

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The startling, awesome surrealism of Hannibal. Remember that earlier in the season Will saw Hannibal’s face as twisted and distorted. There’s something about his man that makes it hard for people get a fix on him.

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The extreme grotesquerie of Hannibal. This is Mason Verger, who Lecter has hypnotized into cutting off and eating large swaths of the lower half of his face. Another nightmarish echo: a monstrous, terrifying creature is in the room with you, talking to you, and it’s shrouded in enough darkness that you can see there’s something terribly wrong, but not all the details.

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Further dream logic: Will has been interacting with Mason, aghast. Then, suddenly, he turns and Hannibal is standing next to him, there having been no sign of his presence earlier, as if he has just appeared.

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What’s left of Mason after his treatment by Lecter. Inside the Vergers’ giant fairy tale castle is this elaborate, odd sanctum.

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In the amber light of the fire, Will and Hannibal discuss their relationship and the violence they’ve been through/perpetrated. Hannibal compares them to Achilles and Patroclus. Will agrees: “Battle-tested friendships are a theme.” (Also a theme between those two? Sex with each other. This has to be throwing a bone to the shippers/slash enthusiasts in the fanbase, right?)

“It took divine intervention to bring them down,” Hannibal replies, so self-satisfied that for perhaps the first time he’s in real danger of getting caught in the season finale next week.

(As in previous recaps, I’ve slightly lightened these screenshots—except where noted—to make the detail easier to make out.)

Tome-wan is the final course in the traditional kaiseki meal prior to desert. It’s rice and miso soup, designed to insure you’re full. Fittingly for Carlo, it’s also sometimes served on a tray without legs.

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