HANNIBAL Review: 2.03 “Hassun”

Will's trial begins and his trials continue.

I want you to believe in the best of me, just as I believe in the best of you.

Will Graham is, and always will be, my friend.

This week, we see the onset of Will's trial for the crimes committed by Hannibal, and of the two men, I have to say that Hannibal seems the most unnerved by the proceedings. In my review of the Season 2 premiere, I diminished Will as a character somewhat, and though my opinion has changed, I stand by my judgment as it was at the time. The Will Graham of last season felt largely weak and reactive. The Will Graham of this season has shown more agency and movement behind bars than he ever did when he was roaming the streets. I'm not sure what the difference is, because I don't know that we're actually seeing all of that change on paper just yet. But there have been subtle maturations in Hugh Dancy's performance that give him a strength of character that was lacking, particularly in comparison to the subtle weakening we've seen in Mads Mikkelsen's Hannibal. 

This balancing between Hannibal and Will is made plain in several moments of "Hassun." The episode opens with a vision of Will (in a leather mask not unlike the one so iconic to Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal) smoking and jerking in an electric chair. Will is also the executioner throwing the switch, both the law and the lawless. The scene is immediately followed with a doubling of Will and Hannibal dressing in preparation for the trial, unknowingly mirroring each other's motions. As the prosecutor (played by the great Maria del Mar, and her casting alongside Cynthia Nixon reminds me that Hannibal has no shortage of great actresses playing tough and interesting characters) gives her opening remarks, she calls Will "the smartest person in this room," to which Hannibal reacts with a little smirk. And as poor Jack Crawford states during his testimony, Will describes killers such as Hannibal as "banal and cruel men who [don't] deserve to be thought of as supervillains." None of these moments alone feels like a particular development in the dynamic between Will and Hannibal, but together they begin to form a pattern. 

And of course the awesomest death of the episode and the season so far (is this Season 2's mushroom man?) is that of the judge who refused Will a mistrial, hanging in his own courtroom with his organs balancing the scales of justice. This leveling of the playing fields, this idea of balance between Hannibal and Will, feels like the inevitable theme of the season - particularly when we take into account the episode's title, "Hassun," which is the second course in a Japanese kaiseki meal, the course that "sets the seasonal theme." It's a theme I can get behind, as the chasm of iniquity between Hannibal and Will bothered me in the first season. Will's weakness, his inability to see the truth about Hannibal, made it impossible for me to believe that this brilliant, fascinating killer would be so invested in a man. Now? I can buy it. 

Other thoughts: 

Freddie Lounds returns, wearing that fucking hat no less. It was fun seeing her so quickly dismantled by Will's sleazy lawyer. 

The slow-motion bomb sequence was incredible

Of course the love between Alana and Will can come to no good for either of them, but it's certainly refreshing to see Will interact with someone he knows - and we know - he can trust. 

I continuously marvel that Bryan Fuller has given such fresh new life to these hoary old characters. Every moment feels like a revelation, not a compulsory stop on an inexorable path mapped out by Thomas Harris years ago. That's possibly the greatest achievement of this very accomplished show. 

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