‘Hannibal’ Season 2 Episode 1 Recap “Kaiseki”

By March 1, 2014
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Hannibal Lecter has finally returned. More importantly, “Hannibal” has come back to NBC with a new season and a new episode last night, and it was well worth the wait! I’m not quite sure yet how to feel about the move to Friday nights as we like to refer to that as “the death time slot,” but it is just too early to tell if that will truly affect the show’s future. That being the case, welcome to the recap! Please enjoy your stay and as always, tread cautiously as there’s a buffet of SPOILERS below.

If there was any hesitance in accepting Mads Mikkelsen in the iconic role of Hannibal Lecter when Bryan Fuller’s show first hit the airwaves, that feeling has long since passed. Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of the character will forever have his place in cinematic history but Mikkelsen has made the TV version of Hannibal Lecter all his own. It’s really difficult to compare the two. But if that’s still your bag, go right ahead and do so!

An all-out brawl is a great way to start a season and that’s pretty much how the season 2 premiere episode, titled “Kaiseki,” opens. The first thought that went through my head was – we’ve pretty much got a James Bond villain fighting Morpheus here and it’s only the first minute! Oh and let me tell you, not only is this scene beautifully shot and gracefully delivered to us. It’s really f*cking brutal! Just watch!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sh53xUzk5V4&

As the fight scene crescendos to what seems like a deadly end, the image freezes and the screen goes black. We are then taken back 12 weeks earlier into the story. Will Graham is locked up, awaiting judgement on the murder of Abigail Hobbs along with the “Minnesota Shrike” murders they investigated in season one. While he is stuck dealing with that reality, we see Jack Crawford is now the subject of an internal investigation regarding his handling of Will Graham after Dr. Alana Bloom advises IA about the job’s pressure, alluding to the concept that Crawford’s action of taking Will on to help investigate these murders is what drove him to become the psycho killer they believe him to be today. The internal investigator on the case is Kade Purnell (Cynthia Nixon) and she seems to be siding with Dr. Bloom regarding Crawford’s misconduct. So Jack has a full plate right now (food pun!)

Back to Will. We find Graham locked away in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. For those familiar with the Thomas Harris novels and movies, it’s an interesting story device throwing Will Graham into the same hospital where we first saw Hannibal Lecter all those years ago in Silence Of The Lambs. While this never happened to Graham in the book, I find this story choice rather compelling and it really works in feeding what looks to be the ongoing narrative in this season.

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While locked up, Will has found a sort of freedom within his mind where we see him fly fishing in a lake. It’s tranquil and he seems almost at peace. That is of course, until the antler man rises out of his peaceful lake and snaps him from his trance.

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From one body of water to another, we find a pair of city workers treading through a river to clear a backed up drain pipe. What they find, however is much more than some sea moss or sewage. A bloated corpse rises to the surface, freaking the crap out of both men and we are thus introduced to the workings of our first new serial killer of season 2.

Since Will Graham is behind bars, Jack Crawford enlists the help of the next best person for the job of giving insight into the minds of the psychopathic: Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The good doctor looks like a kid in a candy story, as subdued as he is. Trust me, you can see it in his smiling eyes as he observes the bodies fished out from the water.

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It’s later in his session with his long time friend and therapist Dr. Bedilia DuMaurier (Gillian Anderson), that Lecter admits he still thinks of Will as a good friend. He feels more connected with Will as he walked in his shoes earlier in the day taking on his role with the FBI. DuMaurier makes it a point to tell Lecter his “friendship” with Will Graham is more of an obsession. Further, she is not a fan of the FBI attention Hannibal is bringing to her doorstep in his attempt at becoming the next Will Graham. There is a history between Dr. Lecter and Ms. DuMaurier, secrets they share, and she makes it clear that she does not want to be put in a defensive position down the line regarding her patient.

Let’s focus more on the new killer’s work for a second here. The bodies they found in the water were preserved in a fashion making the investigators believe the killer wanted to keep them. Yet, they are confused why they were dumped. While they realize these discarded bodies don’t fit the killer’s ultimate end goal, it’s Lecter who throws out the notion that maybe these were the rejects of the killer’s artistry. The bodies are preserved, as if the killer wanted to keep them, yet they’re clearly discarded. They don’t fit into the killer’s artistic vision, as if they were early prototypes – rejects.

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Hey, enough with these dead bodies though. What’s up with Will? Well, he’s back in the lake fishing! That is until his trance is interrupted by the lovely Dr. Bloom who pays him a visit. She has been looking after Graham’s dogs and after catching up a bit, she brings up the issue with his memory loss and his attempt in recovering some clues as to what got him here. In their conversation, he utters the statement:

Memory is what I have.

This is another reference to Silence Of The Lambs (applause!). In an attempt to help, Bloom suggests hypnosis and Will agrees. It looks like it is working as Bloom becomes a sexy black smoke dream lady. Will awakens to find himself at Dr. Lecter’s morbid buffet filled dinner table. We focus in on the severed ear from season 1 and Will immediately awakens and refuses to go further, claiming it did not work.

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While Lecter’s insight on the found bodies may have been a little helpful, Dr. Beverly Katz decides to visit Will in prison. She has done her best to leave her feelings and reservations about the man at the door. Shackled to the table, she shows him the images of the bodies found and other details connected to the case. As he pours over the images of the men and women of different skin tones, he quickly sees the pattern and how these missing persons are connected.

It’s a color palette.

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It’s later, once his delicious prison dinner of salisbury steak and slop is delivered, that Graham gets attacked by a vision that we quickly realize is a memory. Why? Well because it’s blurry and black and white – duh! Anyway, we are seeing through his drugged vision as Dr. Hannibal Lecter has him restrained. Soon, a tube is being shoved down Graham’s throat and that ear we saw earlier in Graham’s hypnosis is now being shoved down said tube into poor Will’s stomach. And that’s how that evidence got inside Mr. Graham back in season 1. Gross!

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Yes, Will Graham is starting to remember things. His mind is slowly clearing and his focus is honing in on Hannibal Lecter. Lecter may have an obsession with Will Graham and it looks like that obsession is a two way street.

And while Crawford and Bloom run into each other at Will Graham’s house, both looking for answers of their own, we see the next victim of the nameless killer. Earlier in the episode, a young black man is seen riding the subway only to be confronted by an unseen man who compliments him on his skin. It’s later that night outside the man’s home that his car alarm starts to sound. Upon investigating, he finds a sheet of plastic protruding from the trunk. Now look, I’ve seen enough horror films to know that this means to run! But alas, this poor sap didn’t, and the next thing we see of the man is he is naked with a shiny looking complexion unable to move. This is only the beginning as towards the end of the episode, the story brings us back to this young man who awakens to find his hand sewed onto his right cheek.

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What’s worse is, he’s stuck (glued) into this position. Laying on the ground completely naked, he begins to look around and he notices he is smack in the middle of other naked bodies. All positioned in a circle that, when the camera pulled back reminded me of a giant iris, we realize these bodies are the killer’s work of art and they are contained within a giant silo in the middle of who knows where.

End. Of. Episode

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“Hannibal” is as gruesomely beautiful as ever and I am truly happy it’s back. Maybe NBC moved the time slot to Friday night because of the subject matter. Let’s keep watching and ensure another season, shall we?

What did you all think of last night’s episode? Feed me your thoughts in the comments below!

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Aside from throwing words onto your screen here, he has written for the likes of FEARnet, Examiner, Dread Central and MTV Movies Blog. And yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.