(in which aggggghhhaghaghgdsfdjskfjdkfjdkfjdskfjd)
JASON: For the sake of anyone out there reading along, I’m going to do my best to remain calm and composed for the next few minutes while we work through the most emotionally turbulent episode of an already heart-shredding season. But before we start, I want to acknowledge that a painful, drawn-out scream of anguish would be a perfectly fitting review. In fact, it might be the best possible review I could give.
What can one say about a man like Dr. Chilton? In the original series (particularly the film version of Silence Of The Lambs) he is an arrogant buffoon, a man who gets great satisfaction from wielding what little power he has over the brilliant Dr. Lecter. In Hannibal, Raul Esparza elevated that buffoonery to a more sophisticated level of slimy self-aggrandizement. The narrative actually made him more despicable, by holding him responsible for Abel Giddeon’s murder, and yet Chilton’s real crime is thinking too highly of himself, and Raul Esparza made his inflated ego a joy to behold. So, it was always hard for me to hold it too much against him. Plainly put, Hannibal is a grim little show, and Chilton is the comic relief… or, should I say… WAS the comic relief.
I usually at least like to feint towards actual aesthetic critique in these reviews, sometimes to my own embarrassment. But this… this is too much. Dr. Chilton was my second favorite character, and due to a relative lack of my one true love (Her Royal Highness Freddie Lounds), he was turning into this season’s MVP. His status as my new favorite was cemented in this episode, when he finally aligned himself fully with Will and started dropping truth bombs all over Jack… which should have clued me in to what was about to happen. Hell, Will straight-up says that he’s probably about to die. He warned him, Kate! He tried to warn us all! But Hannibal was one step ahead, the whole time. I hate Hannibal, Kate. And I hate Hannibal, too.
Let me try and take a step back: from an objective view, this is a major alteration to the canon, possibly the biggest we’ve had so far. Yeah, Dr. Katz was still alive in Red Dragon but he was basically a whole different character who only had a couple of lines. Dr. Chilton is iconic. He’s pretty far down on the list of iconic things from Silence Of The Lambs, but he’s still on there. Somewhere above Jack Crawford and somewhere below the van that Buffalo Bill drives. The movie even ends with Hannibal about to kill Chilton! I don’t think Hannibal would be incline to repeat that scene verbatim, if we ever get there, but the idea of taking such a major part of the universe off the board this early is a shock… which is probably what they wanted. Damn you, Fuller!
This whole thing makes me wonder what the show will look like when (or if) it finally gets around to full-on adapting the Hannibal novels. How will they incorporate the occasional killer-of-the-week into the overarching plotline? Won’t Francis Dolarhyde’s “mirrors-over-the-eyes” gimmick look pretty tame in a world where someone built a totem pole out of human bodies? Most importantly, what does this mean for Freddie Lounds? All we can do is speculate right now, but after this week, it’s hard not to. Fuller and co. have shattered my preconceived notions about what the show will look like in the future. Of course, that’s not the only thing they shattered.
The other thing they shattered was my heart.
KATE: Is it possible to be done with a TV show, Jason? I mean, I’ve been done with TV shows before (Lost, The Blacklist, Dracula), but that was mainly because they were awful to start with. You and I may be slightly biased super fans, but I think we’ve safely established that that’s not the case with Hannibal. Hannibal…Well, Hannibal hurts, Jason. It just hurts. It’s been a rough season that gets more and more devastating…and this is a show that started the season with a man being forced to rip his own skin off. In the long run, I guess it’s a compliment to the show that this is even possible. Last week, I talked about the show’s use of pace and character development. This episode started out with Will getting out of jail and ended with another character being framed and subsequently shot in the face. Can you think of another show on television right now that raises the stakes that much in every episode? They’re certainly out there, but most shows that move at this speed end up reading as cheap melodrama. I mean, I love Scandal and The Vampire Diaries, but I won’t pretend that they’re particularly subtle. Sure, characters die on shows all the time; however, those deaths are usually reserved for sweeps week and season finales. Hannibal does it every freakin’ week and it hurts, Jason. It hurts. I understand the need to provide engaging material every week. That’s a given in the television industry. When the show’s main conceit revolves around cannibalism and human totem poles, I imagine it’s only harder to keep up the pace. I get that. However, the show is starting to run the risk of emotional exhaustion. Shocking character deaths work because they are unexpected and catch the audience off guard. When it’s the norm, it becomes more of an inside joke among viewers and less of a gut punch. You can do better, Hannibal! Shame on you, Bryan Fuller. SHAME. You can’t have your cake and eat it too!
Speaking of Red Dragon, I can only assume they’ll make Dolarhyde’s arc a season long affair, much like they’re doing with the Chesapeake Ripper. For every new Ripper kill, there’s always room for copycats and killers of the week. At any rate, Dolarhyde’s material is less about the gimmick and more about the overarching story. The strength of that character has been less about the murders and more about his persona… you know, the Red Dragon. Mirrors over the eyes does seem a little tame for this show, but it’s a fairly iconic image from the source materials, so here’s hoping they keep it in. Just think, Jason. In the novels and movies, Dolarhyde lives in a decrepit manor by himself and his Blake paintings. Imagine what Fuller could do with that! The Red Dragon material is also very heavy on the Will/Hannibal dynamic. I don’t think Fuller will pass on the opportunity to play that up BECAUSE THAT’S CLEARLY ALL HE IS INTERESTED IN ANYMORE, GAHHHHH.
Okay, Jason. I held out as long as I could. I can only be so critical when my heart is broken. Raul Esparza was a pleasure to watch. I’ve never had much of an opinion on Source Chilton, one way or the other. He’s just a creepy middle man who thrives on his own self importance. Raul’s performance as Chilton made me actually root for the guy, as obnoxious as he was, and as obnoxious as he was. You can’t just kill off every character who gets close to the Ripper’s identity! Honestly, the only character I wouldn’t mind seeing go is Alana, but it’s not like Hannibal would willingly murder his alibi…unless he just wants to troll everyone everywhere. Actually, I wouldn’t put it past him. It’s time for me to retire to my fainting couch, Jason. I’m going to sob into a pillow and wait for the Vergers to show up.