This week on NBC’s Hannibal Will Graham’s search takes him to Lithuania and the old Lecter family estate. It is there he sees a young Japanese woman quail hunting and then goes on to spy on her for several hours before discovering a skinny old man in a cage. At this point the woman, named Chiyoh, finally confronts Will about what he is doing there.
I just have to say for a woman who spends most of her time alone as the sole caretaker of a crumbling old estate Chiyoh has some impeccably applied eyeliner and lipstick. Okay back to the show, Will came to the estate looking for clues about Hannibal’s past and specifically about his younger sister Misha. We don’t get a lot of background on Chiyoh or her connection to the Lecter family but she did know Hannibal once. She says the man in the cage is the one that killed and ate Misha and that this somehow made Hannibal what he is. However Will is not buying that story, according to him there must be more to it and in other parts of the episode we get some clues about that.
For those of you who don’t know originally author Thomas Harris did not have an origin story for Hannibal Lecter. But some years ago the movie studio behind the films based on the books in the series decided to come up with one. They basically said they were going to do it whether Harris was a part of the process or not, which seems like a colossal dick move. Well Thomas Harris got on board and we got the origin of Hannibal and his little sister getting kidnapped by Nazis who then ate Misha. Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller has said they are making some alterations to that story to fit the lore and tone of the show.
So Chiyoh has been keeping this man prisoner for an unknown number of years. At some point they are going to have to get a little more specific on the timeline because I am already questioning how these characters ages line up with events. She keeps the man prisoner because otherwise Hannibal would have killed him. Will wants Chiyoh to help him find Hannibal but she won’t leave her prisoner to starve to death. So Will sets the skinny old man free. But instead of fleeing to freedom the old man goes back to his cage and waits for Chiyoh to come feed him so he can take revenge. And in the struggle Chiyoh stabs him in the neck with a quail bone. Will claims he did not want any of this but Chiyoh clearly thinks he is full of crap and got exactly what he wanted. Chiyoh leaves with Will on his search for Hannibal but not before he takes the dead old man and uses his body to make a giant firefly sculpture… covered in snails. The whole thing is a sign of Will behaving more like Hannibal than ever. He is using the same kind of tactics Hannibal would use to get what he wants and I have a feeling its going to come back to bite him at some point.
Also in this episode Jack Crawford is back, yay. He meets Inspector Pazzi who wants to team up with him to catch Hannibal. But Jack is not looking for Hannibal, he is looking for Will. Jack clearly blames himself for whatever Will is becoming now. I remember back when this show started I thought maybe the overall conflict of the show would actually be about Jack and Hannibal’s battle with each other and how people get used as weapons or get caught in the crossfire between them. But it looks like that theme has fallen to the wayside.
The episode checks in with Hannibal and Bedelia as they have more guests over for dinner and only kill one of them. The weasely guy from the museum where Hannibal is a curator is first and he is still a little rude but things seem to be going okay. Then Hannibal stabs him in the brain with an ice pick. The stabbing is not fatal but definitely messes with the guys brain process as he sits there smiling unable to form coherent sentences. Bedelia fed up with Hannibal’s crap pulls the ice pick out of the guys head killing him. Now two men connected to Hannibal’s curator job are dead, Bedelia points out this will attract attention. Later they have dinner with a couple they know through the museum and… is that a hint of a smile of Bedelia’s face? Does her more active participation in Hannibal’s antics include getting a kick out of tricking dinner guests into eating a person?
In a weird way Bedelia is still sort of acting as Hannibal’s therapist. They get to talking about Hannibal’s past and why can’t bring himself t ever go home to the Lecter estate. He claims it not about what happened to him there but about how he happened it. At which point Bedelia asks Hannibal what his sister tasted like. So the show is playing it that Hannibal killed and ate his sister? Then what was the deal with the skinny old man in the cage? Was Hannibal really just testing Chiyoh all that time and for what?
At the end of the episode they talk about betrayal. Hannibal seems to indicate that his sister somehow “betrayed” him and the only way he could “forgive” her was to eat her. Leading to the conclusion that the only way he will forgive Will Graham will also be eating him. I am having a hard time picturing a situation where a little girl could commit a betrayal worthy of being cannibalized over. Then again maybe that’s what Hannibal is afraid of. Maybe that’s the real reason he can’t go home or look at that part of himself. What if deep down he is just another asshole making excuses so he does not have to take responsibility for his actions?