Mark Watches ‘Hannibal’: S02E12 – Tome-wan

In the twelfth and penultimate episode of the second season of Hannibal, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a bigger NOPE in the history of this site. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Hannibal.


Trigger Warning: For discussion of extreme gore, including gore FED to animals, lots of blood, and a brief bit about gaslighting.

  • I thought I knew what was happening because I’m familiar with what Hannibal did to Mason in the book/film Hannibal, but NO. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE.
  • I’ll save that until the very end because I need to get through OTHER THINGS, including the surprise return of my queen, or else that’s all I will focus on.
  • This whole episode is about the vicious and increasingly uncontrollable tug-of-war between Hannibal and Will, who are now working to essentially out-manipulate one another. I’m glad that the show made Jack and Will’s complicity a lot more obvious here, though I’m still wondering about Jimmy and Brian. Do they know they’re investigating Hannibal, too?
  • Anyway, it’s amazing to me how many deliberate parallels and subtextual readings there are in “Tome-wan,” especially when you consider how Will’s role in the show has changed to become what Hannibal was in the beginning. He’s got a delicate, complicated act to pull off, but I think this episode also fairly asks us: How much of what Will is doing is an act?
  • That’s brought into question by BEDELIA DU MAURIER. HOLY SHIT. HOLY SHIT. Jack found her!!! And after offering her immunity to prosecution, she reveals just how Hannibal works. I loved that distinction between coercion and persuasion that she made because it shows us that the writers are aware of how much they can actually blame on Hannibal. It’s an uncomfortable thought, admittedly. How are we, the audience, supposed to sympathize or identify with Will if it turns out that there’s a part of him that is responsible for murder? Again, this calls into question Will’s complicity. Was he lying to Hannibal about enjoying the sensation he felt committing murder as part of his ongoing manipulation of him, OR was he using the truth to manipulate Hannibal? I think it’s the latter, particularly if you consider that last season, Will admitted to the feeling of power upon killing Garrett Jacob Hobbs. That was long before he was aware that he was under Hannibal’s influence.
  • The reason I say this is also due to Bedelia’s honesty. The patient she killed in self-defense was most likely sent to her by Hannibal, much like Randall Tier was sent to Will. This speaks volumes about the power of gaslighting, something I’ve always found difficult to explain. But this show demonstrates how gaslighting works not only to make an abused person question their reality, but to begin to believe that the version of reality presented to them is real. I wasn’t coerced when I was gaslighted in the past; I was persuaded. And Hannibal does this not just for the thrill, but because it also protects him. It keeps him away from implicating himself while still allowing him to thrive on murder.
  • Which I’ll touch on more at the end when talking about Mason. I just need to take a moment to yet again praise my eternal queen, Gillian Anderson, for what she does here. In that interrogation room, Bedelia exists somewhere between guilt and catharsis. She is ashamed of what she did and ashamed that she let herself be influenced by Hannibal, but she’s also freed by the knowledge she has. She’s figured Hannibal out, so to speak, and there’s a power in that. That’s why she teeters between terror and sage wisdom here. She knows what Hannibal is capable of because of her past experience with him, so it frightens her to even be in the same state as him. But she also knows that Hannibal is clever enough – almost as if he is omniscient – to constantly maintain control. Through this, the writers shed a whole lot of doubt on Will’s plan. What if Hannibal truly is aware of what Will’s doing? WHAT IF THIS IS ALL A TRAP?
  • Central to this episode, however, is Mason Verger, who was warned by Will at the end of the last episode that Hannibal was the one he should be feeding to his pigs. By ending “Ko No Mono” as they did, the writers were able to thread the horrible tension of Mason throughout this episode. It was only a matter of time before Mason made his move, so I spent most of this episode READY TO FLIP OUT every time he was on screen.
  • Of course, things were made even worse when Will outright revealed to Hannibal that he had sent Mason his way. I read this as yet another aspect of Will’s manipulation. I think Will was hoping that Hannibal saw this act as him offering up another victim to him, perhaps out of respect or adoration. But this also touches on Bedelia’s warning. What if Will is too aware? I mean, all of those scenes with Hannibal show us that he now understands just how much Hannibal has influenced his life. He gave Will Abigail, then took her away. He promised Will a child (I STILL HATE THIS PLOT) only to take that, too. Alana has turned on Will, too. And that leaves Will with Hannibal alone, which is actually a very common abuser tactic. It’s about isolation.
  • SO YEAH THEN EVERYTHING IS THE WORST EVER. Obviously, Mason was the easiest way to “catch” Hannibal. (I love that the “whimsy” line from The Silence of the Lambs was used here.) Will would set Hannibal up, and hopefully, Hannibal’s “whimsy” would be his downfall.
  • It’s a direct reference to the opening sequence, in which Will imagines how he’d kill Hannibal (again!), except now the opportunity is really there. HOW? HOW WAS THIS HAPPENING? How was Hannibal going to escape such certain death?
  • There were a LOT of visual references to the movie Hannibal here, too, I should say.
  • What happens after this is… well. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced something so completely revolting on television before. Look, it’s not like Hannibal hasn’t pushed the boundaries of acceptable gore on television before this. SOCIAL WORKER IN A HORSE????
  • But this is just… fuck.
  • I wasn’t necessarily surprised that Hannibal escaped, nor was I surprised that Will chose to free Hannibal. There were most likely a lot of complicated reasons that Will freed Hannibal, none of which were discussed in the episode itself. I think we’ll have to explore that in the next episode in some way because at some point, Jack and Will are going to have to have a conversation about what happened here. (It’s also possible I’m 100% wrong about this, OH GODS.)
  • But if you want a damning and terrifying example of Bedelia’s wisdom, the final third of this episode is it. Hannibal not only reverses Mason’s act of revenge, he does so in a way that more or less absolves him of suspicion. Now, I knew from the book/movie Hannibal that Hannibal disfigured and mutilated Mason’s face, but the show twists that canon by having Hannibal drug Mason and PERSUADE MASON TO MUTILATE HIS OWN FACE.
  • Which he then feeds to Will’s dogs.
  • Which I thought, at the time, was the single most disgusting thing this show had ever done or could ever do.
  • Well, except for Winston, who was all “FUCK THIS SHIT, I’M WAITING FOR WILL.”
  • And then the worst thing ever happens.
  • But I suspect that what Hannibal does after this is evidence that he knew Will was setting him up. After Will refuses to kill Mason, compelling Hannibal to do so, Hannibal doesn’t kill Mason. He breaks Mason’s neck, yes, but doesn’t kill him, and of course Hannibal would know how to do this.
  • With this act, Hannibal then takes yet another thing from Will: a witness. Remember earlier in this episode when Will promised Jack two witnesses? Well, now he has none. Mason is not going to admit what he did, and Will can’t admit his complicity in this, and HANNIBAL IS IN CONTROL AGAIN.
  • And I think that’s why Will offers up Jack as the bait. It’s an act of desperation on his part, sure. But what else does he have? Now we have a better idea of how the opening of this season happened, though we certainly don’t have all the clues.
  • (Though Margot’s look of utter satisfaction at the end up this episode was pretty damn great, I must say.)
  • What a goddamn experience, y’all.

The video for “Tome-wan” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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