‘Hannibal’ Season 2, Episode 10 Recap: “Naka-Choko”

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Hannibal loves nothing more than a good visual metaphor, and this week’s brings two long-in-the-works developments together in a single soft-core sex scene. We have the tale of Margot and Mason Verger, in whose family drama Hannibal sees the opportunity for another protegé. And we have the moral deterioration of Will Graham, which now appears to be to season two what his psychological deterioration was to season one. Will reaches several points of no return in “Naka-Choko,” and his newfound kinship is underlined to us in bright red ink (literally) multiple times. Of course, none are more obvious than their intercut encounters with Alana and Margot. The “Will=Hannibal” imagery is there, but it also the relationship between Will and Hannibal supersedes any other on the show, no matter how intimate.

After a couple weeks’ worth of reversion to case-of-the-week, we’re back to big picture stuff in “Naka-Choko.” Mostly, that’s because the killer of the week is Will Graham: we pick off right where the last episode left off, after a flashback in which we learn Will opted to kill Randall with his bare hands. The decision to abandon his shotgun is an important one: Will is choosing violence beyond what’s absolutely necessary, turning what could have been a quick, almost bloodless mercy killing into an opportunity to let his personal demons come out to play. No wonder Hannibal greet Randall’s corpse with a micro-smile that, by Mads Mikkelsen standards, is the rough equivalent of a normal human being jumping up and down and clapping his hands, little-kid-on-Christmas style.

Hannibal disposes of Randall’s corpse by turning it into an elaborate display, one that immediately attracts the attention of the FBI. Jack Crawford calls in his two most trustworthy profilers for the case, and an important fault line shifts: where Jack once abandoned Will for Hannibal, then abandoned Hannibal for Will, Will has now abandoned Jack. His loyalty isn’t completely reassigned—in the long run, I have no doubts Will’s mission is still to take down hiss manipulator. But in the short term, he’s committed to that mission by dedicating himself fully to Hannibal’s side of the law.

The crime scene in the natural history museum, in which Will and Hannibal essentially debate Will’s motives while Jack looks on in ignorance, is the first of two incidents that underscore the triad’s new orientation. In the other, Jack inquires after the disappearance of Freddie Lounds, playing a voicemail that calls back to the message from Miriam Lass that haunted him for all those years. Will and Hannibal sit, side by side, on the other side of Jack’s desk, covering for one another like two seasoned pros. Even Freddie’s (presumable) murder reflects the newfound synergy between the two: Hannibal intends to do away with her, as his Murder Suit plainly indicates, but Will gets there first.

Freddie is another watershed, and another parallel with Hannibal. Her break-in to Will’s barn, and subsequent discovery of Randall’s bone-suit and remains, plays out just like Beverly’s raid on Hannibal’s in-house studio. Unlike with Beverly, however, we see Freddie’s death play out: we watch her discover an unmistakably human jaw, we see Will calmly explain he can’t let her go, and we see him drag her out of the car with a face that’s frozen into a scowl. It’s indistinguishable from most protagonist-catches-the-murderer scenes, except Will is both the protagonist and the murderer.

Before she meets her demise, though, Freddie manages to plant the seed Will failed to: Alana’s suspicion of Hannibal. It’s unclear why she’s so much more inclined to listen to Freddie than her erstwhile love interest, but Freddie’s theory about Hannibal and Will hits home. Alana and Jack are now on the lookout for suspicious activity, and while it’s not clear why it’s Hannibal and not Will in the blowout fight with Jack that’s coming up, the path to get there is now clearly set.

Finally, there’s Margot and Mason, our first known instance of Hannibal fighting against a serial killer instead of egging him on. Hannibal’s distaste for Mason is palpable, and it’s easy to see that it’s him and not Margot who’s going to be torn apart by pigs by the end of the season. Mason is messy and bratty, abusing the refinement that Hannibal cherishes so much. The tension between the two murderers (or at least sadists, on Mason’s part) also serves to realign our loyalties towards Hannibal, who’s never dabbled in Dexter-esque kill-the-killers stuff before, with the exception of the Muralist. But in the next few episodes, he’ll likely do something awful to Mason. Or maybe he’ll put Will up to the job.