Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy
[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Friday's episode of Hannibal. Read at your own risk.]
Who's pursuing whom?
That's the question viewers are pondering during the penultimate episode of Hannibal's second season. Although the idea first comes up during a metaphorical dinner conversation between Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), by the end of the hour, the query takes on new meaning when Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) seems once again torn between his loyalties to both men.
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On the one hand, Will's annoyed by Jack's dwindling confidence in Will's ability to catch Hannibal. (That lack of confidence leads Jack to bring in Hannibal's former shrink, Gillian Anderson's Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, for an interrogation that doesn't play out as Jack would've liked.) On the other hand, Will is increasingly frustrated by Hannibal's manipulative efforts to "foster co-dependency," and even fantasizes about slicing Hannibal's throat and feeding him to Mason Verger's pigs.
However, it's Mason (Michael Pitt) who ultimately becomes pet food. After Will intervenes in Mason's attempt to kill Hannibal, Dr. Lecter drugs Mason and convinces him to slice off his own face and feed it to Will's dogs. Adding to Will's frustration, Hannibal doesn't kill Mason, merely breaking his neck. Seemingly out of moves, Will suggests that Hannibal "reveal" himself to Jack as the Chesapeake Ripper.
But who is Will truly pursuing? Has he crossed over to Hannibal's dark side, or is this a last-ditch effort to help Jack trap Hannibal? TVGuide.com chatted with executive producer Bryan Fuller to find out.
How did you want this episode to continue the dance Hannibal and Will have been doing in the second half of this season?
Bryan Fuller: One of the exciting things for us in this episode was to actually see Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham as Leopold and Loeb. They choose a victim, they stalk and toy with the victim, and then they finish the victim off. It really is a tale of murder husbands. [Laughs]
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And yet, in this episode, Will is still fantasizing about slicing Hannibal's throat and feeding him to Mason's pigs.
Fuller: In that moment, what we're telling the audience is that it's still a viable option for Will. There is an element of Will that still feels the rage and betrayal of what Hannibal has done to him and can see satisfaction in that outcome. It's a moment where we need to be wondering about Will's psyche because he is entertaining the idea of cutting this man's throat and feeding him to pigs. Will, in a very odd way, has found his groove. He's almost magnetized to all of the surfaces around him. He can't actually connect to them, but he hovers in this very powerful place where he is easy to roll whichever direction he needs to roll.
Meanwhile, Jack doesn't seem very pleased with the games Will is playing with Hannibal.
Fuller: Jack is getting very nervous because they have been in this entrapment scenario for a while. We have very intentionally held off on Jack's point of view because it helped lull the audience into that seduction. Now that we are seeing where Jack is, we're seeing him at the end of a spectrum. At the beginning of that spectrum it was, "You hook him, I'll catch him." Now it's, "Sh-t or get off the pot." It's a natural reaction for him. He has made huge sacrifices to catch this guy he knows is going to be impossible to catch otherwise.
So, Jack brings out his backup plan: Dr. Du Maurier. How does Jack feel about how that interrogation ends?
Fuller: It didn't go at all as he wanted or expected. He was assuming, and I think the audience was assuming, that Bedelia Du Maurier would say, "Hannibal Lecter killed this guy. I saw him say some magic words and this guy swallowed his own tongue." [Jack hoped] for something that could bear witness to Hannibal's evil. He needed another witness, because Will has been playing this game with Mason and Margot Verger and Hannibal, and Jack has lost confidence in Will's ability to close the deal. So, he's hoping that somebody will come in and be his final bit of evidence that can incriminate this guy, and instead she incriminates herself after he just gave her a get-out-of-jail-free card. I would be very annoyed if I were Jack.
If he's lost confidence in Will, can Jack just abort this mission? Or is he too committed at this point?
Fuller: He feels very far committed, and he's hoping that his investment in Will will pay off. This is a man who already betrayed Will once and didn't believe Will when it was most important for him to believe him. He's in a really tricky position. What's wonderful about Laurence's performance in these last couple episodes is that you feel this is a man who's barely holding on to rage and betrayal and confusion. And yet, he's guided by his strength of character and his perception of right and wrong.
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Since his other plans are crumbling, is Jack in a position where he might have to use himself as bait?
Fuller: The great thing about the dinner scene with the Kholodets and the "who's pursuing whom" is how absolutely aware Jack is and how close he's still keeping it [close] to the vest. I think Jack Crawford is fully aware that he is becoming bait and he is absolutely comfortable with that.
Let's talk about Mason's drug trip. How was that conceived?
Fuller: It was directed by Michael Rymer, and it was fascinating to sit down and figure out how we were going to film this enhanced state of mind. Michael Pitt's performance is so infectiously fun. I find it immensely enjoyable and very f---ed up in a thoroughly giddy way. I think the thing that Michael Rymer brought to the scene was a similar infectious sense of fun. He wanted it to be a carnival of sorts. He wanted to light sparklers in the room to create the things your retinas do when you're under that much chemical oppression. He was the right guy to bring the drug trip to life and has the humor to make sure it is as fun onscreen as it can be.
Mason certainly seemed to be enjoying himself even though he was cutting off his own face!
Fuller: [Laughs] Michael Pitt was having the time of his life with this performance. And there's something between Hannibal and Will in that moment that is very playful, which is perhaps a strange word to use in that context. But there's a gamesmanship afoot because Hannibal essentially says, "I got him to cut off his face. Your turn."
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However, Will needs Hannibal to commit this murder so they can arrest him, but Hannibal only breaks Mason's neck. Is Hannibal on to Will or is he keeping Mason alive because of Margot's financial dilemma?
Fuller: Hannibal's response is all of those things. It's a gesture toward Margot to give her some control in her life. And also, he doesn't kill him completely because, as he has said and will say again to Margot, the best therapy for her is to kill her brother.
And I assume Mason doesn't tell Jack the truth because he too has some of his own twisted plans for Hannibal.
Fuller: Mason does not want Jack Crawford to deliver justice to Hannibal. He wants to deliver justice his own way. This is all now a very particular game for Mason, which I am hoping to explore much more of in Season 3. Episode 12 completes the Verger arc for Season 2 and sets up the Verger arc for Season 3.
Will actually ended up with the chance to act out his fantasy of feeding Hannibal to Mason's pigs. Why didn't he?
Fuller: Just because you fantasize about doing something because you're curious about how it would make you feel in that moment, it doesn't necessarily mean you intend to do that thing. He's being a good detective.
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Keeping Hannibal alive allows Will and Jack the chance to catch him still. But if Jack is now the bait as you mentioned, Will seems to pretty firmly put Jack on the hook in that final scene. Are Will's loyalties wavering?
Fuller: That's what we want to be wondering. Will Graham is at a crossroads, and we don't know if he is betraying Jack or if he's betraying Hannibal. He's betraying somebody, but we do not entirely know with absolute clarity who that Judas kiss is meant for.
Will we know by the end of the finale?
Fuller: Maybe not! [Laughs]
What did you think of the episode? Catch up on Season 2 of Hannibal here.