Tome-wan is a miso-based soup or a vegetable stew served over rice, apart of the traditional Kaiseki feast. Bryan Fuller and company have presented a gory, grisly and gruesome banquet in the form of this second season, and “Tome-Wan” is the most disturbing, scariest episode of the series yet.
I caught myself scribbling down almost every piece of dialogue in this episode, because it was all so poetic, powerful and filled with more double entendre than the Todd from Scrubs. Now I’ll attempt to regurgitate it back to you, like Will and Abby Hobbs’ tongue from season 1.
Will and Hannibal sit across from each other, their meetings growing darker in content and in lighting (or lack thereof), as the pair have eschewed Hannibal’s office for his home. Will asks Hannibal: “Can you explain my actions, posit my intentions?” Hannibal believes they are “just alike,” and therefore Will has the capacity to deceive me, and vice versa. Hannibal has a question for Will too: why did you tell Mason Verger that I wanted to kill him? Will is merely anxious to see what will happen, and he’s pretty sure he’s right, that Hannibal wants to kill him, or that he wants Will to kill Mason.
Hannibal loathes Mason, because he’s discourteous, a trait that is “unspeakably ugly” to a man of Hannibal’s refined palate and customs. Does he want to eat him? When it’s “feasible,” one must “eat the root.” Will wonders aloud if Hannibal will kill Mason during their next session, because he might try to kill Hannibal. Dr. Lecter has Will close his eyes and envision what he wants to happen. We see Hannibal hung on a meat hook, snug in a straitjacket. Will slits his throat; Hannibal becomes a melty popsicle of blood, and Will drops him into Mason’s man-eating pig pen. This very scenario presents itself by the end of the episode.
When we’re back to reality, Hannibal wonders, “What did you see?” The pair of them smirk insanely at one another, and it’s credits time.
Mason’s at Hannibal’s office for a session, rifling through Hannibal’s sketches and judging them arbitrarily and rudely. Hannibal slips a weapon up his sleeve. Mason’s clearly not happy that Hannibal gave Margot the idea to make her own heir to the Verger empire, and then talks about the bible, and on cue, Papa, and he takes out Papa’s knife, and has it near Hannibal’s throat. Of course, Mason rightfully realizes that it’d “take more than a flesh wound to make you squeal.” Instead, he wonders what kind of game of chicken Will and Hannibal are playing, while stabbing Hannibal’s stupidly expensive chair repeatedly with the knife. Hannibal’s not amused. DON’T RUIN A SERIAL KILLER’S FURNITURE.
As Margot gets dressed, we see the scars that Mason has purposefully left on her body, a permanent reminder of his victory. In last week’s episode, Mason had doctors destroy Margot’s lady parts, killing her child in the process. Mason has left indelible psychological scars on Margot, but now she has physical residue of her defeat. “He won. He always wins,” Margot states, in the presence of Hannibal and Will. What is her next move? “Survive him,” Will says, show him your strength. That would be the ultimate rebuke. It certainly appears she won’t have to survive very long, since Mason has a gigantic target on his back, and rightfully so.
We learned that Freddie Lounds isn’t really dead, and that Will and Jack are attempting to catch Hannibal at his own game, to reel him in, to keep with the fishing metaphor that the show has hammered into our head this season. Jack wants proof and progress, clearly uncomfortable with how the trap is progressing, and Will doesn’t have the proof he needs, he’s only been given “vagaries” by Hannibal. I feel like Will has seen and heard more than enough to get Hannibal into prison for a very long time, but I guess not. Will admits that he believes Hannibal is attempting to manipulate him into killing Mason Verger. Jack’s wary of using a man as bait, but he doesn’t know that Mason’s the worst. Plus, Will assures him, he’s a good fishermen, planning to catch Hannibal in the act of killing Mason.
Aside from the last act of this episode that is just jaw-droppingly morbid and @$!$#% up, the best part comes in the form of Gillian Anderson returning to the fold. Jack and Will have Dr. Bedelia du Maurer in custody, determined to get information out of her. She’s clearly nervous, apprehensive. She was “hard to find,” which was clearly by design. Will thanks her for her words at the psychiatric hospital, but according to her, she “didn’t say enough.” Now is her chance to rectify that mistake; they’ve awarded her full immunity.
She admits to being under Hannibal’s influence. She was attacked by one of Hannibal’s former patients, and she killed him, making the man choke on his own tongue. She believed it was self-defense initially, and it was to a point, but she now realizes what it truly was: murder, and Hannibal made it happen. She wasn’t coerced, however. He uses persuasion. Bedelia assures Will that Hannibal will persuade him to do the very same, and it will be someone you love, and that you think it’ll be the only choice you have. Everything Gillian Anderson says in this episode is chilling, dripping with significance, fear, warning, but all very methodical.
Will asks Bedelia how Hannibal can be caught. The only way she sees is if Hannibal gets lost in self-congratulation, in his own taste, cunning and whimsy. “That is how he will get caught.”
Hannibal and Will meet again over a giant glass of red wine/blood, and talk dreams. “You are waking up to who you are,” Hannibal purrs, and that they have an opportunity with Mason Verger. He’s a problem, and hunting is problem solving, and they can share in that hunt. Will rebels slightly, pointing out that Hannibal is fostering co-dependency, like he did with Abby. When Will connected with Abby, Hannibal took her away. Same with Alana. Jack. Hannibal wants to alienate and isolate Will Graham for himself. Nay, “I want what’s best for you,” Hannibal responds, and you know he believes it. The two are both alone…but they have each other.
It’s Jack’s turn to talk with Bedelia, and it’s even more unnerving. She fled the FBI, because she was skeptical they could protect her. After all, they didn’t protect Will Graham, and still aren’t.
Only after the fact was Bedelia aware of Hannibal’s maleficent influence. Noting that Will is aware of Hannibal’s intentions, and his willingness to continue, she points out that perhaps Will “might not know himself as much as Hannibal does” about him. The best part comes when Bedelia warns Jack: Hannibal wants you to think you’re close to catching him. Don’t fool yourself into thinking he’s not in control.
Back at Hannibal’s home, it’s cooking time with Jack. This time, it’s some ridiculous Ukrainian dish called Kholodets, a jellied meat dish with fish in it. Hannibal describes it as a three-dimensional canvas, that each time one has no idea how it turns out. “The eternal chase,” Jack responds, the subtext sweating out of each line of dialogue at this point. It’s “unclear who’s pursuing whom.” They talk about Will, Jack’s level of trust and lack thereof in anyone, and pursuit. The best line comes from Hannibal: “Whoever is pursuing, I’m going to eat them,” as he takes a bite into the Kholodets.
Mason pays a visit to Will’s home, and ushers him into his limo, and for some reason, Will goes with him.
Hannibal’s sketching in his office, and three guys attack him, including Carlo, Mason’s head henchman. Hannibal takes out two of them quickly, killing Mateo, but Carlo tases him. He wakes up in the position that Will dreamt of earlier: in a straitjacket, on a meathook. Carlo’s pissed and wants to kill him straight away, but Mason stops him. Big mistake. He gives the knife to Will, who’s also there. Instead of slicing Hannibal and feeding him to the pigs, Will cuts him out of his bonds. Will’s quickly knocked out by Carlo.
When he comes to, blood is everywhere. He raises the meat hook from the pig pen, to find Carlo’s half-eaten torso.
Elsewhere, Mason is also groggy, and comes to. Hannibal shoots him up with a bunch of psychedelic drugs, and that’s when Hannibal goes off the deep end, and it becomes one of the most bat$#*! insane/awesome/gross/terrifying things on network TV ever. As Mason himself says, he’s “enchanted and terrified,” when the drugs kick in. Hannibal’s head constantly shakes, contorts, and even becomes a boar’s head. Hannibal gives him a knife, and asks Mason to show him how to trim the fat of a pig.
Will gets home, and poor ole Winston, his steadfastly loyal pup, is all alone on the porch. WHAT DID YOU DO?! Will walks in, and Mason’s there, still alive, feeding Will’s dogs….PIECES OF HIMSELF. AHHHH. Hannibal’s there, of course, Boar’s head and all. Mason complains of being hungry, and Hannibal tells him to eat his nose, which he quickly does, comparing the taste to chicken gizzard. Then Mason giggles, “I’m full of myself.” Michael Pitt is SO great. He’s essentially channeling the Joker, and it’s working wonders.
Hannibal tries to get Will to kill him, but Will rebuffs his advances; Mason is his patient. Hannibal goes to him, and seemingly snaps his neck. Has Will caught him in the act?
Not at all. Mason somehow lives, with or without a face, as Jack visits him. Mason informs him that he fell in the pig pen, and that the pigs did this, and that Margot saved his life. He admits to being Hannibal’s patient, and that he’s benefited greatly from his sessions; that he’s hoping to repay him for his services.
After Jack has left, Margot shows up, reigning in her positive glee at the role reversal. “What does Margot want?” Mason asks in his sing-song voice. “I want to take care of you, just like you did me.” Gulp.
Back in his office, Hannibal finishes his sketch of Achilles and Patroclus, two best friends (lovers?) associated with Greek mythology and the Trojan war. Clearly, Hannibal idealizes his and Will’s relationship to parallel the legend. It took divine intervention to bring Achilles and Patroclus down. Will divine intervention come?
Will believes that this isn’t sustainable, that they’ll get caught. So, he suggests to give Jack what he wants: the Chesapeake Ripper, unmasked. Hannibal sees Jack as a friend, and agrees; he owes Jack the truth.
Season finale next Friday folks. It’s going to be as epic as Achilles and Patroclus’ “battle-tested” friendship. Other than Orphan Black and Game of Thrones, there is not a better show on TV right now than Hannibal. I have no idea how they’ll keep up the tension for a third season…but if anyone can do it, it’s Bryan Fuller, Chris Brancato and Scott Nimerfro, the writers of this fine episode, and the demented genius puppeteers behind Hannibal.