Two TV moments, one each from Hannibal and The Following, gave some hope this week for moribund second seasons.
I haven’t been sure where the second seasons of any of the dark, serial-killer-y shows are headed. They’re still uniformly well acted, generally unflinching in their depiction of horror, often damn pretty to look at… but they’re also inching towards Show-o-Matic territory. Seriously, I was going to write about this week’s Castle if it had involved a serial killer or an interesting twist to the murder.
Then both The Following and Hannibal gave me something to watch, made me watch, even if it was only for a minute or so each. And maybe this is me scraping a little for engagement while remaining worried that these previously engaging shows will ultimately make me regret not getting outside and playing in the sun some more,1 but really – these were moments that made me say “You should watch this.” Watch this show, or this episode, for a nice jolt. A return to form, even.
Let’s dispense with Fox’s The Following first, mostly for the alliterative fun. Episode 11 brought the return of The Family, Lily Gray’s well-funded bunch of psychopaths, and an overdue return to the sort of mayhem they unleashed over three scenes. First, they used Joe’s old M.O.,2 donning masks and carving up a bunch of people in broad daylight. Honestly, this show is most enjoyable when apparently random violence is meted out onto the unsuspecting public, and yes I realize there’s something wrong with me for writing that.
This is, of course, only the first step in a clever plan, a way of using chaos to further their own ends. With Joe, the ends would have been more chaos. With Lily, it’s personal3 – breaking her son out of the hospital.4 The reasons don’t matter, of course – I want to clutch my pearls, and finally I got the chance. In a brief scene, two infiltrators pull automatic weapons from a smuggled suitcase and the threat of massive violence inside the hospital that this implies, an upping of the ante that only previously occurred with Emma’s (not) sacrifice, brings with it a real fear. It’s a quickening of pulse born not just from our now deepset reaction to these sorts of weapons, but of the way this show builds plots and moves seemingly innocuous pieces until you’re leaning in, holding your breath.
More of that, please. It’s been in needlessly short supply in a season that features not one, not two, but three violent organizations.
Hannibal, meanwhile, followed up on its episode 4 cliffhanger with a literal display that went toe-to-toe with anything from season 1 in terms of cold, simple, chillingness. (Spoiler warning – if you’ve been thinking about watching this season and haven’t yet, stop reading now and go watch; at least watch episodes 1, 4, and 5. What I’m typing next will be so much less effective if you read it before you watch it.)
I was relieved to see Hettienne Park‘s Agent Katz developing depth and utility – she’s too good an actress, and the part was such wasted potential for so long. Not to mention that Katz 2.0 provides a watchable potential foil for Hannibal whilst Will whiles away the weeks in his cell, doing a rather interesting take on Anthony Hopkins’ internal monologues. I should have known it was too good to last5 but there’s no way I saw how Lecter would decide to present this particular trophy.
Back at the observatory6 Park is presented as a specimen; a worthy specimen, a near-perfect specimen, really, standing, looking ahead, ready for the next thought, the next move… except bisected from head to toe and then sliced again and again, each piece mounted between thick glass and spaced such that a detached consideration is required. The horror of her complete, clinical finality falls back against her ‘complete’ half looking perfectly fine, a worthy adversary with a smile starting to form on her no-nonsense face, a character with whom you’d invested some hope now lost, then back again at the ownership implied by the museum-quality display in which she’s trapped.
It was a worthy end for the character, and a tantalizing reminder of how Hannibal can make your blood run cold. Now if they could just stop with the pounding pianos, I’d be glued to my screen every episode…
- I live in Northeast Ohio. So this is a metaphorical sun. ↵
- Hey, that’s the name of this feature! ↵
- But not, like, cop show Taking It Personally personal. ↵
- Remember the twins? Yeah, I’d half forgotten this entire plotline. Fortunately it’s now bringing a strong driving force back into what was a dangerously stagnating season. ↵
- And now I’m back to being concerned that the show will meander its way towards Lecter and Crawford’s previewed fight. ↵
- Really, why isn’t there 24/7 video surveillance of that place by now? ↵