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Meta: Hannibal 2.08, “Su-zakana”

HANNIBAL: I need to know if you’re going to try to kill me again, Will. 

WILL: I don’t want to kill you anymore, Dr. Lecter. Not now that I finally find you interesting. 

A new kind of intimacy. 

[N.B. major spoilers for 2.08; gore / blood / body horror; sexual abuse, gaslighting.]

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Sunday, 20th of April with 427 notes
smilingshroud asked:
You said before that Jimmy Price and Brian Zeller represented Hannibal's sense of humor, and that Beverly Katz was "the lone voice of a tragedy chorus", as well as an "objective observer" to the horror of the show. What do you think is the meaning in that way of her now-absence? Of course the science team would be sad their friend is dead, but do you think there is any meaning in that reaction between humor & seriousness or the mourning, besides it being a realistic reaction of mourning friends?

[for me what’s strange is the absence of mourning. that montage in “mukozuke” showed the grief that radiated out from beverly’s death; but since that time there’s been scarcely any mention of her. not from will, not from jimmy or brian, not from jack—just a passing aside that the abandoned house contained pints of beverly’s blood, i.e. another dislocated “fragment” of her corpse left by “the ripper” for the fbi to find. i can’t work out if it’s deliberate—hannibal consuming and absorbing his victims so completely that it’s as though they never were, like a black hole crushing matter to nothingness—or narrative economy.] 

in any case the disappearance of beverly’s voice—frank, rational, honest, observant and as objective as it’s possible to be—stands out stark because it coincides with a seismic change in how hannibal uses genre. hannibal was never much of a murder-procedural [it’s gothic horror above all else]; but throughout season one it still paid lipservice to the pursuit of scientific truth and rational explanation and objectivity. bryan fuller insisted that they’d stretch the boundaries of possibility, but not crack them. 

now, the murder-procedural’s been almost completely abandoned. the two-man forensics team still appear at crimescenes to offer up exposition and macabre humour—but they’re even more irrelevant to solving the murder. they’re there to alleviate the perpetual dread [grief for beverly is incompatible with that, i suppose].

and without beverly, the short exchanges of grotesque comedy shared by the forensics team have given way to the greater lurches of sick macabre humour which pervade the show from top to bottom. s2 feels deranged and fantastic and absurdist in a way that s1 never did, even when will’s brain-fever was most extreme. there’s no facade of verisimilitude or proportion or common sense; we’re knee-deep in nightmare: humans performing impossible feats, time & space utterly out of joint, science a very small voice in a gothic feverland of gods and monsters. it seems like beverly was the show’s last bastion of realism and logic; and now she’s gone all hell’s broken loose.  

Saturday, 19th of April with 97 notes
thewomanofscandal asked:
I love reading your metas for Hannibal! When I saw your latest, I couldn't resist asking you a question (particularly given your interest in Classics). Recently, in my Greek class, my professor brought up the etymology of the word 'Anthology' which originally meant a bouquet of flowers. Which makes sense- picking the best of a variety to make a superior whole. So my question is: Do you think that this is what Hannibal was doing in Futamono? Essentially creating a poisonous 'Greatest Hits' list?

[bear with me my ancient greek is creaky & lapsing]

yes—ἄνθος [anthos], “flower” + λέγειν [legein], “to say/speak” or “to choose/gather/collect/pick together” [complicated verb, heidegger has a field-day with those two senses of it in his lecture “geschichte”] = anthologia, ἀνθολογία, “a flower-gathering/collection”

we’ve seen hannibal at his most derivative [the antler-impaled corpse of cassie boyle, the glasgow smile of dr. sutcliffe] and at his most creative [the “blind”, “mindless and heartless” judge]. this tableau, of a human corpse intertwined with and systemically penetrated by a tree, feels like the latter: the idea of “blooming” isn’t simply hannibal’s burgeoning affair with alana; it’s hannibal himself, growing more daring and ambitious and egotistic. 

i think it is a sort of “greatest hits”. the ripper removes organs from bodies which he already considers empty vessels, wasted flesh, and transforms them into things of beauty—exquisite morsels of food. but, beautiful as hannibal’s food appears, the meat is defiled, polluted with murder, it’s taboo, it’s toxic, it breeds corruption. 

jack names three flowers specifically; hannibal has three victims he’s presently “poisoning”: will, alana, jack. and the flowers correspond to the way that he poisoned them: “belladonna for the heart” is jack, and his love for bella; the “chain of white oleander for the intestines” is will, and the ear he was forced to ingest; “ragwort for the liver” is alana, and the poisoned wine [ragwort was once used as an aphrodisiac]. all three of these victims have eaten human flesh at hannibal’s table. 

this is hannibal’s power: to invade his victim, slice out with precise scalpel-cuts those raw parts which are most vital and human, and fill that void with his own baneful beauty. furthermore, every work of art hannibal creates is a seduction, a token of affection for will; and hannibal’s love is the love that kills.

Saturday, 12th of April with 52 notes
swanstiel asked:
Hello. I was wondering on why Hannibal would want to release Will. Hannibal succeeded in making Will's dark side come out but Hannibal wanted Will to work alongside him, no? But he only made Will want to kill Hannibal and Hannibal knows that when he helps Will get released that he would try to kill him again. By the way that Hannibal flinched at the gun, and other situations, we know that he doesn't want to die. if you've talked about this already, sorry.

alright, there’s some discussion of this in the meta, but it needs developing.

for all his talk of death as cure and liberation, hannibal certainly doesn’t want to die. he has powerful survival instincts. and death at someone else’s hand is a kind of defeat, which hannibal couldn’t bear. but hannibal’s irresistibly driven by curiosity and the pursuit of pleasure. will is both a curiosity and a compelling pleasure for hannibal. hannibal relished their half-intimate half-combative conversations; he misses his “friend”. he wants to continue their grand experiment, free of interference. 

at the end of season one, hannibal smiled as will levelled a gun at him, and he asked will, “would it feel good to kill me now?” he wanted will to viscerally experience the sense of pleasure and power that hannibal feels when he kills. but that situation was loaded in hannibal’s favour; jack intervened. in season two, it’s again a difference of emphasis. it isn’t that will tried to kill hannibal; it’s that will tried to kill hannibal. not in self-defence, not in defence of another. but because hannibal “deserves” to die. because killing hannibal would feel “righteous”. 

and if will’s begun to make those sorts of absolute and biblical judgements, begun to believe that he himself possesses the righteous vision to sort the damned from the saved, and the authority to carry out those mortal punishments—he’s moved perilously near to the uninhibited death-dealing creature hannibal wants him to be. and hannibal’s confident he can complete that metamorphosis before will either harms or incriminates hannibal. but now, as then, hannibal has weighted the game in his own favour.

"i wonder how many more people are going to get hurt by what you do. […] i’ll give alana bloom your best."

that’s a threat. hannibal is holding alana “hostage”, and if will makes any further dangerous moves toward hannibal, he’ll kill her. hannibal’s also chosen this moment to put miriam lass back into play, now one of his pawns. two lines of defence, should will turn on him again. this is stalemate—for now.

Tuesday, 8th of April with 56 notes

Meta: Hannibal 2.06, “Futamono”

WILL: If the Ripper is killing, you can bet Hannibal Lecter is planning a dinner party.  

[N.B: major spoilers for all episodes to 2.06, minor spoilers for 2.07; blood / gore, ambiguous consent, body horror, nsfw.]

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Sunday, 6th of April with 215 notes
milkywaycookie asked:
Do you think Hannibal is affected by all the people lately who've been uncovering his secret? I mean, I'm assuming for years (before Will) nobody has figured out what he is, and now it seems like everybody and their aunt (a slight exaggeration) is finding out. I would think that would be setting of alarms in his head that he's being sloppy? Unless there is backstory in the novels to explain this? What do you think?

[minor spoilers for future episodes]

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Saturday, 5th of April with 48 notes
odi-et-irrumabo asked:
Thoughts on Matthew Brown's bird metaphor/speech? It doesn't work for me; it feels awkward and vague. Why a hawk and not something larger? Who are the little birds? What is the irl parallel to hawks getting beaten away by little birds?? The metaphor just doesn't pan out for me. Is that more the point of it, perhaps? That Brown isn't a poet of the same caliber as those he writes to?

In Hannibal murder is the performance of self. It’s the imposition of an image of self upon a chosen flesh-canvas. Killers verbally enact the same qualities exhibited in their murders, e.g. Abel Gideon speaks in repetitive structures, prone to digression, often mimicking or distorting his interlocutor’s words.

Hannibal speaks in elaborate and figurative language which is incarnational—it “embodies” the abstract and intangible [e.g. telling Bella that Jack will “feel your silence like a draught”]. There’s an internal coherence to the “body” of his speech: he favours chiastic and mirroring structures, and ideas & constructions uttered in early episodes often return later, transformed. Will’s speech tends in the other direction—concrete to abstract—but in conversation he perfectly mimics Hannibal’s elaborate diction and metaphorical turns of phrase.  

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Friday, 4th of April with 68 notes
tochokeon asked:
oh, i love your last meta about christian dichotomies/parallels in the show (and all your meta, pretty much). because i can't not combine book canon with show canon in my head, i keep thinking of will as john the baptist, who preceded christ (starling; the books aren't subtle lol). his time in florida parallels john in the wilderness and the circumstances of john's beheading mirror the way will's attack by dolarhyde goes down--and just the way he sees things, as if he were a seer, a prophet.

i wanted to cram thoughts about alternative biblical archetypes for will into this meta but the thing was already so long & unwieldy; but yes, i think there’s something in that—and if will & clarice ever meet in hannibal, there might well be a sense of will as spiritual precursor to clarice. 

what i appreciate about hannibal is that the subtextual layers of symbol and archetype and myth are fused and melded, so that at any given moment there’s this dense mythos weighing on the narrative, pulling in many different directions. no character can be assigned a single archetype, because each is a complex person as well as a multifaceted symbolic entity. 

i think that the show is arguing for will as jesus/messiah: will’s affinity with “strays” and pariahs like abigail & georgia; the theme of fishing; baptismal waters; hannibal’s temptation of will while he’s “burning alive” [desert parallels?]; will’s persecution and arrest; his betrayal by hannibal; the severed ear as a call back to peter cutting off the ear of the soldier malthus when jesus is arrested in the garden of gethsemane; hannibal compares himself to st. peter for denying will three times; matthew brown names hannibal “judas” for his betrayal of will, &c. 

but i don’t want to overplay the biblical parallel because it’s just one of the narratives being invoked, and it’s being simultaneously contorted and subverted; c.f. will’s imagined transformation into the wendigo in “takiawase" belongs to another mythological "text", an outward manifestation of an inward metamorphosis that’s unholy and profane and bestial [x]; and all of that abstracting mythology interacts with the more realist narrative of victimhood and trauma and resistance and survival.

Wednesday, 2nd of April with 38 notes

i think your view of will’s attempt to kill hannibal hinges upon whether you think will believed it would succeed.

will knows that hannibal is frighteningly, inhumanly powerful and strong and clever. hannibal has killed countless men & women, and performed astonishing feats of strength to create his murder-tableaux. hannibal killed tobias, who took out two armed police officers. hannibal killed beverly, who was also armed. hannibal forced bedelia’s violent patient to swallow his own tongue through sheer mesmeric charisma. hannibal convinced the mural-killer to let himself be killed and stitched into his own mural.

matthew brown is a crude, brazen, imprecise, imitative killer. i don’t think will believed for a moment that brown would succeed in killing hannibal lecter. will was lashing out.

[but hannibal definitely had it coming.]

Wednesday, 2nd of April with 204 notes

gatheringbones replied to your post: gatheringbones asked:snickering a…

ehhhhnnnn but will is first and foremost a victim, and a mouthpiece for other victims on the show, it’s hard for me to label his actions as “selfish” or “evil” when i think about how trauma/abuse and the trauma/abuse of others play into his actions.

i don’t think any act will’s committed so far comes near to “evil”. will has been subject to the most horrendous abuse and harm, and the weight of hannibal’s past and future victims rests on his shoulders; i wouldn’t deny that for a moment. 

but will knew that he was putting beverly in danger. he weighed the odds, and determined that it was a fair price to pay if it led to the revelation of hannibal’s wickedness. it’s an awful decision to make, but will chose to sacrifice beverly’s safety—to expose her to trauma and abuse—for a common good. [arguably, he’s done the same to freddie & chilton, by putting them in the line of fire.] and then he sacrificed matthew brown to slake his thirst for vengeance. there’s a moral conundrum being constructed, about ends justifying means; but no one gets to “play god”. 

that’s why the show, from will’s perspective, visually joins the water/blood of beverly to the water/blood of hannibal: because will’s feelings of guilt about beverly push him to “stain” himself with another guilt. he must know that matthew brown won’t succeed; and that this attempted murder can only harm his defence and strengthen hannibal’s. he does it anyway. it’s a very human thing, to be driven by grief and pain and rage, to wish such a monster of a man killed—but it was selfish.

Wednesday, 2nd of April with 25 notes
gatheringbones asked:
snickering and snortling over how perfectly the whole hannibal/god/will/devil dichotomy is turning out, like DANG

hm, i’m leaning in another direction, because i think the “god” of this universe—if it has one; the miasmic nihilism of season two is deep & dark enough to choke—is an author-god.

hannibal is a pretender, a craven and illegitimate claimant to the kingdom & throne; he’s not god, he’s the devil. he’s satan, the ruined self-destroying angel, as beautiful as he is wretched, as tragic as he is cruel, as poetic as he is profane. he declares himself divine but he’s only capable of a perverse and inferior and imitative form of creation that’s spiritually void. he’s the satan of paradise lost who breeds “death” with his daughter “sin”. hannibal’s “crucifixion” is a crude poetic justice: if he’s god-made-flesh, if he has power over life and death, if he’s untroubled by mortality because he believes in his own resurrection, what does it matter if he suffers and dies? [as it turns out, hannibal really doesn’t want to suffer & die.] 

to me, will is the messiah-figure. he’s all human frailty and mortality and flesh and blood and bones and heart and desire; but he’s also more than human, set apart, god-touched, a scapegoat for the sins of others, the object of satan’s temptation, betrayed and falsely condemned. the old will graham is “dead”, and now will has descended into the underworld.

but unlike the biblical jesus, he won’t get out of hell unscathed. i think will’s tragedy is that he’s a failed messiah; he doesn’t see evil coming, and he doesn’t resist its seductions—in season one, he doesn’t realise that he’s being lured by the devil. and in season two, when hannibal puts him in dire straits, will is forced to compromise his goodness, because he isn’t mightier than hannibal. will pushed beverly along the path, knowing that hannibal lecter stood smirking at the end of it. and then he tried to kill hannibal: not to avert a murder, not in defence of himself or another, but purely out of fury and grief and wrath. in that moment, will isn’t acting for goodness; he’s acting out of selfish desire for vengeance.

and i think that’s the underlying thread beneath all this: not that will is the devil, but that everyone compromises. no one is allowed to remain pure and unblemished and uncorrupted in a world which contains hannibal lecter. 

Tuesday, 1st of April with 81 notes
swevenoia asked:
what would you suggest for a "Hannibal"reading list ?

oh god so many things

Monday, 31st of March with 1,480 notes

Meta: Hannibal 2.05, “Mukozuke”

HANNIBAL: Will Graham is not what you think. He’s not a murderer.

BROWN: He is now. By proxy. 

HANNIBAL: He asked you to do this?

In which the game changes. 

[N.B. Spoilers for all episodes; blood & gore, strangulation, torture, reference to suicide.]

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Sunday, 30th of March with 655 notes
curi-ana-jones asked:
um so how about this: you write hannibal, deal?

nope nope nope.

just to be clear: the reason that this feels sort of like a slap in the face is because i love & admire bryan’s fictions, because i’ve deeply appreciated his writing and tireless work and creative vision for hannibaland because he’s spoken so intelligently & sensitively about the representational issues within the source text and the horror genre more broadly, and the demographics of hannibal's audience. 

i don’t for a moment think that the decision to kill beverly was malevolent, or intended to offend; it was a misstep, revealing that this show—like most shows—has blind spots when it comes to race and gender, and sometimes lapses into the well-worn narrative paths of its genre. 

hannibal has given me pleasure and nightmares and food for thought [sorry]. art isn’t a zero-sum game: one major error doesn’t erase the show’s many wonderful and strange and idiosyncratic qualities. but you have to talk about both. 

Monday, 24th of March with 122 notes

Perspective on the Fridging of Beverly Katz

bonearenaofmyskull:

First a disclaimer: if you’re really upset about Beverly’s death, I understand completely. I was a mess for three days because of it—I just had the (mis)fortune of going through those emotions a while back instead of this weekend, so I’ve had time to get used to the idea by now. In this post, I’m not going to tell anyone how they should feel about it, just talk about what I think and feel about it. 

I’ve been asked several times to discuss Beverly’s death, in both asks and in responses to posts, so I’m compiling that all into one discussion here.

[…]

Was Beverly fridged?

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I have so many issues with this, I don’t know where to start

I love Hannibal, have written extensively of my love for it, but trying to explain away its mistakes is not what an engaged and critically-minded and culturally-conscious audience does. 

Monday, 24th of March with 655 notes