This wouldn’t be a Hannibal episode without a few eye-catching moments of blood and gore, and right off the bat we see that Will has a secret admirer. His lawyer is delivered a freshly severed ear on the first day of court, which leads our forensic team to the home of the bailiff of Will’s trial. After a bit of analysis it’s determined that the ear was cut off with the same knife that Will supposedly used to cut the ear of off Abigail Hobbes.
Upon entering the home of the bailiff, a trap is triggered which torches the place, but leaves behind our first grisly crime scene. Inside of the house, the bailiff’s body has been laid on top of a stag head, in the similar manner that the Chesapeake Ripper victims are displayed. The ear has been cut off, and a smile has been carved across the man’s face. As one character quickly notes, it’s like a Will Graham greatest hits.
Some see this as a sign that Will has an ally out there, trying to stage similar killings and prove his innocence. To others, it shows that the actual Chesapeake Ripper is still at large. As the audience, we know that the latter is the case, but is this Hannibal’s dirty work? He meets with Will and hints that whoever did this is writing him a poem. “Are you going to let his love go to waste?”
If it is Hannibal, he’s doing this in a way to not only clear Will’s name but protect his own legacy as well. I believe he truly does see Will as a friend, as misguided as that belief may be, and now that he’s gotten him behind bars and close to being convicted, is trying to finagle a way out for him. When he’s called to the stand two great things happen. The first thing is his awesome entrance. He walks into the courtroom bathed in light, becoming a silhouette gracefully walking to the witness chair. Then, as he’s getting sworn in, Will hallucinates Hannibal turning into the Antler Man. It’s a great image that perfectly shows us what Will truly thinks of Hannibal, though he’s putting up a facade that says he needs Hannibal’s help in order to get out of jail.
The second thing that happens is that, for what is perhaps the first time in this show, Hannibal himself is shot down. He begins answering questions about profiling killers, and though he’s great at it, he’s forced to admit the truth about the crime scene and tells them that the victim was not mutilated to death, but killed by a bullet. The judge immediately dismisses the evidence and has the conversation struck from the records.
Hannibal is not one to be defeated, and takes his revenge out on the judge wonderfully: by killing him (off screen, of course) and putting him on display in the middle of the courtroom. The top of his head has been sliced off, and in his hands he holds a scale. On one side, the man’s brain, on the other, his heart. His eyes are nowhere to be found, and as Hannibal points out to Crawford, it’s a reminder that law is blind, heartless and brainless. With the judge killed in such horrible fashion, and Will’s trial turned into a freak show of nightmarish proportions, the proceedings will have to start all over again from the beginning. So, while Hannibal may have nearly put the final nail in Will’s coffin during his cross examination, he has managed to buy him a bit of time.
Continuing with Hannibal‘s motif of naming each episode after a meal, this episode is titled Hassun. Hassun is Japanese for “the second course, which sets the seasonal theme. Typically one kind of sushi and several smaller side dishes.” So, how is this episode setting us up for the main course? My guess is the freak show that is Will Graham’s trial has only begun, and that the true Chesapeake Ripper has only just started peeking out from the shadows.