Season one of NBC’s Hannibal tested the limits of what was deemed appropriate on television. After running away with some of the most gruesome scenes broadcasted on a non-premium cable network the writers decided to kick things up a notch when it came to murders. Hannibal often straddles the line between grotesque and absurd, and the second season definitely took an artistic route in its presentation of bodies. Certainly some of these episodes are not simply the most gruesome deaths of the season, but could rank in the “Top Five” deaths of the entire series.
5. “Is your social worker inside that horse?” (2.08 – “Su-zakana”)
After a woman is murdered by a serial killer, her admirer, Peter, sews her corpse into the body of a dead horse so that she can be reborn. While examining the body, investigators find a living bird, which somehow made it through the experience, sewn into the woman’s chest. Seriously. This happened. As the investigation continues, the killer, who turns out to be Peter’s social worker, tries to frame Peter for the murders of sixteen women. In a fit of rage and self-preservation Peter renders his social worker unconscious and sews him inside another dead horse. This leads to quite a disturbing scene of the killer ripping through the stitches and crawling out of the horse’s abdomen, dripping in blood and guts.
Although I would call this the most memorable death-related sequence in the entirety of season two, the scene came of more strange than gruesome.
4. Human Sashimi (2.05 – “Mukozuke”)
While not straightforward gory by lacking a significant amount blood and only containing one body, this scene is certainly one of the most gruesome of the season. Beverly Katz, a badass whom the audience had come to love, got in a bit too deep and learned Hannibal’s true nature. As punishment, Hannibal slices her body in thin sections, presses them between glass, and displays them at an observatory. Poor Beverly ends up looking like something seen in an anatomy textbook, and Fannibals lose one of their favorite characters.
3. A Bit Peckish (2.12 – “Tome-Wan”)
Sometimes a show makes you hate a character to the point where, no matter what terrible thing happens to them, you can sit back and say, “Well, you deserved it.” In Hannibal this character is Mason Verger, a disturbed individual who drinks the tears of children, tries to feed people to his pigs, and makes his sister unable to have children. So when Hannibal drugs him and convinces Mason to cut off pieces of his own face, you can only feel but so bad. Still, seeing a man cut off his features to feed the protagonist’s dogs is a bit disturbing. But the crowning moment of the episode is when Mason, upon realizing he is a hungry, cuts off and eats his own nose.
There are multiple things that are unsettling about the mural in this episode. First is sheer size of it, realizing how many people the “artist” was able to murder and get away with. Second is that the bodies found in the mural only account for a fraction of the murders committed, as the “rejects” are thrown away into a river. Finally, and most importantly, is the perspective the audience is given. We are first introduced to the mural when one of the installments wakes up to find himself sewn to preserved bodies, and understanding the fate that would befall him if he did not escape. After ripping himself out of the mural and fleeing from the “artist” he makes a leap of faith off a cliff towards the river below… only to miss and die on rocks. It is a horrific and hopeless situation, made all the worse by Hannibal assisting in completing the mural.
1. The Red Dinner (2.13 – “Mizumono”)
This episode simply has to make it to the top of the countdown due to the amount of bloodshed and plot twists this episode brought the series. It had such an impact on the series that fans adopted the phrase “Red Wedding” from Game of Thrones and changed it to “Red Dinner.” Why? Well, in the span of a single episode nearly all the main characters were implied to be dead or very close. Abigail Hobbes, who the audience believed to be dead until her surprise appearance, had her throat slit like an animal in a slaughterhouse. Will Graham was practically gutted and left to die in a pool of his own blood. Jack Crawford passed out in the pantry with a piece of glass lodged into his neck. Finally Alana Bloom was pushed out of a second-story window and left in the pouring rain. This season finale was a powerhouse that left Fannibals emotionally crippled and the format for season three up in the air.
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