Typhoid and swans: HANNIBAL Season 2 Episode 9: “Shiizakana” (Fuller, 2014)

Will is dreaming about killing Hannibal, tying him to a tree (the way Hannibal kills Dortlich, one of the men who ate his sister, in the book Hannibal). Instead of a horse, the show uses a stag, and instead of Dortlich, we see Hannibal, and then Stagman.


Hannibal (in Will’s dream, remember) refuses to denounce himself as a monster


He wants to talk about how we know another person:

“No one can be fully aware of another human being unless we love them. By that love, we see potential in our beloved. Through that love, we allow our beloved to see their potential. Expressing that love, our beloved’s potential comes true.”

He’s not talking Alana here. The love theme between Will and Hannibal that dominates the third season has started, within Will’s subconscious. The stag pulls the rope tied around Hannibal’s neck until


Hannibal, meanwhile, is making dinner for Jack: Sacromonte omelette with liver and sweetbreads. He explains that he spent some happy days in Granada as a young man (I wonder if his Cervantes is as good as his Dante?)


He doesn’t explain where his liver and sweetbreads are usually sourced from. Jack should know – Will told him all about it in episode 6: “You and I probably sipped wine while swallowing the people to whom we were trying to give justice”. But Jack’s a professional, and if he is worried about the provenance of the sweetbreads, he manages to give every indication of thoroughly enjoying his meal.

This episode’s killer is a beast that tears people to pieces, but doesn’t eat any of them, which makes him fairly irrelevant from the POV of a cannibal blog. Of course, it turns out to be a human in animal costume with mechanical cave-bear jaws, and of course he turns out to be a former patient of Hannibal’s. Is there any crazy SOB that this man hasn’t treated?

Then again, Hannibal’s treatment is far from orthodox. He is pleased to see Will express regret at letting Hannibal stop him from killing the dude in the stable last episode. He tells Will that


But Hannibal considers that his choices are usually made for a good reason, so there is no real point to regret. He wants Will to adapt. Will mutters:

“Adapt. Evolve. Become.”


We go into extreme close up. “Adapt, evolve, become” is the mantra of the Übermensch. Hannibal believes Will can adapt, evolve, become like him – a superior being to whom killing of ordinary people is no more regrettable than killing a fly. Killing Hobbes, and thinking he had killed Hannibal, gave Will a quiet sense


And as Chilton told us, also in episode 6

“He is attracted to medical and psychological fields because they offer power over man. Cannibalism is an act of dominance”.

The power to kill. The power to eat. The power of what Derrida called “carnivorous virility” that defines humanity and its subjugation of nature.

We finally meet Margot Verger, in Hannibal’s office, complaining about the inhumanity of her brother. If carnivorous virility defines our humanity, and he is master of a cattle and hog killing enterprise, how can she dehumanise him like that?


The FBI now think that the cave-bear is actually a dude who has trained a bear or wolf to attack first “livestock” (hate that word) and now humans. “Bigger prey” says Will. Hannibal, dressed in the only hat worth wearing in Baltimore, suggests:


The dude is Randall Tier (Mark O’Brien) and he is preparing his mechanical jaws for the next date; we then see him tearing a couple of young lovers to pieces. Will does his pendulum thing and re-enacts the scene in his mind, but this time he is not just the killer – he is killer as stagman. He is evolving into Hannibal.


Will says that the killing is not by an animal, and is not personal. The killer just wants to maul. To hunt.


The people Hannibal kills for their livers and sweetbreads – they’re not personal either, although some admittedly are rude.

This episode sheds a lot of light on Hannibal’s philosophy of becoming and his search to find or develop (another) Nietzschean Übermensch. In Red Dragon, Francis Dolarhyde is becoming the Dragon (and will do so again in Season 3 of this series). In Silence of the Lambs, Jame Gumb is becoming a woman, or so he hopes, by skinning women and making a suit.

Hannibal tells Will:

“The way any animal thinks depends on limitations of mind and body. If we learn our limitations too soon, We never learn our power.”


He tells Jack “Animals are far more like humans than we ever realised. And humans are far more like animals”.


And he tells Randall (straight out of his words to Dolarhyde in Red Dragon):



Hannibal, as exponent of becoming, believes he is Nietzsche’s Übermensch and wants to recruit others to this higher self. This really is the ultimate in anthropocentrism – putting humans on a different plane to other animals. But Hannibal is not a speciesist, because he does not consider most humans to be truly human. They are just means toward achieving the goal – becoming the higher self. He tells Randall:

“You bore screams like a sculptor bears dust from the beaten stone.”

This is the heart of Hannibal’s cannibalism: the slow-witted masses are simply raw materials to be used by the artist, who is becoming something greater, a higher self. Randall killing people, Will killing people, Margot killing people: these are all steps to their becoming.

Will asks Hannibal in his therapy session what he thinks about when he thinks about killing. The answer is crucial to understanding Hannibal and his philosophy (it is taken from Hannibal’s conversation with Clarice in Silence of the Lambs).

Hannibal: I think about God

Will: Good and evil?

Hannibal: Good and evil has nothing to do with God. I collect church collapses. Did you see the recent one in Sicily? The façade fell on 65 grandmothers during a special mass. Was that evil? Was that God? If he’s up there, he just loves it.



4 thoughts on “Typhoid and swans: HANNIBAL Season 2 Episode 9: “Shiizakana” (Fuller, 2014)

  1. Pingback: The First and Last Hannibal movie: HANNIBAL RISING (Webber, 2007) – The Cannibal Guy

  2. Pingback: HANNIBAL: a complete listing of my Hannibal film and TV blogs – The Cannibal Guy

  3. Pingback: Cannibal Dad: WE ARE WHAT WE ARE (Mickle, 2013) – The Cannibal Guy

  4. Pingback: “I like to watch them”: EYE WITHOUT A FACE (Ramin Niami, 2021) – The Cannibal Guy

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