Welcome to TV Minus the TV, a column full of thoughts about TV shows watched on laptops published on the internet for you to read on your phone.

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Mr. Robot #109, “eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt” by Bryce Rudow

Hannibal #312, “The Number Of The Beast Is 666” by Charles Bramesco

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Mr. Robot – #109, “eps1.8_m1rr0r1ng.qt”

A Pre-Finale Podcast w/ Nate Scott and Ben Wormald

BY BRYCE RUDOW (@brycetrudow)

Last Friday night, I had two of the biggest Mr. Robot fans I know, Nate Scott of USA Today’s uber-popular For The Win section and Ben Wormald of Pew Research Center, over to drink beer and talk about the best show of the summer.

Nate will also be interviewing Sam Esmail, the creator of the show, on Thursday morning after the finale airs, so if you have anything you’d like him to ask this televisionary, leave a comment or tweet at us/him (@Random_Nerds/@ANateScott).
 

(SoundCloud hates its users, so if you have any trouble playing this podcast via the embed, try the direct MP3 version below!)
 

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Hannibal #312, “The Number Of The Beast Is 666”

Hannibal The Mind-Taker

BY CHARLES BRAMESCO (@intothecrevasse)

In the wild and woolly world of Marvel comic books, Daredevil’s chief nemesis was Wilson Fisk, better known as the Kingpin. Kingpin held Daredevil’s home of Hell’s Kitchen in a viselike grip, singlehandedly conjoining the city’s many criminal rings into a chain too strong to be broken. More than that, Kingpin managed to do all this without any discernible superpowers of his own. Though it’s shown that Fisk’s got serious prowess in hand-to-hand combat despite his husky figure, the man’s not firing lasers out of his eyes or turning buildings to ash by thinking about it. He’s got far more insidious, effective superpowers: wealth, influence, and power. He only dirties his own hands because he gets a kick out of it; if he was so inclined, he’d never have to lay a finger on an enemy. He’s not a mind-reader but a master manipulator, a consummate pro at getting other people to do stuff for him.

Hannibal Lecter is nothing if not a master supervillain, and episodes like “The Number Of The Beast Is 666” remind the audience why that is. When Hannibal was first taken into police custody earlier this season, Will Graham and Jack Crawford concurred that something was definitely afoot. Hannibal only ever allows himself to assume the appearance of helplessness so that he may lure his foes into a false sense of security. He is at all times in possession of the keys to his own freedom, and while he’s in “captivity,” he’s got plenty of minions to carry out his bidding. He travels the Kingpin-cleared path of supervillainy, even sharing the character’s wealth and fetish for high culture.

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The power of suggestion has always been a central theme in the history of Hannibal, starting on the least liminal level as Hannibal conned a season-one Will Graham into believing himself to be insane. In this week’s episode, Hannibal exercises his powers of persuasion yet again, albeit in more direct ways.

Dr. Chilton, surely the dimmest guy to have ever lived judging by his repeated meddlings in the affairs of a notoriously effective serial murderer, rears his smug little head once more in this week’s installment to turn up the heat on Hannibal. He drops by the almost comically tasteful enclosure that Hannibal was moved to last episode to antagonize him further with the threat of less aesthetically pleasing conditions. Last week, Alana Bloom slapped Hannibal on the wrist by moving him to a cell with no privacy, maliciously noting that Hannibal’s toilet will be in full view of any observers. Chilton paints a far more dismal picture, pitching Hannibal a life without any of the creature comforts he’s come to cherish.#

Chilton makes the crucial mistake of assuming that just because Hannibal is locked in 24-hour high-security confinement, he can’t still kill. Will Graham and Dr. Bloom discuss Hannibal’s diminished agency, using the word in the slightly more academic sense as a shorthand for the ability to do for one’s self, that is, freedom. Will tells Alana (and, in no small way, himself) that Hannibal’s been neutralized by his stay in the clink, but Alana knows better. He’s got plenty of agency, because he’s got agents. We hear “agent” and think of shadowy government departments, but Alana reestablishes that the term simply refers to one who acts on another’s behalf. It’s vicarious freedom, but at the end of the day, that’s more than enough to fulfill his whims.

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Hannibal executes his plan with elegant precision, correctly banking on Will letting his distaste for Chilton compel him to get Chilton in harm’s way, and then banking on Dolarhyde finishing the job. Hannibal knows what makes people tick, expertly parsing out motivations and future consequences. He foresees Will putting Chilton and Dolarhyde in contact with one another, and it doesn’t take a soothsayer to predict what Dolarhyde will do once he gets his hands on the slimy little bastard. (Though the whole biting-off of the face still came as a jaw-dropping shock.) Even as plot developments continue to whirl all around Hannibal, kept static in his jail of glass and plastic, he’s running the game. A remarkably small number of scenes in this markedly talk-heavy episode involved Hannibal himself. Richard Armitage turns in his finest performance as Dolarhyde yet, believably playing out a scene in which a homicidal maniac attempts to talk his ex-girlfriend out of his house mid-murder. He’s the star of this episode, though Mikkelsen only takes a back seat in terms of face time.

He’s in control of everything, as per usual. Chilton thinks he can bully Hannibal with the threat of a future filled with stewed apricots. As if to refute that in specific, there’s a split-second shot of Hannibal, grinning like a kid on Christmas morning, slurping down one of Chilton’s severed lips. If I remember correctly, the Kingpin got room service in prison, too.