If you haven’t watched “Takiawase,” this past Friday’s episode of “Hannibal,” and don’t want to be spoiled, then don’t read on.
If you have, then you know that “The Good Wife” isn’t the only series to have recently set fans aflutter by offing a regular character. At the end of the March 21st episode, Special Agent Beverly Katz, the crime scene investigator played by Hettienne Park that Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) had managed to coax into looking into his case again, began to come around to the idea that it’s actually Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) who’s the serial killing cannibal. She broke into his house and discovered damning
offal evidence, then discovered Hannibal’s murder dungeon, and then discovered him. And as the fight scene that kicked off the season made clear, Hannibal’s no slouch when it comes to combat — so when he hit the lights and darted away, things weren’t looking good for Beverly.
Showrunner Bryan Fuller confirmed the character’s death to the AV Club, noting she was originally supposed to die in the first season: “When I saw Hetienne [Park] on Broadway, I was like, ‘She’s fantastic. She’d be brilliant on the show,’ and we didn’t really get to explore a lot with her in the first season, so I was like, we can’t kill her yet because we haven’t done anything with her. It felt like, let’s have her be the ally that Will earns, and she starts to believe, and then we know it’s episode four and she’s starting to believe, so [laughs] she’s not long for this world.”
Park’s a very likable actress and Beverly was a touch of light in a very dark series, so her death sparked a giant fan reaction from the devoted “Hannibal” following — including some who saw it as racist, sexist or both, another example of a male-centric series getting dramatic fuel from dead women. The response was such that Park addressed it in a blog post. Here’s an excerpt:
Fuller cast me in a role that I didn’t think I had a chance in hell of getting. I rarely if ever see minorities, women, minority women, let alone Asian women, get to play characters like Beverly Katz. I rarely if ever see characters like Beverly Katz period. And her last name is Katz for Christ’s sake. Pretty open-minded, non-racist, pro-feminine writing and casting in my opinion.
As far as “fridging” (killing her off for the sake of advancing the plot or creating “manpain”)… HANNIBAL is based on the Thomas Harris novels and it centers on the relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham – two dudes, so that’s where the focus will be and will likely remain. (My guess is that now that their relationship has been well established, there will be opportunity to further develop female characters. One can hope.)
With good writing, every event happens in order to advance the plot and raise the stakes for the characters in the story, so I’m not sure how any character getting killed off is a bad or avoidable thing, especially on a show about a guy who eats people.
Believe me, I would’ve preferred having Katz go down with a fight, but when I brought it up, I was told there was concern around showing Hannibal beating up a woman. I can see why they would be concerned. They were being sensitive not to overdo the violence against women in a story that inherently deals with violence. On the other hand, I also felt like that was sort of akin to relegating a female cop to a desk job rather than sending her out into the field. Isn’t that sort of perpetuating the notion that women are the weaker sex? So I suggested to a couple producers that they mitigate their concerns by having Katz get a good solid shot at him before dying, maybe a kick in the balls or wounding him somehow. But then that poses more issues and problems with maintaining integrity and making sure Hannibal doesn’t get caught too soon, which of course can’t happen, otherwise there’s no show. To be fair, I don’t believe they didn’t listen to me because I’m an Asian or a female. I think they didn’t listen to me because I’m an actor.
She concluded by noting that she didn’t want to “dismiss people’s upset or frustration,” and that she understood that “when you feel marginalized by the world at large, there’s great comfort and empowerment in seeing someone you can identify with on the screen who isn’t subject to clichés or stereotypes. When that gets taken away, you can feel like you’ve been fucked over once again.” The whole post is here, and well worth a read.