Hannibal Review: “Primavera” (Season 3, Episode 2)

“More important than suffering”

In “Primavera,” Will Graham offers one of the most pointed insights into Hannibal Lecter’s psychology that the show has given us to date:

“Hannibal follows several trains of thought at once, without distraction from any, and one of the trains is always for his own amusement. He’s playing with us. Always.”

Based on this episode, I think just maybe the same thing could be said about Bryan Fuller, the showrunner behind NBC’s Hannibal.

The appearance of Abigail Hobbs — risen from the dead… again? — infuriated me. The “Buuuulllllshit!” that I screamed must have woken at least a few neighbors. What was Fuller thinking? To have Abigail survive would rob the Season 2 finale (one of the greatest episodes of television I’ve ever witnessed) of its emotional power. There’s no way someone as story-savvy as Fuller would do that, right?

hannibal-s03e02I envisioned a Season 3 of Hannibal that included Abigail alive, and it made me sad. I envisioned the next three months of me NOT looking forward to Thursday nights, and it made me sad. I envisioned a life of talking about how tragic it was that NBC’s Hannibal lost its way after only two seasons, and it made me sad.

So I spent the next 10 minutes of the show chanting under my breath, “She can’t be real, she can’t be real, she can’t be real,” until enough of Will’s repeated mixing of reality, memory, and nightmarish fantasy suggested that Fuller and company were still to be trusted. It was then a tense waiting game until the show finally revealed (at exactly 31 minutes 19 seconds, by the way) that Abigail was in fact dead. A deep sigh of relief.

My conclusion: Despite redeeming itself by the end of the episode, the recap filler + Abigail fake-out + Will weirdness = a disappointing follow-up to last week’s most promising Season 3 premiere.

That is, until I watched it a second time.

“Primavera” holds up MUCH better on a second viewing. The “resurrection” of Abigail as a representation of Will’s conflicted feelings about the choices he made that led to last season’s Hannibal House Massacre is brilliant. Will’s need to make a place for Abigail, if only in his mind, is heartbreaking. Interpreting the conversations between them about possibility and choice as Will working through his own guilt and ambivalence is fascinating.

“After all he’s done, you’d still go to him?” A silent part of Will nods yes.

I also love how moody the whole episode is. It has this creepy gothic feel that culminates in the catacombs beneath the Cappella Palatina in Palermo. What better place to look for the fallen angel Lucifer (Hannibal) than the dark underworld beneath God’s temple?

While the “Il Mostro” backstory provided by Chief Investigator Pazzi was intriguing, I found his conversations with Will — especially Will’s warnings to him — to be a bit repetitive. Fans of the book, Hannibal, will remember Pazzi as the Italian police detective who tries to sell Hannibal to Mason Verger. This Pazzi, more interestingly, seems much more motivated by the opportunity to restore his reputation (tarnished 20 years earlier when he “wrongly” accused Hannibal of being the serial killer, Il Mostro, the “Monster of Florence”) than by financial gain. I wonder how this will lead him to Verger.

Despite an agonizing first viewing experience, I’m finding that “Primavera” keeps rising higher and higher in my estimation the more I think about it. Like God (and Hannibal), Bryan Fuller too seems to believe that “elegance is more important than suffering.”

“He’s playing with us. Always. You still want to go with him?”

Yes. Yes, I do.


  • The corpse unfolding itself into a deformed version of the stag.
  • It would be fun to drink my evening tea out of a Will Graham face-cup.
  • Why did Will lie to Hannibal? “The wrong thing being the right thing to do was too ugly a thought.” Is the wrong thing going away with Hannibal and the right thing not lying and/or sparing Jack’s life? I’m still chewing on this one.
  • A smile of fire burns through Will’s drawing of a clock.
  • Why does the priest see Abigail? Perhaps he sees the wounded part of Will.
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5 thoughts on “Hannibal Review: “Primavera” (Season 3, Episode 2)

  1. Leon says:

    I agree: a good episode that takes a second viewing to appreciate that it is indeed “good.” I still think that there could have been something other than the “PSYCH! Abigail isn’t dead!” thing to work Will’s mental incarnation of her into the episode. For me, that gag felt a little … Cheap? … for a show that is so grand on so many levels. But Abigail aside … I am more curious about Pazzi and the part he plays in what is to come. We shall see … !

    • Curtis says:

      I hear what you’re saying. The masochistic part of me kind of likes the juxtaposition of how low I felt after first seeing it to how enthusiastically high I am on the episode now. 🙂

  2. Leon says:

    “It’s not that kind of party.”

  3. PussNHikingBoots says:

    With this episode, we returned to a familiar feel that was why the first episode felt slightly lacking to me. I only saw this once, and I loved it! I knew right from the start that Abigail was not real. I only had a brief flicker of doubt, which went away quickly. When she says to Will, “He knew just how to cut us so that we would survive,” that is Will’s subconscious saying to him, “He knew just how to cut me/Will so that I/Will would survive.” And notice that Abigail disappeared as soon as Will knew where Hannibal was hiding. Abigail is truly the part of him that wishes he had gone with Hannibal. I think the reason that Pazzi could see her was because he stated he has the same gift as Will.

    And Curtis–now you know how I have felt for months with this: “I envisioned a Season 3 of Hannibal that included Abigail alive, and it made me sad. I envisioned the next three months of me NOT looking forward to Thursday nights…” and kinda STILL do ever since I heard about the recasting of Mason Verger. I also heard (thank God it’s not true!) that there was a period of time when Katharine Isabelle did not think she was coming back either. If BOTH Vergers had been taken from me, I swear, I don’t think I could watch.

    Anyway, back to the episode at hand. I agree that putting the season finale’s ending right at the beginning felt to me like: This again? However, I realize it’s been a year since the show has been on, and that ending is paramount to understanding what happens the rest of the season, so I suppose it was a necessary thing to new viewers.

    The level of pretentiousness was high, especially at the beginning. I really felt it when the fire burned through the clock. I actually rolled my eyes–come on Bry–what other “cool” imagery can you throw into the mix to be really and truly pretentious? But all of that faded as I watched Will going about his thing that Will does.

    I loved how they showed us him returning to the office to remember what Hannibal said about the skull on the floor.

    I loved how when Abigail was about to fade out, she looked like she started crying but instead of tears coming from her eyes, blood came from her wound.

    The stagenstein scene was grotesque and thrilling! The stag does live on, but boy is it warped now. It goes along with Will’s ambiguity–is he lying again? Or does he truly not know which side he’s on? Does he really forgive Hannibal? Clearly, he had some major misgivings about not going with Hannibal at the end of last season. Hannigram sails again…

    PS: Love your Hannibites!

  4. Curtis says:

    Will’s allegiance seems to shift with the wind. I think that’s what we saw in Season 2. Or maybe like Hannibal he can maintain several trains of thought at once, and one of those is forgiveness?

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