Hannibal Review: “Contorno” (Season 3, Episode 5)


“The first step in the development of taste is to be willing to credit your own opinion.”

It is my opinion, and dare I say I have a refined palate for storytelling, that even the worst episode of Hannibal is some of the best television ever created. And while “Contorno” is not my favorite episode, it’s still got a lot going for it.

Let’s get the best scene out of the way first: The Jack v. Hannibal rematch. How satisfying to see Hannibal get his ass kicked! Personally, I would have liked a little more back and forth, but that slow motion shot of Jack kicking Hannibal through glass was glorious. And the giant hook! I instantly recalled Jack saying to Will in Season 2, “I’m a good fisherman, too.”

In other news, Will and Choyo are headed to Florence by train to stop/kill Hannibal, depending on who you ask. That is, until Will “Alana-Blooms” off the back of the train! (Forget “jump scares,” this show has officially invented the “push scare.”)

Hannibal - Season 3Choyo has correctly pegged Will as a tad bit off-center and chosen to delay his arrival in Italy. Empathy and reciprocity have led Will Graham to a state of moral dumbfounding, as Hannibal tells Bedelia, and Choyo clearly doesn’t trust Will to find his moral compass again. I wonder if Choyo witnessed Will’s creation of the moth man he left in Hannibal’s Lithuanian dungeon. It’s hard to imagine she wasn’t privy to an art project that must have taken Will hours to complete. “Stay outside, I’ll be done in a minute!”

Will is both attracted and repulsed by Hannibal and his feelings for him. “Hannibal and I afforded each other an experience we may not otherwise have had.” He loves what Hannibal has shown him but he hates that he loves it. The only way to prove to himself that he is not like Hannibal is to kill him. Or so he thinks. Choyo tells Will that “there are means of influence other than violence.” Is this planting the seed for Will to pursue Hannibal’s capture instead of his death?

Initially, the Choyo character didn’t do much for me. Pazzi either. My problem with both of these characters is that they were introduced to us with a lot talking and very little action. So the only sense of them we got was through their stories about themselves. And in the case of Choyo especially, her delivery of those stories is so monotone as to remove almost all trace of dramatic tension. In contrast to the characters we already know (and know very well — and know through action) these new characters were dissatisfying. Initially, that is. But on rewatching these episodes, especially “Contorno,” I’ve listened closely to their words. I can imagine real people with real experiences behind those words. And they’re both so damned tragic. I now find myself feeling for them, rooting for them.

Being familiar with the book, Hannibal, I knew Pazzi’s fate, but I’m still in the dark about Choyo. Her line to Will about snails surviving digestion in a bird’s stomach to find they’ve traveled the world has me intrigued. Was that meant for him or for her?

Regarding Pazzi, when we first met him, his motive to catch Hannibal seemed entirely a desire for redemption. Even in this episode, he references his “fall from grace” that has damned him to menial tasks for his former subordinates. But with the introduction of his wife, it seems his motive has shifted to something more mercenary. That shift felt sudden and rather thin on first watch, a contrivance to follow the plotline from the book. But on second viewing, I began to think about previous episodes in which Pazzi tried to recruit both Will and Jack. Why enlist their help? In the answer to that question is the key to his motivation….

Consider this: For whatever reason, it seems Pazzi does not trust his colleagues and superiors in the Italian police. Perhaps he fears they would take most or all of the credit for any apprehension of Lecter, but his role would be undeniable if he were partnered with the American FBI. Therefore, it’s Will’s and Jack’s dual refusals that drive Pazzi to Mason Verger. If credit for Hannibal’s capture (and thus restoration of Pazzi’s former glory) is in question, then Mason’s bounty is a consolation prize. Was a consolation prize. Would have been a consolation prize. Oh poor Pazzi.

Hannibites:

  • Fireflies eat snails. Birds eat snails. Bedelia eats snails. Is there a connection?
  • What I love about long-form storytelling done right (as in the case of Hannibal) is how they have time for a moment where Jack mispronounces the meal at the Pazzi’s and is corrected. This has nothing to do with plot, but grounds the characters in a genuine moment between humans. So that when one of them is gutted and hanged, it’s more than just a plot development; it’s a tragic end to a human we cared for.
  • Is Alana Bloom a quitter? Vote now.
  • How did Alana track down those receipts? Is she randomly calling shops in Europe? How many languages does she speak so that she can inquire about purchases? I thought maybe Bedelia sent them to her but Alana describes a “blonde woman” who makes the purchases, so clearly she spoke to the merchant. That’s some serious Nancy Drew sleuthing right there!
  • The cutaways to Mason in that scene are hilarious. He looks so proud of her!
  • Brian Reitzell’s scoring makes awesome slow motion even more slow motion-y awesome.
  • “A little more hidden, a little less seen / When life is most like a dream.” This writing is poetry.
  • The double meaning of Hannibal’s comment to Pazzi: “Like any good investigator, I’m sure you’re sifting the circumstances for profit.”
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3 thoughts on “Hannibal Review: “Contorno” (Season 3, Episode 5)

  1. Leon says:

    No, Alana is NO “quitter” … ! I dug the episode more than you did upon initial viewing, but I agree with your read of everything. Your take on why Choyo pushed Will from the train is interesting. I had not considered that she was worried that he had become TOO “Hannibalized.” Here is to Episode #6! I believe it’ll be a BIG one.

  2. …“there are means of influence other than violence.” Is this planting the seed for Will to pursue Hannibal with kisses instead of killings?

    Alana Bloom is no quitter.

    I actually cheered out loud and was screaming, “Go Jack!” at my TV during that fight scene. It was soooo satisfying to see Hannibal get the living shit beat out of him.

    And, Curtis, since you failed to mention anything at all about A Clockwork Orange, now is my time to give props:
    That entire last scene was Clockwork. The music–obviously. Anybody who’s seen A Clockwork Orange 40 times, like I have, would immediately recognize that music. But aside from that, there is the ultraviolence of the scene, the big cog-looking wheel in the center that I think Hannibal gets his arm broken on. (Funny how you never see him NOT using that broken arm after that scene.) There are the TWO panes of glass that he is thrown through which, if you watch the fight scene from A Clockwork Orange where that music is played, people are thrown through TWO panes of glass. The other time when the music is played in is when Alex delivers an unexpected blow to one of droogs. Which is pretty much what Jack did to Hannibal. There is also the comment from Hannibal “Did you practice on an orange?” AND, the clothing. Knowing that the colors always mean something, I was wondering why were they dressed in black-and-white in this episode. What’s with the black and white? What’s with the black and white? And as soon as the music started, I KNEW. A Clockwork Orange.

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