Tag Archives: Bryan Fuller

Hannibal Review: “Secondo” (Season 3, Episode 3)


“Technically, you killed him.”

NBC announced today that it would not renew its option to broadcast a fourth season of Hannibal. This came as sad news to many fans. But notice my wording in that first sentence.

Hannibal has always been an independently produced show. Just because NBC doesn’t want a Season 4, doesn’t mean there won’t be one. Last year when Season 3 was in question, there were murmurs of other networks who were interested if NBC passed.

The most important variable, in my opinion, in determining whether or not there will be a Season 4 is Bryan Fuller. His commitment to Hannibal has been undeniable. He is also committed to Showtime’s adaptation of American Gods. As sure as I am that he would have delivered a great Season 4 had NBC picked it up, I’m also sure it’s tempting as hell for him to see a silver lining here — no Season 4 of Hannibal would sure simplify his life.

Now for the question of why no Season 4 on NBC. In other words, who, technically, killed Hannibal? NBC itself. No, it’s not a question of inadequate promotion or lead ins or which night the show is on. Hannibal was dead the minute NBC decided to let Fuller do the show he wanted to. This is NOT a network show. The fact that we fans got THREE SEASONS (let alone one season) should have us jumping for joy. That’s a miracle. Let’s all count our blessings before we cut our own hearts out and eat them.

But this is supposed to be a review of episode 3. Thank you for allowing me the digression.

“Secondo” is a merging of the aesthetics of the first two episodes this season, giving us more of Hannibal’s adventures in Florence and more of Will’s search for Hannibal, this time in Lithuania. The juxtaposition is unfortunate. As much as I like the gothic aesthetics of the Will Graham storyline, there’s an electricity to Hannibal’s storyline that dwarfs the rest of the episode.

I found myself wishing for something more to happen. Things did happen, of course. Will met and allied himself with Chiyo. Chiyo resolved her dilemma over whether or not to kill her prisoner. But I didn’t find myself caring very much at all about these new characters and new developments. As I’ve said before, I’m confident I will appreciate this individual episode more once the full context of the season is known, but on first viewing I was ambivalent.

What I was not ambivalent about were two scenes in particular. First, the dinner party Hannibal throws for Sogliato. We’ve never seen the good doctor lose his composure the way he does when he drives the ice pick into Sogliato’s temple. Even when he was massacring Baltimore’s entire FBI field office in the Season 2 finale, he was a man in complete control. It’s quite revealing of the level to which Will’s declaration of forgiveness must have affected Hannibal.

Second was Will’s “design” of the dead prisoner. On first reading I thought it was a sign post to Hannibal, should he return to Lithuania. On second thought, I saw it as a reply to the valentine Hannibal left for Will at the Cappella Palatina. On third thought, I wonder if Will misses the dance he did with Hannibal in Season 2 where he was pretending to be his serial killer protégé, and this was a way for him to flex those murderous muscles. On fourth thought, I imagined a twisted and bizarre Season 4 where Will Graham is the moth-obsessed serial killer standing in for Buffalo Bill (which the television show does not own the rights to). That would be a crazy twist and elegant way to keep Hannibal and Will dancing once Hannibal is committed to the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

Jack Crawford makes his first appearance of Season 3 in this episode. We’re not given much here except some conversations with Inspector Pazzi that echo too closely to Will’s from last episode. I did find it extremely interesting when Jack says, “I’m not here for the monster … I’m here for Will Graham.” I see two interpretations of this line. One, it seems that a consequence of the Hannibal House Massacre is that Jack has finally learned there is a price too high to pay when pursuing the bad guy. And two, that Jack can see the potential monster in Will Graham and is fighting for his friend’s better angels.

Hannibites:

  • Did anyone else notice the scene “from” episode 2 in the recap that was not actually in episode 2? Will says to Abigail, “There are places within himself he can’t safely go.”
  • That suit Hannibal wears to dinner!
  • Fireflies! And snails!
  • Who keeps that dungeon stocked with candles??
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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.

Hannibites:

  • 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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