Tag Archives: Hannibal Lecter

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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Hannibal Review: “Apertivo” (Season 3, Episode 4)


“One of those friendships that ends after the disemboweling.”

“Apertivo” was the episode 2 I was hoping for. The fact that it comes a little later in the season doesn’t bother me, though, because I think it was a necessary choice for pacing reasons. This episode is electric, and I suspect all of the tension sown in episodes 2 and 3 will begin to pay off in exciting ways from this point forward.

Hannibal - Season 3We’re treated to 3 “surprises” in this episode (though not surprising to those who avidly devour Hannibal news):

First, Dr. Chilton is alive (!), twice resurrected. Surviving the removal of his insides by Dr. Gideon in Season 1 and surviving a bullet to the face by Miriam Lass in Season 2, Chilton proves that no one on Hannibal is dead until we see a corpse, preferably displayed as a work of art. I loved how it was Chilton who came to see Will in the hospital, instead of Abigail as Will wanted/imagined. The disappointment in Will’s face is utterly tragic. It’s like the most perfectly executed bad joke, mirroring Abigail’s second “resurrection,” only this time fo’ realz. The reuse of the dialogue from episode 2 is poignant and heart-breaking. Hugh Dancy’s reluctant delivery of the line “He left us to die” suggests that Will is reliving this scene a second time just as we are.

Second, Alana is alive (!) — with an adamantium skeleton and mutant healing powers! (Not really, but who wouldn’t want to see Caroline Dhavernas as the next Wolverine? Am I alone in this fantasy?) It seems Alana has gained a newfound understanding of Will’s early homicidal instincts.

Season 2 Alana: “Will, it’s wrong to conspire to murder Hannibal just because he’s killing everyone you care about.”

Season 3 Alana: “Hey, Mason, can we conspire to murder Hannibal? He’s killing everyone I care about.”

To what degree is she deceiving Mason? And will her dance with this devil corrupt/transform her in the same way Will’s dance with Hannibal corrupted/transformed him?

And third, “Apertivo” introduces us to the “good as new” Mason Verger. In tonight’s episode, the role of Mason Verger will be performed by Joe Anderson. I wasn’t so sure what to think on first viewing; he seemed kind of flat compared to Michael Pitt’s more flamboyant approach. But the second time I watched the episode I found myself really enjoying the subtleties of his performance, especially in the eyes and voice. Where Pitt’s Mason was operatic, Anderson’s is fully of seething anger.

Also quite interesting was Will’s clear admission of his ambivalence about Hannibal to Jack Crawford. Though still conflicted, Will’s emotions swing much closer towards forgiveness than I ever expected. After the Season 2 massacre — in particular, Hannibal’s sadistic “Indian giver” act of murdering Abigail right in front of Will after resurrecting her for him only moments before — I’d envisioned a vengeance-driven Season 3 Will pursuing Hannibal across Europe. Instead we get a Will Graham who not only imagines an alternate world where he participates in Jack’s murder, but perhaps even wishes he had. Apparently this is not one of those friendships that ends after the disemboweling.

(By the way, that scene that begins with Crawford’s murder and transitions through to the conversation in Will’s garage — all set to those sweeping and weeping melodic strings — could be the most beautiful moment in the entire series so far.)

And seeing all of Hannibal’s victims together in one episode like this makes me think that perhaps Hannibal’s goal is rarely to kill. Killing is incidental. First principles, Clarice. What is the first and principal thing he does? What needs does he serve by killing (or attempting to kill, or positioning people into situations where they might be killed)? He wants to see what people become. As Mason Verger says, “Survived him? This is exactly how he intended me to live.”

In summary, “Apertivo” has the potential to be one of my favorite episodes of the series. Every moment between any two characters is pregnant with so much history and so much emotion that what might be born henceforth is something only Hannibal/Hannibal can imagine.

Hannibites:

  • A boat! That’s exactly how Will Graham would travel to Europe!
  • Jack’s goodbye to Bella. Maybe Laurence Fishburne’s best performance in the series. Actually, he rocked this whole episode.
  • What does it say about this cast of characters that Chilton is acting the most rationally of all of them?
  • “Friendship with Hannibal is blackmail elevated to the level of love.” Best line ever. My head exploded when I first heard it.
  • I cheered out loud when I saw Katherine Isabelle’s name appear in the opening credits!
  • “The optimist believes we live in the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist fears this is true.”
  • Did Mason Verger really quote Conan the Barbarian???
  • Are we to assume that Jack Crawford doesn’t know what “copyright” means, or is it the writers who don’t?
  • Defenestration! Now I love that word, too!
  • The POV of Will’s intestines during the gutting.
  • Sitting there in Hannibal’s house, Will and ghost Abigail reminded me of David and ghost Jack from An American Werewolf in London.
  • Hannibal’s note of condolence to Jack quotes from John Donne’s “A Fever.”
  • Ah, the eternal Baltimore winter.
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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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