Tag Archives: Mason Verger

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.”
Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , ,

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.
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,