Hannibal: The Gang’s All Here

Hannibal, Aperitivo
Brooke Palmer/NBC

First things first: this week, we found out that this unique and visually-stunning show’s days may well be numbered, as the show was cancelled by NBC. This is a tremendous loss for television, and a painful move by NBC, but as the old cliche goes: there’s no use crying over spilled milk (here, more accurately, no use crying over thrown-away televisual gold). So let’s try to fight through the sadness and enjoy what we have left of this wonderful show while we have it, right? Onward!

This episode played around quite a bit with time and space. Hannibal does not typically stress about adhering to linearity, but “Aperitivo” was a particularly potent example of that fact. We jumped around the timeline quite a lot, moving from months after the massacre, back to the immediate aftermath, and back again. This ping-ponging in time happened more than once, as we visited Hannibal’s surviving victims.

I thought it was tremendously clever for the show to “reinterpret” (or re-visualize) the “Abigail”-Will conversation that we originally saw in this season’s second episode, “Primavera,” re-casting it as the true conversation that apparently occurred between Chilton and Will shortly after the attack that occurred during the season two finale.

“I’m building rooms in my memory palace for all my friends.” – Will Graham

“Friendship with Hannibal is blackmail, elevated to the level of love.” – Alana Bloom

I particularly loved the return to the theme of multiple worlds that was such a huge, recurring point in “Primavera”—the moment where we are inside Will’s head as Chilton’s comment that “this is [the] best possible world” for him and that he isn’t getting a better one causes Will to imagine a world in which he had gone through with Hannibal’s plan and assisted Dr. Lecter in dispatching of Jack Crawford.

That very brief scene was absolutely stunning. Hannibal is no stranger to the cinematic (what Bryan Fuller lovingly refers to as the “pretentious art film” impulse) and this moment was a perfect example of that. It was beautifully scored and filmed. Even the transition to Will welding in his garage, and the resulting light sparking, was incredible. That scene was one of my all-time favourites in the series.

Fredrick Chilton is such an interesting figure. Personally, I find him to be both deeply annoying and very entertaining. I noticed that, as he visited each of Hannibal’s other victims (Mason, Alana, Jack), he didn’t take particular pains to be sensitive to their trauma. This was especially noticeable in his scenes with Alana when, as she noted, he asked her how many bones she’d broken as if she was the one who broke her own bones. Victim-blaming is not okay, Doc Chilton.

Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC

Victim-blaming nonsense aside, I am liking this apparent change in Alana Bloom. I was never a big fan of her character, as she always seemed rather passive and relatively underdeveloped. Then, last season, her refusal to see Hannibal’s true colours toed the narrow line between naivety and delusion. Vengeful Alana will probably be fun, and a massive improvement over her earlier personality for sure. And I am so glad that we skipped over Alana feeling stupid and sorry for herself, and got straight to stone-cold Old Testament-style revenge Alana. She’s even dressing sassier already (bright red lips, slicked back hair). A+ for character development!

“Dr. Lecter got deeper inside you than any of us.” – Mason Verger, throwing major shade

Speaking of Alana: Joe Anderson is doing a pretty amazing job as a recast version of her new partner-in-crime Mason Verger, following Michael Pitt’s decision not to continue with the series. Not an easy feat to accomplish without going full-on ham, given the over-the-top oddness of that character. I didn’t have very high expectations because I love Michael Pitt, and loved his portrayal of the pompous, sadistic Mason Verger. Anderson, pretty heavily featured in this episode, has been great so far. Mason’s disturbing (but poetically justified) plan for Hannibal to be eaten alive was so simple and straightforwardly stated. It was beyond creepy. I’m sure we won’t see it come anywhere near fruition, but I’m really looking forward to seeing the fallout of the collaboration between Alana and Mason as they work together.

I also do love the irony of the fact that Mason Verger’s new nose vaguely resembles a pig snout (this was more noticeable in some shots than others).

Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC

“If I had lips, I would smile.” – Mason Verger

And of course I can’t fail to mention the most heart-wrenching part of this week’s episode: the death of Jack’s wife, Bella Crawford. Real-life spouses Laurence Fishburne and Gina Torres have always exhibited incredible on-screen chemistry, the love between their characters consistently feeling so visceral and real, but Bella’s death after over two seasons of terminal illness really packed an emotional sucker-punch.

“God, I love you in white.” – Jack Crawford, to his vision of Bella

Jack’s endless sad eyes and his visions of Bella (first holding up a white dress that she planned to wear and later walking toward him down the aisle, as if at their wedding rather than her funeral) were beautiful. These scenes were perfectly acted and written. Jack and Bella’s relationship is one of the truest I’ve ever seen depicted on television, though it wasn’t often featured. Hannibal’s condolence letter to Jack, though probably well intentioned in Hannibal’s screwed-up mind, enraged me more than many of his other more outrightly heinous crimes. That was a definite jerk move, impeccable penmanship aside.

EXTRA NIBBLES

  • Ah yes that scene showing the POV inside Will’s Hannibal-inflicted gut-slice near the beginning of the episode. Just what I didn’t know I needed. (Not.)
  • I was not expecting 1) Jack to have known about Will calling and warning Hannibal that “they” knew shortly before the massacre, 2) Jack to have confronted Will about that knowledge, and 3) Will to have so easily admitted to Jack that he called Hannibal because the doctor was his friend and because he did want to run away with Hannibal as planned. (Tres romantic!)
  • It was really heartbreaking to see, through Will’s eyes, the flashes of Abigail in his memory. In particular, the moment when Will tells Alana he came to Hannibal’s house to be alone, only for the camera to pull back and reveal a bloodied Abigail-hallucination, was particularly moving. The small smile the two gave each other was so sad.
  • Did Will commandeer a small boat to track Hannibal to Italy? If so, he must have brought along quite the reserve tank of gas. If not, I’m so confused by the purpose of that last scene.

What did you all think of this episode? How did you feel about the fact that everyone (sans Abigail) survived the second season massacre? What did you think of Alana and Mason’s dream team-up? Chime in with your comments below!

Hannibal airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.