A slow, overly visual episode of Hannibal brings Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) to Lithuania and into the circumference of an old friend of Hannibal’s (Mads Mikkelsen).
Let’s bitch it out…
As we creep slowly through these early episodes of Hannibal‘s third season, there’s a very deliberate sense of time and imagery. The first two episodes were spent getting reacquainted with the pair of exes whose hunting and killing game in seasons one and two gave Hannibal so much of its psychosexual appeal. There were some absolutely gorgeous moments in both episodes, including Bedelia’s (Gillian Anderson) slow descent in the bath in the premiere – repeated here tonight under very different circumstances – as well as last week’s heart stag, the creepiest single visual to appear on TV in recent memory.
With that said, there’s a fear that this dreamy, hallucinatory imagery has begun to overwhelm the series. I’m sure creator Bryan Fuller would take this criticism as praise because that is his design, but for viewers attracted by the Grand Guignol procedural cases, Hannibal has become an altogether different beast in S3. Fuller is on record that this year is more of a pretentious art film and the evidence is front and center in ‘Secondo.’
As much as I appreciated Will’s embrace of his dark side – the haunting specter of the man in the cage (Julian Richings) arranged as an angelic butterfly, coated in snails and hung like Christ was amazing – a lot of his adventures in Lithuania left me a bit cold. His exploratory search of the property, his meandering conversation with Chiyo (Tao Okamoto) and the deliberate avoidance of details about Mischa’s death was a little aggravating. Throw in more philosophical debate in Lecter’s mind palace and yet more close-ups of snails and this felt a little too drawn out. Plus I do wonder if viewers who are unfamiliar with the book, and thereby Hannibal’s history, felt left out of this aspect of the season.
Thankfully Bedelia’s fluctuating allegiance in Florence made up for some of the drier Will bits. It’s been fascinating watching Bedelia attempt to navigate her relationship with Hannibal. She’s back on her game here, trying to engage him in therapy by connecting Hannibal’s feelings of betrayal and forgiveness to both Mischa and Will. I just love how Bedelia pushes Hannibal in a way that no other character dares try. My favourite scene is the bathtub redux as Bedelia challenges him with a quip about eating his own sister and then slowly sinks beneath the surface. She’s clearly terrified of what Hannibal is capable of, but she’s confident enough of her safety – for now – that she can poke and prod at his underlying motivations. Why else is he drawing “them all” with this murder spree, including poor stupid Sogliato (Rinaldo Rocco) who dies an amusingly silly death via ice pick to the temple.
“Them all” refers not only to Will and Chiyo now, but also Pazzi (Fortunato Cerlino) and Jack (Laurence Fishburne, making his first appearance this season*). Jack’s scenes are brief (blame the success of ABC’s black-ish), so I don’t have much to comment on aside from the fact that it is interesting that he is there to rescue Will and seemingly happy to leave Hannibal to Pazzi. Good luck to them because as we’ve seen from the first few episodes, both Hannibal and Will are more unhinged – and therefore dangerous – than ever.
*Where is Alana (an unseen Caroline Dhavernas)? Seriously, having her name as a lead in the credits and not showing her for a quarter of the season is just mean!
- Hannibal (after Bedelia removes the ice pick from Sogliato): “Technically, you killed him”
- Will (when Chiyo asks how he knows Hannibal): “One could argue intimately.” Cue the slash fiction!
- Bedelia (trying to get a rise out of Hannibal): “How did your sister taste?”
- Chiyo (after Will sets in motion the man in the cage’s death): “You are doing what he does. He’d be proud of you”
Your turn: were you surprised that Will acted so much like Hannibal? First impressions of Chiyo? Excited to see Jack? Is Bedelia walking a dangerously thin line? And how delicious is Mikkelsen’s delivery of the final line “I have to eat him”, even if NBC’s ad people spoiled it in every ad since the series returned to air? Sound off below.
Hannibal airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on NBC. Next week the victims gather to discuss their plans for their tormentor. Here’s your preview