Bring on the pigs, the face transplants and the end of Act One of Hannibal‘s swan song.
Let’s bitch it out…
And with that, we’ve come to an end of our Hannibal book adaptation.Florence has come and gone, Mason Verger (Joe Anderson) has been disposed of, and everything from the eel to the cattle prod to the pigs have been addressed. While some of it has been enjoyable, far too much of it has been frustrating, so I’ll confess that I’m glad we’re headed firmly into Red Dragon territory.
‘Digestivo’ is the palette cleanser for the first “half” of what now appears with some certainty to be Hannibal‘s final season. It’s much more of a summation episode than it is an anticipatory piece for the second half of the season, though; true to Hannibal‘s expectation-subverting ways, there is no extended chase scene as the FBI tracks Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) down. The fact that Hannibal allows himself to be caught (or “surrender” as Laurence Fishburne’s Jack suggests) hints that this is merely all part of Hannibal’s plan. After all, as Alana (Caroline Dhavernas) warns Mason earlier, Hannibal is “always playing.”
Before we can move into the next Act (with eagerly awaited guest stars Richard Armitage and Rutina Wesley), we must first deal with the events at Muskrat Farm. Mason and his aide/chef Cordell (Glenn Fleshler) have been plotting over their Lecter-inspired menu for several episodes now and Mason loves to hear the sound of his own voice, so it’s no surprise that he elects to use the same tactics that Hannibal used on Abel Gideon back in the season premiere and keep his victim alive as long as possible. In a murderously empowering fashion, what Mason doesn’t plan for are Alana and Margot (Katharine Isabelle). The Verger family fortune/baby subplot has never really taken off, despite all of the mean-spirited teasing Margot has had to endure at the expense of her reproductive organs, so it’s hard to invest too much in Margot’s plight. Still, the sight of the “surrogate” – a massive sow with a dead fetus inside – is absolutely horrifying, easily one of the most disturbing images in an episode that includes graphic close-ups of a saw going into Will’s forehead and Cordell’s face getting hacked off. If nothing else, Hannibal has always managed to make its gore aesthetically beautiful with just enough graphic content to make the audience want to hurl.
The best aspects of ‘Digestivo’ are the parts in which Will and Hannibal connect and mirror each other. The dance between the pair as they inched closer and closer to the other throughout S3 has been interesting, but hardly as engaging as watching them interact face to face. This episode embodies characteristics of both: Will ends up using Lecter’s techniques to spur Alana to violence and Hannibal goes to work on Margot to convince her to take bloody revenge on her brother (although Mason doesn’t help himself much with the sow stunt). In the end, fans of the novel should enjoy Mason’s end, which dances around both Cordell’s death (glimpsed kinda off-screen) and Mason’s rape. Even the latter’s death courtesy of his pet eel is included, although it is laughably executed as the eel arbitrarily enters Mason’s mouth when he falls into the tank. Visually interesting? yes. Ridiculous enough to take viewers out of the drama? Unfortunately also yes.
That leaves the denouement as Hannibal sends Chiyoh (Tao Okamoto) away and he and Will have one final chat as free men. Their confessional talk isn’t quite as memorable as the emotionally packed discussions they’ve had in the past; if anything, it’s much more resigned. After a season of talking up their plans to kill each other, they’ve come to the conclusion that they’re too alike to ever vanquish the other. And so Hannibal turns himself in, despite Will’s attempt to let him escape one last time. Will may want Hannibal gone, but the cannibal isn’t quite done – his decision to let himself be captured hints at the start of a new chapter. We’ll see how that plays out when we jump ahead a few years next episode.
- The truest example of how much like Hannibal Will has become occurs when Cordell leans down at the dinner table and Will takes a bite out of his cheek. It might be time to consider vegetarianism, Will.
- The superimposed images of Cordell’s face being cut off intercut with the removal of the dead fetus from the sow = tonight’s stomach churning imagery. So grotty.
- The episode opens with a flashback to show how Will and Hannibal were acquired by Mason. Unbeknowst to Hannibal, the corrupt Italian police detective (Giorgio Lupano) and his posse enter the Florence flat, subdue Hannibal and bag him and Will. Jack is left on the chopping block, saved only by Chiyoh and her trusty rifle. It’s more or less as we expected, but still good to see play out after last week’s unexpected cliffhanger.
- Chiyoh also provides coverage for Hannibal’s escape from the Verger estate, later reassuring him that some birds deserve to remain uncaged. In a way, he sets her free, though the character has remained so stiff and unformed that it’s hard to feel remorse when she’s dismissed. I’d be lying if I said I ever hoped to see her again.
- Mason (after Will bites into Cordell’s cheek): “Well, no pajama party for you, Mr. Graham”
- Mason (asking Margot about Dr. Bloom’s uterus): “I’m sure you’ve had a chance to check under the hood by now.”
- Margot (clamping down Mason’s wheelchair): “Don’t think too long, smiley”
- Will (to Hannibal): “When it comes to you and me, there can be no decisive victory.”
Your turn: what did you think of Mason’s final stand? Were you surprised that he fancied Will’s face as much as he wanted to consume Hannibal? What was the episode’s biggest gross-out? Were you surprised that Hannibal turned himself in? And do you hope that this is the last we see of Chiyoh? Sound off below.
Hannibal airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on CityTV in Canada and Saturdays at 10pm EST on NBC in the US. Next week we jump ahead to catch back up with everyone as a new serial killer threat emerges.