Following the devastation of last season’s finale, Hannibal’s third season opens with a series of disorienting images, as if awakening from a bad dream, unsure of reality. Where are we? Whose point of view do we see? Soon enough it becomes clear, but the slaughter is already far behind; if not forgotten, put in its proper place. With the past shut away in a mind palace where such things belong, our dark hero — and make no mistake, we’ve twisted our horror into admiration — Hannibal Lecter begins life anew. Well, kind of…
If one is to replace another in his prestigious position, one’s predecessor must first vacate the position. And if one is Hannibal Lecter, that departure can be hastened by any means necessary. If his heart is broken, Hannibal gives no sign — he simply carries on, manipulating an old friend to join him on this new adventure. As with Will, and others who somehow managed to convince themselves they were on par with Hannibal, pseudo-wife Bedelia is woefully unequipped to handle her former patient. After accompanying her partner on his Parisian mission, it becomes clear — despite Bedelia’s assertion she’s still “in conscious control” of her actions — she’s under Hannibal’s psychotropic influence. Was it simply miscalculation that she accompanied her former patient on his escape; has Bedelia made the same egotistical mistakes as Will? Or was it Hannibal’s illusion of naked (*ahem*)
vulnerability that allowed him to regain control at Bedelia’s home, and begin his own therapy on her?
In between increasingly disturbing (though for Hannibal, perhaps fondly remembered) flashbacks to the systematic breakdown and consumption of a particularly interesting foe (“Dying hasn’t dulled you one bit”), Hannibal reminds Abel he’s not his equal. Through Gideon, we’re afforded a proper glimpse into Lecter’s slanted world view: “It isn’t cannibalism; it’s only cannibalism if we’re equals.” Likewise, a horrifying premonition reveals Hannibal is already preparing his wife…for dinner; her self-imposed aversion to anything “with a central nervous system” fits perfectly into his plan. Though it’s certainly no surprise, Gillian Anderson’s superbly sublime skills, from her facial expressions — that moment when paramour Anthony Dimmond (Tom Wisdom) mentioned her oysters, acorns and masala were used to flavor animals before they’re eaten — we could practically feel Anderson choking on the bite she’d just taken.
From the moment they’d met, sharp-tongued wordsmith though he was, poor Dimmond was doomed. Hastened by Bedelia, “curiosity” killed her pet. “Did you anticipate our thoughts; counterthoughts — is this what you expected?” It’s not the first time Bedelia’s been “reckless,” or as Hannibal points out, used “controlled force,” but to what end? In her drug-induced haze, Bedelia’s morality (like Will’s) becomes as questionable as Hannibal’s; her own ethical concerns fall by the wayside. But, how long will her partner need or want Bedelia by his side? “Snails aren’t the only ones who prefer eating with company,” and at the end of the hour, we finally perceive the only hint of the internal strife Hannibal suffers. Lulled by a train’s motion and lost in his palace of memories, the man who would be Fell fashions an origami heart from his Vitruvian Man drawing, mimicking the one made of human remains he’s left for Will Graham to find.
How long has Hannibal been affecting Bedelia? In the flashback when she recalls waking up beside that mysteriously murdered patient, Lecter seemed to be manipulating her impressions of what happened — was that manipulation part of Bedelia’s current hazy mindset, or was Hannibal also drugging her in the past?
The opening series of images are actually of the inner workings of Hannibal’s motorbike; a glimpse inside to mirror those we see of Hannibal, himself.
When even the copper bathtub is stunningly gorgeous, you know you’re watching Hannibal. Fuller’s aesthetical concerns are a gift; the hour was a feast for the eyes as well as our ears.
Speaking of, the dialogue (Bryan Fuller, Steve Lightfoot) continues to be rewind-worthy; there isn’t a word we can afford to miss.
Abel and Hannibal: “You smoked me in time.” “You’ll be falling off the bone.” “You’re not dead yet, you still have to eat.”
“I’m just fascinated to find out how you will feel when all this happens to you.”
Bedelia and Hannibal: “Have you given serious thought to eating Sogliato?”
“Still believe I’m in conscious control of my actions, given your history, that’s a good thing.”
“What have you done Hannibal?” “I’ve taken off my person suit.” “Will Graham is not a suitable substitute for therapy.”
“Dante wrote that fear is almost as bitter as death.” “Dante wasn’t dead when he wrote it.”
Love that flash of Bedelia seeing Hannibal as the devil.
Bedelia and Anthony: “My husband is very particular about how I taste.” “Is it that kind of party?”
Hannibal and Anthony: If you’re free, my wife and I would love to have you for dinner.”
“One can appreciate another’s words without dissecting them. Though on occasion dissection is the only thing that will do.”
“Clearly you found him as distasteful as I did.” “On the contrary.”