Will Graham may have forgiven Hannibal for gutting him, but as we see in “Aperitivo” (a pre-dinner drink to open your stomach…), not all of Lecter’s friends and acquaintances are able to do the same. Like a demented flower girl tossing petals tinged with desire for vengeance, Dr. Frederick Chilton returns to sow seeds of violent retribution among his fellow victims. Though we only caught a glimpse of Hannibal penning a lovely letter of regret (not for his own actions; well, technically…), his presence was felt throughout the hour. Reliving the damage done, and terrible recovery process of those he left for not-quite-dead — “He wanted me to live,” “He knew just how to cut you” — Bryan Fuller set the table, and opened our stomachs for what’s to come.
Mason Verger is a changed — transformed — man (quite literally, as a fantastic Joe Anderson makes his first appearance), but underneath it all, he remains the same. Cynical, powerful, wanting to remain in charge, he banters with Chilton as they bond over ways to find the retribution they seek. But after each unmasks his true self — how cool was that opening “You show me yours, and I’ll show you mine” deconstruction? — Verger and Chilton realize they’re not meant to work together (too much competition). No matter, for the
good devilish doctor will sit on each victim’s shoulder, knowing there’s no angel to balance the opposite side.
As Will continues to build and organize his memory palace, Chilton flits from flashed-back hospital room to hospital room. Fuller plays wicked games with our own minds, replaying a scene we’ve already seen, and morphing Abigail into Frederick “Expecting someone else?” “Hoping for someone else.” Chilton has a hand at his own monkey-barrel shooting, to less than Lecter-levels of success. In Will’s warped, recovering mind-eye, he relives an altered version of Jack Crawford’s throat-cutting; “Imitation allows us to better understand the behavior of others.” There’s a near-complete disconnect between Will and his boss, and while Jack tries to get inside Graham’s head to ensure the “official narrative” isn’t contradicted, Will reroutes the moment to blow Jack’s mind. “I told him to leave. I wanted him to run…Because he was my friend. And because I wanted to run away with him.”
Of the hour’s hospital visits, and time-traveling, horror-tinged vignettes, the sharpest turn was a heartbreakingly emotional awakening. Jack rouses from his bloodletting-induced sleep, his hand wrapped in Bella’s. With his wife still in her own hospital bed beside him, the couple share memories of stolen deaths. “I was dead. I know I was dead. All that was left was to die.” The moment fades into the future where a recovered Jack lovingly tends to Bella every night. With gentle kisses and tender caresses, he softly hums and administers her medication; the ambiguous moment of her final breath leaving us to ponder or to feel indifferent — it was Bella’s time and desire long ago. Fishburne and Torres are simply magic together; the difficulty of filming such a scene can only be imagined.
Perhaps the biggest surprise didn’t come from jolting surgeries or unmasked disfigurements; rather the harder, marrow-in-the-blood changed Alana Bloom, who’s just doing her part to get Hannibal to the “stage.” Mason’s new head doctor makes her entrance, and receives an apt warning (alluding to his abuse) from Margo: “If he offers you chocolate, politely refuse.” Alana shares her insights on how and where Hannibal can be located; “His taste is how you’ll find him,” and letting go her anger isn’t part of Bloom’s plan. When they discuss god, salvation and accepting Jesus, Dr. Bloom’s response is full-on Chilton-style. “Forgiveness isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, Mr. Verger. I don’t need religion to appreciate the idea of Old Testament revenge. She saves her softer side for caretaking Will’s temporarily-abandoned dogs, greeting Jack when he comes knocking too late at Graham’s door. “He’s already gone. Will knows what he has to do…do you?”
And we face into the wind alongside a steady-sailing Graham, knowing some of what’s coming Hannibal’s way, but ever-uncertain of Fuller’s path.
It’s great to see Raúl Esparza’s triumphant and amusingly nasty return; Hannibal the Cannibal™.
Likewise, a changed Alana Bloom has brought Caroline Dhavernas great new material to play with; I can’t wait to see what she’ll do when (if) she sees Hannibal again.
Um, Hannibal isn’t supposed to make us cry, Bryan Fuller. But, if we have to shed tears, there are none better than Torres and Fishburne to rip out our hearts.
Mason’s lines were sheer brilliance. “Good as new!” “I’m all ears, they’ve just been redistributed.” “Oh Cordell, if I had lips, I’d smile.”
Welcome to the perfectly wicked Glenn Fleshler as Mason’s caretaker, Dr. Cordell Doemling, who thrilled both Verger and us with his “Would like you to begin arrangements for Dr. Lecter to be eaten alive? Do you have a preference for how you’d like him prepared.?”
Loving how difficult it is for Will to let go of Abigail, and how her hauntings leave us wondering if she’ll ever really die.
The way the dialogue always calls back to Hannibal’s proclivities are a hoot (Alana mentioning that Hannibal’s “taste” is how he’ll be found.)