Now that’s how you come back from the dead. If someone doesn’t snatch up Hannibal after this masterful hour, there is seriously something wrong with the world. This, the fourth episode directed by Vincenzo Natali (Ginger Snaps, Orphan Black, Splice) this season,”Dolce” (sweet???) was so full of jaw-dropping moments, it’s difficult to imagine capturing them all. Anderson, Mikkelsen, Dancy and Fishburne paraded like posturing peacocks, strutting their phenomenal performances for all (NBC!) the world to see what a mistake closing down shop would be. Bryan Fuller and Don Mancini paid beautiful, creative service to Thomas Harris’ words, and the hour played across the screen like a love letter to Fannibals. Not to be morbid, but if “Dolce” were the last episode we ever saw, we could say Hannibal died spectacularly.
After Hannibal stumbled his way back home (always temporary, these homes), dazed and bleeding, falling into a tub where Bedelia tends to his cleaning and Christ-like wounds, we’re more than thrilled to find the good doctor is true to her word. She really does know how to control her situation (“I imagined it differently.” “I didn’t.”), and does it with a finesse even Jack admits he admires. Knowing she hasn’t “marinated” long enough for Hannibal’s taste, she allows her husband to lament her loss, allowing him a final taste — kiss — before teasing him: “You may make a meal of me yet, Hannibal…” But what do we say to
Death Hannibal? “Not today.” Ever pragmatic, Lecter prepares for his capture, sketching Florence into his mind palace for later (jailed) contemplation.
Cordell chops pigs tails and other equally distasteful parts to whet Mason’s Hannibal-tite. The way he teases Verger with visions of
lady manfingers (“The actual fingers will have more meat.” “This isn’t meat; this is man.”) and Peking Lecter, one might suspect Mason’s caretaker has gotten into the bossman’s own mind, and in fact, when Mason wakes from his taste-o-matic, transubstantiation hallucinations, we realize it was just a dream. The bad news just keeps coming as word gets back to Mason he’s “paid good money for a dead dago;” Alana warns if Verger doesn’t strike quickly, Hannibal will disappear again. And speaking of Alana…after Mason offers to reward Margot for her helpful efforts (“Come sit on Santa’s lap.” *shudder*), it doesn’t take long for his sister to realize there’s a “viable uterus” nearby. In one of several book twists — **Mild Book Spoilers ahead** Alana stands in for Barney as Margot’s lover and possible aide for an upcoming plot point (you’ll notice Margot checking in on Mason’s eel now and then). **End Spoiler**
In some of her finest work, Gillian Anderson’s sublime performance as Bedelia/Mrs. Fell proves a brilliant psychiatrist’s work is never done. Dr. Du Maurier plays her chess game like a true champion, removing each would-be obstructive piece in her several-moves-ahead path to a clean win. For who can fault a drugged up, caged little bird for “freebasing” her alibi; Chiyoh, Will, Jack — they’ve all met the beast, and know anyone’s lucky to get out alive. With “more than one someone” hunting Hannibal, collateral damage is negligible, but Bedelia is too smart to be among the sacrificed.
For Will and Jack, and Hannibal and Will, reuniting is a tentative game. Jack telegraphs Will’s necessary “cutting that part out,” which Hannibal does his best to facilitate. In what may be (for now) their last loving conversation (Hannibal finally cuts off his own emotional connection), Will admits the line between them has blurred. His guilt — knowing he’s partially responsible for Hannibal’s crimes — clouds Will’s thinking, despite Hannibal’s warning: “Now is the hardest test. Let not rage or frustration, nor forgiveness cheapen your thinking.” It’s worth noting the completely different tone of music as the two mind-lovers leave the museum; Hannibal wondering if they can “survive separation.”
Whatever bitterness is held in Chiyoh’s heart, she still has an internal need to protect her beast. And though we’ve seen Il Mostro in action many, many times, we are all woefully unprepared for what was to come. Fuller’s surrealistic vision played out so well that Will’s swirling drug haze overtook our own senses…heart pounding, incomprehensible!, this-can’t-really-be-happening disbelief seized our minds as another **Mild Book Spoiler ahead** twisted Harris-point played out. In the novel Hannibal, Lecter serves a drugged Clarice Starling agent Paul Krendler’s (played by Ray Liotta in Ridley Scott’s abysmal film version) brain. **End Spoiler** As Hannibal strapped Will to that dining chair — after having removed Chiyoh’s problematic bullet — and even after Jack arrived (Lecter playing bad kitty under the table), it could not have been more unreal to see Hannibal breaking out that saw. Jack screamed for Hannibal to stop; we screamed for Hannibal to stop, but Hannibal did not stop…until someone stopped him. When we reopen our eyes alongside a bloodied, dripping Will, heads spinning; confused, with Mason Verger’s “Welcome to Muskrat Farm!” ringing in our ears, it takes a moment to put the pieces together — only one little bird could be behind this mess. As Bedelia correctly surmised, Will Graham has been one-upped by Hannibal’s “biggest mistake,” and Chiyoh thinks she’s found the way to silence her own screaming lambs.
I believe Chiyoh’s presence at Sogliato’s building means she either stopped Hannibal herself (presumably her disassembled weapon was in that little case she carried), or at the very least, she called Margot’s corrupt Polizia.
This episode played out like a big-screen worthy film, and if Hannibal doesn’t find a new home, I feel like I’ll still be utterly satisfied. Between the phenomenal acting this hour, Fuller and Natali’s artistic vision, and the twists on book points, it was that good. Note to Game of Thrones: This is how you play with readers’ expectations.
What will Hannibal do to Chiyoh when he gets free again? He knows. He specifically asked Will if she’d killed “the tenant,” or Will had. You know he knows. But how did he know he was headed back to the farm? When he and Will sit on the museum bench, Hannibal recites a nursery rhyme:
“To market, to market, to buy a fat pig. Home again, home again, jiggety jig.”
Perhaps he thought Will was working with Chiyoh and/or Mason?
Bedelia to Chiyoh: “What do you want?
Chiyoh: “I want to cage him.”
Bedelia to Jack: “My husband is certainly getting competitive. I wonder who’ll catch him first.”
Will and Jack: “You had him Jack. He was beaten. Why didn’t you kill him?”
“Maybe I need you to”
Will really did blur himself with Hannibal; “Does god gloat?”
Hannibal: “If I saw you everyday, forever, Will, I would remember this time.” I love that we get to see Hannibal building his memories for the inevitable jail stint. I hope we get to see him recalling these moments from behind bars.
Will and Hannibal: “The soup isn’t very good.” “Parsley and thyme infusion, more for my sake than yours.”
It was Caroline Dhavernas’ idea for Alana and Margot to get down. That was hot. I’m curious to see if Alana will help Margot carry out her Mason plans (as per Harris).