As a kid, when you know you’ve done something wrong, there’s a feeling of dread you carry with you all day long — just waiting for the moment your parents confront you. That inevitability of having to face the punishment, of hurtling toward what’s coming his way, swept Hannibal into a contemplative state this hour. He’s rationalizing, weighing what he’s done — or not, “Technically, you killed him” — and giving in to last-minute impulses. Like a child realizing he’s already in trouble; what’s one more transgression? In “Secondo” we travel with Will Graham to a monster’s past, regressing alongside Hannibal on a parallel path.
After a mind palace trip to Hannibal’s forest cum office, Will heads to Lecter estate in Aukštaitija, Lithuania, where the Lecter Dvaras (manor/estate) holds secrets to (and prisoners of) Hannibal’s past. While Will is discovering what made Hannibal who he is today*, Bedelia confronts her “husband” (patient) on his self-destructive hurtle toward the future; reminding him that forgiveness takes two — the betrayer and the betrayed. “Which one are you?” “I’m vague on those details.” Hannibal’s hilarious and deliberate evasion signals his current childlike state, as he slips into the behavior that may lead to his own (albeit temporary) downfall. We might take a moment to flash-forward in our own brains, imagining the series finale: Mads Mikkelson cool as he walks free again, the camera lingering on his direct gaze into the camera. Doctor, patient, husband, wife, parent, child…Bedelia and Hannibal exchange roles and the upper hand as quickly as their barb-fueled banter. When she tells him what he already knows (“You’re going to be caught…”), Hannibal wonders if it’s “concern for your patient, or concern for yourself.” “I am not concerned about me. I know exactly how I will navigate my way out of whatever it is I’ve gotten myself into.” Would that we were as sure as Bedelia; at times Hannibal’s barely perceptible smirk (Mikkelsen’s facial control is a marvel) is more frightening than anger. Hannibal’s hubris is showing as he gloats about having gotten away, and we’re left to wonder whether he’s already planned for his prison time, only to prove he can do it again.
While Will is introducing himself to Hannibal’s past, meeting with Lecter’s caretaker of sorts, Fuller takes us on a slightly Harris-diverted journey with a surprisingly even-more-terrible than the book reality (we’ll address that later). Left-behind on a life-guarding mission, Chiyoh (Tao Okamoto) suddenly finds herself as free as her captive (later transformed by Will). “I’ve never known myself as well as I know myself when I’m with him.” A mind-bending Hannibal/Chiyoh/Will live-action Ouroboros plays before us as Hannibal explains he wasn’t betrayed by Mischa — she influenced him to betray himself — so does Hannibal influence Will, and Will, in turn, Chiyoh. (Jack’s following Will, who’s following Hannibal…)
However Hannibal’s ultimate plan for Sogliato was intended to play out (Punch Romaine, served to the first class guests on the Titanic during their last dinner!), the professor’s rudeness earns him an impulsively quicker end; he in turn becomes the next dinner party feast, parts and parceling explained in depth by the host. (“You have a very good butcher!”) Later, as Hannibal intimately washes Bedelia’s hair, she makes an interesting (incongruous) observation about what happened to Hannibal (“Nothing happened to me; I happened”). “How did your sister taste?” Since Chiyoh only seems to know what Hannibal told her, we should assume Bedelia’s version as truth. (*Book spoiler discussion below.)
Soon all roads will begin to converge as Will follows a Chiyoh-assisted, heavily-breadcrumbed, mind-palace trail, Jack and Inspector Pazzi intersect their searches for Will and Il Mostro, and Bedelia plays with the fire that may lead her oyster-perfumed essence into a corner she can’t escape. Can Hannibal push past the rooms he’s avoided so long — break his self-imposed ban on going home — to find what Will left for him? And does Lecter already know somewhere inside himself that he’ll never truly be able to repeat history (“if past behavior is indicative”), to honor the one he loves and forgave by eating him?
***Book Spoilers ahead: In Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Rising, Lecter’s traumatization begins at the hands of Nazi soldiers who invade the family lodge after Hannibal’s parents are killed. With no food left, the soldiers take Mischa and cannibalize her. It would seem Fuller has slightly altered events, in that the soldiers may have killed his sister, but — despite what Hannibal told Chiyoh — Hannibal himself ate Mischa, perhaps to honor her. He’s also altered Chiyo’s storyline; in the book, she’s Hannibal’s aunt’s (Lady Murasaki — who raises Hannibal after his uncle’s death) maid, and leaves the Lecter estate. ***End Spoilers
Bedelia and Hannibal had so much great dialogue, it was impossible to keep up: “Betrayal and forgiveness are best seen as something akin to falling in love.” “You cannot control with respect to whom you fall in love.” “You’re no longer interested in preserving the peace you have here.”
Gillian Anderson is simply perfection; her line delivery and reactions to Hannibal/Mads in that scene with Sogliato, pulling the ice pick from his talking head, were sublime.
That cut (literal!) from Chiyoh carving a pheasant to Hannibal carving Dimmond’s arm made me scream out loud. Then again, two minutes later when Hannibal stuck Sogliato in the head…
It’s great to see Laurence Fishburne return.