Things have REALLY come to a head in the most recent episode of NBC’s “Hannibal”, “Dolce”. EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING, SO MUCH. Here is my recap along with a hefty side portion of Fannibal feels.
First of all, right off the bat: BOOM. Hannibal, fresh from his battle with Jack Crawford, hobbles through the streets of Florence to his home, where he is bathed and dutifully stitched up by Wife of the Year Bedelia. This gorgeous scene directly mirrors a scene in the third episode of the season in which Hannibal washes Bedelia’s hair while she bathes. In that scene Bedelia is theoretically more vulnerable, as she is unclothed and Hannibal has the upper hand from his clothed state; however, the power dynamics are reversed in “Dolce,” and Hannibal is rendered even more vulnerable my his numerous injuries during the fight. This opening scene sets the tone for what proves to be his swan song: the tide has turned against our beloved cannibal psychiatrist & he no longer has the upper hand.
After an unbelievably artsy scene that parallels Bedelia snipping Hannibal’s sutures and the Italian police cutting down Pazzi’s body at the scene of the crime (sad face), we see Will Graham and Jack Crawford reunited in Florence at the aforementioned crime scene. Will asks Jack why he didn’t just kill Hannibal when he had the chance, to which Jack replies, “Maybe I need you to.” No pressure, Willy G.
Meanwhile, the good doctor knows his goose is cooked. He is outside sketching the skyline of Florence, telling Bedelia that he wants to be able to draw all of Florence from memory since his incarceration is surely nigh. He and Bedelia have a sexual innuendo-laden conversation in which he reveals to her that he had envisioned their parting of ways to be much different (ahem, eating her), but that since this is the way it turned out he will tell the authorities whatever version of the truth Bedelia wishes. She responds, “You may make a meal of me yet, Hannibal,” and the two share a strangely erotic good-bye kiss. How delightfully twisted!
Sidebar: Gillian Anderson is absolutely spectacular in this episode (well, and every episode, but *especially* this episode…in fact, “Hannibal’s” show-runner Bryan Fuller cited this episode as his favorite of Gillian’s performances of the season). She is constantly given the most outrageous lines, sometimes directly from Thomas Harris’ books, which she delivers flawlessly.
After the opening credits we catch up with the always rude, grotesquely humorous Mason Verger and his new BFF/caretaker Cordell (Glenn Fleshler). The latter fellow is cooking sumptuous gourmet meals made of pork for Mason to taste in preparation for his imminent feast, which will consist of a captured and slowly consumed Dr. Lecter. Although it is highly doubtful that Mason will get his wish (based on previews and, of course, Harris’ book canon), I’m sure we can all appreciate the continuity of the subverted religious themes here with the idea of transubstantiation: Mason hopes to both strip Hannibal of his “powers” and also absorb them himself in eating him.
Mason’s macabre fantasy is put on hold when he, Margot, and Alana also learn of Pazzi’s death on the Italian news (probably should have been global TBH). Mason is, of course, displeased by this turn of events and the realization that he will have to make “new friends” in Italy in order to fulfill his goal of capturing Hannibal.
Meanwhile, two forces of nature engage in an equally matched banter battle when Chiyoh pays a surprise visit to Bedelia. Chiyoh compares them both to Hannibal’s caged birds and reveals that she wishes to cage Hannibal. Bedelia says, “I thought Will Graham was Hannibal’s biggest mistake. I wonder if it isn’t you.” Hello, foreshadowing…
Shortly after her encounter with Chiyoh, Bedelia shoots up her alibi for her deranged cannibalistic Eurotrip in the form of a mystery drug that she keeps hidden in a charming secret hole in the wall. She is promptly called on by none other than Will and Jack themselves, the former greeting her as “Mrs. Fell.” Talk about bad timing! I wouldn’t want to be coming up on the effects of intravenous drugs when visited by the business ends of Will Graham and Jack Crawford. Eeesh.
When Bedelia attempts to maintain the conviction that she is indeed Mrs. Fell and she is being treated for her “confusion” by her doctor husband, Jack and Will call her right out on the ruse. The sass is strong with Will: leaning close to Bedelia’s face, he delivers the line, “I *don’t* believe you” in absolutely practiced perfection (to mirror a scene the two shared when Will was imprisoned in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in the second season).
Back to the states, chez Verger: Mason gets smarmy as hell. He expresses regret for performing the horrifying sterilization act of season 2 (*violent shudder*) on Margot, and that he wants them to have a Verger baby of their own. Literally, of their own. Like, the two of them as parents. Nasty, Mason! It gets worse. Mason shares that he has “plenty of viable sperm” and that they need to find a viable uterus. These two are DEFINITELY up to something, which can perhaps explain the psychedelic and kaleidoscopic love scene between none other than Canonically Bisexual Alana Bloom and Margot Verger. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about this pairing, but I do wish that we had seen more development of their relationship beforehand. After the encounter, Margot flippantly asks Alana if she has any experience harvesting sperm, which one may not consider to be pillow talk but…the characters on the show are generally disinclined to normal dialogue.
Bringing our attention back to Italy…. In the Uffizi gallery, Hannibal sits in front of Botticelli’s Primavera, of course, drawing Will as Zephyr (!!!!!!). Then, suddenly, a wild Will Graham appears, in the flesh! That’s right, folks, the long-awaited Hannibal/Will reunion is upon us, and it is GLORIOUS. Full disclosure: I made a lot of involuntary noise during this scene: it is a heartbreakingly intimate conversation between two of the most deeply complex characters on television. The pointed glances exchanged between the two alone speak volumes. Hannibal breaks the silence with one of the most bitterly beautiful lines of the episode, “If I saw you everyday forever, Will, I would remember this time.” THIS. RIGHT. HERE. These two are so incredibly codependent & unstable that it’s not even REMOTELY healthy, but the love is there despite everything they have done to each other–Hannibal and Will have one of the most outrageously complicated and twisted relationships I have ever encountered in fiction, especially TV, and this scene captures it just perfectly. I could probably write a dissertation about this scene, but I won’t (now).
In true Hannibal/Will fashion, the two “catch up”: Hannibal asks how Chiyoh is, to which Will replies extremely casually, “She pushed me off a train.” Hannibal smiles and says, “Atta girl.” Hannibal asks Will, “Where does the difference between the past and the future come from?” Will replies, “Mine? Before you and after you. Yours….it’s all started to blur.” This is their relationship gift wrapped: no one will ever understand either of these characters the way they understand each other. (I’m not crying, you’re crying!)
However, as soon as these two leave the gallery, they are in the direct line of fire of Chiyoh and her sniper rifle. Initially, the target is Hannibal, but she changes her mind when she sees Will reveal a menacing-looking knife through the scope and shoots our dearest profiler in the shoulder. CAN WILL GRAHAM PERHAPS NOT GET MORTALLY WOUNDED IN NEARLY EVERY EPISODE? PLEASE? NO? ….OK….
Hannibal leads Will to safety, dresses his wound, and calls him out on the knife, producing it and saying, “You dropped your forgiveness, Will.” He then injects Will with what is surely an undesirable substance, telling Will to “give that a moment.” Yikes. If there had been any hope of water going under the proverbial bridge for these two, it seems dashed to all hell now.
Will wakes up in a strange apartment (which we later discover belongs to one of Hannibal’s late snarky intellectual enemies) wearing Hannibal’s clothes (fanfic writers, rev your engines!!). Jack arrives soon after, but it’s bad news he bears: he goes to Will but Hannibal slashes his Achilles’ tendons from under the table. NAH. That has to be one of my most dreaded horror flick wound tropes of all time: I’m back to checking under the bed and table now, thanks Hannibal!
It gets worse: once Jack is also restrained at the table, we learn that Hannibal is feeding Will mediocre soup because he intends to force Jack to eat Will’s brain with him. As he puts it, they can literally chew on the material that they had, thus far, only chewed figuratively. NOOOOOO! He produces a small circular saw and proceeds to cut into our sweet puppy loving FBI profiler’s skull, despite Jack’s protests: complete with artistic blood spatter! It’s real, and it hurt the Fannibals–I’m sure not as much as it hurts Will, but ALMOST AS BAD. Our cries of dismay echoed throughout the land.
In an enigmatic leap, which we can assume is due to Bedelia cryptically telling the Italian police Hannibal’s probably whereabouts, Hannibal and Will are hanging upside down in a truck full of pig carcasses. The doors to the truck open, and Mason Verger appears and welcomes them both to Muskrat Farms. Oh, SNAP.
Oh Hannibal, you giveth, and you taketh away! As much as I loved the reunion scene between Hannibal & Will, I knew, deep down, that it was impermanent…I was hoping for less of a saw-in-the-skull type outcome, but what can you do. Will Will forgive Hannibal a second time for nearly killing him? Based on their track record, I’m thinking that he will. (Full disclaimer that I supposed I should have added in my first recap: I am fully aware of how unhealthy the Hannibal/Will relationship is & do not condone pursuing a romantic or platonic relationship with a cannibal and/or serial killer in real life).
I am eager to find out what happened to Jack and how exactly the police managed to subdue a saw-wielding Hannibal Lecter. “Hannibal” is one of the most diverse shows on air, so I was very excited by the introduction of Alana Bloom’s bisexuality (bisexual representation in TV, yes!) & I look forward to seeing more of her new relationship with Margot. We’ve only got one more episode before the Red Dragon story arc begins (HELLO, RICHARD ARMITAGE AS FRANCIS DOLARHYDE!) and I can’t wait to find out how our boys manage to get themselves out of this Muskrat Farms scenario:
Also, due to abysmal ratings that in no way reflect the epic fanbase of the show, “Hannibal” has been moved to Saturday nights at 10. So, I’ll be tuning in this Saturday, 7/18 at 10 PM for the seventh episode of season 3!