Apologies for the lack of recaps after each episode, however the convergence of themes and characters within the three episodes since Secondo means that a recap of them altogether is better than individual looks. As a result, this entry will cover Aperitivo, Contorno and Dolce, particularly as the climax of Dolce seems to indicate the end of the Florence episodes of season three as we approach the exciting introduction of Francis Dolarhyde. Due to the stage of the season there will be spoilers, so consider this your warning.
Aperitivo is an episode that largely centres upon Dr Chilton as a linking device between the other characters as he visits them, first following the aftermath of the Red Dinner and later, approaching Mason Verger – disfigured and focused on revenge against Lecter. The episode focuses largely on the physical changes caused by Lecter’s actions during season two, but the emotional impact is never far from the surface. The reintroduction of Alana Bloom in this episode especially, focuses on how Lecter’s real power is not so much physical and violent, but rather the way in which he is able to manipulate and control others. Bloom’s injuries from the event are severe, driving her toward an uneasy alliance with Mason in order to achieve her revenge on Lecter.
Aperitivo marks a point, for me at least, in which for the first time I wanted Lecter to face some level of punishment. The scenes regarding Bella’s death and the impact on Jack are immensely touching and in a show that relies so heavily upon surrealism and far-fetched set pieces it is quite something to have a death of a character be the result of a real-life disease. The impact on Jack of this is profound – most of the death he deals with is profoundly unnatural. Bella’s death serves to force him further into the hunt for Hannibal, largely due to a card delivered to the funeral by the latter. This act is what is so compelling about Hannibal, in that the letter is likely to be mocking, but also an offering of friendship. Hannibal’s ability to manipulate and control is at odds with his inability to completely understand his position within their lives. However, the presence of the letter at the funeral marks the first time in which Hannibal needed to face some direct retaliation, something provided in Contorno by Jack himself.
While it would be easy to echo the pair’s fight from the second season, this is a far more one-sided affair, allowing Jack to physically exert his power over Hannibal, providing a cathartic moment for both character and viewer. While the attack is the focus of the episode, Contorno also provides some interesting developments between Chiyoh and Will Graham, revealing that everyone who has spent any time around Hannibal has emerged very differently. The conversations between Chiyoh and Will always refer to the similarities between Will and Hannibal. Interestingly, while Will would previously have rejected these claims he now appears to embrace and even show pride in them. In addition, despite Hannibal receiving a beating from Jack at the end of the episode, Contorno does much to further Hannibal’s methods of cruelty against others, rather easily dispatching Pazzi.
Dolce, the most recent episode (in the UK at least), provides more of a featured role for Bedelia, arguably one of the most interesting characters within the show. Her drug use revealed within the episode contributes to the dual nature of her character: simultaneously she is doing things that will contribute to Hannibal’s capture, while also caring for him and has yet to make any further attempts to flee. The “I don’t believe you” from Will to Bedelia during the questioning calls back to Bedelia’s earlier manipulation of Will. There is an argument to be made that, at present, Bedelia operates as the most important person in Hannibal’s life, a position that Will feels entitled to, making their interactions particularly bitter.
Alana Bloom and Margot Verger feature importantly within Dolce, revealing their romantic relationship and subsequent possible plots. While I’ve seen some complain that the relationship seems to have been shoe-horned in, the pairing makes perfect sense to me: two incredibly damaged women who see within each other the potential for power. Their sex scene is one of the more unusual and arty (although Hannibal excels at this sort of thing) and sets the tone for the ‘blurring’ of other characters (mainly Will and Hannibal). Joe Anderson’s turn as Mason Verger has taken me some time to adapt to and I think I’ll always wonder what could have been if Michael Pitt had reprised the role, but Dolce is really where he hits his ultimate, skin-crawling creep factor.
Dolce is the site of the long-awaited reunion between Hannibal and Will. Their scene in the gallery would be touching if it wasn’t for their tumultuous and violent past, but it does show, at least on some level, their ability to relate to one another in a way they are not able to relate to anyone else. Equally, the aftermath of their meeting is a perfect example of how Fuller et al are presenting this perfectly, as despite wanting Hannibal to face punishment in the previous episode, there was genuine panic when it appeared he may be fatally injured in this one. Similarly, despite the way in which everything goes wrong, the ‘dinner’ between Hannibal, Will and Jack does provoke a fond nostalgia for their scenes during the first two seasons and provides a nod to that before moving on.
The quality of the recent episodes and the complex nature of the show makes the cancelation all the more sad. The recent SDCC trailer previewing the Red Dragon arc for the latter part of the season may provide some of the best episodes that Hannibal has had so far. The trailer appears to be bringing in visual elements from both Manhunter and Red Dragon, both strong films in their own right, but I for one am fascinated to see how the episodes adapt and change these elements too.
Hannibal is currently showing on Sky Living HD Wednesdays at 10pm