Looking ahead to tonight’s episode, this is my review of episode 4. Spoilers ahead.
The episode is an exercise in recollection, drawing together all of the characters once again, and jumping back to the period that the first three episodes have so far glossed over. Chilton has returned, more disfigured and still ghoulishly self-motivated — shown by his rapid trade-marking of the phrase “Hannibal the Cannibal” — but somehow wiser. He is “learning all sorts of new things about himself” and is driven to “catch the man who framed and maimed us”, but Will denies that such an opportunity exists for Chilton. He intends to keep the opportunity entirely for himself, even though he does fear that he is living in the best possible world that he could hope for. While Will is mourning his betrayal of (and by) Hannibal, Jack is soon mourning Bella, who finally succumbs to her cancer, and whose funeral is marked by a genuine card of sympathy from Hannibal. Mourning is very much the watchword for every character here; a coming to terms with loss that Chilton highlights early on in the episode.
I watch these episodes twice before I post a review, but this time around I watched the second time with a specific goal in mind: to try to like Alana.
My first instinct was that, from being a bit thinly written in the first two series, she’s been turned into a tedious Paul Krendler-esque collaborator for Mason Verger. She didn’t seem to have the same sense of moxie as Miriam Lass, similarly crippled by Hannibal, and the show suggests that she is worse than Chilton, in the sense that Mason Verger ditches the latter for having too much gumption and asking too many probing questions. Alana is more controllable, more predictable for him.
Alana’s impulse for “old Testament justice” is rooted in sexual betrayal. There is a suggestion that this is worse than all of the other betrayals and horrors that Hannibal has imposed on those who fell into his orbit. That she cannot continue to feel the same love that Will feels, or the same devotion that Abigail (in Will’s mind) feels, seems intended to say something about sexual violence. Fuller has been clear about trying to keep rape and sexual violence out of Hannibal, but Alana’s responses seem to be those of a victim of such violence. There is a lot of the Rape as Backstory trope, plus the Rape and Revenge trope, that I cannot see it any other way. She tells us that marrow got into her blood and that she expects to “find herself thinking differently”, but Mason tells it like it is: with his jibe about Hannibal getting “deeper into her than” anyone else, he reflects the fact that the show expects her to feel her betrayal more keenly because of its sexual component. It didn’t need to be that way.
So did I find her more interesting or sympathetic second time around? Well, I found a few glimmers of hope, such as her conversation with Chilton. The suggestion could be that, perhaps, she is playing Verger, using him as part of a quest to capture Hannibal. I also had a little more sympathy with her after Will’s callous dismissal of her when they accidentally meet at Hannibal’s house. He is more interested in spending time alone with his hallucination of Abigail and contemplating his and Hannibal’s “mutually unspoken pact to ignore the worst in one another in order to continue enjoying the best.” Once again, Alana is at the outskirts both for the characters and for the show itself, it seems.
I sincerely hope a few more episodes will improve my outlook on Alana. In the meantime, I’m rooting for Bedelia and Margot to both get more screen time!
Image (c) NBC