We are now almost halfway through this series, which will be the show’s last (for a long while, at least), and it is now flying through some of its source materials. This episode, in particular, takes a large leap forward, so beware spoilers below!
This series is, to put it mildly, digressive. Without the weekly crimes of the first two series, which at least gave the impression of momentum, the series has a viscous quality. It is flowing, slowly, unpredictably, oozingly. But it is almost as though in this episode, when the series should be drawing to a close the part of its plot taken from Hannibal in order to take on the plot of Red Dragon, the writers and directors finally wised up and thought, “Ah, crap, just cut to black, and then they’re all at the end game”.
And so. The episode begins in its usual style. Hannibal and Bedelia continue to be the most (and possibly only) interesting thing about the series so far. Their farewell is oddly emotive. Both of them are oddly fatalistic, but also hopeful. They continue to chance their arm, taking risks despite knowing that it is impossible to escape one’s future, which is already written in one’s past.
And for those avid shippers, there is further food for thought, including Bedelia bathing Hannibal and dressing his wounds, and an erotic charge for them both at the prospect that they might yet be reunited, with the strong risk of Hannibal killing and eating her. I fully expect to see Bedelia continue to eat acorns, oysters and sweet wines throughout the rest of the series, and I’ll be disappointed if the show doesn’t take that opportunity for understatedly demonstrating Hannibal’s emotional draw.
The steps by which the episode leads up to the final scene (before the kidnapping by the Questure of Hannibal and Will, removing them to Muskrat Farm) are rather random. An encounter by Jack and Will at the Palazzo Capponi lead them to Bedelia. Bedelia is happy to tell all and sundry where Hannibal is hiding, in her veiled way, feigning drug-addled confusion along the way (wonderfully acted with shades of her turn as Blanche DuBois at the National Theatre). Exasperated by her, Will diverts to the Uffizi in order to find Hannibal in front of ‘La Primavera’. Leaving together, Will draws a knife, and Chiyoh — conveniently placed on the roof above the square — shoots him. Hannibal presumes in order to protect him. Hannibal then successfully abducts the man shot in broad daylight and takes him to the apartment of Professor Sogliato, where he is joined by Jack, who leaves Bedelia in the hands of the corrupt Questure.
Hannibal wishes to return himself, Will and Jack to a version of the dinner that they should have shared together in Baltimore, that in the end became a bloodbath. The end is always rooted in the beginning, indeed, but when Hannibal begins sawing into Will’s skull with the aim of eating his brain a la Paul Krendler, the emotional energy required for our suspension of disbelief grows and grows (the ‘cut to black’ and appearance at Muskrat Farm are a trite play to “surprise” viewers)…
What other digressions are there? An oddly attired Margot, and Alana exemplifying yet another sexual-assault-survisor-trope, the turn to lesbianism. In Harris’ Hannibal, it is suggested that Mason’s sexual abuse has affected Margot’s sexuality in this way. The show shied away from suggesting that explicitly, but it seems to be the driver for both characters now. It’s a shame, as actually I would have loved to see both fully drawn, in the way that Bedelia is, and then interacting with each other.
There are various other echoes of the Harris novels scattered throughout the episode, such as Mason teaching himself to eat human flesh in a way that mimics the training of his pigs in the book. These intermedial references, along with the show’s focus on its visuals, are responsible for the bulk of the pleasure the last few episodes have generated, at least for me (and in this episode, the kaleidoscopic visuals were ugly, particularly the rip-off of Almodovar’s Live Flesh in Margot and Alana’s sex scene).
The purpose of Chiyoh is, I’m afraid, still to be identified, but I wonder whether she will be his Clarice Starling, as the show doesn’t have the rights to that character, and she cannot, therefore, rescue Hannibal from Mason’s clutches. The next episode should tell us all!