Hannibal Recap Episode 3.4 – Apertivo
Hannibal may be on the chopping block, but there are still nine more episodes left in season three and we’ll be here to recap all of them. It’s a good thing, too, because last night’s “Apertivo” was easily the strongest episode of the young season despite Hannibal’s conspicuous absence.
“Apertivo” spends most of its time filling in the gaps from season two. The episode begins with a conversation between Frederick Chilton (Raul Esparza) and Mason Verger (Joe Anderson, replacing last season’s Michael Pitt), comparing their surgically reconstructed faces after surviving their respective run-ins with Hannibal. Chilton is hoping for revenge and profit. Mason’s motivations remain somewhat unclear, but he is offering $1 million for information about Hannibal in an effort to bring the doctor to heel.
Meanwhile, we’re finally reintroduced to Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), injured but alive and relishing her newfound right to use the word ‘defenestration’ in casual conversation. (It is a great word.) She’s taken over as Mason’s therapist and fully approves of his decision to conduct his own search for Hannibal instead of going to the FBI.
The episode’s third storyline focuses on Jack Crawford, who comes back to life in time to spend the last days with his wife Bella (Gina Torres) before she succumbs to cancer. The tender scenes between Laurence Fishburne and Torres are utterly fantastic, nearly bursting with unspoken affection and understanding.
That’s ultimately how Jack earns his seat at the table with Will and Hannibal. In contrast to the two singular geniuses, Jack is a more workaday personality, an FBI agent going to the office with his lunch pail and his responsibility (well, at least until he leaves that job). Given Hannibal’s disdain for the ordinary, Jack seems like the kind of person more likely to end up in the doctor’s Rolodex.
The key is that while Jack may prefer simpler pleasures, he is no less aware than any of the other characters in the show. His relationship with Bella is beautiful and astonishingly real, the kind of bond that can only be nurtured through years of cultivation. That’s enough to earn Hannibal’s respect, especially given the man’s own difficulties with relationships. His condolences to Jack are perfectly sincere. Hannibal is constantly pushing people to be the most fully realized versions of themselves, and Jack managed to achieve a form of that in his time with Bella.
Frederick Chilton, on the other hand, sits at the opposite end of the spectrum. In spite of all of the time he has spent with his colleague, Chilton still doesn’t understand Hannibal, and is instead driven by petty motivations like revenge, wealth, and celebrity. There is no self-examination, no effort to learn the rules of the game being played. He merely regards Hannibal like he would any other criminal, as another potential exhibit for his asylum.
Chilton’s stance would be wholly rational in an ordinary world, where regular people seek to bring bad men to justice. But in the world of Hannibal, he comes to exemplify the conventional morality that holds people back. Hannibal exists in an alternate ethical dimension where simple ideas are far worse than simple tastes, and his own crude interests – such as trademarking Hannibal’s name – make Chilton the clueless sucker in a brutal game of musical chairs.
The other players have a bit more agency, including Mason, who describes his ordeal as an awakening. He’s making plans to eat Hannibal alive when the episode ends, while the other characters are engaged in the hunt that may or may not bring him to the stage. Will is only searching for his friend. Alana seems inclined to feed Hannibal to Mason, and suggests using his particular tastes to find him.
As for Jack, he’ll have to rediscover himself after helping Bella complete her suicide attempt from season two. Their relationship was pure, but recognizing that it has run its course and having the resolve to end it with minimal suffering is an equally human action in Hannibal. We know that Jack will soon turn up in Europe and it will be fascinating to see how he rebuilds himself now that his identity has been stripped away.
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