Hannibal Recap Episode 3.5 – Contorno

Hannibal - Season 3

After a lengthy prelude, the key players in Hannibal are ready for the main event. “Contorno” brings us the season’s first major showdown, and the good doctor has finally come out on the losing end of an encounter.

But let’s back up. While “Contorno” does conclude with an explosive brawl, the episode itself is as much a clash of philosophies as it is a clash of fists. “Contorno” begins where “Apertivo” left off, with Will and Chiyoh en route to Florence while Mason and Alana tighten their net from America and Jack says his final goodbyes to Bella.

Hannibal, meanwhile, is still happy being Hannibal, taking care of his torture museum and cooking snails for Bedelia.

Chiyoh provides the intellectual counterpoint that anchors the episode. Thus far, Hannibal has been preoccupied with the ways in which people change in response to various stimuli. With Hannibal at the center, that mostly means that everyone has become more violent. His influence has become so pervasive that the other characters have completely internalized his destructive assumptions about ethics and morality, which posit that a forceful existence is the only one that has any meaning.

Though she has known Hannibal the longest, Chiyoh is the most resistant to his charms, possibly due to her years in isolation outside his direct circle of influence. She quietly upbraids Will for allowing himself to become more like Hannibal, stating, quite plainly, that violence is not the only way to make an impression. Then she kisses Will and pushes him off the back of a train, presumably leaving him to walk the rest of the way to Florence.

It’s certainly an effective way to make a point.

Later, Inspector Pazzi provides the truer test for her philosophy. After following up on a lead, Pazzi gets closer to Hannibal than he expected. Unfortunately, he takes the violent approach, opting to sell Hannibal into torture and death at the hands of Mason Verger instead of handing him over to the proper authorities. The problem is that Mason offers cash but not protection. The inspector summarily meets his ignominious end when he confronts Hannibal and gets hanged and messily disemboweled.

Pazzi is partially avenged when Jack shows up and beats Hannibal bloody in spectacular fight scene in which numerous medieval torture instruments are put to good effect. It’s a fitting coda to the fight that capped season 2 – the musical score is particularly well chosen – but Pazzi is still dead, and Hannibal escapes after using the inspector’s dangling corpse to mitigate what would be a fatal fall. The doctor slinks off while Jack watches from above, the chase interrupted at least until next week’s episode.

That would seem to be the enduring lesson of “Contorno.” Violence offers a more permanent solution, but Hannibal is a better, more experienced player of that game. Sooner or later, he usually wins.

That’s why Will would be wise to listen to Chiyoh and search for an alternative. The fact that Hannibal only knows violence makes him more susceptible to other forms of influence, as Will demonstrated when he managed to get close to Hannibal in season 2. He knows that Hannibal is waiting to kill him, so he’ll need to have a better playbook if he wants to survive his next encounter with his friend.


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