After spending a few episodes in the margins thanks to his incarceration, Hannibal has slowly been creeping back into the center of the frame, incubating in his prison cell like a monster in a cocoon. “The Wrath of the Lamb” finally lets him break free and stretch his wings.
It also demonstrates how far Hannibal has come. In the beginning, Hannibal was a solitary figure operating alone. The final episode restores Hannibal’s charisma, but he now shares the spotlight with Will because he recognizes how much richer life can be when you have a partner able to appreciate your accomplishments.
Since the beginning, Frederick Chilton’s sense has not been equal to his ego. He thinks he’s a genius (and he does have a knack for self-promotion), but his all-consuming self-regard blinds him to the game being played around him. He is a pawn, and the kings and queens have finally offered him up for sacrifice.
“The Number of the Beast is 666” revolves around the FBI’s attempt to catch the Dragon. With the help of Freddie Lounds, Will baits the hook with inflammatory statements, while Chilton – still stinging from Hannibal’s public refutation of his best-selling book – volunteers to give the article professional credibility.
The plan works, to an extent. Dolarhyde is furious at the implications in Freddie’s article, but he’s not foolish enough to walk into a trap. He instead captures Chilton and subjects him to a rigorous interrogation, forcing him to refute his earlier statements on video. Then the Dragon rips Chilton’s lips off with his teeth and sets him on fire in Will’s courtyard.
Hannibal has always positioned himself as the supreme arbiter of taste, and he does not hesitate to punish any violations of decorum. Boorishness becomes a form of Natural Selection, a weakness that needs to be culled from the population.
“And the Woman Clothed in Sun” explores the relativism implicit in that idea, suggesting that Hannibal’s drive to murder comes from the same evolutionary impulse that targets the weak or the elderly. His violence is kindness, a way of helping rude people avoid the indignity of being rude.
Of course, Hannibal’s victims would likely dispute the sentence, which is the crucial distinction between a killer like Hannibal and a more traditional moral figure like Will. Hannibal ends the misery of creatures in distress. Will adds them to his pack of strays.
Throughout the series, Hannibal has always employed a rather curious double standard. Hannibal believes that he has the right to consume other people solely because he has the will and ability to do so, but that privilege does not extend to others, no matter how competent or daring. To attempt to influence Hannibal – to make him do something he does not wish to do – is a great offense, an affront to the standards of decency and good taste. He’d argue that his taste is superior, but in truth, it’s a self-serving justification that allows him to commit any act of cruelty he desires.
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.
As much as I like Hannibal, I can’t deny that the third season has been off to a bit of a slow start. So far, the characters have been sitting around talking, with occasional digressions for dinner and vivisection.
Those dinner conversations are far more entertaining than they are on most shows, and Mads Mikkelsen remains as captivating as ever. Even so, drama is usually more compelling when the stakes are clear. Why are these people still in such close proximity to one another?
That changed in the second half of “Secondo,” the third episode of season three, which concludes with a bombshell about Hannibal’s past.
Get your Arcade Block for your chance to win this Big Boss Block full of Fallout gear!
Note: We’ll be recapping every episode of Hannibal from this point forward. We’re starting with a belated recap of “Antipasto” to makes sure everyone is caught up for “Primavera.”
When we last left Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), he was lying in a puddle of his own blood on Hannibal Lecter’s kitchen floor. For all we see of him in the first episode of season three, maybe he still is.
In other words, “Antipasto” is not as concerned with tying off loose ends as it is in establishing a new status quo. Will is present in name only, while Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) is present only in flashback. Meanwhile, Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) has fled the country to establish himself as a man of taste in high society. After murdering a professor and assuming his identity in France, he works his way to Italy where he wows a stuffy room full of educated men with a scintillating lecture on Dante’s Inferno.
Needless to say, Hannibal fits right in.
All those long dormant members of the David Duchovny Estrogen Brigade and the Gillian Anderson Testosterone Brigade went collectively crazy this week when on set photos of the new season of The X-Files took over the Twitterverse.
With apologies to Game of Thrones and Ramsay Bolton, TV’s most compelling sociopath isn’t on HBO. Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal, which returns to the air on Thursday with the start of season three, is the best thing currently on TV. If you’re not already on board, now is the perfect time to pull up to the table.
So what makes Hannibal so great? For starters, the show has an exceptional cast, with stellar performances from Hugh Dancy as Will Graham and Mads Mikkelsen as the charismatic Hannibal Lecter. Laurence Fishburne’s Jack Crawford serves as a much-needed foil for the stars chewing the scenery, while Gillian Anderson is around to remind us why we all loved The X-Files.