Everyone’s favorite cannibalistic television character takes center stage in the first episode of season three of Hannibal.
After the absolute bloodbath at the end of season two, I had no idea what to expect in this premiere episode of Hannibal season three. And while it as beautiful and well-acted as ever, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing from this episode. Still, it’s great to have it back.
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Hannibal’s New Home
Since Hannibal probably couldn’t just hang around after slashing Abigail’s neck and practically gutting Will Graham, by this episode he’s made his way to Italy to create a new life and identity for himself. But how long will it last?
And more importantly, Hannibal isn’t alone in his new home. Bedelia du Maurier is there with him, posing as his wife and playing along with the charade. Why would the psychiatrist go along with Hannibal? That’s cleared up, (sort of), as the episode continues.
So it’s a little hard to tell without captions and with Mads Mikkelsen’s accent, but it appears that the job Hannibal has secured for himself in Italy actually became his after Hannibal killed, and ate, the former individual who held it. That’s convenient! And so very like him. So now it looks like his job mostly involves giving lectures about Dante and entertaining guests at dinners with his wife. Just a bit of a change from the Hannibal of last season, yes?
Victims, Past and Present
At a party early on in the episode, we are introduced to a man named Anthony Dimmond, who seems very interested in Hannibal’s work (and Hannibal himself, if you ask me). It’s not exactly outrageous to guess pretty quickly that he’s not gonna make it through the episode, but he at least gets to be a part of some pretty interesting conversations first.
There are also some flashbacks featuring Hannibal and Abel Gideon feasting on Abel’s leg. Charming! Abel Gideon is of course, portrayed by the master of the dry line delivery, Eddie Izzard, and he gets to philosophize with Hannibal quite a lot in this episode. He asks Hannibal if each human tastes different, and is told that that is, in fact, the case. (I feel like I probably taste like salt and fat, as those are embarrassingly present factors of my diet, but I certainly never want to find out. I can’t believe a television show has made me think about this. Great. Thanks Hannibal.)
But Hannibal’s victims are not the only ones featured in this episode — Bedelia gets to be in on that action too, but not in a way you might expect. She doesn’t actively participate in Hannibal’s murders, but — well, as has been hinted at in the past on the show, he was certainly involved in a death at her hand in the past.
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Is That Zachary Quinto?
Yes, in fact, it is! Ms. Du Maurier gets a flashback scene of her own on this season premiere of Hannibal, and we learn a little bit more about what happened to a patient of hers that attacked her, and how Hannibal was a part of it.
Essentially, we see the aftermath of what happened: Bedelia’s arm covered in blood, her panicked, breathless reaction, and a body on the floor (that would be Quinto). Hannibal walks in for some reason, and Bedelia claims the patient attacked her. He corrects her and says it was a “controlled use of force,” to which she somewhat defensively replies that she knows what happened.
Hannibal questions her, stating that the man died under her care, and that she wasn’t defending herself. It looks like he’s starting to convince her, and what with the shock she’s clearly suffering, that’s not a total surprise. And while he helps her to clean herself up afterward, Hannibal tells Bedelia that he can help her tell the “version” of the event she wants to be told, if only she asks nicely. She does, and we are given insight into why he has such a hold over her now.
Bedelia Du Maurier — Doting Wife
That flashback is important in examining Hannibal and Bedelia’s current relationship, as she’s generally thought of as a capable, sane character on this show. But he clearly has power over her, and that’s reflected in the fact that she’s running around playing house with him in Italy. Even when she has a chance to shoot him, she doesn’t do so. Instead she chooses to talk with him about things like ethics and morality. Bedelia is screwed up this season and it’s a little painful to watch.
And finally, Bedelia asks Hannibal, during one of their strange talks, about the fate of Will Graham. This comes after she apologizes to Hannibal for lacking the skills to continue in his therapy, and not finding a “suitable substitute” for him. When she asks about Will, all he’ll say is that the other man was “not a suitable substitute for therapy.” Eek.
Anyway, there’s a whole lot of instances where you can tell Bedelia is uncomfortable or downright sickened by the situation she’s in, but she also enables quite a lot of Hannibal’s behavior. She buys him ingredients for his meals, and supports his academic employment and related events.
Observation vs. Participation
So is Bedelia complicit in Hannibal’s murderous actions and activities? She might not be actively participating, but she doesn’t do much of anything to stop him either. When Hannibal has Dimmond over for dinner (specifically extending the invitation by telling him he and his wife would love to have the other man “for dinner,” get it?), she’s clearly twitchy throughout the meal, but she doesn’t warn the guest that he’s a target.
Speaking of that dinner, there’s a funny bit in which Dimmond notices what Bedelia is eating and notes that the ancient Romans had their livestock eat things like the meal she’s having to improve their flavor. She quips that her husband is particular about the way she tastes, and Dimmond smirks and asks if it’s that kind of party. So, I’m pretty sure he asked whether they were up for a threesome, but I could have read that totally wrong. (I’m pretty sure I didn’t, though). Hannibal and Bedelia respond in the negative, and he eventually leaves, unscathed.
He doesn’t stay that way for long though, of course, because this is Hannibal and some more people have to be eaten, you understand. After a lecture Hannibal gives that Dimmond slips into the audience for, (but Bedelia slips out of the audience during), the two men talk about how much they hate this one other guy. It’s implied that Dimmond is willing to help Hannibal take him out or something. I don’t know, there’s a lot of talking around the idea but it’s pretty shady in any case.
It appears Bedelia is about to make a break for it when Hannibal and Dimmond return to the couple’s fancy apartment or hotel room or penthouse or whatever it is. So close! Of course Hannibal attacks the guy by bashing him over the head almost as soon as they arrive, so no wining and dining this time around.
It is during this encounter that Hannibal questions Bedelia as to whether she’s really just observing the proceedings. He makes the point that she was curious about what might happen between Hannibal and Dimmond, and with her training, probably anticipated some of the thoughts and actions and likely knew it would come to that point. Since she probably expected the outcome, and did nothing, she is, in some way, participating. Deep, man.
Dimmond tries to crawl away, but Hannibal goes over and breaks his neck, and Bedelia quietly cries during the whole affair. Hannibal asks her what she’s gotten herself into, and I have to say, I was pretty much thinking the same thing.
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“Why Do You Think I’m Allowing This?”
There are also a few more flashbacks to interactions between Hannibal and Abel, and they seriously just get more and more bizarre. We get to see snails snacking on Abel’s detached arm, for instance, and Abel notes that he will then turn around and eat those snails, which were being made tastier with his own flesh and some wine. These are seriously things I never thought I’d write, people.
During one of their meals, Abel asks Hannibal why he thinks he’s allowing the proceedings. I mean, for god’s sakes, he’s pretty much just chilling while Hannibal cooks and eats parts of him, which is clearly not normal behavior. He notes that snails aren’t the only ones that like eating with company, but that it’s just too bad that Will Graham isn’t the guy enjoying the meal with Hannibal.
Mostly, Abel says, he’s curious how Hannibal will feel when karma bites him and someone does the whole cannibalism thing to him, which he is convinced will happen. Hannibal is shown to be reflecting on these conversations with Abel while sitting on a train, and it’s implied that he’s maybe fleeing the scene of his latest crime — a torso is shown on display in a church, and we can infer that it once belonged to Dimmond, Hannibal’s latest victim.
So who’s allowing who to do what, exactly? Does Hannibal actually want to be caught? Is he intrigued by the possibility of possibly being cannibalized himself one day, as Abel thinks will occur? And where is Bedelia at the end of the episode?
Where in the World is Will Graham?
And where exactly is Will? I’m going to take a wild guess and say he’s probably still alive, since this show just isn’t the same without him. I have to say, as beautiful as the cinematography was, and as arresting as the performances Mikkelsen and Anderson gave, I felt the absence of Will acutely. I do hope this focus on just Hannibal doesn’t last too long, because I think the show suffers without their interactions. But maybe that’s just me.
Hannibal airs every Thursday night at 10pm on NBC.
(Image courtesy of NBC)