Season 3, Episode 2: “Primavera”
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Written by Bryan Fuller & Jeff Vlaming
* For a review of the next episode, “Secondo” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Antipasto” – click hereIf I have any complaints about Season 3’s second episode it’s that there’s a lot of time spent on going over the end of Season Two’s finale. Not that it takes up a huge chunk of the episode, I just feel like going over it again (the moment when Hannibal opens Will up and leaves him to die), only in greater detail, doesn’t do much for me personally. I do like how Will is coming out of his coma, he tries to figure out what has been going on.
Regardless, this is a pretty damn good episode coming out of the season opener.
The thing I like most about this second episode is how all the focus is on Will, whereas the first episode centred on Hannibal. I find it works really well with the heart motif, the bloody human-shaped heart Hannibal leaves after the first episode— Will finds the heart, looks it over. So the first two episodes are almost like two halves of the heart, which is what I found interesting. There’s clearly a love between the two men, though not sexual it is something like brotherhood, understanding, even if it is completely sick and twisted at its root. This heart, under the the direction of Vincenzo Natali also later takes terrifying form – it unfolds and creeps towards Will, who sees it for what it truly is: a sign that Hannibal has most certainly tucked himself away somewhere in Italy.Once more, the visuals of Hannibal prevail. There is amazing stuff here in this episode.
A shot of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) beginning to drown in a wave of blood is incredible. It also sort of parallels a shot of Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) from Episode 1 of this season where she is in the bath and imagines herself slipping under, down into a bottomless pool. She sinks uncontrollably, down, down. Here it’s the same, as Will gets completely swallowed by a sea of blood, sinking further to the bottom, if there even is one. I’m sure this is partly because Natali directed “Antipasto” as well, but either way, striking imagery to have in this episode.
The whole episode is a bloodbath. With the moments of Will dying, then Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl) getting her throat cut, the heart, there is just scene after scene of sanguine frenzy. I love it, but I can absolutely see how some TV watchers on a Thursday night might not be into seeing Hannibal come on their set. I don’t know, I’m not one of those people. The horror in this series is unparalleled for television, as far as I’m concerned. You can love The Walking Dead all you want (I do), it does not hold a candle to Hannibal.As we push on forward through Bryan Fuller’s adaptation of Harris, there are more excellent changes, or switches as they might better be called.
For instance, I like the interactions between Will Graham and Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (Fortunato Cerlino). As well as the 8 month time jump, which puts a little distance between the events of Season Two and Season Three. In the novel Hannibal, as well as Ridley Scott’s film adaptation, it’s Clarice Starling on the police side of things who deals with Pazzi. So to see Will and Rinaldo as characters together is interesting, especially seeing as how the latter gives Graham time to have a look at the crime scene where the big human-sized heart is found. Pazzi recognizes that Will is not there in any official capacity, but simply he is looking for Hannibal.
Then we’ve got the whole plot of Pazzi who has been looking for Il Mostro, the Monster of Florence – none other than Hannibal Lecter (in the book Harris doesn’t explicitly say Hannibal is Il Mostro but people think he hints at this). The show makes clear Hannibal was Il Mostro, in the series timeline. They’d crossed paths earlier in life, when Hannibal was younger. Pazzi encountered the young man at the Uffizi Gallery, admiring Sandro Botticelli’s famous painting Primavera (none other than the episode’s title – doubling for some cooking and painting). Interesting twist to add in. Adds some tension to the Pazzi story here, makes his character and the character of Hannibal a little fuller. There’s something even more frightening about the Lithuanian cannibal after seeing Pazzi’s long ago encounter. Hannibal has clearly affected many, many people, continuing to do so wherever he seems to move.“It has a habit of sticking to you,” Pazzi tells Will, as he walks away to let Graham have time alone with the crime scene. Then we fade a little, a heartbeat slowly pulsing (sound design is another amazing aspect to this series as a whole). Will goes back into the crime scene, and it’s gruesome, as well as amazing. Not only does the thing unfold and come at him, there’s just a few shots that Vincenzo Natali puts in that are so weird and at the same time perfect— the slicing of the meat, the folding. It’s such a strange scene. Natali was really the director for this episode, the first one too, but most of all “Primavera.” Great and horrific stuff.
Also goes to show how Will and Hannibal are so intimately, as well as intricately, linked together as a whole. Like I said before, they are two halves to that heart. While Hannibal knows this fully, he embraces it, the concept is still something that Will Graham is not totally comfortable with. After freaking out, he laughs and shakes, sweating: “I do feel closer to Hannibal here.”
It’s easy to see how wounded Will still is because he isn’t just the same old Will – yes, he’s seeing things, nothing out of the ordinary. It’s his time with Abigail throughout the episode which truly shows the damage. SPOILER ALERT! TURN BACK OR Y’ALL GONNA GET SPOILED: when we finally figure out Abigail has been dead the whole time and Will is hallucinating her presence in Italy with him, it’s devastating. You can see how lost Hannibal has spun Will, out into an ocean of blood and the sea of his own mind. The moment Abigail’s throat opens and the blood spills out, there’s this look on Will’s face that is perfect. Great, quality acting on the part of Hugh Dancy.
It’s the last bits of which work wonders.
Will heads down into the lower levels of the building where Lecter left the bloody heart for him. Down in the darkness, Will steps slowly, as he can feel the presence of Hannibal there, somewhere in the absence of light. As Hannibal begins to leave, Will whispers to him: “I forgive you.”What I love is the relationship between these two, how it lingers, how neither of them can seem to wash the other off. Hannibal needs Will as much as Will feels he needs Hannibal. It’s a perpetual cycle of acceptance – they accept the worst in one another and it is a fulfilling, if not dangerous, violent, and macabre relationship. Here, we see how willing Will is to let someone as dangerous and disturbed as Hannibal back into his life, at least in some kind of way. There’s a sickness each of these men suffer from, and neither of them do the other any favours by spurring on the inner demons which lurk in them both.
The closing of this episode got me way too excited for the rest of this season, and it’s only the second episode! “Secondo” is next.