Season 3, Episode 6: “Dolce“
Directed by Vincenzo Natali
Written by Bryan Fuller, Steve Lightfoot, & Don Mancini
* For a review of the previous episode “Contorno” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Digestivo” – click here
Beginning directly after the events of “Contorno”, the 6th episode of Season Three opens as Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) limps his bloodied, beaten frame across the sunny Italian landscape. Particularly striking how most of Hannibal’s killing and his treacherousness has happened under the cover of darkness. Here, after receiving a plentiful ass kicking via Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), Hannibal knows that he is fully out in the open. So why not traipse across the city back to his captive wife, Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) and go from there?
It’s so intriguing to watch Hannibal full of blood, clearly smashed up, out in the daylight. Clearly delineates Hannibal’s new position, separating the Hannibal we knew once, before he and Jack came head to head, from this newly exposed Dr. Lecter.At the same time Hannibal slinks back to Bedelia, wounded and on the run, back at Muskrat Farm, Cordell Doemling (Glenn Fleshler of True Detective Season 1) has been preparing Mason Verger (Joe Anderson) for the grand meal that will eventually be Dr. Lecter. At a lavish table setting, Mason sits upright in his chair, dressed to impress. In comes Cordell with some delicacies. He’s prepared pigtails so that they look like segments of chopped fingers, so that Mason might get an idea of what it will be like to eat Hannibal’s hands.One of the consistently disturbing elements of Hannibal as a series overall is how the food is so elegantly prepared. Even though the pigtails obviously are not fingers, I’ll be damned if they don’t make them look the part. Not only that, but all the times Hannibal is cooking, even though we know what’s been going on in his kitchen there’s still a part of the brain that says “That looks delicious”. Such is the brilliance of this show. I mean, they’ve got a whole segment of production basically dedicated to making the food, as well as making the food presentation look spectacularly delicious and disturbing all at once.
When Mason hacks a little on one of the pigtails that Cordell serves him saying, “I prefer the ginger,” it made me laugh aloud. Excellent dark comedy. Pitch-black.
As I suspected since the beginning of Season Three, Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier is trying to slip out of her association with Hannibal. She and Chiyo (Tao Okamoto) have a confrontation, as Bedelia is about to shoot herself up with some psychotropics in order to keep up the charade that she was an unwilling participant in Hannibal’s international shenanigans.
Jack Crawford and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) show up, calling Bedelia on her bullshit. What Dr. Du Maurier forgets is that now she isn’t the only one who has seen beyond the person suit of Hannibal Lecter. Both Jack and Will have seen underneath the suit, they’ve experienced the horror and the violence, the pure madness that is Hannibal. So there’s no fooling them, or anyone really, but least of all Jack, certainly not Will. Later in the episode, Bedelia must also deal with a new Inspector employed, through the lines, by Mason Verger and his political reach.
I really dig the character of Chiyo. She is a great addition to the universe of this Thomas Harris adaptation. We get bits and pieces of the true relationship between Chiyo and Hannibal, as she moves constantly towards him. There are times it’s unclear what her intentions are, but they become much clearer throughout the course of “Dolce”.Will and Jack talk at the crime scene Hannibal fled. Graham questions why Jack hadn’t just killed Lecter, seeing as how he’d had him beaten. Jack says: “Maybe I need you to.”
Again, again, the bromance of Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter ignites, if only slightly.
The two meet at Uffizi Gallery, where Botticelli’s Primavera still hangs today and the place where Inspector Pazzi (Fortunato Cerlino) once encountered the Lithuanian as a younger man searching out Il Mostro, the Monster of Florence. Hannibal draws his own rendition of the famous Botticelli, replacing two of the faces with those of Bedelia and Will. It’s such a beautiful and twisted moment. There is a type of love in Hannibal, for both Bedelia and Will, however, it isn’t the love of humans. It is love born out of an understanding; Bedelia and Will are the two people who know him best because they’ve killed, they know his secrets, and have accepted him despite all they came to learn. But it is not a true love. Hannibal is a deranged killer, elegant but still a serial murderer, also a cannibal to top it all off. He cannot love, not in the true sense of the word. Though, the sick love he feels for Will especially drives him.Speaking of love, there’s a bit of love, or at least lust, brewing between Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) and Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle). Once more this is an episode directed by Vincenzo Natali. He brings some super psychedelic imagery here in the lovemaking scene between Alana and Margot. It’s incredible visually. They blend together, become one literally before our eyes. Instead of just feeling steamy, it feels sensual and emotional for them as their images join together and their bodies morph into the other. So to me, it didn’t feel like this one-night stand type of scene, it’s as if they actually care for one another and perhaps they’ve been spending more time together than either of them have let on to Mason. Not only are they closer physically and emotionally, Margot reveals that she really needs a viable sperm sample harvested from her brother before he ends up in prison.
Clearly, lust is not the only thing they’ve been discussing.
“Would you have done it quickly, or would you have stopped to gloat?”
“Does God gloat?”
As Will and Hannibal leave the Uffizi, Chiyo is atop an adjacent building with her sniper rifle; always watching Hannibal, following. Now it is clear what she is doing, in some shape or form: protecting. Chiyo blasts Will through the shoulder, as she zooms in on him and notices he is hauling a blade out – obviously to use on Hannibal. This moment was super intense. I couldn’t believe Will was actually, seemingly, about to knife Hannibal. Who knows if he had anything further planned.
So Hannibal, being the good friend he is, carries Will off. The poor guy wakes up to Hannibal about to remove the bullet, helping him stay awake. Soon, Will is strapped into a chair, being fed some soup to keep his strength up.
Hannibal has plans for Will Graham. Dark, dark plans.
Though a ton of great stuff in “Dolce,” one of the best bits is between Jack and Chiyo, in the elevator up to where Hannibal has Will. Jack eyes Chiyo suspiciously. They head up together in the elevator, and as Jack gets off on the floor to locate Hannibal Chiyo says “Wrong floor,” and they head their separate ways. Although Jack’s no slouch, he knows something is up.
What follows is wild! Some of the best stuff in Season Three so far is in this episode. I really dig how Bryan Fuller, Don Mancini (well known from his Child’s Play writing), and Steve Lightfoot take a scene right out of Harris’ Hannibal and while it familiar, under their pen it becomes something new, something highly visceral and exciting.
Vincenzo Natali has, including “Dolce”, directed six episodes of Hannibal, starting from Season Two onward. I honestly believe this is his best yet, simply on intensity alone. Plus, there is some weirdness, but at the same time lots of plot movement, bits of character development, and more well-written adaptation from the work of Harris.As he says this, we watch what was once a scene involving Hannibal, Clarice Starling, and Paul Krendler from the novel/film Hannibal. There is not just a medical saw, used to open skullcaps, but also a frying pan set up on a small portable burner. We can see that Hannibal is about to fry up a little brain-a-la Will Graham for himself and Jack. It’s disturbing.
Then Hannibal cuts into Will’s head. It blew me away watching the scene because it’s so unexpected, even though it gets closer and closer and we see it about to happen. You’d never expect Will to experience such hardship, after all he’s already been through— the ringer and back, as well as straight to Hell.Natali goes for some beautiful imagery here, as Will’s blood flies. Little droplets flick across the air with the reflection of Will and his near expressionless face (under the drugs of course). They fly up and reflect the scene below – in action, yet slowed down and paused, the moment sinking in deeper. Jack sits stuck in his chair, screaming for Hannibal to stop.
It was only a couple episodes ago Jack told Will: “You’re gonna have to die on me, too.” Now it’s as if the prophecy is being fulfilled, right in front of his eyes.
Then, as the blood rises up it goes to meet the sky, disappearing from out of Italy……then we travel along the wooded road into Muskrat Farm, home of none other than Mason Verger. Hannibal and Will hang upside down with the pig carcasses, all of them just meat on hooks. Cordell brings Mason in, who gives them a smug welcome to the farm.
“Digestivo” is next.