From Season Three

Hannibal – Season 3, Episode 7: “Digestivo”

NBC’s Hannibal Season
3, Episode 7:
 “Digestivo
Directed by Adam Kane
Written by Bryan Fuller and Steve Lightfoot

* For a review of the next episode, “The Great Red Dragon” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “Dolce” – click here Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.39.28 PMTo start, the episode’s title “Digestivo” comes from another part of the formal Italian meal. The literal meaning is, of course, ‘digestif’, which is an alcoholic drink (sweet or bitter) that is drank after a meal; as you can tell, it is meant to help the digestive process. I think Bryan Fuller and Co. chose this particular name for Episode Seven because this is a transitional episode.
We begin at the precarious position in which Vincenzo Natali left us during “Dolce”, where Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) was forced to watch Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) start sawing into Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), right through the forehead. By the end of the episode, we’re miles – literally hundreds of thousands – away from where things started. So, in a way, this episode is the digestif which will help along the process – it helps us to digest the plot and story going forward.

After we pick up, Hannibal is stopped in the midst of his meal preparation (he and Jack were no doubt about to feast on a nice hunk of Will’s grey matter). The new Inspector under Mason Verger’s (Joe Anderson) thumb comes with reinforcements. However, they’re not about to go by the book. They pack up both Hannibal and Will to bring back to Muskrat Farm. Jack is left, along with an officer instructed to “Open him up like he did with the other one.
Fortunately, Chiyo (Tao Okamoto) is still looking out for Hannibal, and in the process saves Jack – in turn, he gives Chiyo the exact location of where Hannibal is being taken. This speeds things up nicely. The digestif has begun to work its magic.
Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.40.56 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.41.34 PMAt the end of “Dolce”, we saw the Hannibal/Will duo hanging upside down like sides of beef, or in this case pork. Mason has had them relocated to Muskrat Farm, where Cordell Doemling (Glenn Fleshler) will begin to ready them for their respective fates.
Hannibal, all smiles, and Will, less smiley, are dressed to the nines and wheeled out to Mason’s beautifully set grand table. There, Hannibal is brought some small appetizers, as Mason remarked earlier (while jabbing his dearly departed father’s pocket blade into Hannibal’s thigh) the naughty doctor was looking “a little lean“; he needed to be fattened up. Meanwhile, it is revealed Cordell will be transplanting Will’s face onto Mason – he will then proceed to eat Dr. Lecter with Will’s face on. Twisted. When Cordell goes to apply some moisturizer to Graham, as he is “looking a little dry“, Will surprisingly takes a nice bite out of Cordell’s face. He spits a hunk of cheek out onto the plate in front of him. There’s certainly lots of fight left in Mr. Graham.

As I said before in one of my previous reviews, I love how Bryan Fuller and Co. have tweaked Mason’s revenge slightly. We got bits of the mandating pigs in Season Two, so I think it’s genius how they decided to make Mason decide on eating Lecter. It works in well with the whole fixation of Mason’s on transubstantiation, the risen Jesus Christ or “The Riz” as Mason so lovingly calls him: for those who don’t know, transubstantiation is the concept in the Roman Catholic Church that by eating the bread and wine at Holy Communion, you are not just figuratively eating the body and blood of Christ, you are literally eating it. The way this plays into Mason’s decision is perfect, as even in the Thomas Harris novel Hannibal he is, while simultaneously a sadistic paedophile, a raving fan of Christianity – mainly Catholicism and how confession can absolve one from their heinous acts. Great work on the adaptation here, once more; I feel I’m wearing that sentence out, but whatever. It’s true. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.41.52 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.42.10 PMAs Will is mostly just waiting around to have his face removed, sitting at the big table and getting in a chat with his old flame Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), there are far more torturous plans for Dr. Lecter. Out where the pigs are kept, Cordell (his face patched up) ties Hannibal up in a pen, amongst the hay and the pig shit. He brands Hannibal at the centre of the back; just the same as any other pig. What I find ironic is how Hannibal ate people for being rude, or rather ‘piggish’. Now we find the cannibal stuck exactly in the metaphorical place of his victims – he is now a pig himself. We get another glimpse at how controlled Hannibal is, most of the time, in his mental process. The pain of the brand barely registers; he closes his eyes and wishes it away. Still, all the time he is awaiting his death, Hannibal flashes those smug, defiant smiles. As if he knows something; something nobody else knows, something we will never know. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.42.39 PMOne thing I really loved about this episode, aside from the obvious intensity and excitement, is how Alana is basically faced with the prospect of watching Will die, horribly, or letting Hannibal go. Though it seems like a quick decision for her, as she comes into the pig pens where Hannibal and Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle) are having a quiet discussion, I think it’s the earlier scene between Alana and Will which really pushes her to action. Will’s shaming of Alana makes her realize that, though there is no doubt Hannibal deserves whatever he gets, and more, by being complicit with what happens to Hannibal (and in turn Will because of the situation) she is no better than him. There’s a lot of morality flying around, and perhaps Will is not perfect when it comes to morals, but what he says works. The moment Hannibal is let free things start to become more terrifying by the moment. But first, before I discuss the finale of the episode and all it entails, let’s take a step back… Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.43.28 PMScreen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.43.53 PMThe part of the episode I found most disturbing was the surrogate – the pig. Now, the reason I found this so effectively creepy and unsettling is because of how vicious it shows Mason to be. We knew this anyways, but in the novel Hannibal there is so much more to Mason, as well as Margot, than we end up with in either the film adaptation, or the series. While Mason is fleshed out more here in the series, obviously, as opposed to the film adaptation of Hannibal directed by Ridley Scott, there are aspects we don’t full-on see too much about.
For instance, we only get a small inkling in the Second Season about Mason’s predilections: he is a terribly sick and violent child molester. That’s where the whole “taking the chocolate” thing comes from, as well as the games he played with Margot when she was little. However, Fuller and Co. have certainly stuck with the whole plot of Mason treating Margot like absolute filth.
What I found disturbing about the whole surrogate scene in “Digestivo” is how it takes things up a notch from the book. Harris’ novel has Margot as infertile, as well as a lesbian, but in the series Mason has actually taken out her reproductive parts – he’s literally ripped the ability to give life out of her. So then by further going ahead and planting Margot’s baby (for those who don’t realize it: the baby is that of Margot and Will – notice how big it is? Looks to be about a 9-10 month old infant + the time jump earlier between Will waking up from a coma and his trip to Italy was 8 months… not hard to put together) into a surrogate, a pig, there’s so much malice. It not only represents just utter disregard for Margot and her feelings, her wishes to have a Verger baby, by having the pig as the surrogate Mason is saying that the pig is more worthy to carry a child with a Verger name than Margot – that the pigs are more family and more Verger than Margot.
It is so vicious that it’s perfect. Worked wonders, these scenes. Especially while the baby is being removed/a face is being removed while Will sits strapped into a medical gurney next to Cordell. Disturbing yet incredibly visual. The imagery here was unreal. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.44.06 PMBIG TIME SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!
In the novel Hannibal, Margot talks with Hannibal, just like in this episode – he offers to be the scapegoat for Mason’s murder, should Margot decide on committing it. Hannibal tells her it wouldn’t matter for another charge to be laid on him, that he will write a letter boasting about enjoying the murder of Mason Verger; he offers some hair, right from the scalp, to lay in Mason’s hands after he is dead.
I like how Alana Bloom is present here, as opposed to it just being Margot in the novel – seeing Alana rip the hair out of Hannibal’s scalp is a perfect, tiny little blow on her part, at least she get some kind of revenge even if it’s not much. Also, in the novel Margot kills her brother by jamming the eel down his throat, as well as milking his prostate with a cattle prod to gather some viable sperm samples to make a true Verger baby later on.
Here, I like that Margot and Alana had a hand in the murder. I also thought it was just perfect that the eel went on in Mason’s mouth by itself, without being shoved down his throat. Sort of shows how everyone/everything around Mason hates him and knows how disgustingly cruel/sadistic he can be deep down – even the eel wanted to be a part of his death. Very fun, highly macabre stuff in this episode! What a scene left at Muskrat Farm. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.44.24 PMThe end of the episode is what works most wonderfully to me. I won’t spoil how Will is sprung loose, however, Hannibal brings his dear friend back home, lays him in bed. Chiyo and Hannibal have a brief chat outside – Lecter tells her she is stable, on the periodic table of elements “between iron and silver“.
Inside, Lecter tries to take things back to the old days: him in the chair, Will laying back and recounting his darkest thoughts. Unfortunately for Hannibal, his friend does not want the friendship anymore. Will has realized, after all that’s happened, no matter how bad he feels close to Hannibal they are no good together, in any way. Will tells him that he doesn’t want to know where Hannibal is, he won’t look for him, because he does not want to know where he is; he has had enough. Clearly hurt, Hannibal leaves to seemingly vanish. Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 4.44.42 PMJack Crawford and the FBI show up, but Will says that Lecter is gone. Hannibal willingly surrenders. He gloats in his own way, telling Jack: “You’ve finally caught the Chesapeake Ripper.
Jack replies by saying Hannibal wasn’t caught, he gave himself up. Hauntingly, Dr. Lecter looks at Jack first, then Will and says: “I want you to know exactly where I am. That way, you can always find me.” To hear that – to see Hannibal in this Fuller and Co. adaptation of Thomas Harris giving himself up willingly – is so refreshing. It is the truly disturbed, sick, haunted relationship between Will and Hannibal which drives everything. Will hurt Hannibal by rejecting further friendship and saying he didn’t care where Lecter ended up.
Therefore, Hannibal spited Will by turning himself in, so that the thought of knowing exactly where he’d be, locked in a cell somewhere, would always be with Will. That way, Hannibal ensures he will always be a part of Will’s life.

The most exciting part is the next episode – “The Great Red Dragon” – because there’s a time jump. We go forward, and yet somehow backward (to Harris’ work in a sense). We’ll get to see exactly how haunted Will is when Jack has to pull him back into a murder investigation, and how desperate will it make them: desperate enough to go see Dr. Lecter again?
Stay tuned and check out for Episode Eight’s review!

Hannibal – Season 3, Episode 8: “The Great Red Dragon”


NBC’s Hannibal
Season 3, Episode 8: The Great Red Dragon
Directed by Neil Marshall (Dog SoldiersThe DescentGame of Thrones)
Written by Nick Antosca and Steve Lightfoot

* For a review of the previous episode, “Digestivo” – click here
* For a review of the next epiosde, “..And the Woman Clothed with the Sun” – click here
Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 3.28.52 AMI want you to know exactly where I am. That way, you can always find me.” The words of Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) resonate through Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). He’d only just told the bad doctor how he wished not to know where Hannibal was, so that he couldn’t find him. Now, with Hannibal turning himself over to Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) and the FBI, we turn over to the part of Thomas Harris’ books where the cannibalistic doctor is behind bars, looking at the world around him, as Graham will eventually come to look for his help.
Why would he need Lecter’s help?
Introducing – Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage). We’ve finally come to the Red Dragon storyline in all its glory; that is, the Tooth Fairy has finally arrived. Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 3.29.31 AMThe introduction to Dolarhyde is unsettling. He almost orgasms while looking at a magazine with William Blake paintings in it (namely The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun). He works out in excruciating form. He gets tattooed, and Francis even looks for a set of nasty old false teeth; chomp chomp. Then, he bows in his attic in front of a Blake painting, the tattoo of the Great Red Dragon on his back. Quite a creepy opening for this episode.

I think that the end of this season, with all the Tooth Fairy/Francis Dolarhyde business, will go out with a huge bang. There’s so much creepiness happening with Armitage portraying Dolarhyde. This guy is incredible! So much of that character involves the actor being alone, wrestling with his inner self that’s busting out. The visuals that Hannibal as a show has brought really serve the Dolarhyde story well; some excellent shots including shattered glass, the moon. I anticipate the Dolarhyde portion of this season will go off well, episode after episode. Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 3.30.28 AMNow, Hannibal is in his memory palace. He sits and listens to a young boy sing a hymn, presumably in one of the Italian churches he admires so much. All the while, in reality, Hannibal is cuffed to the floor, chained up wherever he goes, and his DNA samples are being taken. Finally, Hannibal stands in a big cell with clear glass.
BUT WAIT – TIME JUMP! Three years have passed.
Hannibal is having a chat with Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas). He envisions it as another chat in his grand old office. However, he’s behind bars and wearing a jumpsuit. That being said, Hannibal does seem to have garnered a bit of privilege; no doubt he offered information which lead to some sort of deal being struck. He’s able to have a bit of decent food and drink, some books and such.
Congratulations, Hannibal – you’re officially insane,” Alan calmly tells him in a matter-of-fact tone. Even with the perks, he’s still a mad cannibal doctor. Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 3.30.17 AMSplendid scene between Hannibal and Dr. Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza). They eat a dessert which Hannibal once made for him, but with cow’s blood “only in the derogatory sense” he tells Chilton.
What I love about this scene is how Chilton basically taunts Hannibal with the idea of the Tooth Fairy; you can just about feel Hannibal boil with jealousy, wishing he could still be out indulging his violent, nasty little pleasures.

Part of my love for Hannibal as a television show is how Bryan Fuller keeps everything recognizable to readers, yet fresh all the same. There are twists and turns that I understand as a reader/fan of the Harris novels, however, the way Fuller brings them in and twists them in his own right, switching up characters and certain events from the books (as well as their film incarnations); it really works magically. That’s how I feel, anyways. Plus, the visual nature of the show really works with so many of the themes going on. Added to the fact it’s just incredible to watch and look at. I find it so invigorating not to have every single little bit of character/story given up through dialogue. We get so much via visuals that I think it’s part of why NBC cancelled it, and part of why a lot of people seem to trash it. They don’t spoon feed everything to the viewer. Sometimes it may actually benefit for people to have read the books and seen all the movies, more than once even. Because there are bits of character (particularly I think of Mason Verger who was explored but only partly in the series) which come out that aren’t written blatantly for us through the script and dialogue. Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 3.31.11 AMWill Graham is a ways down the road now, with a wife and a boy he’s adopted as his own. Things seem great, only Jack shows up needing help with the new Tooth Fairy murderer out there killing families under the moon. Graham reluctantly goes along to help, mostly because his wife Molly (Nina Arianda) insists due to the fact he would have done the right thing, and she worries that this man is killing whole families.
If I go, I’ll be different when I get back,” Will tells her.
So we’re seeing a different side to Will now, the part that really began in Harris’ Red Dragon. Will has been scarred by Garrett Jacob Hobbs, he has been scarred even deeper by Hannibal Lecter. Now, as Jack comes knocking, we can see that at least partly, certainly never fully, Will has let go of that side of himself; he has tried to let go of the hold Hannibal had over him. He knows that going back to the what he does best will cause problems, but ultimately also understands he might be the best man to bring down a killer such as the Tooth Fairy.

Our old lives hover in the shadows,” Hannibal writes to Will in a letter. “It’s dark on the other side, and madness is waiting.

Watching Will Graham walk around inside the latest crime scene, courtesy of the Tooth Fairy, is a spectacularly chilling ordeal. It rings very much close to the Michael Mann-directed Manhunter scenes with William Petersen; there’s a raw, subdued quality about Mann’s scenes that I think really come through here. Not only that, Fuller shows us how Will is not coping well with having to go back into this mode of thinking. Before he is able to see the design of this killer, Will almost hyperventilates before going into GrahamVision. It’s a great, disturbing scene.
You can feel Will’s hesitation, his reluctance at having to go back into his own twisted mind to capture the thinking of another, much more violently twisted mind. Fuller knows what he’s doing, and I continue to believe that, despite my fondness for Petersen in Manhunter, there is no doubt in my mind that Hugh Dancy is the ultimate, definitive portrayal of Will Graham. Not only does TV allow for the ability to stretch out the character, really get into the meat of his development, but Graham simply embodies everything I think Graham is about; there’s that loner-ish presence, his nearly autistic spectrum attitude at times, and the PTSD of his work truly comes through, especially at this point in the series.

There’s one amazing moment as Will proclaims “This is my design” where he represents perfectly two symbols from the Harris universe: the wings of the Great Red Dragon and the wings of the blood eagle. Mostly I think it’s intended to be the Red Dragon, but I thought it was also reminiscent of that angel-like look the blood eagle attains; it has that essence of transformation, which the Red Dragon encompassed, as well. Either way – fantastic visual! Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 3.31.29 AM I find it another great twist on the part of Fuller to have Will Graham suggest to Crawford, instead of the opposite, that it might be best for him to go see Hannibal – “before I’m driven to it through desperation,” Will tells Jack. Not only is it fun to switch things up, this serves a great purpose: we see how addicted to that sick relationship with Lecter he truly is, we see the sickness of Will’s inability to let go by him going back. He doesn’t actually have to, he is capable somehow on his own, but there’s a part of Will that never wanted to let Hannibal out of his life. Good form, Fuller. Good form! Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 3.32.06 AMThe end of the episode was classic, as we see Will and Hannibal come together, face to face for the first time now in three years. It’s a perfect moment while they greet one another and then cut to black. Neil Marshall – a fantastic director in his own right – does well at the helm of Hannibal‘s latest episode. He goes for some wild visuals, but does not go as deep and out-there as some of the other episodes of the series, and certainly some of the earlier episodes of this freaky new season. I can’t wait to see more now that Armitage is in the mix playing Dolarhyde. Getting really interesting.
I love the duality between Hannibal and Dolarhyde which is being set up. Hannibal has always been the villain, but I think we’re about to see him in a much more evil, malevolent light than ever before. Awesome scene goes from Hannibal collecting clippings about the Tooth Fairy, to Dolarhyde collecting his own scrapbook of Hannibal the Cannibal clippings. Super creepshow stuff! Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 3.30.58 AMStay tuned, I’ll be back every week reviewing each episode. Next one is titled “…And the Woman Clothed with the Sun”.
For now since this has been sadly cancelled, forge ahead with me as we unfortunately say goodbye TO THE GREATEST SHOW ON TELEVISION RIGHT NOW!