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 To 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.
At 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. As 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. One 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… The 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. BIG 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. The 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. Jack 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!