[Review] - Hannibal, Season 3 Episodes 3 and 4, "Secondo" And "Aperitivo"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
So this is how it is, NBC? I go away for one week - turn my back for a minute - and you cancel the show? A show I'd only just publicly and passionately declared as my favourite? I've given you credit in the past for keeping the show on air as long as you did; by your usual operating procedures, it shouldn't have lasted more than six in the first season. That we're going to get three full seasons on your network is a miracle. But you, as a network, have been working hard for a lot of years to alienate viewers with even a modicum of intelligence and taste, and I want to congratulate you on successfully cutting this viewer's cord. Hannibal was the only program keeping tuning in to the anemic, blanched peacock, limping around the farm under the misapprehension that you are still cock of the walk, when in fact you are a sad, tired vestige of something that was never that impressive to begin with. So thank you for three spectacular seasons of this show, and I'll see you in hell.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are helping to set the stage.

I'm going to do some gloating in a minute here, but first, a metaphor:

Stars are wonderful, terrible things. Massive, explosive yet self contained, prone to spewing poison and occasionally lashing out, and comprised of fire and patience. The life of a star is long and lonely, and life year a star is doomed to end in only one of two ways. Either you encircle it endlessly, never able to escape it's grasp while managing to avoid coming too close, or (and even in the case of the former option, often eventually) the gravity becomes too much. The object is pulled against it's own will and better judgement into the immense draw of the star, only to be burned and consumed without pity, remorse or even notice. There is a third option, far more rare, and equally bleak: to be thrown off, for a quirk of that vacuuming gravity to work the other way, and for the orbiter to be exiled to eternal darkness and cold, to drift aimless and alone in complete anonymity for all of time, with only a longing memory of the heat and the pull of the star.

Hannibal Lecter is a red giant. He is a pulsar. He is a black hole.

These two episodes were a reminder of the inescapably of Hannibal's gravity. Four episodes in, and the players have all been drawn back into his influence. The events of the night he had them for dinner have been explained, and the lasting effect on their orbits have been mapped. They've all been perverted by his swelling and his contraction, and now they waver, and plunge. They each of them have no other choice. It is only a question if they choose to make a few more laps before greeting the fire, or if they tilt directly at the star, imagining a weak spot they might stab as as they burn up on approach. Hannibal has made them all monsters, reeking with obsession, while he passively waits for his next meal.

And now, some gloating: I TOLD YOU! I said Chilton wasn't dead! I said it a year ago when Miriam put that bullet through his cheek, that he was too good a character to be gotten rid of so easily. And this show has an amusing inability to dispense of a character that still might play a part. Hell, even a definitive death can't stop a character from coming back, but in the tradition of Justified, unless we see them on Hannibal's dinner plate, assume survival. And here he is, rising up to greet the other survivors. He acted as half a messenger, half a seducer, as he became an audience surrogate to bring us back into the lives of each of the victims of Hannibal's rampage.

Each of Hannibal's victims has taken on the persona of a Deadly Sin. Chilton himself is greed, seeing Hannibal as an achievement to be unlocked. Will is envy, living outside of himself somewhat, seeking to return to the comfort and knowingness that Hannibal's friendship had brought him. Alana is wrath, and the most heavily transformed. She was the moral compass, the fulcrum of decency in the past, who kept Will human and Jack from taking things too far. Now she is fury and rage made beautiful and elegant. Verger is lust, but he was always lust. His appetite has always been as extreme as Hannibal's, losing his life merely gave him focus. Jack is sloth, having had everything in his life taken from him except his life, and that has resulted in a lethargy. He's the only one that genuinely has no interest in revisiting the past. He survived, somewhat against his wishes, and just wants to move on. His being drawn back into the search, into the fight, has less to do with a moral obligation to bring Hannibal to justice then a growing need to undo the damage he did to Will.

That leaves pride and gluttony. Another object incapable of escaping Hannibal's influence, Chiyoh, was introduced, as she could be either. Prideful that she was able to resist Hannibal's demand for so long, despite doing so making her a slave. Or gluttonous of that slavery, allowing if to siphon off her life and reduce her to nothing more than her task and her resistance. Which ever she fulfills, that leaves Bedelia to fill the last role, and again, she could fit into either. Since the first episode, she has become far more accepting of her position. She seems to have made her choice in the "observe or participate" dilemma, and added in the stipulation that sometimes, betrayal is the only option. So, is she prideful that she has found an orbit close enough to Hannibal that allows her to operate without his knowledge, that she genuinely thinks she'll be able to survive the proximity (she's already been burned - I laughed aloud as she removed the ice pick and Hannibal placidly commented "technically, you killed him"). Or is she being gluttonous? Feasting on his position, on his power, on his influence, knowing that as long as she does and is dutiful in assisting in maintaining his disposition, she survives.

Episode 4 was much more of the premiere that another version of this show would have went with. It was in many ways the counter-point to the premiere as it exists. Episode's two and three are better paired, as they are about Will's willing journey to be welcomed back into the fold. And this is the new level of the hunt: everyone has an intended action to direct towards their target. Will needs to embrace Hannibal again, to feel whole. Jack wants to protect Will. Alana wants to watch Hannibal suffer without being directly responsible for it. Verger wants to see Hannibal eaten. And Hannibal wants to forgive Will. The knife to the gut of that sentiment is that forgiveness comes only in the form of ingestion. Not surprisingly, given that this season will be making use of the Red Dragon plot, the theme of "becoming" has already started to leak in to the proceedings. Hannibal's influence has resulted in these characters we once knew into transforming into something new. And in most of the cases, something less. Something perverse. A mockery of their former selves. A cruel reflection of their former ideals. He has made them a little of bit of himself.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


  1. It does suck that Hannibal has been cancelled. I told someone that it is the most visually creative, well-written show about a serial killer I have ever seen on television. Hopefully Fuller will find a way to keep the show going through another avenue like Netflix.