[Review] - Hannibal, Season 3 Episode 6, "Dolce"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television

Once again, it is time for a Hannibal news-of-the-week roundup. The cast and creator Bryan Fuller took to Comic-con this past weekend to announce... absolutely nothing new. Fuller reiterated his loyalty to the show, and if someone comes forward with a funding model that works, he is more than happy to continue. He did reveal however, that the international funding that made the show super cheap for NBC to produce fell apart as soon as NBC cancelled it. So rather than being fully funded and simply looking for a home, the series would need to put together it's finances back together in the event of a renewal, one that looks increasingly less likely. With Fuller's attention drifting solidly towards American gods, I get the sense that he's really happy with the three season Hannibal got, and would be fine if that was it. However, he did reiterate his belief that their planned fourth season would make an excellent film, and that Mads and Hugh are both up for returning to their rolls in whatever capacity.

Which is all fine. But then, earlier today we found out that NBC, never one to miss out on a dick move, is shifting the series to Saturday nights for the final six weeks of it's run (it'll stay on Thursday this week, then will make the move for Red Dragon). The episodes are already in the can, and their logic is, if no one is watching, why waste perfectly good prime time real estate on a show that is already dead. they will likely replace it with reruns of America's Greatest Nut Shots, or a reality competition where people without talent are told they have some by D-list celebrities who have even less. You know, fine quality programming (sarcasm heavily implied).

In the mean time, let us bear obsequious detail to this lovely episode which contained reunions, esoteric lesbianism, and as much bloody tension as I think this show has ever managed to squeeze out of a dinner party. I'm going to miss you when you're gone, my friend, but I love you while you're here.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that went wee-wee-wee, all the way home.

So, it appears that my theory about Chiyoh being a figment of Will's imagination was wrong. Direct interaction with two other members of the cast and a reference from a third pretty much qualifies her as existing. Which is actually frustrating, because it now means I have absolutely no idea what her point and purpose is, what her end game is and why the show is investing all this time to her. The other characters might keep their motives secret, but they work from established character traits, which means viewers that pay attention can make reasonable assumptions about what is going to happen. Bedelia, for instance, calling Hannibal out for wanting to eat her eventually, which is perfectly in keeping with his character. But with Chiyoh, there doesn't seem to be any regular mode of operations. She seems to want to kill Hannibal, but she fails to take the opportunity to do so when nothing is preventing her. In fact, in this episode she essentially acts as his guardian, saving him from Will's knife. Her role as the preserver of Will's innocence would make more sense if she were his complex fiction, and less as a person who pushes him off trains and shoots him for his own good.

I don't necessarily want to say it like this, but this episode really did tread close to the reality of this sort of relationship between characters. Other shows maintain a very structure-reinforced narrative: things begin to happen, they continue to happen, they finish happening. On this show though, their multi-episode reliance on the absence of that structure mimics how, more often than not, real life plays out. People are, people continue to be, and when it is least convenient, everything happens at once. If any other show were to cut from one character burrowing into another's head with a hack saw, only to find them suddenly both on the other side of the world in chains, we'd cry bullshit. But on this show, not only do we buy it, but is seems extraordinarily normal. It's when things are at their worst that everything else shits the bed.

I genuinely feared for Jack's life in this episode. Despite the fact that I feel the show is stronger when it is the balance beam of morality that is (in sequence) Jack, Will and Hannibal teeter-tottering together, Jack is the expendable character (and the only one of the three that has a canonical death in the novels). I've feared for him several times over the three years of this show, especially last year, and considered him the least likely to survive the Dinner Party. As soon as I saw the braising pan, I knew what part of the novels this episode would attempt to adapt, and since Krendler isn't around, I thought for sure in the presence of Will and as a last supper between the three of them, it would be Jack's brain that was served as appetizer. I had no doubt that Hannibal would turn to Will for the main course, but did not expect for Jack to simply be bystander to the impromptu lobotomy. In fact, Hannibal seemed to go out of his way to ensure Jack's survival. He incapacitated him sure, but despite their physical altercation last week, Hannibal seems to have no ill-will towards Jack. Perhaps it was because the beat-down was justified, and Jack was not being rude.

I'm uncertain how much longer Bedelia will play a role in the show, so for potentially the last time, can we marvel at how wonder Gillian Anderson has been this year. If the first episode was showcasing her trepidation, by this episode she really couldn't claim innocence. She ensures her own survival from both Hannibal and the law by concocting the perfect alibi: she wasn't herself. Honestly, I half-hoped that she would be more instrumental in Hannibal's capture, that she would take a more active role to disentangling herself from this monster. This was a more passive choice for Fuller and the writers to settle on, but it still shows her fierce desire to survive the man so few have. She creates for herself a protective later of reasonable doubt, which will allow her to disappear into the world without a blemish on her name and only haunted memories to live with.

After six episodes, when the question was first posed as to whether she was coerced or consented to Hannibal's company, I believe the answer is a resounding "probably mostly" that she liked it. He is first and foremost a gentleman, well mannered, well educated, good source of company, and the best cook going. I expect that if he had kept his nature out of her home, she could have lived happily in willful ignorance, and had she never expected her life to be in danger, would have been content being the false Mrs. Fell. Time and circumstance, and her own trepidation were the cause of her domestic discontent, and now she's simply making the best of a bad situation.

The least shocking thing to happen in this episode was likely the one that took the most people by surprise, which was Alana's tryst with Margot. I'm not saying that I've suspected Alana or bisexuality in the past, though most characters on this show have shown a healthy ability to slide along the sexual spectrum. But it is significantly in keeping with her arc this season, which is the effect that Hannibal had on her. In effect, their relationship and his influence caused her to turn from everything that she was in to the opposite. So, instead of empathetic, she is now indifferent. Before, she was professional, now she is personal. Before she was optimistic and borderline-naive, now she is pessimistic and jaded. And as a complete physical repudiation of the soiled flesh that touched her last, she seeks comfort in the company of another tortured soul. Which is again a reversal. For a season and a half she refused to have a relationship with Will because of his damage. She is too good at her job not to recognize that Margot is damaged too, but now she's in it for herself. She hasn't yet completely embraced the Verger mindset, and clearly sides more with Margot's "survive" mentality than Mason's "revenge" perspective, but she's only holding on by the thinnest thread-bear string of humanity.

Next week, we find out what Chiyoh is up to (hopefully), how Hannibal and Will ended up in Mason's grip, what happened to Jack, and how Will is still standing after having been thrown off a train, shot and had his head nearly cut off all within a couple days. And then, begins the becoming...
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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.

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