ITS NOT THAT KIND OF PARTY
First of all, a moment to pause and rejoice… Hannibal is back!
The Season 3 premiere was not a “hit the ground running” one. It didn’t pick up moments after the finale, with ambulances rushing to the grisly scene in Hannibal’s house. No, Bryan Fuller instead took the intriguing approach of focusing entirely on Hannibal and Bedelia’s new life abroad – first in Paris, then in Florence.
The episode starts with Hannibal riding through the streets of a European city on his motorcycle, disobeying every traffic law along the way because road rules don’t apply to hungry cannibals. If at this moment you are confused about where in time and space we are located all I can say is, get freaking used to it. He arrives at a soirée, for which he is egregiously underdressed in his leather biker jacket. But Hannibal is in his badass cannibal mode. He doesn’t conform to dress codes, dress codes conform to him.
Everyone ignores him while he hones in on tonight’s dinner, a Dr. Fell. Everyone except Anthony Dimmond, who, like Will Graham, is both scruffy and boyishly handsome. However, he lacks both Will Graham’s sense of morality and protagonist status, so I would highly advise getting too attached to him. (Too late? Well, then. This is gonna suck.).
He approaches Hannibal, who introduces himself with a fake name, and they engage in friendly conversation.
They actually talk about Dr. Roman Fell and how he is a sucky scholar who therefore deserves to be eaten. “One can appreciate another’s words without dissecting them. Though, on occasion, dissection is the only thing that will do,” Hannibal says. Hannibal made it a full 4 minutes and 10 seconds into the season without making a cannibal joke. He’s come so far, guys. I’m so proud.
Then lots of champagne bottles start popping in a borderline pornographic manner because this wouldn’t really be a Bryan Fuller joint without some tongue-in-cheek sex symbolism.
Hannibal follows Dr. Fell home and bonsoir‘s him to death and eats him. He presumably does the same to his wife.
We then cut to the white background credits, which are here to blind you after all those dimly lit night time scenes. I wasn’t able to see if Gillian Anderson was added to the title credits or not because I was too busy covering my face with my hands and shouting “Arrgh, my eyes!!” so someone please confirm this for me.
After the credits, Abel Gideon and Hannibal are in Hannibal’s dining room, eating Gideon’s other leg, which (as you’ll recall) is a thing that 100% actually happened.
By my estimation, at this point in the story Hannibal has three missing/ presumed dead persons running around his house in varying states of brainwashing/hypnotism/incapacitation. When are we getting the flashback montage showing all the shenanigans Gideon, Abigail, and Miriam got up to as they bonded over their respective Hannibal-induced missing extremities?
Gideon and Hannibal talk about cannibalism (dare I say the obvious choice of conversation). Gideon mentions that our ancestors were cannibals and that the missing link is only missing because we ate him. Now, as someone who majored in evolutionary biology, I can say with 83% certainty that this isn’t actually true, at least in the literal sense. So don’t, like, go around repeating this factoid at soirées or anything.
Gideon considers refusing to eat his own leg, but he “wouldn’t want to spoil the fairytale.”
“Let it be a fairytale then,” Hannibal says as he turns to the audience. “Once upon a time…”
Okay, at this point, you as the viewer might be wondering if this is even a flashback to begin with, considering that Hannibal basically broke the fourth wall, and also that these scenes are the only ones shot in black and white, while the other flashbacks involving Bedelia aren’t, but all I’m wondering is what fairytale Hannibal told Gideon. I like to think Hansel and Gretel, because that seems the most appropriate.
Back in the present/ reality, Hannibal and Bedelia are tearing the dance floor up at an Italian soirée. After they’re done with that, we get to meet Professor Sogliato, who’s basically just a huge xenophobic tool. He doesn’t think Hannibal (masquerading as Dr. Fell) deserves his recent appointment to whatever Dante aficionado academic organization these guys are a part of.
“Dr. Fell might hold in his hand– in his non-Italian hand– a note from Dante Alighieri himself. Would he recognize it? I think not,” he says xenophobically.
Hannibal then schools Sogliato by reciting Dante’s first sonnet, which apparently is about eating a heart (you’ve got to be fucking kidding me). Sogliato is appropriately schooled. Hannibal then bros out with his Italian bros about how he totally owned that Sogliato dude, while Bedelia tries to defuse the situation by offering to dance with him. I swear this is what happens.
Later that night at the Fell residence, Hannibal and Bedelia talk about ethics and aesthetics. Hannibal is lacking in the former, but has an abundance of the latter. Bedelia mentions that she feels that she still has conscious control of her actions, which makes it “a good day.” I don’t know. If I were in her position, I would want to be as sedated/ brainwashed as possible so I don’t have to deal with any of this shit. But that’s just me.
She takes a bath. Symbolism ensues.
Which leads to Bedelia Flashback Time where the only thing more fucked up than the aspect ratio is Bedelia’s life choices! Bedelia returns to her own house to pour herself a drink, probably under the impression that the FBI have detained Hannibal by this point. Honestly, it seems unlikely that the FBI would let her go until they had Hannibal in custody, but Hannibal completely stopped following real world logic sometime in Season 2, so screw it.
Bedelia finds Hannibal in her shower and instead of busting in on him and going all Psycho on his ass, politely waits for him to finish. He comes out to find her sitting on her bed, holding a strategically placed drink and pointing a gun at him.
Bedelia asks Hannibal what he’s done. He replies that he’s completely taken off his person suit.
Bedelia apologizes for not giving him a suitable substitute for therapy and not-so-subtly asks if Will Graham is alive.
“Will Graham was not a suitable substitute for therapy,” Hannibal says. I mean, yeah, dude. Will Graham is a hot mess of a human being. He’s like anti-therapy.
Bedelia doesn’t shoot and kill him. She will probably regret this decision in the near future.
Speaking of the near future, which is our present, Bedelia goes on an alcohol run because damn she needs some wine to take the edge off.
Meanwhile, over at Hannibal’s new day job at the museum, Hannibal is having the time of his life reading old manuscripts with his non-Italian hands. Things are starting to look up for him. He’s got a job, nobody knows that he’s not the real Dr. Fell, and he can totally nerd out on all this Dante research. He leaves the museum with a little spring in his step.
Hannibal invites Anthony over for dinner. Anthony is so screwed. In what way exactly remains to be seen.
Over in Hannibal and Gideon’s flashback fairy tale, Hannibal feeds Gideon’s arms to some snails. Apparently Hannibal has maintained a snail garden since he was a young (where does Hannibal get the fucking energy for all of his pretentious past times?).
They talk about how an animal’s diet influences its flavor. This is reassuring to me because my own diet basically insures that Hannibal would never want to eat me. Also, I always try to remember to say “please” and “thank you,” and also, I’m not, you know, a shitty Will Graham surrogate. So I’m pretty much safe.
Back in present-day Florence, Hannibal and Bedelia are having Anthony for dinner. Anthony gripes about Dr. Fell some more, but in an oddly charming way, proving that he also possesses Will Graham’s power of being kind of a douche, but also managing to be likeable at the same time. Hannibal invites Anthony to see Dr. Fell lecture on Dante because simply telling him that he’s currently masquerading as Dr. Fell would not satisfy his sense of the dramatic.
Anthony notices that Bedelia’s meal consists of acorns, oysters, and Marsala, which is what ancient Romans would use to feed animals to improve their flavor. Bedelia realizes that Hannibal is basically fattening her up, makes a cannibal joke, which Anthony mistakenly takes as a sex joke and an invitation for a threesome. It’s delightful, but no one is more delighted than Hannibal.
It turns out that no one is eating anyone tonight (in every sense of the word), since Hannibal lets Anthony go, to Bedelia’s great consternation.
The next day, Bedelia makes another alcohol run. She sees a symbolic dead rabbit hanging in the shop.
Bedelia’s current strategy seems to be to make herself as conspicuous and memorable as possible, so that it’s easier for the FBI to track them down eventually. So she sits in front of a security camera at the train station with the shopping bag in plain sight and gives an Office-esque deadpan stare into the camera. She refrains from sending out SOS smoke signals to notify the authorities of Hannibal’s whereabouts. I admire her restraint.
In another flashback, Bedelia comes to next to a dead Zachary Quinto and flashes back (flashbacks within flashbacks, what even is this show) to moments before when she slowly removed her bloody arm from his throat. This is apparently how you make someone swallow their tongue. Take notes, kids.
Hannibal, who’s always had impeccable timing, walks in on her kneeling down in shock next to the body.
Hannibal then puts her into a position where she is forced to accept Hannibal’s “help.” He uses almost exactly the same wording as he did when he blackmailed Abigail into accepting his “help” after killing Nick Boyle. Probably because Hannibal has pulled this murder extortion bullshit so often, he basically follows a script at this point.
Present day again, Hannibal gives his Dante lecture while Bedelia sits in the audience. The lecture is all about betrayal and punishment because Hannibal is many things, but subtle is not one of them.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Hannibal ventures into the audience and places his hand on Bedelia’s shoulder as he says the words “betrayal, hanging.”
Anthony wanders in fashionably late. While Hannibal is distracted by his arrival, Bedelia reaches her daily limit of Hannibal’s self-righteous pontification and peaces the fuck out.
After the lecture, Anthony reassures Hannibal that he is 100% DTM (Down To Murder). He’s not concerned with morality, otherwise he would have gone to the police. He’s also not that concerned about the real Dr. Fell:
“Clearly, you found him as distasteful as I did.”
“On the contrary,” Hannibal says because he’s both clever and hilarious.
But Anthony isn’t here to twist Hannibal into an uncomfortable position, but rather to untwist him “to their mutual benefit.” Well, I’m glad you guys cleared that up.
Over at the Fell residence, Bedelia is trying to make a break for it. (Protip: if you’re trying to make a quick escape, I suggest forgoing the high heels for a good pair of running shoes). As she is about to leave, Hannibal enters with Anthony in tow.
And if you thought this was gonna turn into a murder threesome, you were wrong, because Hannibal smashes Anthony over the head with a marble bust. He asks Bedelia if she is observing or participating, but it’s a rhetorical question because she’s participating whether she wants to admit it or not.
Hannibal goes over to Anthony, who’s crawling on the floor, trying to escape, and snaps his neck. Let me just point out that Hannibal smashes Anthony in the head with a statue like he did with Tobias Budge in Fromage, and then snaps his neck like he did with Franklyn (also in Fromage). Like Tobias, Anthony is a seemingly amoral person who is threatening Hannibal’s lifestyle, and like Franklyn, he’s a pretty shitty Will surrogate. COINCIDENCE?? Yeah, probably.
“What have you gotten yourself into, Bedelia,” Hannibal asks, as he offers to take her coat. I don’t know but I guess you can say Bedelia is… in a bit of a pickle. No, but for real. I guess you can say that Bedelia is… in hot water. But actually, no joke. When you really think about, you can say that Bedelia has… jumped out of the pot and into the frying pan. Okay, I’m gonna stop now.
As Hannibal is on a train en route to another exotic locale, Hannibal flashes back to another dinner with Gideon. They’re eating Gideon-fed escargot. Hannibal asks Gideon why he thinks he’s allowing this.
“Snails aren’t the only creatures who prefer eating with company,” Gideon says. “If only that company could be Will Graham.”
Back in the train, Hannibal folds a copy of the Vitruvian man into an anatomically correct origami heart. I would love to see the origami book that contains this folding pattern.
Back in Florence, Hannibal left Anthony’s body behind for the authorities to find in the shape of a heart skewered three time. Guys, Hannibal’s heart is broken, and I’m trying not to feel bad for him but I do because, as with everything else he does, he is NOT SUBTLE ABOUT IT AT ALL.
The Hannibal: Season 3 premiere dived deep on the show’s more quiet and dreamlike qualities, while giving us a lot to examine about Hannibal and Bedelia’s dynamic – and many signs that Bedelia is a darker person than she’s even admitted to herself. While I’m as anxious as everyone else to see what happened to Will and the others, Hannibal himself remains a fascinating character and even without Will physically being there, his presence was felt.
Episode Rating: 8/10