Hannibal Premiere Recap: 'What Have You Gotten Yourself Into, Bedelia?'

“I’m trying not to eat anything with a central nervous system,” says Gillian Anderson’s Bedelia Du Maurier, quite somberly, midway through the Season 3 premiere of Hannibal.

But when you’re living under the same roof as the show’s terrifying titular sociopath/culinary artist, how would you ever really know what’s going down your gullet?

In much the same way as Anderson’s deliberately cadenced alter-ego spends the hour in a beautifully hazy nightmare — is she a murderer now? a future victim? a psychiatrist conducting the ultimate observational study? — Hannibal‘s audience must also juggle tough questions along with macabre and stunning imagery.

Where does blood splatter end and art (or “food porn”) begin? Is it OK to be amused by Dr. Lecter’s erudite bon mots — or is abject horror the only appropriate response to his carefully curated mania? Is our anti-hero grooming Bedelia as a co-conspirator, a substitute for lost BFF Will Graham or a future sous-vide project? And how much of the premiere’s “present day” is to be trusted, given those cryptic black-and-white flashbacks of Eddie Izzard’s Dr. Abel Gideon offering that Hannibal is living in a fairy tale?

I’m not sure I’ve got answers to any of these queries — you can’t drop your pasta in the pot ’til it comes to a boil, if that makes any sense— but I will admit I was completely under showrunner/provocateur Bryan Fuller’s haunting spell before Dr. Lecter’s first chilling “bonsoir.”

[Side note: Is there a more hideous end-of-a-hard-work-day scenario than that of Dr. Fell’s wife, coming home and finding Mads Mikkelsen’s decked-out serial killer feasting on her hubby, and pretty much knowing she’s what’s on the menu for dessert?]

Anyhow, before I create any more unwelcome crossroads between Hannibal plot points and our own home lives, let’s jump into the Season 3 premiere’s central story arcs and the key questions surrounding ’em.

Hannibal - Season 3MEET THE FELLS | The episode opens almost wordlessly, with a horrific orchestral soundtrack that conjures up the swarming of insects. And what to our wondering eyes should appear but Hannibal, all in black, riding a motorcycle through Paris, his helmet giving him the appearance of a particularly menacing bug. He’s come to stalk, kill and assume the identity of a Professor Fell — which immediately makes me think of Anderson’s The Fall — but before he does his deed, he engages in some flirty intellectual chatter with Fell’s former assistant Anthony Dimmond. The scene (and the entire hour) is littered with visual double-entendres — a sword is drawn and violently slices… a champagne bottle — but the men eventually split (while the Fells part ways… with several tasty organs).

We jump ahead to Hannibal and Bedelia’s life in Florence. He’s teaching, she’s visiting seriously creepy food purveyors — raise your hand if you’d immediately flee any shop in which dead, trussed bunnies were dripping blood from their muzzles — and (whoops!) Dimmond has dropped by to visit his old boss. Hannibal cuts him off at the pass — explains that the new curator and translator at the Palazzo Caponé (whom he happens to be impersonating) is out for the day, and extends a potentially deadly invite to Dimmond (who still thinks Hannibal’s name is Yakhov): “My wife and I would love to have you for dinner.”

The main course, of course, is dread — has Hannibal brought Dimmond into their home because he’s the one person who can expose his and Bedelia’s assumed identities? — and Anderson flawlessly walks the line between extreme nausea and grim self-preservation. As much as her instinct tells her to yell “Run, dude!” she’s in so deep that her only outlet is verbal sparring. “Dante wrote that fear is almost as bitter as death,” says her “hubby.” Bedelia’s response — “Dante wasn’t dead when he wrote it” — feels like something that might drunkenly percolate from a spouse who’s been sitting on decades of resentment from listening to her ponderous professor run off at the mouth. (Loved Dimmond’s dropped detail, BTW, that Bedelia’s meat-free mix of oysters and acorns and masala was what the ancient Romans fed to animals to improve their flavor!) 

Days later, the jig is finally up, when Dimmond attends Hannibal’s public dissertation (promoted by a testy Italian intellectual who doesn’t buy his credentials). But the young academic seems more turned on than appalled by whatever means Hannibal used to assume Fell’s identity. “Clearly, you found him as distasteful as I did,” he smiles. Which prompts the most LOL retort of the hour (delivered mouth-wateringly by Mikkelsen): “On the contrary.”

Soon after, we see Bedelia preparing to leave their Florence flat — and yet isn’t it funny she hasn’t made her exit until Hannibal arrives with Dimmond? (I mean, if you really wanted to flee, would you take time to pack your tailored suits and hats?) Moments later, her face is getting splattered with blood — Dimmond’s blood — as Hannibal hits the curious fella with a marble bust. As the victim crawls for the exit — in shock, but with his “flight” mechanism fully activated — Hannibal and Bedelia have an exchange that sounds like the world’s darkest  doctoral thesis. “You say you are observing, but this — is participation, Bedelia,” Lecter coos. His “wife” finally admits she’d let the scenario play out in her mind beforehand — and that Dimmond’s demise was exactly how she’d envisioned it. The final step — Lecter snapping his victim’s neck — is a foregone conclusion, and Lecter’s followup is pretty much the working question for the entire premiere: “What have you gotten yourself into, Bedelia?”

The episode ends with an image that’s hard to decipher. Are we looking at a sculpture? Candle wax? A side of beef? No, it’s a torso on an easel — what part of Dimmond got eaten, you’ve got to wonder? — displayed at the exact same locale Dr. Fell discussed Dante’s Inferno. Oh, what fresh hell our victim visited this time!

Hannbial - Season 3BEDELIA’S DILEMMA |  So much of what Bedelia says to Hannibal during the hour sounds more like she’s talking to herself, trying to convince herself she hasn’t crossed the line into sociopath-adjacency. “I still feel as though I am in conscious control of my actions,” she says to Hannibal early in their Florence sabbatical. “Given your history, that’s a good day.” And yet there’s a scene where Bedelia sinks into a bathtub — eyes closed, descending down, down, downward in a way that’s equal parts symbolism and just gorgeous cinematography — that tells us how conflicted she’s become.

There are also a couple of juicy flashbacks that help us understand how Bedelia got here. After her Season 2 interview with Crawford — in that fierce red dress — she returns to her closed-down abode and finds Hannibal showering off Will, Jack, Alana and Abigail’s blood. She’s wise enough to pull a gun on the (surprisingly ripped) fugitive, but when she sets it down, she admits it’s a mix of greed (she wants to believe observe!) and blind optimism (that he won’t kill her) that will fuel her future actions. (Speaking of the Season 2 finale, we don’t see Will, Jack, Alana or Abigail, or learn which of ’em lived, died, or are destined for flashback/fantasy sequences.)

We also get a flashback of Bedelia’s first killing — that patient of hers whom we’d heard last season was under Hannibal’s influence. Still, does self defense require you to put your hand down the perpetrator’s throat? I suspect not. It’s Hannibal who gets her off the hook: “I can help you tell the version of events that you want to be told,” he whispers, and Dr. Du Maurier not-too-reluctantly accepts — setting in motion the eventual European Vacation of Her Nightmares (TM pending). (Bet “watches murder in Florence” was not on the travel agent’s itinerary!)

WILLING AND ABEL | The Season 3 premiere also includes gross-out black-and-white flashbacks to Hannibal’s slow and deliberate filleting and cooking of Eddie Izzard’s Abel Gideon. I’m not sure if there’s a deep signifcance here, or if it was just a chance for Mr. Fuller to show artsy images of snails feeding on a dismembered human leg. Still, Gideon’s query — can Hannibal tell the differences in human meat when he’s adding ingredients like candy apples and thyme? — is hurl-inducingly interesting (doctor, consume thyself!). And his parting shot to Hannibal — “How will you feel when this all happens to you?” — feels like foreshadowing, even if the query is probably more metaphorical than literal.

On that note, I turn it over to you. What did you think of Hannibal’s Season 3 premiere? Take our poll below, then sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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46 Comments
  1. N says:

    I wasn’t crazy about this episode….Sorry!

    • A says:

      Neither was I

    • Anna says:

      Me neither. At time it felt a little too artistic. It never felt like that before, so this was weird… Maybe they’re trying too hard? Maybe it was all the weird flashbacks? Maybe the balance was off, because it was just Hannibal this time? I don’t know. But I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I used to.

    • Don says:

      Love the show, but this confused the heck out of me. It was all style ( very beautiful) and no substance that I could make sense out of. The recap helped, cause I did not get any of that from this episode.

      • The Beach says:

        Agree. I’m glad for the recap because I missed a lot. This has always had very beautiful cinematography but last night seemed to be a bit overkill on the artistry without other “regular” scenes to balance it out. Also, I don’t know about the rest of you but I could barely understand half the whispered/super quiet dialog and I found that irritating.

        • Tim says:

          I ALWAYS watch this show with CC. And i agree with everyone about too much artistic style. maybe it was just this one director?

  2. ScorpionGlow says:

    I had a migraine, so I DVR’d it. I’m glad I read this in preparation.

  3. LaRissa says:

    I’m confused as to the shots of Will and all those he killed. Are they not dead?

    • Annie says:

      LOVED that whole exchange! The double-triple-entendres – I was gobsmacked for a good half hour afterwards, LOL.

  4. Sara says:

    This was another excellent and gorgeous episode. I can’t wait to see Will’s hunt for Hannibal commence and to see how it plays out. This show is pure perfection, from the acting, to the writing, to the cinematography, to the sound. So glad to have it back.

  5. Mr. Tran K says:

    I give it an A. Gillian Anderson delivers an Emmy worthy performance and I hope there’ll be more of her during the course of the season.

  6. nobozo says:

    A glorious and tasty delight.

  7. Mike R. says:

    I’m more interested in the Graham cracker side of the story line, but still great premiere, looking forward to catching up with everyone else next week.

  8. Beth says:

    Are all the episodes like that? This was the first episode i’ve watched of hannibal(it was on in the background). Safe to say I was very confused

    • Malcom Mackie says:

      It’s really not a background show. You should watch the episodes 1-6, and 11-13 of season 1 and all of season 2 to get the whole story. It’s an amazing show.

    • Sara says:

      This was definitely a different type of episode for the show. It was like a surreal fairy tale nightmare, so I think it was meant to be just a little confusing, but you should definitely get your hands on seasons 1 and 2 to see the way the show flows.

    • bhammel103 says:

      The first problem you made was having this show on in the background. This is not a show to have on in the background.

  9. Loved the premiere! It’s more dreamlike than ever.
    small correction: the snails were feasting on Gideon’s arm :)

  10. Jane says:

    It was, as always, beautifully filmed and acted. However, it also felt sort of pretentious. It was like they were trying a little too hard.

    On a side note I assumed the name Dr. Fell had to do with the old poem by Tom Brown:

    I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
    The reason why – I cannot tell;
    But this I know, and know full well,
    I do not like thee, Doctor Fell

  11. Nitemar says:

    Don’t like a blonde Gillian, she will always be a redhead to me. :)

  12. Hannah says:

    Interesting episode that has peaked my curiosity for the episodes to come. Gillian was superb and I really hope they continue to delve into the relationship between her and Hannibal. I’m very excited for next week to see how the rest of the characters are doing after last season’s bloodbath

  13. Just as a correction the snails “escargot” were feeding on Eddie’s hand not leg. By that point Hannibal had had eaten both of his legs.

  14. Annie says:

    WELL done, as usual. Lush, creepy as eff, and fabulous.

  15. Found the episode gorgeously shot but extremely confusing. Finding that the imagery is so beautiful it’s actually overwhelming the story. The story should still be the main focus finding that it isn’t. Bedelia’s motivation for following Hannibal was not a sufficiently cogent explanation for me to buy it,loved the gorgeous costumes Gillian was wearing. I had trouble understanding the dialogue itself thus missed a lot of the bons mots,not sure why this is happening are others having similar difficulty with the dialogue?

    • B says:

      As much as I loved the episode, I also had trouble with some parts of the dialogue, although I assumed it was my less-than-stellar hearing that made it sound a bit muffled in spots.I couldn’t always decipher when they switched back into English after speaking Italian). I had to concentrate deeply to follow it – and I still missed what some of it meant or what really happened. Thank god for the recap!

    • The Beach says:

      Yes, absolutely. I kept turning up my TV hoping to hear better but to no avail. This whisper speak, especially Gillian’s, was irritatingly difficult to understand.

    • Mindy says:

      I always have difficulty understanding the dialogue, especially Mads. I can’t understand him at all most of the time. I guess I don’t have a very good ear for accents. I still do love the show though. The imagery as you pointed out is very beautiful.

  16. Sam Oakin says:

    Interesting that the producers received permission to use Dr. Fell. That character is not in “Red Dragon” to the best of my recollection. If Fell is fair game, one wonders which of Harris’ other characters might be as well. Perhaps this bodes well for the future appearance of an FBI trainee with second-rate shoes.

    • Cheeky says:

      Oh I’ve been hoping for the FBI trainee all along because I want to see how the style of this show tackles that dynamic!

    • bhammel103 says:

      They can use any characters but those which are introduced in Silence of the Lambs. So no Clarice Starling. No Buffalo Bill. No Barney. Fuller and company are working on trying to get the rights to the characters and story.

  17. Mari says:

    Gideon was to show that hannibal doesnt like to eat alone. He always needs someone, this why he had will, the gedeon and now Bedelia

  18. Weezy says:

    I’m pretty sure the rabbit dripping blood was a metaphor for how Bedelia feels/thinks she might ultimately end up as opposed to the rabbit actually bleeding. In the first shot, it doesn’t appear to be bleeding, nor does it in the last shot. What does everyone else think?

  19. Standalone episode was awesome….

  20. This episode was completely lost without Hugh Dancy’s Will Graham. Having Hannibal interact with pale imitations of Hannibal himself made for really boring television!

  21. LABete says:

    Beautiful episode, complete with laughs and horrors, no less. I really hope Bedelia makes it out alive! I think Will and Team will find them (and save her) because of her looking directly into the cc tv at the station and repeatedly shopping for the same weird items at the creepy bunny shop.

  22. Jclarke says:

    Fascinating, but I was confused, that is the reason I needed the recap here. I was totally engaged and the premier left me wanting more. Will we see the old characters again? I miss them!

  23. I am so confused this season, I have no clue what the heck is going on. I listen to the dialogue but I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about half the time. And dead people keep appearing….like Jack Crawford. I’m not following it, sorry.

  24. Brittany says:

    Thank you for that nod to Scully. I’m both eager to see if rights for Clarice will be obtained, and curious to see the rest of how it’s handled. I find myself giggling at Bedelia moments, because they are so similar to post-book-Hannibal scenes Clarice might have been a part of, and Gillian was considered for the part.