Hannibal Recap: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Sociopath

Hannibal Cancelled

If you’ve seen The Shining‘s terrible twins — and its bloody elevator of doom — or Brian De Palma’s Body Double, you probably think you’ve got a good idea what a blood bath looks like.

Episode 2 of Hannibal‘s third season — “Hello, plumber, there’s a crimson tidal wave up in this here kitchen!” — may shatter all those preconceived notions, thanks (or no thanks?) to Will Graham’s remembering of the Worst Surprise Party Ever (AKA the night Dr. Lecter gutted him, then slit surrogate daughter Abigail’s throat to put an exclamation point on the proceedings).

Seeing Will imagine himself sinking downward though the red, red water flowing forth from that collapsing stag was a bit reminiscent of Bedelia Du Maurier’s submersion in that terrible/glamorous bath in last week’s hour. Is this a signal that each of ’em is slipping below the surface of sanity/reality, and succumbing to the amniotic spell of our titular madman? Or is it just another pretty/twisted flight of fancy from showrunner Bryan Fuller’s fantastical imagination?

Based on Will’s actions during his post-surgical-recovery European vacation, I’m going with the former option. Look, I get that he felt as intimately close to Dr. Lecter as Kris Jenner to the paparazzi, but our addled FBI profiler also knows that this is not a relationship worthy of the Golden Girls theme song. Hannibal may be a pal and a confidante, but the only thing that’s true about his heart is that it’s one of his victim’s — and that it’s being served with a red-wine demi glace and an expensive Caberbet Sauvignon.

So why, pray tell, is Will extending his forgiveness? It could be he’s using Hannibal’s sole weakness — his affection for Will — as the cheese in an elaborate mousetrap. But no, the snap of a steel bar against Lecter’s neck doesn’t seem to be what our protagonist is after, does it?

Anyhow, let’s recount the action from “Primavera,” a slow and meditative hour that clues us in to Will’s emotional state, enlightens us a bit about Dr. Lecter’s past (damn he looked good enough to eat in that old black-and-white pic, no?), and tells us precious little about the fates of Jack, Alana, and present day Mrs. Fell (sweetened on that diet of oysters, acorns and masala).

Hannibal - Season 3ABIGAIL LIVES?!?! | The hour opens with another look at the gory goings-on of the Season 2 finale — including Hannibal’s “I forgive you Will. Will you forgive me?” Abigail’s carotid artery paints the place like Pollock in a maroon period, and yet when Will regains consciousness, she’s the first one there to greet him (with a nifty rewind pouring all her spilled blood back into her body). “They told me he knew exactly how to cut me,” says the doe-eyed girl. “He wanted us to live.” Will, clearly on some strong painkillers, gets all philosophical-like (or maybe he’s just reminiscing about his all-time favorite fortune cookie): “Everything that can happen happens,” he says, as Abigail probes him about why he lied to Hannibal, why he ruined their little plan to run away together. “If everything that happens happens,” she shoots back, “You can never do the wrong thing.” No, girl, you’re putting the psycho in psychobabble now. Go directly to the psych ward for evaluation!

ITALY’S GROSSEST SCULPTURE | Eight months later, Will and Abigail are skulking around the Norman Chapel in Palermo, Italy — one of the favorite destinations in Hannibal’s mind palace, and, as it turns out, the place where Hannibal left that grotesque torso on an easel at the end of last week’s hour. Will encounters an Inspector Pazzi down at the police station — um, of course they questioned the suspicious American who’d spent time in a hospital for the criminally insane — but Pazzi already has his theories on who the killer is. “Is Will Graham here because of the body, or is the body here because of Will Graham?” says the knowing Italian, who’s well versed on Will’s past history with Hannibal. This leads to my favorite exchange of the hour. “I’ve got the scars of a man who grabbed his gift by the blade,” Will says, flatly. To which Pazzi replies (rather deftly), “You grabbed the wrong end.”

Ultimately, as Will checks out the crime scene, that damned human topiary begins to pulse, its arms and legs emerge, and then, its antlers. The world’s most twisted, mangled stag pins him against the chapel steps — and then, he’s having another conversation with Abigail, dropping references to the Beach Boys (“God only knows where I’d be without him”) and comparing Hannibal’s inability to let him be happy with Abigail to Lucy, Charlie Brown and the football. When the discussion turns to where the twisted troika might have gone under Hannibal’s plan, Will finally has to break the bad news to his little girl. “The place wasn’t made for you, Abigail,” he explains. In this world, this is the only place I could make for you.” For a second, it looks like Abigail’s unspooling a red scarf, but then it becomes altogether too clear: Her neck is spraying precious plasma… she’s been dead all along… she’s merely a resident of Will’s mind palace, now.

THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE | Pazzi explains to Will that he’s already met Hannibal, many years ago, while investigating the murder of a couple who’d been arranged like a beautiful painting in the back of a truck. Pazzi figured out the scene was actually Botticelli’s “Primavera,” and when he went to the Uffizi Gallery to see it, he discovered a young Lithuanian man sketching the masterwork in pencil, “as transfixed as Il Monstro [aka The Monster of Florence] would be.” Alas, though, young Lecter’s apartment yielded zero evidence, essentially grounding the overzealous investigator’s career before it had a chance to fly.

Hannibal - Season 3WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE WALKING AROUND THE CANDLELIT CATACOMBS? | Will pleads with Pazzi to give up his present-day pursuit of the one that got away (and the one he senses is somewhere in the cathedral right this minute). “He’s going to kill you, you know? I’m usually right about these things.” But Pazzi follows Will as he descends into the catacombs beneath the Norman Chapel. When Will tells Pazzi he shouldn’t be down there alone, the Italian points out he’s got Will as his companion. “You don’t know whose side I’m on,” says Mr. Graham, who if he had any sanity left, would be back home hanging with his adorable dogs and maybe going back to school for… I dunno, culinary arts? (On second thought, scratch that.) Our tale ends with Will (metaphor alert!) fumbling around in the dark, hearing the sound of Hannibal’s footsteps down in the chapel’s underbelly. Is this hell — or something close to it? Is Hannibal the devil himself, tempting this fallen angel to finally join him in his work? “Hannibal,” Will says, practically whispering, “I forgive you.” But forgiveness aside, the bigger question remains unanswered: Is Will still committed to seeing his BFF behind bars?

Your turn. What did you think of this week’s Hannibal? What do you make of Will’s olive branch to the man who stabbed him? And did you see the Abigail twist coming? Sound off below!

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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  1. AgentPhilCoulson says:


  2. Jessie says:

    Wow! Quite possibly my new favorite episode of the whole series! Fantastic!

  3. ? says:

    Anyone who thought for even a second that Abigail was alive is really bad at TV!

  4. Ruhi says:

    While I’m as anxious as everyone else to see what happened to Will and the others, Hannibal himself remains a fascinating character

  5. Buffy0531 says:

    I really enjoyed this episode. I found last week’s good, but trying almost too hard to be artistic. This one struck the right balance. I am looking forward to seeing how this season plays out. The acting is just phenomenal. Even in a smaller role in the episode, Mads Mikkelsen commands your full attention. Love this show!

  6. D. says:

    I was so bummed when it was made clear that Abigail had been dead all along. I never thought she would escape death, but after the first minutes of the episodes I let myself believe… such a mistake!
    PS: it’s MOSTRO without the “n”.

  7. patm says:

    The writing for this season’s first 2 episodes is too surreal, and the episodes are slow moving. I’m out.

    • raiderdave says:

      Don’t let the door hit ya. In my opinion, this show just continues to get better and better. Not quite sure what the point of only watching the first 2 episodes of a season in which the previous one ended with seemingly about a hundred different cliffhangers is anyways.

    • bhammer100 says:

      You’re leaving because this season has been slow? Its only two episodes in. My goodness, the attention span of people nowadays.

  8. AM68 says:

    When Abigail walked into Will’s room I immediately thought, “No, it can’t be.” But I really wanted it to be so I threw the thought to the side. That scene where they are preparing her body for burial was so sad. Poor Abigail! She never really stood a chance.

  9. KTB says:

    Last night’s episode was intriguing. I didn’t expect Will and Hannibal to be in the same place at the same time so soon. I got the sense that Hannibal really wanted to call out to Will. I thought the inspector was going to bite it. I’ve heard this season we’re going to see less of some characters on some episodes. I did miss not seeing Mads on screen much last night. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s going to be interesting to see how young Hannibal’s story unfolds.

  10. chezjack says:

    It’s a little spooky to me how engrossing the show is especially when you consider the level of distorted violence. Abigail looked so pretty in this episode I was hoping she was really still alive even though all signs pointed to the opposite. Since Will forgave Hannibal and Hannibal said he forgave Will, the only thing left for them to do to kiss and make up. What I have never really understood is how Will still finds Hannibal intriguing after all he’s done or is he just pretending in the ultimate hope that he can capture Hannibal’s soul… and body…..

  11. Jim says:

    It seemed impossible that Abigail could have survived her ghastly wound and her explanation for her survival was weak but you go along with it. Of course, the writers fake us out near the end of this episode in the bravura editing style the producers employ. Yet, the priest in Palermo clearly sees her in the church. How? (I can attribute the doctor telling Graham he has a visitor to his dream state while he is in hospital.)

    If this follows Hannibal the film and book, Pazzi won’t be in many episodes.

  12. robert says:

    Are you daft? “Everything that can happen will happen” isn’t just some fortune cookie, it’s an extension of Murphy’s Law, a proverb that is ancient but that has been corroborated by mathematicians, philosophers, and scientists throughout all of history.
    Read a book.