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).
ABIGAIL 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.
WHY 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!