Hannibal’s catch-up episode weaves through the seven month gap between the blood-soaked finale and the near present day setting of our esteemed season. It is a mellow tale both in the healing and recovery of the supporting cast as well as the prelude of unadulterated revenge. Everyone wishes to find Dr. Lecter yet the ambiguity of reasons why is like onto an un-translated dream, where images are easy to decipher yet the meaning is left murky and easily changeable. Now that we know the fate of this season and the network that airs it, every episode from here on out will be savored passionately, bringing us to that eventual last bite.
I flip-flopped on my overall attitude about this particular episode. While it was pleasantly good to see characters like Alana and Margot retain their overall personality, returning neutral villains Chilton and Mason are left playing the movie-screen-style schemers that want to methodically capture and toy with their enemy. It was a necessary story to tell yet without the prominent title character at the helm, it was an unfocused piece that drifted from person to person that did little to engage the mind and overall atmosphere with exception of it’s usual creative imagery and layered subtext.
We witness the wounds and survival of Will, Alana, Jack, Mason, and Chilton, each suffering different but painful scars. Will begins his inner journey that involves segments of Abigail’s apparition visiting him in bloody form. Jack returns to care for his wife Bella until her death (Rest in peace Zoe). Alana’s pelvis was shattered but she recovers and counsels Mason with details on how to track Lecter. Chilton, having survived his bullet wound in the face, attempts to enlist the aid of the others to find Lecter himself but is unsuccessful. Will eventually leaves the country in his boat after visiting Jack at Bella’s funeral where they both read a letter from Hannibal to Jack expressing his sorrow over Bella’s passing. Jack comes to his own decision about Hannibal but it is Alana who tells him that Jack has already gone having made his decision about Hannibal as well.
Gorgeous transitions aside, this episode was both unquestionably dreary and kept its pacing very lethargic. There were snippets that brought out the older seasonal attitudes when it came to how characters conversed and how each one ambivalently feels for Lecter with the exception of Mason who flat out wants to capture Hannibal and fed to something, most likely the pigs because that’s the alignment with the book. There wasn’t anything overtly impressive or wicked that stood out which I feel was almost done on purpose for the sake of moving past the serial aspect of the show in the past. The story is keeping true to everyone’s inner nature being in flux, but not everyone gets to chase after Hannibal that is interesting enough, especially Mason, who is likened to Oldman’s performance in the original movie adaptation of the character.
As a character study, we can infer that Alana is just as quietly furious as Mason is and that’s why the two are engaged in plotting Hannibal’s demise. She’s more an aid though, but there’s simplicity in her attitude now that Will has more or less shunned her. She has a brief scene with Margot but it’s not very poignant and even downplays Margot as someone who is going to make an impact this season. I don’t know how to feel about Alana because she’s fraternizing with Mason and no one else even after the way he insults her having been duped by Hannibal so easily. She’s not wicked or relentless in her desires to see revenge on Hannibal, but maybe that’s the problem in that she’s very lukewarm on her direction in the season, at least from my perspective.
Chilton’s survival was never really in question. If the series is to continue into Red Dragon and Lambs, Chilton is an instrumental character in Hannibal’s contempt when he is eventually incarcerated. But now his feelings are more justified and not just overall fascination. In the end, he’s very one-dimensional and uninteresting because we know what to expect from him and there won’t be any surprises.
The key highlight in this episode was Jack’s tale and how he tries to move past Hannibal’s brutal attack but finds he’s still connected to both him and Will. It was sad to see Bella’s passing and it’s easily discernable that Jack likely helped in that departure. His mental pictures of Bella and method in letting her go was well done but we had such a break in their relationship and struggles over the past year that the whole sequence felt rushed to make room for scenes on how the others coped with their survival. In the end, though the sadness was there, it wasn’t as substantial as it could have been had we’d been given more time to remember just how intimate she and Jack were.
It was the collection of each character’s surviving shots mixed with the injuries they sustained, most notably being both Alana’s skeletal transparency on her fall and Mason’s gory facial reconstruction. Each was brilliantly laced in slow-motion and vivid detail. Those valiant effects are always a pleasure to view and I look forward to more landscapes of them.
Everyone was relatively on equal ground given the screen time and material given. Jack will get this edge this time because he had a genuine desire to move past Hannibal but was forced back in with Bella no longer keeping him close to heart. He prepared as best he could and now he’s ready to chase Will and Hannibal to the far side of the world. He’s the least likely character to chase revenge but understands the dilemma in letting Hannibal run free in the world. How he’ll deal with Will in future episodes does remain to be seen though.
The letter does not reflect Hannibal’s voiceover regarding his sorrow over Bella’s death. In fact the letter is a passage from Jon Donne’s poem “A Fever.” The segment reads:
O wrangling schools, that search what fire
Shall burn this world, had none the wit
Unto this knowledge to aspire,
That this her fever might be it?
Even in death, Abigail haunts Will. Her bloody face was still a fresh reminder that everyone else survived the onslaught at Hannibal’s home except her. It’s sad that we have to be reminded over and over again, but for Will’s character it makes sense that she has to stay in his mind.
I’m not satisfied with Mason’s new actor. Not that he’s bad, because he echoes Oldman quite well, it’s that he echoes Oldman and not creating a new aspect of Mason’s personality. The makeup was okay, but not nearly as fashionable and grotesque as his film counterpart. I’m not seriously interested in seeing his character again, not with the Red Dragon vastly approaching.
6 out of 10. This was a case of getting the missing gap we needed but feeling unfulfilled because there were pieces that didn’t really mesh well. Every character had time to heal and lament, but the overall look and feel was tapering on boredom than fascination. It’s a cautionary tale with how the show looks when Hannibal and Will aren’t at the center of attention. The supporting characters are alive and now it’s time to forget them until Hannibal is essentially caught and dragged back home. With the exception of Will’s daydreams on an alternate future, there were no surprises to speak of or truly thought provoking moments that guided us deeper into the mindset of a villain’s chaotic mind. It’s truly time to move on and deal with what’s to come. Hannibal’s legacy in the season 2 finale has run its course. From here on out, let’s concentrate on the new hells he intends to ignite in Italy and see who truly eats who.
No more words