With the season opener making only passing reference to putative hero Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), we were left to wonder at the character’s fate after the massacre concluding season two. Hannibal may find his relationship with Graham no substitute for the sort of therapy he gets from Bedelia Du Maurier, but there’s no doubt that the two men’s fates are entangled. Hannibal, settling in Florence in the guise of Dr Fell, who he has killed, has also made away with his potential blackmailer Dimmond. Du Maurier, complicit in the killing, may be next on the menu (and what a tasty dish the juicy Gillian Anderson would make).
But Will Graham, last seen bleeding to death after being stabbed by Hannibal, isn’t finished. He awakes heavily bandaged in hospital, from a dream in which he sees himself drowning in blood, and being shattered and remade. He’s visited by Hannibal’s acolyte Abigail Hobbs – who we had presumed dead – who tells him that Hannibal has spared them, and expects them to find him. In his dreams, Will realises that Hannibal has left a clue to his whereabouts.
Eight months later, Will has indeed followed Hannibal to Palermo, where he indulges in a conversation with Abigail about Hannibal’s relationship with God.
When Dimmond’s remains are found in the cathedral, Will is recognized by Rinaldo Pazzi (Fortunato Cerlino), an investigator who has read up on the Chesapeake Ripper killings. Pazzi reveals that he has been following Hannibal for 20 years, since an artistically inspired killing spree in Florence. The young Lithuanian man obsessed with Botticelli escaped when another killer was convicted, but Pazzi has not given up.
Will’s hallucinations grow increasingly grotesque when Pazzi shows him photographs of the Dimmond killing, and he realises that Abigail did in fact die at the hands of Hannibal; Will has been speaking to a hallucination. At least, he realises, he does feel closer to Hannibal in the cathedral; ‘God only know where I’d be without him’, he quips in what may or may not be a Beach Boys-inspired moment.
Pazzi confronts Will in the cathedral, and they discuss Hannibal’s love-letter to Will in the form of Dimmond’s corpse; Will decides that Hannibal must be lurking, like Harry Lime in The Third Man, in the catacombs under the cathedral. Will and Pazzi investigate the catacombs, but Hannibal, waiting only long enough to hear Will’s words of forgiveness for his betrayal, eludes them.
A feverish episode, featuring probably the most ghastly spectacle ever on TV in the vision of Dimmond’s corpse unfolding itself into the bleeding stag of Will’s nightmares – like last week’s, it serves as a bit of a catch-up, but still dangles unresolved plot-lines, such as what has happened to Jack Crawford and Alana Bloom in the last eight months (maybe next week…?)
A little is revealed of Hannibal’s youth, and something of his inspiration, the entwined lovers of Boticelli’s Primavera echoing the way he ensnares his victims. And fans will realize that Will’s dire predictions of the fate of Rinaldo Pazzi are not without foundation.
Gorgeous photography and scene-building, accompanied by soundtrack if anything even more oppressive than last week’s, accompany our exploration of the catacombs of both Will’s and Hannibal’s minds. But sometimes we get too deep into their mind palaces, and are in danger of becoming lost. Perhaps it’s time to emerge into the light and take in a bit more about the world around them.
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