We’re reeling from the news that Hannibal has been cancelled by NBC – apparently the last episode will air in the US on September 3rd, which at least implies that season three will reach the end of its 13-episode run. Speculation is that the axe has been wielded due to falling ratings, along with licensing difficulties regarding the Clarice Starling character, due to appear in season four. The hope is that a streaming service such as Amazon or Netflix might pick up the series, which is certainly at the height of its creative powers; it certainly couldn’t be brought to a satisfactory end in any other way.
Meanwhile, after the blood-soaked ending of season two, we’ve had a couple of catch-up episodes; Hannibal is in Palermo masquerading as a Dr Fell, and Du Maurier may be next on his menu. Will Graham, in hot pursuit with the voice of the dead Abigail in his head, has met detective Pazzi, and found Hannibal’s love letter – the mutilated corpse of blackmailer Dimmond.
But what of the folks back home?
Following Pazzi’s lead, Will travels to Lecter’s childhood home in Lithuania in order to investigate his origins. While Will imagines a conversation with Lecter about the origins of his ‘memory palace’, Lecter and Du Maurier, evidently not yet served up on a plate, discuss Hannibal’s motivation in drawing the other characters to him – does he know that Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) has followed Will to Palermo?
Pazzi shows Crawford the case photographs of Dimmond’s corpse, mutilated into a heart shape, and they discuss Lecter’s motivations, but Crawford, focused on Will, refuses to help Pazzi in his hunt for ‘Il Monstro’.
Meanwhile Will has discovered a deranged prisoner in an underground dungeon in the Lecter mansion. The jailer Chiyoh (Tao Okamoto), former attendant to Lecter’s aunt, explains that Lecter’s sister Mischa was murdered and cannibalized by the prisoner, but Will isn’t swallowing it (sorry). Indeed, Hannibal is meanwhile giving Du Maurier a quite different account of Mischa’s death, which prompts her to conclude that Hannibal ate her in a bizarre act of forgiveness. As almost an aside, he sticks an icepick into annoying dinner guest Professor Sogliato, Du Maurier finishes him off, and Sogliato ends up being served up to their next unwitting dinner guests.
“All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story,” Chiyoh quotes from Karen Blixen, and this is what Hannibal is clearly trying to do; invent a story of his origin. But it is indeed invention; to explain what made Hannibal into Hannibal, would be to destroy the allure of his character. The real truth, as Hannibal says himself, is that “Nothing happened to me. I happened.” Hannibal is a force of nature, not someone who can be reduced to human motivations.
After Graham tries to explain to Chiyoh (and to himself) why he is still searching for Hannibal, he frees the prisoner, who attacks Chiyoh, but is killed by her. Will has confirmed to his satisfaction that Chiyoh is capable of killing, and has followed Hannibal’s lead in recruiting a follower. Before leaving the house, Will fashions the prisoner’s body into the form of a praying, snail-covered dragonfly. Realising that he can’t defeat Hannibal by becoming his opposite, he has embraced the inevitability of becoming the same thing.
Hannibal and Du Maurier again discuss his relationship with Will, concluding – dur – that the only way Hannibal can forgive Will is by eating him.
If there’s an artistic template for this episode, it has to be the Hammer horror film – the Lithuanian castle, the swirling mist, the graveyard, the exaggerated camera angles. Pazzi even refers to garlic protecting against evil spirits, Hannibal’s prisoner is like Dracula’s deranged servant Renfield, and if Hannibal is Dracula, then he indeed has the most fetching brides.
Again, credit has to be given to the music in this episode; a nightmarish cocktail of classical strings, musique concrete, distorted guitars, unsettling drones and bizarre percussive effects. As we get deeper into the nightmare, it envelops us in an increasingly pervasive sensory experience.
For all our Hannibal news and reviews, go here