Hannibal’s victims – if they survive the experience – seem to like to form cosy little clubs, in which the main topic of conversation is, well, Hannibal. Will Graham, Crawford and Pazzi form one little club; and this week, Bloom and Verger get to set up their own local chapter.
Both psychiatrist Chilton and sadist Mason Verger have good reason to hate Hannibal; Hannibal framed Chilton for murder and had him shot in the face, and mutilated and crippledVerger. When the two meet and compare disfigurements, it’s enough to put anyone off their lunch. But they don’t seem to be able to agree on what needs to be done about Hannibal.
Chilton gets a little more satisfaction from a visit to the injured Alana Bloom (who was pushed out of a window by Hannibal’s disciple Abigail Hobbs), and recruits her as Verger’s new psychiatrist. She spars with Margot Verger and with Mason, who quotes something about lamentation, which could be from the Bible, or from Conan the Barbarian. Either way, Bloom makes it clear that she’s set on revenge. Like Chilton she is a completely changed character since her encounter with Hannibal – more determined and more devious, in other words more Hannibalistic.
Graham, meanwhile, remembers confessing to FBI man Crawford (another Hannibal victim) that he warned Hannibal to flee because he regarded him as a friend, and indeed, because he wanted to go with him. Though he’s admitted this to himself, we hadn’t before seen him admit it to Crawford – and remember, this makes Graham an accomplice to murder in the eyes of the FBI man.
In a flashback in which both Crawford and Bella are bedridden after the bloodbath of the season two finale, the dying Bella offers some comfort to Crawford, telling him “at least you can cut out what’s killing you.” The recovered Crawford refuses to help Chilton find Hannibal, sounding offended that Chilton has copyrighted the phrase ‘Hannibal the Cannibal’. But when Bella dies, and Crawford finds a condolence card from Hannibal at the funeral, he’s clearly disturbed. Crawford speaks to Graham in the church, warning him that he does not have to bow to the inevitable – presumably to die at Hannibal’s hands.
But, an inevitable chain of events is set in motion when Mason Verger asks his hulking physician Dr. Cordell Doemling (the appropriately named Glenn Fleshler) to make arrangements for Lecter to be eaten alive. Bloom is also drawn into the plan, agreeing to help lure Lecter into Verger’s trap, and she goes to try draw Graham into the plot too; and by the time Crawford arrives at Graham’s house, he finds only Bloom there. Will, we see, has already left, and is on the boat to Europe; there, as we already know, he will continue his pursuit of Hannibal, and Crawford, for reasons of his own, will be drawn to follow.
With some extra poignancy added by the fact that Lawrence Fishburne acts with his real-life wife Gina Torres in her death scene as Bella, this episode is a slow-paced and elegiac antidote to the blood-spattered events of the ‘Blood Dinner’ and the first three episodes of Season 3. Mind you, it does have its icky moments, such as the operation on Mason Verger’s face, which includes nods to Cronenberg and Burton in its imagery.
But the best thing about the episode is that it does fill in the gaps of what happened between seasons, and gives each character a chance to tell their own story, as well as interacting with the others. It’s a Hannibal-light episode, and perhaps the more watchable for it; sometimes you can’t look directly at the sun, it’s easier to observe the satellites revolving around it.
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