Antipasto. The first course of your meal. Taking the form of Italian dish names this season, the premiere episode’s title is particularly apt. It is our first course of Hannibal this year, and I personally think it gave just enough to whet my appetite for what is to come.
WARNING: Spoilers for the Season 3 premiere of Hannibal will follow.
Granted, most of this was achieved by the upcoming episodes preview and not the episode itself. This is largely due to the fact that up until this point, the story hasn’t focused on the titular character in a protagonist sense. Hannibal took center stage this time around. Since I’m not really quite sold on Mikkelsen’s take on the people-munching shrink we’ve been fascinated by for decades now, I wasn’t hugely excited by this episode. The rest of the cast, especially Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, are essentially the glue that holds this show together, and I felt like their lack of an appearance left a pretty gaping hole.
That isn’t to say that Mads Mikkelsen is a bad actor. He’s got a great look for Hannibal. His Danish accent is just so hard for me to understand, though! I know that this is a silly thing to gripe about, but I can only understand a handful of stuff this dude is saying at any one time, and I mostly piece it together by the context the other characters use in response to him. I basically infer that, “Oh, Hannibal is saying something really smart about history,” or, “this dude knows a thing or two about preparing a meal.” I think these are more a testament to the show, and the way it presents itself rather than Mikkelsen’s acting, though.
I know I’m digressing pretty hard right now, but you know who could have probably played Hannibal really well? Lars Mikkelsen! Mads’ older brother is also an actor, and enunciates much more clearly. I could understand every word of the cold and calculating Russian Prime Minister Viktor Petrov in Netflix’s House of Cards. He also has that somewhat off-putting look with an air of sophistication that Mads rocks pretty well. Benedict Cumberbatch would have been cool, too. I think he would have done well at playing the part similar to Anthony Hopkins, who helped make Hannibal Lecter a household name.
ANYWAY…Back to the episode itself…
So, Hannibal has been “on the lamb” (COUGH!lambreferenceCOUGH!) for quite some time now, it seems. One of the few things I understood him saying was that he had last seen that charming British guy a few months back at a dinner party. So, Hannibal’s been living it up in Europe (mostly Italy) for months now, while we have little to no information about Willy Graham and his team of sleuths. I like that they brought Hannibal to Italy, Florence in particular. This references the books, where he many times makes mention of having been there, or the fact that for a good half of Hannibal he was, again on the lamb in Florence.
I also enjoyed the reference to hanging by the bowels, something Hannibal will do to a certain investigator much later in this timeline (assuming the show intends to go that far down the road).
Gillian Anderson is back again as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, and her perspective also takes up a healthy portion of this episode. She’s also been added to the cast sequence at the beginning, which I think she was previously only relegated to a guest starring position. It’s good to see her getting good and consistent work. (Side note: Dana Scully was one of my number one childhood crushes of the 90s. Man, I had a thing for red heads, then…) Her storyline was much more interesting, explaining that she is essentially tagging along with Hannibal on this journey because she feels trapped and without other alternatives. Given the state of how he left the rest of the cast in last season’s tumultuous finale, I am hard-pressed to disagree with her. Hannibal is a well-practiced murder ninja, who knows your every physical and mental weakness. You’re pretty much screwed if you try to best him. Even freaking MORPHEUS got his ass kicked by this posh, but very scrappy guy.
So, Bedelia eventually gets too disgusted with either Hannibal or herself, so she resolves to leave. Obviously Hannibal knows, and when he clobbers English-guy-whose-name-I-hopelessly-can’t-remember, he explains to her that she isn’t just a guiltless bystander, but that she is also an accomplice to everything he does. He cements the fact that essentially she must stay with him for the time being, as they perpetuate the lie that they are Dr. and Mrs. Fell, reputable people in the Florence community.
I think Hannibal has a thing for being close to danger. Obviously he is smart enough to know that the best way to avoid capture is to not draw attention to oneself, yet the good doctor prefers to rub shoulders with particularly affluent, and well known people in the community. He favors attending big gala events, and giving university lectures. I always thought that was interesting. I don’t think he cares much about himself personally, but he can’t help but manipulate people to see what they will do next. He’s a special kind of psychopath, and this leads to putting himself and Bedelia both at risk.
My money is on things not ending well for Bedelia. The authorities will likely peg her for an accomplice, regardless of her actual guilt. After this, she will go down in a hail of gunfire, or Hannibal will find a way to bring her up on his charges. Or he’ll just kill her to keep her quiet. I just don’t see her evolving much more, though I am certainly willing to be surprised.
Since it is confirmed that they will be touching into the Red Dragon storyline in this season, I’m very interested to see how the next few episodes will play out. Will they end up capturing Hannibal relatively quickly to make way for the Red Dragon arc? Will Hannibal be incarcerated at all before the Frances Dolarhyde is revealed? There’s so many questions. Bryan Fuller is swiftly approaching territory covered in the original book. Will the show end after that point, or will it keep going through The Silence of the Lambs? Will Hugh Dancy leave the show to make way for a new actress to portray Clarice Starling as a replacement protagonist? Only time will tell.
The rest of the episode was entertaining. I enjoyed more of the back and forth between Hannibal and Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard), as they both argue the ethics of feeding people to others, or eating oneself in general. Other than the British guy calling out Hannibal for not being Dr. Fell and having that blow up in his face, not much overall happened this episode. Still, it felt like a filler episode that had to happen. I imagine I would appreciate it much more if I didn’t have to wait a whole week to see the next one, and we as an audience weren’t still reeling from the massive cliffhanger last season.
Hannibal is continuing to do what it does best — offering a visually stunning, and visceral experience. I’m anxious for the show to start building steam again and bring back some of the other characters to round out the rest of the cast. Mads Mikkelsen hasn’t quite sold me as Hannibal Lecter yet, but thankfully the show is very well done, and each episode draws you further in.