Antipasto: Analyzing Hannibal’s first serving of Season 3

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.

Final thoughts…
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.

11 thoughts on “Antipasto: Analyzing Hannibal’s first serving of Season 3

  1. Hmmm. I think you may want to find some of Mads’ movies and try to learn the accent. I’m lucky that most of my family doesn’t have a Canadian accent. My ears had to adjust. I loved this episode! I preferred Will not being there, because the scene in Italy had to be set.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah. I knew it had to be set. I think most of my issue was that I have to watch it on a weekly basis, as I mentioned.

      Up until this season, I had watched Hannibal strictly in a binge capacity. I’m just not used to network television anymore. Haha.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Per Bryan Fuller, the first half of Season 3 — the first 7 episodes, I believe — will blend elements of “Hannibal” and “Hannibal Rising,” though Hannibal’s origin on the show will depart from the source material and will likely be less of an “anti-hero” arc.

    The second half of Season 3 will be an adaptation of “Red Dragon.”

    As of right now, the studio that owns the rights to “Red Dragon,” “Hannibal,” and “Hannibal Rising” does not own the rights to “Silence of the Lambs.” Before the start of each season, Fuller has approached that studio to broker a deal for rights to Clarice Starling and Jame Gumb (aka Buffalo Bill). Thus far his attempts have bore no fruit, unfortunately, but he has said he will continue to try.

    Fun Fact: Miriam Lass was actually Fuller’s nod to Clarice Starling.

    Fuller has also recently said that, should his efforts to broker a deal for the rights prove successful, “Silence of the Lambs” would begin towards the end of Season 4 and serve as the focus for much of Season 5. The early part of Season 4 would be a “radical” new direction, Fuller has said.

    Just some extra insight for you, since you said you were interested in what Fuller had planned for the show down the road!

    P.S. Don’t sleep on Bedelia. Fuller was very eager to promote Gillian Anderson from guest star to regular, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he has an interesting arc planned for her character.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice. Thanks for the info! I have sort of a passing interest in the show. I know you are really into it, of course.

      Changing things from the books actually wouldn’t upset me that much in regards to the story of Hannibal Lecter. I don’t know if you had a chance to read any of them, but some of the books are pretty weak — Hannibal especially so.

      The main thing that I watch the show for are the visuals. I really enjoy the cinematography, and the extreme close-ups. I also think it’s crazy how much of a stylistic contrast this show has with Pushing Daisies, another Bryan Fuller show. Holy moly. Hugely different tones!

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Blake. I always prefer having a conversation over speaking to a metaphorical wall.

      Like

  3. Regarding Mads Mikkelsen way of enunciating words, I think you need to be adjust on it because if you’re going to enunciate another language that is not your first, you’d probably suck at it too. Also, Mads’s brother, Lars was a theater actor before performing for tv whilst Mads went to dance school, hence, being good in fight scenes and went straight to movies and tv shows from his country so he didn’t have the need or the practice to enunciate other languages, at least, he is aware of it himself that he has a “funny” accent. So there you go, Lars is better at enunciating while Mads is better at action films. Both have that bad guy vibe.

    It would also be informational to state that both of them were jugglers at an earlier point of their life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Lars’ ability to enunciate would still be more useful to this particular role than action movie experience. Hannibal, after all speaks much more than he fights.

      I’m not sure how mentioning their juggling past is relevant to the show at all, but it definitely is interesting information. Thanks for the input! Always good to hear from other people.

      Like

      1. Oh, about the juggling part, Mads actually used that experience in a Hannibal cooking stunt last season, wherein, he throws an egg in the air using a spatula and then breaks it in two using the same spatula i just one take.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Also, Lars speaks Swedish and German aside from Danish and English whilst Mads can speak French,Swedish, German, and Russian aside from Danish and English. I believe that these languages and their backgrounds regarding the usage of these languages has affected their way of speaking. I think that enunciating English clearly is a little hard for Mads since there are plenty of languages, rotating in his brain at the same time and he only uses English recently due to Hannibal and interviews that requires him to speak English and when I listen to his interviews, he usually uses English words that he has already said at another interview then jumbles it a bit.

      Main point: Speaking in another language requires time, effort and validity of when it is used because if you don’t use the language much often, you would forget it.

      Like

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