Aperitivo: Analyzing Hannibal’s fourth serving of Season 3

Old characters return, new alliances are formed, and darkness looms upon the swiftly approaching future. Almost as if Bryan Fuller knew full well that Hannibal was being cancelled by NBC at the end of it’s third season, we are delivered a particularly somber episode of the show. Somber maybe even for Hannibal’s taste. The news of Hannibal’s cancellation didn’t shock me. The big crowds weren’t hugely drawn to it, and it has been continually snubbed during award season. Still, I can’t help but express my frustration/disappointment, as this season to me is feeling like the strongest one yet.

Check out our review of Episode 3 while you’re at it!

WARNING: If you couldn’t tell by a dead giveaway from the cover photo, this analysis includes some spoilers. There are, however. numerous outlets available for you to view it, as I’m sure you’re aware. You’re welcome to scroll to the “final thoughts” section at the bottom, or come back when you’ve had a chance to view it.

This episode is called Aperitivo, which translates to Apéritif. If you are unfamiliar with this term, it is essentially an appetizing beverage you receive before your main course — sort of like a liquid hors d’oeuvre. This description is more than appropriate as this episode very much has a “calm before the storm” feeling to it. Characters make their intentions known as they’re placed upon the game board.

This season is interestingly combining a lot of aspects of both the Red Dragon and Hannibal books simultaneously — The mutilated Mason Verger (newly cast Joe Anderson) is eagerly anticipating his brutal retribution for what Hannibal did to him, and the manhunt of Hannibal Lecter is very reminiscent of the final book. It’s exciting that we’re getting these stories mixed in with the also thrilling Red Dragon material.

To everyone’s surprise (or lack there of), Dr. Chilton has returned, also to get his revenge on Hannibal Lecter. The opening sequence we have between the two mangled men is great, and things are shaping up to get quite interesting, indeed. I would’ve been disappointed if we didn’t get to see more Dr. Chilton, who’s insidious and self-serving goals have always been a prevalent and enjoyable aspect of the series. I can’t wait for the moment when Hannibal is brought to the hospital in Baltimore and to see these guys square off with each other. It is revealed that it was even Frederick who has coined the term “Hannibal the Cannibal” for the local media, giving a pleasant nod to previous material in the series.

At the same time, the prospect of death is getting a tad too wishy-washy. It seems like the writers aren’t willing to let go of some of the cast members, making them feel a little overpowered even in dire situations. Even Alana Bloom, who was by far my least favorite part of the show. Her stupidity caused a lot of trouble in previous seasons, and I was literally beaming with joy when she was hurled out of that window.

This time around, she is clearly a changed person, and her dynamics are more interesting. It’s pretty obvious that she not only resents Hannibal for being the monster he is, but also Will Graham for betraying her trust. She, like Verger and Chilton, seems eager to get her just due with vengeance upon Hannibal Lecter. This makes Alana a lot more fun to watch, and I am very much excited to see how her story plays out.

It should be noted the alliances that are beginning to form. Alana, Verger and Chilton are in a sort of triad of revenge at the moment. Alana and Mason appear to be favoring the side of ensuring Hannibal Lecter is killed, while Chilton is obviously hoping to imprison Hannibal alive in his hospital. I’m not sure where Will is allied, anymore. I’m hoping he’s not following Hannibal in the hopes of joining up with him, because he’s going to get a rude awakening when Hannibal decides to make a Will sandwich and goes ham on his corpse. It looks like Jack is hoping for some redemption by bringing Will back from the depths of his own madness, and is in Italy to prevent him from doing something even worse than he already has.

In a sad turn, it is revealed that Crawford’s wife has passed away. They offer us some touching scenes, where she attempts to steel his resolve before her dying moments. It was sad to see her go. It’s like Crawford himself says “I knew that it was coming…but it still smarts.” It may have been easier for Laurence Fishburne to pull off the grieving husband so effectively, since his wife on the show (Gina Torres) is literally his wife in real life. I think now that she has passed away, Jack will have a clearer mind, and will be much more able to focus on the path ahead.

It was good to see all of these character back. It is readily apparent that Hannibal’s actions have marred all of these people considerably. Their lives have changed immensely since we saw them last, and most of them are eager to pay the good doctor back in kind.

Things are moving inexorably toward a conclusion in the beginning half of this season. Pardon my language, but it looks like the proverbial shit is going to hit the fan at mach-speeds — and it’s not very clear if everyone is going to remain standing in the aftermath of the splatter. It’s unfortunate that the show is going to be cancelled after this, because I have a suspicious feeling this season is going to go out with a BANG.

Final thoughts…
Aperitivo catches us up on the remaining important characters, and begins setting things in motion for the coming weeks. In spite of some hefty revelations and a touching moment for Jack Crawford, not a whole lot seems to happen. They’ve very much been playing the long game so far, but I have an inkling that all of that is about to change come next week. It’s tough waiting a whole week for more, so each episode that is a tad slow feels like filler, but this episode very much had to happen. I’m eagerly awaiting the main course.

The Good: Joe Anderson is channeling his inner Gary Oldman with this take on Mason Verger. Alana Bloom is nowhere near as irritating as she used to be. Touching moments for Jack Crawford. Last but not least: Dr. Chilton, I presume?
The Not-so-good: Set-up episodes always leave a feeling that not a lot is happening. So many characters surviving seems a little unrealistic. Hannibal is being canceled by NBC.

When I first heard about the news about NBC’s cancellation of the show, I was simultaneously unsurprised and not worried. I find it hard to believe that if Community (a once thriving, but now very obviously dead show) can be pulled back from the precipice of destruction, that a much more well-made show like this is destined to be picked up by a streaming service. From the sound of things, it seems like Amazon may get first dibs, but I’m hoping Netflix lands a deal instead. They’ve already partnered with the production company before with Hemlock Grove, and I am much more accustomed to Netflix’s interface. There’s also a chance of higher exposure from the streaming giant.

As a fan of the show who plowed through the first two seasons after they aired on television, I can say that this show suits itself greatly to streaming. Hannibal is perfectly paced, as long as you allow time to watch several episodes in ravenous succession. It’s hard to stop when you get going, and the whole network TV system revolves around frequent stopping and starting.

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