Hannibal has revealed its hand for season 3 at a measured pace, focusing its first few episodes on Hannibal’s new life, followed then by the revelation that Will and Jack both survived “Mizumono” and have followed him abroad.
“Aperitivo” continues that character-by-character rollout at a slightly quicker pace. Vignettes play out that occasionally weave together, revealing the fayes of Alana Bloom, Jack Crawford, Mason Verger, and even Frederick Chilton in the aftermath of the season 2 finale.
And the episode progresses in a beautiful set of movements, most of the acts reflecting one another. Many open repurposing moments from “Mizumono,” putting new spins on familiarly haunting scenes as each focuses on the specific damage done to each character.
First up is an unexpected guest to the table, Frederick Chilton, who we last saw being shot in the face by Miriam Lass. Chilton survived, but with major damage to his face. He puts on a new facade, literally, each morning, a physical reminder of the emotional (and many more physical) scars Hannibal has carved out in Chilton’s life.
But Chilton is seeking a bit of company in this brave new world. He’s arrived at the home of Mason Verger, he himself having suffered severe scarring to his face thanks to Hannibal last year. They engage in a macabre yet brilliant striptease, as he and Verger, piece by piece, reveal their true faces to one another. (“There, now we can talk face to face” is only one of many darkly hilarious lines peppered throughout “Aperitivo.”)
Verger wants information on Hannibal, as he thinks he will better understand himself if he can fully understand the powerful puppet master. But in speaking with Chilton, Verger no longer wants to work with him, leaving Chilton striking out for the first of several times in finding support in his hunt.
So Chilton moves on to another victim. He visits Will in the hospital, revealing the truth behind a scene that appeared earlier in the season. Whereas Will sees visions of Abigail, it is in fact Chilton who came to visit, seeking to commiserate with Will. He even goes so far as to say he can empathize with Will, knowing the trauma he suffered at Hannibal’s hands. But there are key differences in both of their relationships to Dr. Lecter that Chilton can’t quite see, and Will informs him there’s no opportunity for him here.
Chilton then goes on to visit Alana Bloom, who has also survived “Mizuomo” but in a terrible state. And while she doesn’t exactly take warmly to Chilton’s suggestions, she doesn’t turn him away quite as definitively as the others. And as we’ll see, it’s because Alana came out the window she was thrown from a new person.
Jack also receives a visit from Chilton, though at least Jack makes it home before he came calling. Jack claims he’s let everything go. He’s willing to move on in his personal and professional lives. Wanting to refocus, he shifts his attention to his dying wife Bella.
Laurence Fishburne and Gina Torres have consistently impressed in translating their real-life relationship to onscreen chemsitry throughout Hannibal, but it reaches a heartbreaking climax in “Aperitivo.” Bella is knocking on death’s door, but rather than being slaughtered in a bloody or grotesque tableaux, as so many victims have on the show, her death is a surprisingly peaceful one. Fishburne is excellent as Jack decides to guide her gently through the door rather than have her suffer her way through to whatever may await.
NEXT: The hunt begins. [pagebreak]
He sits with her as she dies, waiting until her rattled breathing halts. And “Aperitivo” continues to upend the norms of death on Hannibal by playing Bella’s death out as normally and tragically as the loss of any loved one might be. Jack chooses an outfit for Bella to be buried in, grappling with the idea that the outside world looks the same and yet his has been radically upended. He prepares an open-casket wake, all intercut with happier memories, whether real or imagined it does not matter. Jack sees Bella hold up the dress in their room. He sees her walking down the hall of the church where Bella’s casket rests as if it were their wedding.
And while Jack sits alone in the church pews, he reads a note he finds on one of the bouquet of flowers around Bella. His name written in beautiful script on the envelope, he realizes while he may want to move on, he can never truly be freed from Hannibal. As Will comes into the church to honor Bella’s life, the grieving husband tells Will that he knows what’s coming for him, but that Will doesn’t have to die on him too.
He sees an escape for Will, who he, earlier in the episode, has a conversation with about keeping their stories straight when discussing what happened during Hannibal’s massacre. Will is grappling with his feelings for Hannibal. He wanted Hannibal to run away so that Will could run with him. Without Hannibal, Will feels hollow, seeking to be alone with the only person who seems to comfort him – the ghost of Abigail.
He even returns to the scene of that horrible night, Alana also arriving at Hannibal’s house, now recovered enough to use a wheelchair.But he doesn’t want her company – he wants to be alone with the house and with the memory of Abigail.
Alana continues to recover, but with vengeance in her heart. She takes on a new patient, Mason Verger (whose house she arrives at now walking with a cane). Verger has found religion it seems, telling Alana he is “right with the risen Jesus” and has even forgiven Hannibal. He’s not seeking revenge, he says to her, but Alana isn’t against the idea – far from it, she’s even for a little Old Testament vengeance now.
And Alana knows he’s planning “the theater of Hannibal’s death,” as she puts it. She’s willing to do her part to get him to the stage. They’ll hunt Dr. Lecter out by his expensive tastes. Wherever he’s disappeared to, his name may change but he wouldn’t be willing to abandon his aesthetic, decadent needs.
And the stage is set for that hunt to begin (even if we’ve already seen Will and Jack’s initial steps in previous episodes). Verger is hoping to use his attendant and apparent fixer, Cordell. Alana moves a few more pieces into place, as well. Jack goes to visit Will’s home, but only Alana waits for him there. She informs him Will knows what he has to do, and we see him setting sail for a new shore in search of better understanding.
Enough cannot be said of Laurence Fishburne in “Aperitivio.” Though the episode barely featured its title character, it was so filled to the brim with beautiful stories of the rest of the cast, with Jack Crawford’s tale as a beautifully sad centerpiece.
“Aperitivio” repeats its pacing in several acts, as we see Chilton, Alana, Will, and Jack as they suffer their most recent physical wounds. We trace the bullet as it goes through Chilton’s face. We plunge with the knife into Will’s stomach. We watch the blood flow away from Jack, beautifully floating upward into the dark sky of the room’s ceiling. And we watch as Alana’s skeleton crashes through the window and onto the ground in a storm of rain and glass.
Chilton may not amass the army he needs to search for Dr. Lecter himself, but he does come out of the ordeal with one positive in his life. He immediately copyrighted the term “Hannibal the Cannibal” after he was shot, ensuring that even if he can’t get his man, he’ll likely get plenty of money out of the ordeal.