When you receive an invitation to dine with Hannibal Lecter, dinner will be served. Eventually.
Tonight was the night Hannibal finally cashed in the rain check and had that soiree with Jack Crawford and Will Graham. Unfortunately for him, it seems this iteration was interrupted as well.
Hannibal’s third season started slowly, ethereally. There were a lot of pieces to get into place, a lot of hammers to cock, and a lot of breadcrumbs to sprinkle. But it was leading to this, when all of our players at last converged upon the same stage and, like a drunken Satanic ritual, it was inevitable that some blood would spill.
After Hannibal’s shitkicking at the hands of Jack at the end of last week’s episode, the wounded beast stumbles home in the jaundiced dawn light. Du Maurier, who had appeared to have become more acclimated—or just more resigned—to her circumstances, stitches him up and tells him she’s leaving the cage. Extricating herself from Hannibal in one piece is a feat of escape artistry that would make Houdini blush. She had the tiger by the tail and she somehow got away, knowing that their dalliance hadn’t reached the emotional ripeness necessary for reaping. Eating your partner is a big step in a relationship, not every couple is ready for it.
Of course, she also has to keep herself out of jail, which leads to some of Gillian Anderson’s best scenes to date. (And that’s saying something, since she has left her teeth marks all over the first half of this season. Her scene with Chiyoh is especially great, as two of Hannibal’s menagerie circle each other almost jealously.) After injecting herself with Hannibal’s sedative cocktail, a blissed-out Du Maurier plays crazy. Who’s Du Maurier? I’m Mrs. Fell. Casting herself as Hannibal’s traumatized brainwashing victim might work for the police, but Jack and Will can smell the complicity on her. (“I’m not mad at you, I’m just impressed,” says Jack, as if she managed to eat an entire wheel of cheese.)
Jack and Will. The two have joined forces once again, this time outside both the U.S. and the law. Crawford is afraid the official net has too many holes large enough for Hannibal to swim through, so he wants to go after him on his own terms. But Will has terms of his own that need fulfilling and that means his confrontation with Hannibal needs to be a tango for two. He finds him where he’s waiting, sketching Hannibal fanart in front of the Botticelli. Their meeting is essentially out of a romance movie as they throw out lovesick lines like, “If I saw you every day forever, Will, I would remember this time” and “Before you and after you.” They admit that they’re starting to blur into one another, even to themselves, and wonder whether they would both survive the necessary psychic surgery to separate them. (On Twitter, Bryan Fuller admitted the scene was inspired by David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers, which explains those red surgical scrubs in Mason Verger’s facial reconstruction scene.)
Chiyoh’s true allegiances are exposed when she snipes Will, preventing him from returning the smile Hannibal gave him. Knife in hand, his intentions are exposed, but Hannibal seems less hurt than he was by Will’s earlier betrayal. He takes him to Professor Sogliato’s home, where he prepares Will a broth infused with parsley and thyme (and presumably a pair of American tourists named Rosemary and Sage). Meanwhile, Jack finds his own way to the apartment, after a tense elevator ride with Chiyoh, ends up ambushed by Hannibal playing hide-and-seek under the table.
So the table is set for the dinner that never happened. And since Hannibal’s RSVPs usually end up turning into RIPs the menu calls for a specialty item, perhaps the one ingredient Hannibal has longed the most to taste. He’s going to do the one thing he’s been doing this whole time: get inside Will Graham’s head. But alas, the dinner must be cancelled once more. This time, it’s by Mason Verger, who kidnaps the pair of them and brings him to Muskrat Farms, which I have a feeling is not a particularly humane slaughterhouse.
Lest we forget the Vergers. Mason is clearly looking for a little revenge, an eye for a perfectly poached eye, having his personal Carcosa chef prepare him potential Lecter recipes. Meanwhile, Alana and Margot embark on an erotic alliance with plenty of kaleidoscopic Persona sex, planning for a world after Mason. I’m really digging the direction in which the attack has twisted Alana. Her (male) counterpart in the books is smart and incisive and suffers no fools so it disappointed me a little to see her only playing the naïf last season. The fact that she fell so hard so fast for Hannibal seemed less skill on his part than weakness on hers, but now she’s a blazer-sporting, cane-wielding vengeance engine and it’s great.