Buon appetito, Fannibals, and welcome to Season 3. Within the first 2 minutes, Hannibal manages to make riding a motorcycle through Paris disturbing, thanks to its signature uneasy, grating music. Prowling through a reception like a lion in the brush, he spots his quarry, Dr. Roman Fell, but is accosted by a gossipy Antony Dimmond, Dominion’s Michael, lamenting his own poetic slowness in comparison to the copiously published critic Dr. Fell. Dimmond is Dr. Fell’s TA at Cambridge.
“One can appreciate another’s words without dissecting them, but there are times that only dissection will do,” Hannibal parries.
As the reception ends, Hannibal greets the exiting Dr. Fell from his motorbike with a “Bonsoir,” and again when Dr. Fell approaches his own home. Dinner is served. Sogno Soave E Casto Don Pasquale (Fond Dream of Love, Act 1) by Donizetti plays as Hannibal sears the lovely liver, pours wine, and carves into his meal. Mrs. Fell returns home, smiling at the music, but finds him at her table instead. “Bonsoir,” he says, for the third time this evening. Farewell, Mrs. Fell.
B&W Flashback: Hannibal and Abel Gideon chitchat over his literal last leg, careful puns tossed to and fro. True cannibalism, Hannibal asserts, is between equals, but Abel is merely the cattle. Abel resentfully states that there’s nothing he has to do, yet he shouldn’t spoil the fairy tale. Hannibal begins, “Once upon a time…”
At a lavish reception in Florence, Hannibal spins Bedelia Du Maurier through a waltz. Afterward, Dr. Sogliato challenges “Dr. Fell’s” qualifications as the new curator of Palazzo Capponi; he can’t possibly understand the nuances of all things Medieval Italian. Bedelia steps into her role as the audience, knowing that Hannibal won’t let such an affront stand, and requests Sogliato dance with her. As they step away, Hannibal interrupts with a sonnet on devouring the human heart, Dante in the original Medieval Italian, to the delight of the crowd, but Sogliato remains sour and Bedelia grave.
“I’ve killed hardly anybody during our residence,” Hannibal protests to her privately, feeling no conflict given that he won the position with his own knowledge base, not just because he killed the curator. After he unzips her dress, she asks how he feels; he answers with the same question. At this moment, she believes she’s still in control of her actions; but in the bath, she visualizes herself drowning.
Flashback: Bedelia reminds Jack that Hannibal is in control, then returns to her abandoned home and pours herself a drink. Hannibal is in the shower, washing off the blood from the season-ending massacre. When he steps out, she’s poised on the bed and cocks a gun, giving him permission to dress, not entirely blind to the view. “I’ve taken off my person suit,” he says. She asks how it feels to be seen, but he’s still salty about her firing him as a patient, wondering if she’s taken into account his assessment of her motivations, the motivations behind everything human: greed and optimism. “You’re optimistic I won’t kill you,” he says. She uncocks the gun and drinks.
She purchases a white truffle and some wine from Vera Dal, a delicacies market. At the museum, he studies slides and da Vinci’s sketches of the heart, satisfied and suave as he strolls through an exhibit of torture devices. Leaving for the day, he finds Antony Dimmond in the courtyard intent on visiting Dr. Fell. Alas.
“My wife and I would love to have you for dinner.” Oh, Hannibal.
B&W Flashback. Hannibal fusses over his live escargot snails as they feast on Abel’s arm marinated in wine. Abel zips up in his wheelchair. They talk of improving the snail’s taste with its diet in life, and thus begins the circle of Hannibal: fatten the food on delicious things, fatten the people on the food, and fatten Hannibal on the people. “Dying hasn’t dulled you one bit,” he tells Abel.
Dinner at the Fell home. Bedelia’s hand shakes a bit as she extracts an oyster, Antony Dimmond watching closely, interested. Admitting that he knows the Fells just well enough not to approve of Roman, he stupidly allows that he’s traveling alone. Hannibal suggests he should attend a lecture Dr Fell is scheduled to give, a bit of bait. Dimmond observes that the oysters, acorns, and Marsala on Bedelia’s plate were the ancient Roman recipe for improving animals’ flavor. She chokes a bit as Hannibal smiles brightly, then she turns the moment into the best exchange of the episode.
Bedelia: “My husband has a very sophisticated palate. He’s very particular about how I taste.”
Stunned, Dimmond seems intrigued: “Is it that kind of party?”
Hannibal looks at her, amused. She looks at him.
Hannibal: “No, it isn’t that kind of party.”
Bedelia: “It really isn’t.”
Dimmond: “Shame. You’re both suddenly so fascinating.”
A shame indeed—the Archangel does like his orgies. Hannibal surprises us and Bedelia by letting him go, acting aghast at her wonderment.
Bedelia visits Vera Dal again, this time affected by the curing meats still dripping blood. She looks at the cameras at the train station, rigid. Is she sending a message?
Flashback. Bedelia lays shaking and in shock on the floor in the aftermath of killing her patient, remembering how she pulled her arm and his tongue out of his throat. Hannibal circles. She claims she acted in self defense, but Hannibal declares it a controlled use of force. As she washes away the blood, he offers to help her reframe the crime if only she’ll ask for his help. She does.
Hannibal lectures, focusing on Judas’ role in Dante’s work. “I made my own home be my gallows,” he quotes to Bedelia, sumptuously dressed in white as she perches nervously on the front seat, and rightly so, as Dimmond arrives. Bedelia splits. Afterward, when Sogliati confronts him, Dimmond vouches for Hannibal/Dr Fell, smiling knowingly. They saunter past the torture instruments, Dimmond amorally curious as to what befell Dr. Fell, no doubt considering blackmail. Just as Bedelia is about to walk out, bags packed, the two men arrive home.
In slow motion, a globule of blood flies past her face on the backswing of Hannibal smashing Dimmond in the head with a statuette. He poses a question: Is Bedelia participating or observing? As the bleeding man drags himself across the floor, Hannibal extemporizes—she must have played this out in her head and is therefore participating. Dimmond nearly makes it to a door handle when Hannibal casually snaps his neck; a tear falls down Bedelia’s face.
“What have you gotten yourself into, Bedelia? Shall I hang up your coat?”
B&W Flashback. Hannibal serves Abel the snails, but Abel seems about done with this situation, clinking on the table annoyingly, eating sloppily, his utensil clacking to the floor. Jealously irate that he’s merely a substitute for Will Graham, Abel wonders how Hannibal will feel when this happens to him. Being eaten knowingly is a powerful feeling, after all.
Train. Hannibal folds the Vitruvian Man into an origami heart. Back at the lecture hall in the Palazzo, Dimmond’s bloody torso stands on a tripod, the shape of a heart, dripping.
A beautifully macabre beginning to the season. Despite curiosity on how our investigative team fared post-finale, it would have been ridiculous to jump back and forth across the pond, so thankfully we remained focused on Hannibal and Bedelia with flashbacks to some crucial illustrative moments, including the black-and-white horror homage to Abel Gideon’s last days which serve to frame the coming season.
Many people remain curious as to why Bedelia is with him, but one only needs to look at the relationship between Will Graham and Hannibal, as well as Abel Gideon and Hannibal, for the answer—she is the pupil that took the bait and committed murder. Enthralled with his magnetism, they’re drunk with the power of knowing they’re being devoured, both now and in the future. Not entirely bereft of morality just yet, she resists the thought of participating, but of course she is, as are we. The decadent clothing and clever dialogue remain a feast for the senses, and I look forward to an exotic season as we make our way through the text of Hannibal. If only it had been that kind of party…