Previously on Hannibal, ‘Antipasto’
Flashback to “Mizumono.” Will Graham enters Hannibal’s home, wet from the storm, and finds blood flowing under the pantry door and shattered glass. Abigail surprises Will, mostly by being alive. Hannibal steps behind him and stabs him, holding Will intimately as he suffers.
“I let you know me. See me. I gave you a rare gift. And you didn’t want it,” Hannibal accuses, tearing up. “Do you believe you could change me, the way that I’ve changed you?”
“I already did,” Will answers.
Hannibal asks his forgiveness, holds out his hand to Abigail, and cuts her throat, leaving them alone to die. Will presses one hand into his gut and one over her throat. Across the room, the Stag, his murderous shadow self, shudders and dies, dissolving into waves and waves of blood.
Will sinks deep into an ocean of blood, paralleling Bedelia’s bath scene last week, and the teacup representing the Will/Abigail/Hannibal “family” shatters, transforming into pieces of his face. Then the shattering reverses and he wakes up in a hospital bed.
Hospital. A doctor asks how he feels. “Thirsty.” We didn’t ask how you felt about Hannibal, Will! He has a guest: Abigail, with her neck bandaged. Say what?! Will mentally rewinds her murder. Hospital Abigail explains Hannibal knew exactly how to cut her and wanted them to live. Still in the clutches of Hannibal’s thrall, she wishes they were all together and blames Will for lying. Nobody had to die. Who died then? But, Will believes that things “go the way they go and end the way they end.”
“We don’t have an ending. He hasn’t given us one yet,” she says worshipfully, wanting to find Hannibal.
Will’s Memory Palace. Will wakes again and blood seeps out of his bandage. He visualizes the hospital bed is in Hannibal’s office. He steps onto the carpet, suddenly fully dressed, and sheets of paper flutter down from the ceiling—all of his feverish clock drawings and Hannibal’s careful notes—catching fire in his hand. He watches himself talk to Hannibal by the fireplace, remembering him mention the Norman Chapel (Capella Palatina) in Palermo and its reminder of mortality graven into the floor, a skull. Underneath the fallen papers, Will uncovers the skull and the walls of Hannibal’s home transform into the Byzantine cathedral.
Norman Chapel. Will and Abigail walk into the Cappella. Her red jacket appears wet with blood, and she stares hard at the priest, wondering if Will believes in God. His beliefs are more like scifi than religion. “Elegance is more important than suffering. That’s His design,” Will answers, finding the tiled skeleton of mortality at his feet. He reflects that Hannibal would love to see the chapel collapse on everyone mid-Mass and believe that God would love it, too. Above him, the plaster starts cracking, showering dust into his hand.
Some time later, blood drips onto the skull. The heart Hannibal made of Dimmond rests over it.
Will and Abigail return to find police and forensics working over the crime scene. He’s invited to police headquarters where Chief Investigator Rinaldo Pazzi introduces himself, already familiar with Will’s incarceration. Through him we learn Will had been frequenting the Chapel in the days leading up to the murder. Will says he’s been praying. “It leaves you with the distinct feeling that you’re not alone,” Pazzi replies, hidden meaning hanging in the air. Following him to the door where Abigail waits, Pazzi muses: Is Will there because of the body, or is the body there because of Will Graham? Not because he killed Dimmond, but because it’s a message. Pazzi already knows the answer, because he and Will are two of a kind.
Pazzi explains how he met Il Mostro, the Monster of Florence, 20 years ago. The murderer created incredible artistic depictions with his victims, the final one being La Primavera by Botticelli.
The detective huskily recalls visiting the Uffizi Gallery, where the original hangs, repeatedly, observing a young Lithuanian man carefully sketch the painting daily. When they closed in on Hannibal, they nearly destroyed his home looking for evidence, which of course he’d eaten. The fruitless investigation destroyed Pazzi’s career through character assassination. “It has a habit of sticking to you,” he says sardonically, handing Will a folder full of crime scene photos.
This is my design. Sitting on the stone steps, Will mentally enters the murder-scape and circles the heart, speaking as Hannibal of its formation as a topiary. He touches the heart and it begins beating. “A valentine written on a broken man.” Slowly it unfurls, the stumps turning downward and stag horns sprouting from severed neck. Will’s imagination slips from his control and the stag advances on Will. As the antlers sprout more and more branches, he stumbles. Abigail’s voice calls him to attention.
“He left us his broken heart,” Will determines. He knew they’d come. ‘He misses us,” Abigail chirps. Will disagrees—Hannibal’s toying with them. And yet she’s still drawn to him. Will muses: Hannibal gave her back to him, then keeps pulling her away. What if they’d all left together after all? Where would they go? “In some other world? He said he made a place for us,” Abigail answers sadly. Not for her. Will made a place for her in his mind. We realize that all along, she’s only been his conscience, the vestiges of his love for Hannibal. Her throat begins bleeding and she disappears. Upstairs, Hannibal watches Will sit alone on the stairs.
Flashback. Will watches the body bag close over Abigail, remembers their fly fishing. Pie Jesu by Gabriel Fauré plays as the coroner processes Abigail’s body, juxtaposed with the surgeons trying to save Will: stitching him closed to live, stitching her closed for burial.
Artistic note: When critics asked why Fauré created his Requiem (Pie Jesu is the fourth movement), he stated, “My Requiem wasn’t written for anything—for pleasure, if I may call it that!” This sentiment echoes Will’s belief in this conversation about Hannibal’s creations: “for his amusement.”
He lays on the chapel stairs, staring at the cupola. Pazzi asks if he’s praying. Will suggests that Pazzi pray Hannibal doesn’t catch him. Pazzi, however, is counting on Will’s help to finally get his man. Imagining blood seeping under the catacomb doors below, Will mutters, “If you could possibly be content, I would suggest you let Il Mostro go… He’s going to kill you, you know. I’m usually right about these things.” But Pazzi can’t, any more than Will can. After all, the valentine. “He’s still here,” Will says.
Will enters the catacombs, torches flickering through the endless doorways and skeletons settled in eternal rest. “Hannibal!” he calls, not a question. Pazzi follows with gun drawn. Will walks into an opening where the dead stand guard at each corner, a pillar in the center. Pazzi follows a moment later, calling Will, circling the pillar. Will appears behind him.
Will: “You shouldn’t be down here alone.”
Pazzi: “I’m not alone. I’m with you.”
Will: “You don’t know whose side I’m on.”
What is Will going to do when he finds Hannibal? Not even Will knows. Pazzi feels that they both must unburden themselves from the dead they carry with them.
“Why don’t you carry them back to the chapel before you count yourself with them,” Will says, eyes glittering. “Buonanotte, Commendatore.” He sinks back into the shadows.
Pazzi exits, passing Hannibal without seeing, and then Hannibal is gone. Will drives deeper and deeper into the catacombs; Hannibal follows silently. “Hannibal,” he calls. They both stop.
“I forgive you,” Will whispers into the darkness.
While last week’s sole focus on Hannibal and Bedelia didn’t feel lacking, wading back into Will’s mind space was arresting as always. Until the third-way mark, it was nearly impossible to tell what was real and what wasn’t, although some hints leaked through: a “surgical” cut to the throat that sprays liters of blood, but isn’t fatal, the bloody jacket, and the Capella Palatina’s plaster cracking on cue. It was heartbreaking all over again to relive the horror of last season’s finale, followed by the hope and shock of Abigail’s presence, only to later realize she’s now become the part of Will that still longs for Hannibal. The art department truly kicked it up a notch with the Pan’s Labyrinth-like “Stagenstein,” as Bryan Fuller termed it, a creation that fully embodies the WTF depravity that is “Hannibal.”
With his deep-set eyes and gravelly voice, Fortunato Cerlino (Pazzi) is utterly believable as the grizzled veteran of a battle with a younger, less wary Hannibal and its resulting life-wrecking havoc. He trusts Will as a rare compatriot, but Will’s experience was much more visceral and personal. Will’s stag may have died on the floor of Hannibal’s kitchen, but part of him will never be the same. I feared this season that the scary, unpredictable Will we’d come to know last season would be gone, but it’s clear that he hasn’t lost his Hannibal-honed edge of amorality. His whispered absolution in the catacombs was chilling in the best possible way. It is on, Fannibals.