Previously on Hannibal, ‘Dolce’
Last episode’s missing scene: Detective Benetti’s team floods Sogliato’s apartment building as Hannibal/the Stag saws Will’s scalp. They burst in and Jack calls out in Italian that he’s FBI. They hog-tie Hannibal and haul Will off for double bounty. Benetti’s cover story: Hannibal escaped and left one final victim, Jack. “Arrivederci,” Jack replies evenly, tearfully. The main group leaves, save for two henchmen who prepare the saw. Chiyoh’s rifle thinks not. She takes in the scene. “Wrong floor,” Jack recognizes, asking her to remove the paralytic.
“You’re sitting at Hannibal’s table. You know him. You know Will,” she observes.
“They are identically different, Hannibal and Will,” he replies, offering her the address since he has to be “dead” for this to play out. She agrees, laying a handgun on the table before strolling out with her giant rifle.
A phone call from Italy wakes Margot and Alana, who look even more similar. Alana says Mason will take his time torturing Will and Hannibal, time they need.
Mason has Cordell rotate the still-hanging Hannibal so he can “check the fat” with his father’s knife. Hannibal makes no sound—too lean. He and Will are chained to dollies and advised to watch their guts around the pigs. Mason names Hannibal the best of all the “exotic swine.”
Later, from bed, Mason rubs the news of Jack’s reported death in Alana’s face, until Margot swishes in to announce that he’s not, in fact.
“Play with your food, Mason, and you’ll give it the opportunity to bite back.”
“I’m not playing, Dr Bloom.”
“Hannibal is. He’s always playing.”
Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C Major, Andante*. Hannibal and Will are dressed for dinner. Served oysters, Hannibal says Mason is like Jezebel (King Ahab’s wife who was defenestrated and eaten by dogs), but Mason retorts he has plans for a new face to eat Hannibal with: Will’s face. “But, where, Mason, would the hardcore fun come from?” *tut tut tut*
*Artistic note: A tribute to Bond villain Karl Stromberg from “The Spy Who Loved Me”—the relevant scene—and meant to communicate triumph.
Cordell reports their first planned course: Hannibal’s hands and feet on a Promethean barbecue. Over the repartee, Cordell attempts to moisturize Will, but Will clearly is not about that generic drugstore crap and bites an enormous chunk out of his cheek, spitting it onto his plate. He glances irritably at Hannibal’s amusement.
Cordell stitches his face back up, then brands Hannibal, who absorbs the pain silently. “It’s very important to Mason that I have the pigs’ experience,” Hannibal summarizes clinically. Admiring Mason’s vision, Cordell tauntingly outlines how he’ll marinate Hannibal’s tongue and slowly remove his limbs. Unflappable, Hannibal seems pleased with their care in preparing him… Or with their hubris.
Mason muses that he should feed the eel Hannibal’s genitals. He stuns Margot with the news that he kept her eggs and already has a Verger baby in a surrogate, who’s resting at the farm. She advances on him slowly, demanding to know where it is, but he rebuffs her teasingly as always.
Will’s alone in the empty dining room. Alana enters and reveals that she was only following the wine, trying to reach Hannibal before Will did. She resists his shaming: Hannibal deserves a little torture. But since Jack and the FBI didn’t come to the rescue, Will surmises that she’ll have to evolve with the details and spill blood one way or the other.
The camera whirls over the pigs and Hannibal in their cages as Margot arrives. He asks if she’s started “taking the chocolate.” She kneels to his level, as if in a confessional, explaining Mason’s new pawn, the baby. “Mason will deny you… You know you’ll have to kill him,” and Hannibal is happy to enable it by claiming he did it. Alana knocks out the guard and grabs his pocket knife at Hannibal’s hint. She also kneels, asking him to swear to save Will. “I promise. And I always keep my promises,” he says pointedly. Like the one he made to kill her, which she’ll be allowing by letting him go. She leans in, asking if he’s going to kill Mason. No, Margot is. He instructs her to take some of his hair and put it in Mason’s hand.
“Could I ever have understood you?”
She cuts one rope, puts down the knife, and leaves. He frees himself quickly, inhaling. Oh, here go hell come!
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E Minor – Andante Cantabile. Will’s heart beeps on the surgery suite monitor. Mason’s always lusted after Will’s face, taking one last opportunity to proselytize before going under. Cordell paralyzes Will, planning to remove his face without anesthesia, marks his face and slices in. Will’s eyes go wide. Hannibal emerges from the barn with a hammer covered in gore.
Artistic Note: This piece begins with a funereal theme which transforms into a triumphant march. Tchaikovsky wrote that the introduction communicates a resignation to the predestination of fate, which then changes and suggests optimism about providence.
Alana and Margot find the “surrogate” nursery—a dead sow under a little mobile of tiny pigs. A baby boy shows on the ultrasound monitor, but the vitals are all flat. Take it out, Margot urges. As a face is peeled back in the surgery suite, Alana also pulls the baby from the pig. Nearly full grown. The women hover over the tragedy.
Mason awakes and calls for Cordell, holding up his mirror to reveal Cordell’s bloody face laid loosely over the top of his. He screams as it slides off. Hannibal carries Will out into the snow. Chiyoh shoots two men coming behind him. He smiles.
Alana answers Mason’s screams, soberly reporting that Hannibal has escaped. Margot, tearful, announces that she’s taking what he promised her. Even at a disadvantage, he can’t resist taunting her, but she’s not cowed, so to speak. She’ll have that baby… “Yours, mine, mostly yours.” They already milked him with a cattle prod and Hannibal’s help. He mocks Alana, saying she’s dead. “Oh, Mason, we all are. Didn’t you know that?” She waggles a vial of his sperm. He pulls his gun, but the women overpower him, throwing him into the eel tank. The eel bites, then swims down his throat.
Hannibal comes out of Will’s house and finds Chiyoh standing guard in the snow. Can she go home? No more than he can. But she can watch over him, not in a cage. He finally admits to eating Mischa, but not to killing her. The most stable elements in the periodic table are between iron and silver. Between iron and silver, appropriate for her.
Bach’s Goldberg Variations, on harpsichord. The teacup breaks. Will awakes. Hannibal comes back in and sits down comfortably with a notebook of time-reversing equations. They sigh. The teacup, Will says, is broken and will never pull itself back together again.
Artistic Note: The Variations were written for the two-manual harpsichord, making them extraordinarily difficult to play on any other instrument; this calls back to Hannibal’s preference for the harpsichord as it lacked the piano’s quality of memory.
Hannibal counter: Will’s memory palace is full of new things; they even share rooms. “I’ve discovered you there, victorious.” There’s no decisive victory between them. “We’re in a zero-sum game,” Hannibal acknowledges. Will goes on—he’s not going to miss him; he’s not going to find him or look for him and doesn’t want to know where he is or what he does.
“I don’t want to think about you anymore.”
“You delight in wickedness and then berate yourself in the delight.”
“I don’t have your appetite.”
Hannibal soberly absorbs the unpalatable breakup, his face changing minutely several times as he decides. He turns halfway, then exits. That night, police cars light the swirling snow at his home. Will announces to Jack that Hannibal’s gone.
PSYCH. Hannibal walks back out of the woods and surrenders as Chiyoh watches through her scope. “You finally caught the Chesapeake Ripper, Jack,” he says, in his half-patronizing way. Jack disgustedly notes that he didn’t catch him—Hannibal surrendered. “I want you to know exactly where I am. And where you can always find me.” He looks over at Will, then Jack does. As the cops cuff Hannibal, he smirks slightly. Chiyoh disappears into the glittering snow.
Anyone familiar with the original novels may have strong feelings about this major Hannibal remix episode, but I found it satisfying. Even captive, Hannibal proves he is The One in the face of Mason Verger the Pretender, having sown the necessary seeds long ago. He merely observes and absorbs the communion experience, ultimately arising to reap the fruit of his past work. He watches Will take cannibalistic revenge on Cordell, talks Margot into finally killing Mason, gets Alana to accept her death to save Will, rescues Will, and secures Chiyoh as an archangel. All this for the low price of a branding, well worth it to Hannibal. Not only this, but Will continues in his Camerlengo role, assisting in this aborted communion by pushing Alana, the most reluctant of the past students, into participation.
Digestivo was full of poignant, disturbing moments. Chiyoh telling Jack he is sitting at Hannibal’s table, rather than on it, labeling him a fellow partaker. Will getting so damn tired of everyone being amused and biting Cordell. Margot and Alana kneeling for Hannibal’s counsel, even as he’s seemingly powerless. Cordell’s smarmy face sliding off of Mason’s. Leaving aside the impossibility of the pig surrogate, the horrific imagery and the idea that Mason did this to utterly deny Margot of her final shred of hope simultaneously with gaining his greatest desire showed the boundless depths of his depravity. Will unequivocally breaking up with Hannibal in the most decisive speech ever, only to have Hannibal immediately void it with his surrender. Even down to the uncomfortable hotness of a trussed-up Hannibal, making us question our morals for the thousandth time during this show’s run. Nobody got what they wanted… except Hannibal. Long may he reign. #SaveHannibal
Next week, the Red Dragon saga begins. The episode titles this season have thus far been parts of the Italian 7-course meal, but now that’s over, and from here out the episodes are titled with the names of Blake’s Great Red Dragon paintings.