So, this is another series I gave some thought and realized it was going to need the play-by-play as opposed to a seasonal writeup.
Based on the opener, I’d say this was a good call.
Also, sorry for the delay on this one going up, future episodes will be posted in a more timely fashion.
That said, like a lot of people who are already invested in this series, it was a long wait getting to this episode. After the shocking, blood-soaked finale the second season left us with, only intensified by NBC’s delay of the show’s premiere to June, there was a lot to live up to in starting the season.
The opener simultaneously managed to match those expectations while also delivering something I wasn’t expecting.
In an interesting twist, despite leaving the lives of Will Graham, Jack Crawford, and Alana Bloom (Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, and Caroline Dhavernas respectively) quite tenuously in the balance, the series decides to wait a week before coming back to their fates (though we know just by the nature of the series they’ll be back). Instead, this week’s episode calls back to the second season’s infamous epilogue – Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) fleeing the country with his therapist, Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) seemingly his partner in crime.
A large chunk of this episode is devoted to getting into and, for lack of a better term, dissecting the dynamic between Hannibal and Bedelia that left people floored at the end of the second season. As such, the episode focuses on the two, both together as well as separately, and paints an image that, like so much of this series, is as fascinating as it is disturbing.
A lot of the reason last season’s last reveal was such a surprise was the fact that it seemed to clash with what we’d known of the relationship Bedelia and Hannibal had. A suspicion that this episode further confirms – though the two play the parts of a couple for the public here, the connection is much darker. As the episode unfolds, the ‘couple’ aspect mutates into a strange sort of hostage situation – made all the more disturbing by the fact that Lecter hasn’t physically tried to stop Beverly, but rather his hold is with regards to an incident that we’ll likely be seeing addressed more this season involving a former patient of hers.
Speaking of past incidents, in another surprising reveal, this episode took another peek into Hannibal’s mind care of a series of flashbacks elaborating more on fate of Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard). The conversations, taking place over a period as Lecter summarily removed, cooked, and served Gideon his own limbs are some of the show’s writing in top form – Gideon’s attempts to pick Hannibal’s brain (nonliterally, of course) lead to conversations that are enlightening as well as laced with touches of macabre humor that have become a regular element of the series.
These are just overview, but there’s a lot of sequences in this I’d be tempted to go into were it not for the fact that we could be here a while (points to director Vincenzo Natali and cinematographer James Hawkinson for some stunning visuals that live up to the show’s reputation, most notably a sequence involving Bedelia in a bathtub that has an unsettling, dreamlike feel to it).
As an opener, this does what the best of season openers do – it addresses matters left open from the previous season while also sowing plenty of material for events to come this season. With the episode ending in Lecter leaving a macabre piece of human origami – a grim calling card to Will, the main story will be resuming next episode with Primavera.
The climax of this episode contains a grim moment where Hannibal gives Bedelia the grim proposition as he prepares to dispatch a victim – observe, or participate? In either case, he argues, she can’t help but be involved.
In a sick way, that seems the perfect question to start the season off with – cause already, the show has managed to pull one in all over again.
Till next time.
-Good exploration of the dynamic between Hannibal and Bedelia
-The Gideon flashbacks a welcome return for Izzard
-While a great character piece, may frustrate some seeking closure from the finale