Hannibal: 3.1 Antipasto
Hannibal remains one of the most beautifully crafted shows on television and the opening to season three was no different, beginning with a stunning nighttime motorcycle ride through the streets of Paris before taking us to Florence and the glorious art and culture of Renaissance Italy. It was here that Hannibal Lecter and his 'wife' Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier made their home and for forty-five inquisitive minutes we were treated to the dark, dangerous, but very rich life the series' villain had made his own.
Viewers wanting to know the fates of Will, Jack, Alana and Abigail were left wanting; Laurence Fishburne's Jack Crawford appearing momentarily in flashback and the other characters were absent altogether though several references to Hugh Dancy's Will Graham hung over the proceedings like a shadow. Antipasto was not your standard episode of Hannibal. There was no FBI in play, just the fascinating interplay between Hannibal and Bedelia.
Gillian Anderson was as captivating as ever; audiences finally got to see past Bedelia's ice queen facade of years one and two, though there was no warmth here. Through a series of flashbacks we saw her moments after she had killed her patient after a violent altercation, an act Hannibal helped her cover up. It was a blink and you'll miss it performance by Zachary Quinto as the bloody corpse; I'm assuming we'll see more of this as the season progresses. We also saw her return shortly after the dramatic events of the season two finale, finding a bloody Hannibal showing in her house after his violent assault on Jack, Will and the rest.
While it wasn't altogether clear why she joined him in Florence, there was no denying the magnetic way in which she was drawn to his darkness. In one moment she was would join him for a dance at an elaborate Florentine ball and the next moment ask him if he was going to kill his rival professor Sogliato. Bedelia is clearly drawn to the darkness, both as a participant and as a scientific observer, even if she believes herself to be only the latter.
Of course it all became clear during their dinner with the dashing Anthony Dimmond where she remarked that she dined on certain foods to improve her 'taste'. Naturally Dimmond took it for Hannibal's sexual appetite but it was far worse and we finally saw in that scene has much she was living in terror of her eventual fate at Hannibal's hands. As for poor Dimmond, his fate was sealed the moment she tried to run away and when Hannibal asked if she wished to observe or participate in his death, even she couldn't convince herself that was free of the guilt of the man she now lived with.
The scenes in Florence would have been worthy enough of making Antipasto a great season opener, but then audiences were treated to the icing on the cake; Eddie Izzard's Dr. Abel Gideon. We got to witness more of that wonderful wicked scene where Hannibal fed Izzard his own leg and the then continued to join them as Hannibal introduced him to more succulent, rich dishes all in order to make Gideon all the more tastier when Hannibal finally finished him off. I suspect that this will be the last we see of Gideon, given that the story has nowhere else to go - he is dead in the present after all - but it was wonderful to see them going tete-e-tete one last time.
The season opener answered none of the cliffhangers of last season but gave us something even more special. Anderson continues to fascinate as Bedelia and Mads Mikkelsen is truly in his element as this Hannibal unleashed, enjoying culture and death in equal measure. My only gripe - and perhaps it is because it has been a while since season two aired - is that I lost some of what Mikkelsen was saying , meaning there was some great dialogue which probably passed me by. I suspect we'll get the other answers next week but for now, I am fully embracing more Hannibal and Bedelia. Once again you have to ask yourself, even knowing what the main ingredient is, doesn't Hannibal's cooking look delicious?