Hannibal: 3.04 Apertivo
Welcome back Hannibal, I've started to miss you. The over abundance of symbolic imagery and very little plot have made for a somewhat frustrating few weeks; to use Hannibal's food analogy, watching the first three weeks of the show have been like indulging in a rich chocolate souffle. One souffle is wonderful but three courses in a row of the same thing is a bit much. Thankfully Apertivo got the mix just right, making for the most consistently-engaging episode of season three yet.
There was very little Hannibal this week and no scenes with the brilliant Gillian Anderson but what audiences got instead was the story of what happened between the season two bloodbath and Will tracking Hannibal down in Italy. It was an episode where everyone's scars were laid bare; Frederick Chilton and Mason Verger's very physical injuries and the emotional scarring on Will, Alana and Jack.
Yes, Chilton is back. For those wondering why the arrogant, smarmy psychiatrist from the Silence Of The Lambs novel died much earlier that expected, the revelation that he survived the attack - shown through a stunning but not overused slow motion destruction of his face from the bullet - allowed him to re-enter the fray in a big way. Chilton was the catalyst by which we were re-introduced to all of Hannibal's' victims. He was fuelled with revenge, something he hoped to share with Mason Verger and the scene where they took off their masks was suitably creepy. Just as intriguing was his visit to Will in the hospital. What we saw was a clever retelling of the scene where Will was visited by Abigail a couple of weeks ago. By now, we know it was all in his mind. In reality Chilton was speaking Abigail's words and this clever use of misdirection worked brilliantly with both characters.
Jack went through plenty more heartbreak with Bella this episode but he appeared to be the one person who came out of the bloodbath intact. His forced retirement from the FBI allowed him to spend his last days with his dying wife, while trying to convince Will to give up his quest for Hannibal. The revelation that Will warned Hannibal by telling him to run put everyone's life in danger but even then Jack was ready to forgive and move on. As we saw him with Inspector Pazzi last week, he has shown no inclination in trying to capture the monster that is Hannibal the Cannibal - a name cunningly copyrighted by Chilton - but instead has been focused on saving those affected by the killer.
Gina Torres delivered a bittersweet swansong performance as Jack's wife; as the real-life wife of Laurence Fishburne it must have been incredibly challenging for them both to play out her last days. The symbolic imagery used in those final scenes - Bella walking down the aisle in a wedding dress before Jack saw her in her open coffin - was beautiful and heartbreaking and the letter from Hannibal commiserating her death was a nasty touch, even if the sentiment he felt was real. Thankfully Jack rose above it, even if Will did not, using that to fuel his quest to go off in search of Hannibal.
Given the nature of the show, we weren't really sure what had happened to Alana after she was pushed out of that first storey window. The Alana we saw this week was not the psychiatrist of old; once the voice of reason she has become an ice queen as broken by ordeal as Bedelia was by hers. Caroline Dhavernas has always delivered a solid performance but this week she shone. In her bright orange coat and lipstick, limping on the cane, she was a stark vision, fuelled by revenge and no longer willing to sit in the shadows. Becoming Mason Verger's psychiatrist - after Chilton failed to get the job - we assumed she would fall fail of this monster.
But instead Alana became just as cruel; convincing Mason to unleash 'Old Testament' style vengeance on Hannibal. There is no reasoning in her actions, no attempt to bring him to justice according to the laws of the FBI or her own conscience. Alana has thrown herself into the fight, as Mason Verger
sets up the theatre of Hannibal's demise. Just whether she can come back from this remains to be seen. She certainly welcomed Will's quest to find Hannibal, showing no compassion that he former friend might not survive it.
Credit to, to Joe Anderson, who stepped into the role of Mason Verger after Michael Pitt left the show. He delivered a frightening, twisted performance that was very reminiscent of Gary Oldman's performance in the film Hannibal. With a very physical difference in appearance, he slipped into the show seamlessly.
Apertivo ended with Will sailing off to find Hannibal and a widowed Jack forced to follow him into the fire. With Chilton scheming away and Mason Verger fuelled by revenge - fans of the Hannibal film / book will know where that is heading - everything is starting to fall into place. Hannibal has cleverly set up a very different third season, introducing us to the decadence of Hannibal and Bedelia's Florentine lifestyle, Will's descent into darkness and madness and the plotting of revenge by everyone left behind. After believing the show was losing the plot last week, I find myself excited once again for what is to come...