Hannibal: 3.06 Dolce
Moments of utter brilliance mixed with a frustrating abundance of symbolic imagery, the macabre mixed with psychological horror in way that reveals fascinating facets of every character without actually telling us anything. If that sounds like a bit of a pretentious summary of the latest episode of Hannibal then perhaps that is because the show itself has become a little too pretentious. This critical darling feels like it would sit just as well in an art house cinema as it would on a US cable network like HBO. What it doesn't feel like, is a show that exists on a standard US network like NBC.
I want to love every minute of Hannibal, I really do. The first two seasons were magnificent but just when the last couple of episodes pull back on the art house cinema in favour of a decent plot, Dolce felt like a step backwards. Perhaps it is because characters like Will and Alana have become lost as a result of what Hannibal has done to them, but as an audience member I continue to feel lost with them, frustrated by every scene opening up in slow motion to characters' motivations continuing to remain unclear. The worst offender of all was the capture of Hannibal and Will by Mason Verger's people at the end. What should have been a shocking climax after the gruesome scalping scene - more on that later - became a huge 'what?!' moment. I was too caught up in asking what just happened to appreciate the dark twist of events.
It is a shame because there were some fantastic moments. Bedelia and Hannibal's final scene as he questioned how she thought this whole affair would end was brilliant and if I were to take one thing from the first half of season three, it would be the conversations between these two. She continued to remain adamant that she always intended to walk away, rather than end up another of his meals. That scene managed to both be cold, devoid of emotion and yet sexy too. That final half kiss was the closest perhaps we have seen Bedelia in dancing too close to the flame.
I also enjoyed the game she continued to play, drugging herself with the same narcotic Hannibal used to sedate Miriam Lass. She was clearly playing the victim and yet she kept up the pretense - both to Will and Jack and later the police inspector - that she was Mrs Fell and not Bedelia Du Maurier. And then, when she realised the inspector was in Mason Verger's pocket, she gave Hannibal up. I suspect there is more to come from her yet and so the show continues to drag out her mysterious motivations a little longer...
Chiyoh meanwhile continues to be a confusing element within the show. The show hasn't done enough to build her character and now she has become a wild card, shooting Will by remaining over-protective of Hannibal. As to why, I don't really know. Though I loved Bedelia's assertion that Chiyoh was Hannibal's biggest mistake and not Will.
Back in the US, the show continues to have fun with the crazy Vergers and their latest crazy ally - Alana. Mason tasted a range of dishes designed to made up of various Hannibal body parts and organs once the good killer was in his grasp. The simple Peking Duck version ended up becoming the menu of choice, judging by the episode's end. Alana continued her descent into darkness, standing in a grey suit and low cut top an ice queen, utterly broken by what happened to her at the end of season two. I worry just what will happen to her and if she can ever find herself back. The reveal that she has been sleeping with an equally broken Margot Verger was an intriguing twist once we got past what seemed like five minutes of putting the footage through a kaleidoscope. I guess it was the only way the episode couldn't have descended into full on Lesbian porn.
Talking of Margot, she presents herself as a much stronger character, both physically and mentally this season, now that she has some control over her brother. I wondered if she was really buying into the very twisted conversation over continuing the family line - Mason and Margot as parents could possibly be the most horrifying idea the show has ever done - but she seemed to be considering using that to her advantage by the episode's end.
Back to Will and Hannibal and they were finally reunited in the art gallery. There was an odd tenderness to the scene, Will still seeming to flit between killing, arresting and joining him and that conversation felt like a final goodbye before he was shot by Chiyoh.
And then we came to that scene. After Contorno gave us the death of Inspector Pazzi straight from the Hannibal novel, Dolce looked set to give audiences the other infamous scene where Hannibal scalped Paul Krendler at the dinner table with Clarice, pan-fried his brain and fed it back to him while he was still alive. After Hannibal struck at Jack, I wondered if the show was going to have him take on Paul's role. Indeed, Jack Crawford could have met a bloody and shocking end. Instead, Hannibal turned on Will, leaving me to gasp with disbelief. I knew Will wasn't going to die. And yet...
That shocking scene was ruined somewhat by the twisty, art-housy moment where Hannibal was presumably interrupted by Mason Verger's men. It might have set up a gripping final episode before the show turns its direction to Red Dragon but it wasn't handled as effectively as it could have been.
Dolce was very much like most of season three - shocking, brilliant, frustrating and very over done. I'm still a fan and I am still excited for what happens next; I just hope that the show leaves some of the decadence behind with Florence.