Hannibal: 3.7 Digestivo
The first half of season three came to an astonishing end this week, as the Mason Verger and Florence story arcs came to their dramatic conclusion, enabling the show to pave the way for the upcoming Red Dragon adaptation. And what an end it was - first the first time this year, this was the Hannibal of old; not a moment was wasted as Jack, Will and Alana faced their personal demons and Hannibal was brought into the custody of the FBI, if not in the way we expected.
There was no Gillian Anderson this week, but Jack's role served as a coda for the Florence arc. The corrupt detectives apprehended Hannibal and Will just as the latter was about to head his skull removed. It was the scene the last episode neglected to show the audience in favour of jumping straight into their capture before Mason; personally I would have preferred the scene to have been part of Dolce but at least here it gave Jack Crawford some valuable screen time.
Yet again I feared for Jack, this time when the detective in Mason Verger's pocket ordered him dead as a 'cover' for Hannibal's last kill. It would have been a truly tragic ending but a fitting one, though I am also grateful to have more Laurence Fishburne on the show. Having Chioya save him was a great touch and enabled him to send her into the midst of the horrors at Muskrat Farm.
Refocusing the story back in the US, Hannibal delivered one of its greatest episodes, not just the highlight of the season but perhaps the entire three years.
"You're going to eat him... With my face?" Will asked with disbelief as Mason entertained him and Hannibal at the dinner table. Fuelled by revenge and letting his sadistic tendencies run riot, we witnessed complete and utter madness as Mason unveiled his plan to cut off Will's face, wear it as his own while Hannibal was slowly disemboweled and cooked, piece by piece. Yes it was completely sick but it verged on darkly comic in nature; only a show like this could maintain that level of drama and horror without descending into pantomime.
I adored Hannibal's bemusement at the whole situation as he was carted into Mason's house and his deep appreciation - almost admiration - for the manner in which Dr. Cordell Doemling planned to cook him to 'perfection'; if anything that admiration stemmed both ways. The discussion over how to cook Hannibal's tongue (boiled and cooked in garlic and parsley and olive oil) was dark and delightful topped off by Hannibal's rounding approval of "a simple dish!"
The twisted plan was not the only horrific moment of this episode; Margot discovering the dead baby inside the surrogate pig was in many ways more vile than victims assembled into a totem pole or sewn together in a bizarre collage. It spoke to the true insanity of Mason Verger, arguably one of the greatest TV villains in recent history with Joe Anderson easily quelling any concerns over the recasting of the role for this season.
Of course everything came together magnificently the moment Alan released with great irony that she needed to free the imprisoned Hannibal to save Will and destroy Mason Verger. The villain of the series also became the hero, delivering the audience one stunning, gasp-worthy moment after another. Tricking the audience into believing Will really had lost his face until it was revealed that Hannibal had cut off Cordell's, putting an end to the psychopathic cook - there is only room for one of them in this show.
As questionable as it might have been, Margot revealing that she had harvested her brother's sperm to continue the family line before killing him was a stunning turn of events. I always imagined that Maosn would end up fed to his own pigs but somehow drowning with the electric eel funneling down his throat felt far worse. It was certainly uncomfortable to watch, as satisfying as Mason's demise might have been. There was also something oddly cathartic at Margot and Alan killing Mason together, though I wonder still how the good psychiatrist can come back from that.
And then we had Hannibal carrying Will back home, with his guardian angel of death Chioya shooting Mason's men to allow their escape. I found the reunion between the two killers a little underwhelming; Chioya will likely go down as an intriguing but ultimately undeveloped element of Hannibal season three.
We ended with the 'break up'. Hannibal might have saved Will - if you get past the whole manipulating him into becoming a killer, stabbing him in the gut and then trying to remove his skull - but the question over whether Will would join, kill or arrest him was answered in an unsuspecting way. Will wanted nothing to do with him; he was redeemed. The episode ended with a sense of hope for Will; the events of the show would certainly have taken its toll but he wasn't completely lost to darkness, something which will surely play its part in the final run of episodes.
But then in a final cruel twist of fate, Hannibal refused to give up, choosing to have himself in to Jack Crawford rather than go free, all because it was a way to stay close to Will. "Congratulations, Jack. You caught the Chesapeake Ripper." Hannibal mused as he was handcuffed outside Will's house. "I didn't catch you." Jack retorted. "You surrendered." It was a final dark twist of the knife in a richly dark, tragic, dramatic episode that was as much a season finale - and a finale for everything up to this point - as the end of this little story.
If season three truly is the last of Bryan Fuller's Hannibal then Red Dragon will surely be the all mighty coda to the relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham. For all my grumblings over the 'art-house' cinema of recent episodes, Digestivo redeemed the show, with one of the greatest episodes of television since...the Hannibal season two finale...