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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Hannibal: “Aperitivo”

Illustration for article titled Hannibal: “Aperitivo”
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Perhaps the boldest move this show that is made up entirely of bold moves has made is make an episode without its title character. Hannibal has been on the outskirts before, giving up the spotlight to lesser characters but “Aperitivo” does not just take Hannibal out of the mix. It completely gives itself away to those characters that fell victim to both Hannibal (and Will) last season. The first three episodes, for the most part, willfully refused to reveal how these people were doing, or if they were still alive (minus Jack’s trip to Italy). In “Aperitivo,” it’s all laid bare. The episode certainly works but it is one of exposition, playing catch up due to this season’s nontraditional structure.

The big theme of this episode, and much of the season so far, is this idea of forgiveness. Will and Hannibal have been dancing around the idea in their separate ways. Bedelia has mentioned that, like love, it takes both parties to buy into the concept, something made even more vague by Hannibal himself who is not entirely sure who is at fault in their relationship. Will, still in a Abigail haze, echoes their grounds for forgiveness to a wheelchair-bound Alana. He and Hannibal have a sort of tenuous agreement with each other: “A mutually unspoken pact to ignore the worst in each other to continue to enjoy the best.” Both Hannibal and Will are shot in similar light, with their faces half bathed in light, the other in darkness. It’s a trick the show has played before. They are only showing half of who they are to the rest of the cast, and even to audience. But, in this sense, it feels more like Hannibal and Will are one in the same, each one half a coin. They are only whole when they are together.

The obscurity of faces comes up almost immediately before Will and Hannibal are introduced onto the screen. So, as it turns out Dr. Chilton has survived his shot to the head with half his face intact. I was pretty convinced that Chilton had bitten the bullet (har har har) after Miriam Lass shot him last season, but Bryan Fuller and company have decided to keep him alive to spur the others into action. His main ally is in the still-evil Mason Verger (Joe Anderson takes over for last year’s Michael Pitt), whose face is similarly obscured. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours, Verger dares Chilton in that horrific opening scene. They are all scarred. None of them are whole.

Perhaps the most broken is Alana. On the outside, her only problem is she seems to be a limp. But she is a different person. Her clothes are different, brighter and more severe. She favors red lips and more make up, being complicit in her own facial obscurity. She’s tougher, brasher than before (“You cannot see what you will not see.” “Until it throws you out a window.” “I always enjoyed the word defenestration. Now I get to use it in casual conversation.”). She walks with a badass cane that is hopefully some sort of Chekov’s gun. Alana’s turn is one of the more intriguing new threads season three has created so far. Her arc could have ended, but instead it made an abrupt turn. When Mason starts spouting his new religious credo, she says, “I don’t need religion to believe in Old Testament revenge.” Hell hath no fury like Alana Bloom thrown out a window.

Hannibal was so initially concerned with its two male leads that it had largely eschewed the role of women. It was something I had criticized about the show before, especially in its first season. It didn’t help that out that of all of the people who appear to have died, it’s only Beverly Katz that didn’t make it. Now, both Bedelia and a transformed Alana have taken residence Hannibal’s landscape and I’m interesting to see how the female dynamic will change the course of their relationship and the show.

Jack’s journey is a more tragic one, with his wife Bella finally succumbing to cancer. It is not his first instinct to go after Hannibal. His focus is on his dying wife. But she spurns him on: You can get out the thing that’s killing you, she tells him. More importantly, he won’t be going into ground wit her. While Hannibal is not physically present in this episode (save Jack’s faux death scene), Will is mostly scene through the experience of these secondary characters. They are not getting the full picture either.


Bedelia is right, Hannibal is drawing the forces against him toward him. Although, perhaps there are more forces than he initially thought. The revenge theme was quite neatly reflected in the operatics weaved throughout the episode, whether it was literally scored to such or was simply inherent in the episode’s high drama. Heralded by first time Hannibal director Marc Jobst. All of the pieces are in place (and we’re a third of the way through the season), and I’m ready to devour what is coming next.

Stray observation

  • Recipe of the week: Negroni
  • Okay, let’s get this out of the way first because I figure it will dominate the comments section as it is: NBC announced that they would not pick up Hannibal for a season, despite crazy low licensing fees from production company Gaumont International Entertainment. It’s sad, I’d really like to see Bryan Fuller and his team complete his vision, an opportunity that is still open, considering Fuller’s pun-filled missive to fans and Gaumont’s commitment to finding “other distribution models.” Fuller told Alan Sepinwall he saw his show’s chance of survival at 50/50. AV Club contributor Myles McNutt wrote a piece handicapping Hannibal’s chance at getting picked up by various streaming services, which is worth a read.
  • For real, where are Aaron Abrams and Scott Thompson? Gimme!
  • So let’s talk Anderson v. Pitt. The voice is still that old-timey talk and any differences could be chalked up to his extensive plastic surgery. But the hairline is very misleading.
  • “Maybe it’s one of those friendships that ends after the disemboweling.”
  • “Aw, Cordell, if I had lips, I would smile.”