One of the innovations that I appreciate about Hannibal is the show’s disregard for the season break. Much like the second season, the third season breaks in the middle when one storyline is up, in order for another one to begin. Mason Verger has served his purpose as a character, and now it’s time for something new. In this case, it’s the Red Dragon, the story where Hannibal had his first introduction to the (real) world. These breaks give the show an unexpected structure, making sure that stories are not lingered on for more than they need to be.

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Look, we all knew this episode was going to be crazy. The end of “Dolce” essentially signalled as much. And that’s what this episode was, a mix of horror movie and fever dream with a heavy dash of camp. Mason Verger lorded over Will and Hannibal like he was a bond villain, making sure that they knew every aspect of his plan, from eating Hannibal like a pig to removing Will’s face so that Mason could start anew. Much like last season, Mason experiences the season’s break with no face. While all of this crazy shit was going on — crazy shit is the technical term, of course, because it’s pretty much the best way I can describe what happened in this episode — there was this through-line of humor throughout the first half of the episode. Mads Mikkelsen’s expressions of joy as he’s restrained were particularly delightful. Everything seems to be going wrong for Hannibal and Will, yet he is so calm. When Will bites Cordell’s face, taking off a bit of his cheek, Hannibal gives him this look of pure pride. Good job, champ.

Creepily, Mason is obsessed with this idea of reproduction, which he has alluded to several times before. It was the way he ultimately exercised control over Margot, not just when he removed her uterus, but also when he incubated her embryos just to so she could watch them die again. Genitalia becomes a recurring theme as well, making sure he tells Hannibal that his penis won’t be over-cooked when Mason eats it (cue sausage). But on second thought, Hannibal’s manhood might go to the eel. It’s apt that Mason’s phallic pet helped Alana and Margot do him in. He is one of the few characters who has used sexual violence as a tool something that was more pronounced in the books, but alluded to last season and it’s his own metaphor that kills him.

There were some beautifully set up scenes throughout this episode, particularly when Alana confronts Hannibal. Alana has had the most interesting evolution this season, but ”Digestivo” proved her humanity was still intact. She advocated for Hannibal’s murder and torture because she knew it was the only want to save her friend, and she advocated for the opposite for the same reason. Hannibal is in a cage, she’s the one with the weapon. For the first time in their entire relationship, she is the one in control — she is no longer his pupil or his plaything. Instead, she has forced her way into being on his level. “Could I have ever understood you?” she asks Hannibal. “No,” is the only response. It was beautifully directed by firsttime Hannibal director Adam Kane (who worked as a cinematographer, a skillset you can see throughout this episode) and shot by James Hawkinson.

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But the most powerful scene was the final scene between Will and Hannibal. Will, in a way, is letting himself out of the cage he had created for himself. By doing so, he is able to cage Hannibal and, in turn, free Chiyo. Will and Hannibal have spent the better part of these three seasons acting as different sides of the same coin. Or as Jack tells Chiyo. “I know them, They are identically different, Hannibal and Will.” But Will had to break away. Hannibal knows that he no longer has the same power over him. In the books, Hannibal is captured by Will through his own investigatory work. But in the show, is Hannibal’s choice to surrender. Throughout these past two and half seasons, we are constantly told that Hannibal only lets others believe they are in the lead, it is always Hannibal who will eventually come out the victor. It completely colors the character going forward that he never lost. “We didn’t catch you. You surrendered,” Jack says Hannibal gets to his knees with guns drawn. “I want you to always know where I am. where you can always find me,” Hannibal says.

Bring on the Red Dragon.

Stray observations

  • Recipe of the week: Don’t cook anything. Just drink a shop of your preferred fernet (I suggest Fernet-Branca, but that’s just me).
  • Alana had some killer lines in this episode: “Play with your food, Mason, and you give it the opportunity to bite back.” / “You’re dead Dr. Bloom.” ”Oh Mason, we all are, didn’t you know that?”

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