Written by Matthew Taylor
One of the first lines in tonight’s episode of Hannibal was, “happy hunting.” It’s a fitting way to start “Apertivo” as, after three weeks of setting the stage, the hunt for Hannibal Lecter has finally begun. And it looks like just about everyone wants the chance to kill him.
So far this season, Hannibal has taken its time reintroducing characters. But, this week, just about every character has finally made an appearance, answering any questions left behind from last year’s finale. Now, that doesn’t mean the episode moved at a faster pace than the other three from this season. In fact, it was just as slow, and even more unusual than before, with long sequences that kept viewers wondering: “Is this real? Or Will’s imagination?” But we’re finally getting answers, and (hopefully) this episode marks the end of the season’s first act.
Perhaps the most notable return is Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), who survived her fall from Hannibal’s second story window, but not without some permanent physical injuries, and a new outlook on life. The Verger Twins also made reappearance, specifically Mason (Joe Anderson), who is desperately searching for information on Hannibal. Even Dr. Chilton (Raúl Esparza) made a reappearance, as he bitterly searches for anybody whose willing to join him in seeking revenge against Hannibal the Cannibal (which we learn, in one of the episode’s lighter moments, is a name he trademarked). Truthfully, I was initially apprehensive that virtually every major character we presumed to be dead has, somehow, made it to the third season. But Bryan Fuller has surprised me yet again. Not all of his creative decisions work, but I’m greatly anticipating what’s coming next for these characters as they all get closer and closer to a face off with the titular killer.
The decision I’m most excited for this season is the attitude adjustment that Alana received since her injuries. She was always one of my least favorite characters, and the love triangle between her and the two male leads felt like something from a different show, especially since her only purpose on the show was to be a love interest. But, in her first episode this season, Caroline Dhavernas (who was never to blame for my lack of interest in the character) revealed a new, exciting side to Alana; one that’s bitter, manipulative, and much more than a romantic partner for anyone on the show. Whenever she was onscreen, her performance had a magnetic quality to it, as she quietly stole scenes from the rest of the cast. At this point, I’m most anticipating what Alana does next, which is something I never thought I’d say.
This week also saw the return of the Verger twins, two of the best characters last season had to offer. While Margot’s screen time was far too short, Mason got quite a bit of attention and, by the looks of it, will be a driving force for the rest of the season. This year, Joe Anderson steps in for Michael Pitt in the part, but don’t worry too much about the recasting. For one thing, the last time we saw Mason he was ripping out chunks of his face and feeding it to Will’s dogs, so the physical difference in the two actors is easily explained (thanks in part to a fabulously directed operation sequence). But Anderson’s performance is just as strong as Pitt’s. Hannibal is a fairly subdued show, which makes Anderson’s performance all the more unique. He gleefully chews the scenery, making the audience see the spoiled child Mason really is as opposed the psychopath he wants to be, which makes his crimes all the more disturbing. From what I understand, Mason is a somewhat polarizing character, but I firmly believe he’s one of the more captivating members of the Hannibal universe.
Unfortunately, I’m still not quite enthralled with Laurence Fishburne’s subplot this season. He’s a terrific actor, but his storyline feels extraneous, lacking in the excitement and suspense found in the other scenes. This week even brought back the always-welcome Gina Torres (Fishburne’s wife both onscreen and off), but I still found myself waiting for the next scene more than enjoying the current one. As a character, Jack doesn’t seem changed at all by the events of Season Two, and, as of right now, his arc feels completely disconnected from the season’s main narrative. Hopefully that’ll all change in the coming weeks.
Of course, this week’s episode is a bittersweet one, as NBC officially pulled the plug on Hannibal. While there is still hope that the series will find life at another network (the latest rumblings say that Amazon is interested), the cancellation isn’t a total surprise. With the procedural format completely stripped away, we’re left with a show that’s hallucinatory, disturbing, strange and decidedly slow-moving. It’s also impossible to follow had you not seen all the episodes that preceded it. It’s pretty clear that Bryan Fuller is making this season for the fans that supported this series all the way through. And, while even I’ll admit that I’m starting to become frustrated with how slow this season is moving, I’m confident the payoff will be worth the build up.
Appertivo Rating: 7 out of 10.