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TV Recap: Hannibal, ‘Primavera’

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Primavera Plot Summary:

The fate of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is finally revealed – he is alive, despite being brutally stabbed by Hannibal (Madds Mikkelsen) at the end of Season 2. As Will recovers from his wounds, he is reunited with Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl) who somehow survived having her throat sliced by Hannibal. During his recovery Will recalls Hannibal mentioning a church in Italy as the ‘entrance to his mind palace.’ So, on a leap of faith, Will and Abigail head to Europe in hopes of tracking down Hannibal. While they’re there,  Hannibal unleashes a new, grisly murder This leads Will to encounter Inspector Pazzi (Fortunato Cerlino), a man equally obsessed with Hannibal.

Photo Credot: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Photo Credot: Brooke Palmer/NBC

This is art. Pure, mind-bending, dizzying, beautiful art. Hannibal doesn’t belong on NBC, it belongs belongs on a channel that would raise this series on a pedestal and deify it for its absolute masterful storytelling. But, I digress.

‘Primavera,’ the second episode of Hannibal’s third season, proved to be one of the most hallucinatory and excruciatingly tense episodes in the show’s canon – and that’s saying something. The episode has you question every character, every line, every set piece. It makes you unsure of what you knew about this series, and it makes you question your own eyes. It’s something this writer has never experienced before when dealing with a network series. Even with Hannibal itself – rarely has this show subverted you so thoroughly that you almost don’t know what you’ve just watched.

The vessel for our confusion and bewilderment, is the embodiment of those two sentiments – Will Graham. Will’s visions/hallucinations/mental breaks have been used as a way for the series to really ramp up the dazzling, and haunting visual artistry. There was plenty of that on display tonight, including the rebirth of the iconic stag, which represents Hannibal in Will’s mind. That scene alone is so intense, you’re going to need to remind yourself breathe during it.

However, it wasn’t acid trip-like visuals that made the episode so great, it was the deceit of Will’s mind that turned everything about this episode, and series on its head. This is perfectly captured by the reunion of Will and Abigail. The knee-jerk reaction here is, ‘She’s dead – he’s got to be dreaming this.’ Yet, it all seems so terribly real. Weirder things have happened in this series, right? Will and Abigail work terrifically together as a broken, beaten yet ultimately hopeful duo in search of their tormentor/friend.

Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC

Then, three quarters of the way through the episode, we get the Sixth Sense moment. When Will tearfully utters the words, ‘I tried creating one place for you in this world, Abigail’ we see her neck wound re-open, blood cascading from her like a levee broken in a storm. Chills went up my spine just typing that sentence, that is how visceral and intense that sequence is. (The ensuing reveal of what actually happened to both Will and Abigail, and a symmetrical surgery/autopsy sequence is just as harrowing, and brilliant.)

At that moment, we have to realize this — Will is still broken, and we might not be able to trust him as our guide through this series. We now have to piece things together on our own, no longer relying on the tragic Mr. Graham as our ferryman through the sea of chaos, viscera, and death left in Hannibal’s wake. And that’s exciting. To have literally stay glued to the screen for an entire hour to make sure you don’t miss anything is thrilling television. It has your mind working overtime, something sorely lacking in the greater television landscape.

The episode’s end was frightening, and almost unbearable to watch, and I mean that in the best possible way. Watching Will, and Inspector Pazzi walk through the church catacombs with Hannibal lurking in the shadow, makes you break out in a nervous sweat. Will Hannibal murder Pazzi as Will predicts? Will Pazzi meet his end at Will’s hands? Will Hannibal and Will confront each other?

The ending, which shall not be spoiled, isn’t an violent outburst, but a simple line that hits you like a sledgehammer to the brain. It’s unexpected, and it once again subverts everything we’re expecting. In essence, it’s a perfect cap to a brilliant episode.

Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC
Photo Credit: Brooke Palmer/NBC

‘Primavera’ was an extremely well-crafted episode that was both brilliant visually and from a narrative standpoint. The introduction of Inspector Pazzi was probably the weakest part of the episode, and it’s uncertain how he’ll factor into the series. He could be an interesting wrinkle in the hunt for Hannibal, or he could be a one episode character. Either way, he wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t a memorable part of a very memorable episode.

Next week, the series is leading us to believe Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) is returning, and we’re getting a new character introduced. This season of Hannibal is not doing the slow build, it is putting the metal to the floor, and hitting us with heavyweight performances, visuals that are mind blowing, and storylines that will have us guessing to the end. Thank God, Hannibal is back.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Hannibal airs every Thursday night at 10pm, on NBC.

Bill Bodkin is the Owner, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He is beyond excited that Pop-Break will be six years old in 2015 as this site has come a long, long way from the day he launched in it in his bachelor pad at the Jersey Shore. He can be read every Monday for the Happy Mondays Interview Series as well as his weekly reviews on Law & Order: SVU, Mad Men and Hannibal. His goal, once again, is to write 500 stories this year (a goal he accomplished in 2014). He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @PopBreakDotCom

Bill Bodkin
Bill Bodkinhttps://thepopbreak.com
Bill Bodkin is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break, and most importantly a husband, and father. Ol' Graybeard writes way too much about wrestling, jam bands, Asbury Park music, HBO shows, and can often be seen under his season DJ alias, DJ Father Christmas. He is the co-host of the Socially Distanced Podcast (w/Al Mannarino) which drops weekly on Apple, Google, Anchor & Spotify. He is the co-host of the monthly podcasts -- Anchored in Asbury, TV Break and Bill vs. The MCU.

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