A “Secondo” is a formal Italian meal’s second true course, and usually has a meat or fish dish. Think something like turkey, salmon, steak, or lamb. And fittingly, it’s in this episode that we get our first real mentions of lambs, a nice homage to Silence of the Lambs.
While last week gave us a pretty meditative and surreal episode, this week is much more plot-heavy. Hannibal and Bedelia get up to their usual shenanigans in Italy (murder and psychoanalyzing murderers), Will Graham travels to Hannibal’s childhood home in Lithuania, and Jack comes to Italy searching for Will.
Spoilers and the usual Hannibal trigger warnings below (gore, cannibalism, lots of snails, artsy crime scenes, you know the drill).
In Italy, Jack meets up with our favorite Italian detective, who asks him to help him hunt down Hannibal, aka “Il Mostro”. Jack declines. He’s much more interested in finding Will. Jack feels some responsibility for creating Will, or at least for breaking Will’s imagination enough that Hannibal could tape the pieces back together. Jack must also be looking for something along the lines of forgiveness, absolution, or penance.
Hannibal is in fine, monstrous form this week. He hosts two dinner parties. During the first meal with the obnoxious professor, he swiftly and deftly stabs him with an ice pick in the temple, effectively lobotomizing him. Bedelia can’t bear to watch the man sitting next to her short-circuit, so she walks around the table and pulls it out. He bleeds out, and Hannibal looks at her with a hint of glee in his eyes. “You killed him,” he insists. Bedelia can’t help getting sucked further and further down Hannibal’s rabbit hole of horrors. Later, Hannibal hosts a nice couple from the university, and serves up the obnoxious professor. He’s delicious, of course.
Bedelia seems to be settling into her stride as Mrs. “Il Mostro”, drinking wine and warning Hannibal that he needs to knock it off if they’re going to maintain a peaceful life of pleasure in Florence. Hannibal doesn’t care, and seems more interested in stirring the chaos pot for his own amusement and satisfaction. She warns him (prophetically?) that by attracting everyone to him, he’s going to get caught. Hannibal responds by broodily sipping his cocktail, the same cocktail served at the last formal dinner on the Titanic.
Will travels to Lithuania to the once grand, now quite Usher-esque “L’Ector” Estate. He camps out a while and encounters a young Japanese woman. She’s a crack shot but spares Will when she sees him in the thicket. Clearly she doesn’t want to kill anyone if she doesn’t have to. Will isn’t put off, and breaks into the estate and finds an old scraggly man trapped in a wine cellar. The woman confronts him. Her name is Chiyoh, and she knew Hannibal when he was a young man. Hannibal told her that the man killed and ate his beloved sister Mischa, but Chiyoh begged Hannibal not to kill him. So Hannibal left the man in Chiyoh’s care, and she’s effectively just as much a prisoner of the L’Ector Estate. Will sets the man free, and drives him out to the woods. Instead of running away, the man comes back to his cell to get revenge. When Chiyoh brings him food, he springs free from his cell and attempts to strangle her. Chiyoh’s forced to kill him in self-defense, and isn’t too happy about it. She drinks some wine and agrees to help Will find Hannibal. We later discover that the old man’s crimes were nothing but a story Hannibal told Chiyoh to manipulate her. He, not the other man, was the one who killed and ate his sister.
I was pleasantly surprised by the way this episode handled its foray into Hannibal’s past. Part of what makes monsters so scary is an element of the unknown. Theoretically, diving into Hannibal’s past should allow us to discover the source of his evil “power”. And once you can find the source, name it, and bring it into the light, you rob the monster of some of its power and can better defeat it. But our trip to Lithuania only seems to give us more questions than answers. It seems like Hannibal has always been an evil cannibalistic monster who loves elegant things. Any tragic backstory is something he mostly makes up (or embellishes) to further manipulate those around him. Hannibal is, and always has been, the master puppeteer.
We also get a nice glimpse into where this season is going. As Hannibal converses with his lover/therapist/sounding board Bedelia, we discover that the only way he can truly find closure and forgiveness is to kill and eat Will Graham. On the other hand, Will seems to think he needs to get on Hannibal’s level in order to… what? We aren’t really sure if Will totally wants to kill Hannibal (part of him certainly does), but part of him might delight in being Hannibal. Will does shape the old man’s dead body into a pleasing moth-like design (another reference to Silence of the Lambs?). Whatever the case, it seems like we’re in for another confrontation between the master manipulator and his apprentice.
Female Characters Manipulated by Hannibal: 2
Men Who Impossibly Escape Death: 2 out of 4
Fancy Apostrophes to Make Fancy Surnames Fancier: 1