Hannibal: “Aperitivo” Review

hannibal season 3After several introspective episodes and a relatively limited use of our supporting cast of characters, the gang was finally all here again in this week’s Hannibal—including Will’s dogs! But seriously, there were more supporting characters in this episode than in the last three combined.

Spoilers, and the typical Hannibal trigger warnings for body horror, gore, cannibalism, etc., below the jump.

This episode was both interesting and tedious. Interesting, because we finally got to find out what was happening with all the people who are not Hannibal, and tedious, because there wasn’t much forward plot movement at all.

We open on, of all people, Mason and Dr. Chilton. Both of them survived their ordeals at the hands of Dr. Lecter last season, but they’ve both been left with terrible scars. Chilton is able to hide his with some cunning prosthetics, but Mason is not so lucky. His face was surgically reconstructed to the best of modern medicine’s ability, but there… wasn’t a lot left to work with. They both want to get their hands on Hannibal; Chilton wants to incarcerate/institutionalize him, and Mason is offering a million-dollar reward for his capture. (We later find out that Mason wants to eat Hannibal alive as revenge for his own assault.)

Alana is alive as well! She came out of the finale disabled, because she broke a hell of a lot of bones in her fall from the window, and she uses a wheelchair or a cane as needed now. She turns up at the Verger estate and, after a brief bit of flirting with Margot (hush, the poor lesbian ended last season having only ever slept with a dude, I can take their convo as flirting if I want) heads off to see Mason. She seems to have settled on Mason as her most likely resource for finding and enacting revenge upon Hannibal, and—a far cry from her more innocent nature in previous seasons—is determined to encourage Mason in his search for and hatred of one Dr. Lecter.

resignation box

Do real life offices keep those brown boxes around just so people can put their desk stuff in then when they resign, or are they just a TV shorthand?

The Crawfords also make their return this episode, although it’s Bella’s last bow. Jack has quit the FBI post-finale and, while he does check in with Will once, he is spending most of his time with his wife. She finally succumbs to her cancer this episode, and her death is what ties this episode’s flashback-heavy plot back into what’s been going on the last few episodes. You see, Hannibal sends his condolences to Bella’s funeral, and if I’ve got my timeline straight, this is the first time he’s contacted any of his Season 2 victims since he skedaddled last season. This message is what sent Will to Europe after him.

So that brings us back around to Will, then. Will is, unsurprisingly, deeply damaged. He’s (still? this is presumably before the events of “Primavera”) hallucinating Abigail, and prefers her “company” to that of his peers. Chilton expresses concern to Jack that Will is going to go haring off after Hannibal, and Will himself tells Jack that he wanted to run away with Hannibal. He’s more reclusive than ever, and it takes only a tiny push—seeing Hannibal’s condolence note to Jack at Bella’s funeral—to send him in pursuit of Hannibal. And while Hannibal has come to the conclusion that he has to eat Will, it’s unclear what Will will do when the two finally face each other head-on.

My biggest concern about this season is that it’s spending too much time explaining the consequences of last season and not moving forward with the plot. So much of this episode and the last few episodes have been flashbacks to the finale and its ramifications rather than events occurring in the show’s present. It’s so disjointed that it’s kind of hard to figure out where everything goes in the order of events, and this episode especially seemed like an exposition dump explaining everything that happened in between the finale’s bloodbath and Will leaving for Europe.

Hannibal - Episode 3.04 - AperitivoI’m especially concerned about this because the second half of this season is supposed to be about the Red Dragon storyline, and… we’re getting close to halfway. By the time we’ve caught up to the time jump between the Season 2 finale and the Season 3 premiere, we’re going to have another time jump ahead to the Francis Dolarhyde plotline to explain, and given this season’s disjointedness so far, I can only hope that it’s done in a cohesive, linear way when we get there.

Finally, I feel like I have to bring up queerbaiting again because this episode seemed particularly full of it. Hannibal has always left me in a weird place as far as queerbaiting is concerned because on one hand, Will and Hannibal’s relationship is very romantically and sexually charged – Chilton describes their interactions as a flirtation in this episode, and I almost expected a love confession out of Will this episode rather than his admission to Jack that Hannibal was his friend. While Bryan Fuller has said that there is a romantic element to their relationship, it’s still kind of queerbaity to watch the actual show and see their super-queer-coded interactions but no actual queerness. However, on the other hand, is the incredibly unhealthy relationship between a serial cannibal killer and the FBI profiler he’s abused and manipulated really the sort of queer representation I want? Either way, I was dismayed by the the show’s recently announced cancellation, because it means we won’t get to see how their relationship develops in the future.

All in all, I’m still trying to be optimistic for what’s left of this season, but I’m finding it harder and harder every week. Hopefully now that the flashbacking has caught up to the actual story, things will pull together more cohesively. Till next week, Fannibals!

Episode Tally:
Dogs: Lots when they were around, although they were not around nearly enough.
Peggy Carter-level applications of red lipstick: one. Get it, Alana.
Bouquets of flowers: at least two. Did Chilton ever give his to anyone or was he just holding them?

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