Jeff Vlaming & Bryan Fuller
Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Fortunato Cerlino and Kacey Rohl
NOTE: REVIEW CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS
Hooray! Everyone’s favorite misanthrope with super powered empathy is finally back! Hugh Dancy’s soulful, underrated performance continues to be enduringly sympathetic as he plays the character of Will Graham like a man visibly struggling beneath an insurmountable weight, tugging at the viewer’s heart with every guarded movement and rueful quip. You just wanna give the poor guy a big hug, and tell that mean ol’ cannibal to leave him alone.
“Primavera” comes to us topped with a heaping helping of plot and is garnished with a twist of tragedy. Eight months after recovering from their harrowing showdown, Will has traveled to Palermo, Italy in search of Hannibal alongside Abigail (Kacey Rohl) who’s also miraculously survived her injury… or so it would seem. Lamentably, about thirty minutes in, it’s revealed that Abigail is merely a figment of Will’s tortured mind and actually bled out on Hannibal’s kitchen floor.
This revelation leads into a brilliant flashback where Abigail’s burial preparation is juxtaposed with Will’s life-saving surgery that recalls a similar scene in “Hassun” (Season 2, Episode 3) where images of our two main stars overlap as they both got dressed for court—the one dissimilarity being that Will was put in handcuffs and Hannibal donned cuff-links. It’s scenes like this when Hannibal literally becomes poetry in motion.
After being disemboweled and losing Abigail one would assume that the idea of revenge is foremost in Will’s mind. However, his behavior is oddly composed and contrite—he even forgives Hannibal! Is this a ploy or is he being sincere? In your typical crime-show, this episode probably would have initiated a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse, where the clearly defined hero attempts to thwart the clearly defined villain. The difference here is that the characters do not have firmly established motives yet—they are capable of anything! “You don’t know whose side I’m on,” Will tells detective Rinaldo Pazzi (Fortunato Cerlino) as they pursue the lethal foodie through the catacombs of The Palatine Chapel (in the previous review I mistakenly referred to it as The Norman Chapel).
Since the beginning, the show has always been about the eponymous character’s relationship with everyone around him. Everything else—the serial killers, the police-drama, the *ahem* questionable food—is secondary. While “Antipasto” was all about his relationship with Bedelia Du Maurier, “Primavera” focuses on the most important relationship: Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham.
Taken at face value, the basic scenario of this episode is a romance. Think about it: “A man travels to Italy to rebuild a damaged relationship, when he receives a love-letter from the person he was searching for.” The irony is that Hannibal feels like he is the one who has been wronged, not the people he slaughtered and mutilated. He thought if anyone could accept him for who he is, it would be Will. When Will betrayed him, Hannibal’s only chance at genuine companionship was dashed. That’s why he bent and twisted Anthony Dimmond’s corpse into the shape of a heart, to convey how Will figuratively broke his heart. “This is my design… a valentine written on a broken man,” Will murmurs to himself, quickly deciphering the tableau’s meaning.
OUT OF 5
Will Graham’s return bristles with nightmarish imagery and engaging insights from the anthropological to the theological. Nevertheless, it seems to suffer from a case of “early-seasonitis.” In other words, the show is establishing a lot of compelling story-threads, but it’s just too soon for them to undergo any substantial progress.
+ Off to a great start
+ Excellent cinematography
+ Will Graham is back!
– Oppressively enigmatic