Angelina Burnett, Bryan Fuller, and Steve Lightfoot
Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Gillian Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, Fortunato Cerlino and Tae Okamoto
NOTE: REVIEW CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS
I have always had a special place in my heart for the mechanics and minutiae of character development. The fact that Hannibal allocates plenty of time for its cast to interact, philosophize and simply exist, has always been a huge draw for me. Not everyone is the same way, some people prefer it when their television shows—as the cast of Monty Python so famously cried: “get on with it!” This week I am happy to report that Hannibal has indeed gotten on with it.
Will Graham continues the search for his flagitious* frenemy by traveling to Hannibal’s childhood home in Lithuania. After a turbulent introduction, Will discovers an unlikely ally in Chiyoh (Tao Okamoto), a mystifying Japanese woman with an undisclosed connection to Hannibal. Meanwhile, Jack Crawford (the incomparable Laurence Fishburne) makes his season debut as he rendezvous with detective Rinaldo Pazzi and Dr. Lecter keeps busy entertaining his peers in Florence. Of particular note, Hannibal comes to the realization, after a lengthy discussion with Bedelia, that the only way he can forgive Will is by—you guessed it—eating him.
*[EDITOR’S NOTE: Nice! I had to actually look this one up… it means “criminal; villainous.”]
Forgiveness is a crucial concept in Season 3 thus far. We have seen how it drives Will, Hannibal and now Jack. Special Agent Crawford did not come to Italy seeking justice; he’s trying to find his friend (Will Graham). “I borrowed his imagination and I broke it…” Jack sighs, confessing his sins to Rinaldo as if he were a priest and not a detective—which is perfect, because they’re sitting together in the sacred Palatine Chapel.
Showrunner Bryan Fuller has always done a stellar job adapting Thomas Harris’ novels to the small screen while giving them his own unique alterations. “Secondo” delves partially into Dr. Lecter’s origins, so naturally it follows the continuity of Hannibal Rising; in which a young Hannibal carries out gruesome revenge against the soldiers that cannibalized his sister Mischa. If that wasn’t bad enough, they also fed her to him. Every time Hannibal serves one of his own victims to unwitting dinner guests it’s as if he’s performing some sort of twisted memorial.
I’m not sure just how closely Hannibal is adhering to the source material right now, though. One major difference I’ve noticed already is that there seems to be only one soldier responsible for Mischa’s death and instead of dispatching him, Hannibal left him as Chiyoh’s prisoner. “He was curious if you would kill,” Will says thoughtfully, “I imagine he still is.”
Will then frees the deranged prisoner, inadvertently unleashing him on Chiyoh who is forced to take the soldier’s life in order to save her own. Will insists that he didn’t mean for that to happen, but Chiyoh brushes his explanations aside. She realizes that he was acting upon Hannibal’s curiosity. “You were doing what he does. He’d be proud of you,” Chiyoh whispers, with the dark smile of someone who understands all too well.
This uncharacteristic behavior on the part of Will can be clarified with an earlier scene where he recalls a conversation he had with Hannibal. They were discussing the good doctor’s memory palace: an ancient mnemonic device that involves spatially organizing information. Hannibal fashioned his personal memory palace after Lecter Estate. By entering that haunted location, Will is metaphorically getting inside Hannibal’s mind!
That has to be quite influential for an empath of his magnitude. Will even goes so far as to copy Hannibal’s modus operandi, shaping the dead soldier into the tableau of a giant insect and subtly implying that his own metamorphosis has been completed. In order to catch Hannibal, Will has decided to become Hannibal!
OUT OF 5
This episode is positively lethal. “Secondo” works as a brilliant thesis statement for the season’s first arc, and is punctuated by some truly shocking and unexpected moments.
+ Compelling backstory
+ Plot officially underway
+ Gut-wrenching “icepick scene”
+ Hannibal’s sly sense of humor