Tom de Ville, Bryan Fuller and Steve Lightfoot
Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Caroline Dhavernas, Laurence Fishburne, Tao Okamoto, Fortunato Cerlino, Joe Anderson
NOTE: REVIEW CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS
If you haven’t been enthralled with this season so far, then prepare yourself. Make sure the edge of your seat is quite comfortable; because that’s where you’re going to be spending most of your time while watching this recent installment. “Contorno” is a bonafide nail-biter crowned with a grisly, heart-stopping climax. It’s incredibly fitting that such an explosive episode would lead into the Fourth of July weekend!
Will Graham and Chiyoh travel to Florence by train, but Jack Crawford is already there, spending time with Rinaldo Pazzi. Investigating the disappearance of the Palazzo’s former curator, Rinaldo finds out that Hannibal has taken up the position and decides to sell him to Mason Verger. While trying to acquire fingerprint evidence that will prove he actually knows where Hannibal is, Rinaldo ends up disemboweled and hung from a window by the ruthless cannibal. Jack witnesses this gruesome event and proceeds to beat Hannibal half to death. But like always, Hannibal manages to escape.
Those aren’t the only shocking moments. In a reversal of Hannibal’s mission statement Will admits that he must kill Hannibal to keep from becoming him, to which Chiyoh cryptically replies: “There are means of influence, other than violence.” Later, the implication of this statement is revealed when Chiyo gives Will a kiss, and pushes him off the train. She uses a loving gesture to lower his defense. Consequently, love—and everything related to it—seems be the other “means of influence.” Taking that connection further, Chiyoh’s actions verify her undying allegiance to Hannibal. Unlike the rest of the characters, though, his influence over her is not violent in nature. Chiyoh is loyal to Hannibal simply because she loves him.
Snails also continue to be an important thematic device. Early in the episode Chiyoh states how some snails are eaten by birds but manage to “…survive digestion and emerge to find they’ve traveled the world.” To which Will adds: “In the belly of the beast.” The metaphorical significance of this obviously being that both Will and Jack (snails) survived Hannibal (the bird) and now find themselves far away from their homes in America.
Then, this snail-related conversation is picked up miles away by Hannibal (I love how the show ties together what different characters are talking about) who explains to Bedelia how he used to raise cochlear gardens so that firefly larvae could feed upon the snails and mature into their dazzling adult forms. While Hannibal has previously been compared to a snail himself, here he is the pubescent firefly, devouring others in order to become something far greater. To him it is merely the natural order. “Fireflies live very brief lives,” Bedelia softly reminds him, foreshadowing future trouble.
What makes Hannibal so powerful is his detachment from the world. He is able to avoid anything that might become a weakness, while preying on the weaknesses of everyone else. In the case of Rinaldo, it’s his avarice that leads him straight into Hannibal’s clutches. That said, episodes like “Contorno” remind us that Dr. Lecter is not infallible. He is cursed with an unquenchable need for amusement. No matter how many people he eats, no matter what he does, he can never be satisfied. Hannibal brought all his enemies to his doorstep, just so they could keep on playing. If he isn’t careful, this little game could be his last!
OUT OF 5
This is quintessential Hannibal, ladling suspense, gore and dark splendor onto your plate until you’re almost fit to burst.
+ Ends with a bang!
+ Will finally has a clear purpose
+ Refreshes viewer investment