In the third season premiere of ‘Hannibal’, we found out what Dr. Lecter has been doing since he fled to Europe. For the follow-up episode, we check in to see what Will Graham’s been up to as well.
The premiere focused entirely on Lecter, with no appearances from Graham or any of the show’s other major characters. However, even though the second episode focuses on Will, the writers make excuses to give Lecter some extra screen time anyway. Mads Mikkelsen is the real star of the show and Lecter is the main attraction viewers want to see, after all.
We open with a nightmarish flashback to Lecter stabbing Will in the gut. As he writhes helplessly on the floor, he’s forced to watch Lecter slash Abigail Hobbs’ throat. After their attacker leaves, Will has a vision of himself and Abigail drowning in a deep sea of blood.
Will wakes up in a hospital. Miraculously, Abigail has survived as well. Aside from a bandage on her neck, she seems to be doing a lot better than he is. She says that Lecter wanted them to live, and cut them in such a way that they wouldn’t bleed completely out. Even despite what he’s done to her, Abigail is still devoted to Lecter and wants to see him again.
Eight months later, Graham tracks Lecter to Palermo, Italy, and brings Abigail with him. They visit a crime scene where Lecter left a flayed corpse in a church. The Italian detective working the case, Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (Fortunato Cerlino), has drawn a connection to an unsolved string of serial murders from 26 years earlier, attributed to “The Monster of Florence.” He’s also done his research on Will Graham, and finds Graham’s behavior and his obsession with Lecter troubling.
Even without Lecter poisoning him or manipulating his mind any longer, Will is still plagued by hallucinations. Eventually, we discover that Abigail is one of those visions. Of course she died when Lecter slit her throat. And of course Graham would not have brought her with him to find Hannibal. He has known the whole time that she was just a figment of his subconscious, something his mind had to work out.
In the climax of the episode, Will realizes that Hannibal is listening in on his conversations with Pazzi, and chases him down to the catacombs beneath the city. They play a game of cat-and-mouse. Graham isn’t able to catch Lecter, but he halts and, knowing that Lecter can hear, tells him, “I forgive you.”
To be honest, this episode doesn’t have a whole lot of story. In fact, it has hardly any at all. The notes I took were about 1/3 the length of what I usually write during other shows I recap, which both surprised and disappointed me considering that ‘Hannibal’ is typically a richly layered program. I also had a fair amount of trouble following the dialogue. Both Mikkelsen and Cerlino have thick accents, and the sound mix in this episode tended to drown them out. I was very frustrated by that.
On the other hand, the episode oozes creepy atmosphere and features a number of very striking images, especially Lecter’s posing of victims to replicate a Botticelli painting.
Now that we’ve dealt with the two main characters individually, I hope that they can be reunited soon and the show doesn’t drag out their separation for the entire season.