I was so disappointed in the previous episode of ‘Hannibal’ that I put off watching the latest entry for a few days. (It turns out that NBC moved the show to Saturdays anyway.) Man, do I regret that. This is easily the craziest and most fun episode of the season, if not the entire series.
First off, episode ‘Digestivo’ immediately clears up all that incoherency from the end of the last ep. Just as Hannibal begins cutting into Will Graham’s head, a squad of corrupt Italian cops burst in and take them both captive for delivery to Mason Verger. They leave Jack behind with a couple of men to finish him off – the plan being to blame his murder on Hannibal. However, Chiyo snipers the goons from across the street. She then enters the room, and she and Jack make their proper introductions. In exchange for setting him loose, Jack tells Chiyo the location of Verger’s compound in America. He says that he has no interest in stopping her from doing whatever it is she has planned.
We then cut to Muskrat Farm. Hannibal remains cool and composed under pressure, and shows no reaction at all to Verger stabbing him to test the meat. He even seems genuinely interested in crazy nurse/chef Cordell’s plans to dismember and cook his body. My god, Mads Mikkelsen plays this role so beautifully! He is the definitive Hannibal Lecter. There’s just no way hammy Anthony Hopkins could pull this off.
Verger dresses both Hannibal and Will up for dinner and (under restraint, of course) wheels them into his dining room. He explains his intention not just to eat Hannibal, but to do so while wearing Will Graham’s face, which Cordell will transplant onto his own. When Cordell leans in a little too close, Will takes a big chomp out of his cheek and spits out the flesh. He doesn’t have a taste for it. After stitching his own face back up, Cordell takes a searing branding iron to Hannibal’s back. Again, Hannibal doesn’t even wince.
Mason’s sister Margot and Alana Bloom continue to plot against Mason. As if she didn’t already have enough reasons to hate him, Margot becomes especially upset when Mason informs her that he harvested some of her eggs before her hysterectomy, fertilized them with his own sperm, and has already found a surrogate to carry the fetus. He refuses to let her meet the surrogate yet, though. That’s a surprise he’s saving for later.
Alana finds a moment to talk to Will alone. He tells her that she will need to evolve and to spill blood. Meanwhile, Margot sneaks in to see Hannibal. Speaking as her therapist, he suggests that the best way to work out her issues with Mason is to kill him. He even very helpfully offers to take the blame for it should she see fit to release him. How thoughtful.
Alana shoots the guard watching Hannibal, then begs Hannibal to save Will. He agrees to that deal, and assures her that he always keeps his promises. Stupidly, Alana doesn’t think to make him promise not to hurt her or Margot. I suspect she will regret that later. In the meantime, she cuts the rope binding one of his arms and leaves him with the knife to cut himself the rest of the way free.
Verger is anesthetized for his face transplant. Cordell informs Will that he’s been given a paralytic, but that he’ll remain fully conscious and will feel everything as his face is cut off.
Margot and Alana find Mason’s fertility surrogate in a bed upstairs. It’s a giant hog. I somehow doubt that the medical science of this holds up, but it’s a gloriously sick idea. According to the medical monitors, the fetus inside it is already dead. Margot asks Alana to cut out her baby because she wants to see it. Eww…
In a montage, the image of Alana removing the fetus from the pig is contrasted against the facial surgery. Was Will’s face really just sliced off?!
No, wait, it’s a fake-out. Verger wakes up, alone. Something isn’t right. He calls out for Cordell and grabs a mirror. His new face doesn’t look right. It’s Cordell’s face and it slides right off!
Hannibal carries Will through the snow away from the compound. Some of Verger’s guards chase after them but Chiyo takes them out with her sniper rifle.
Alana and Margot confront Mason. He taunts them that they can’t kill him, because according to his will, without an heir Margot will get nothing. She informs him that there in fact will be an heir, and holds up a vial. While he was unconscious, the ladies milked his semen, with Hannibal’s help and a cattle prod. (AHHHHHH!!!!)
Wait, does this mean that Alana intends to carry Mason’s baby? Ick.
Mason pulls a gun and Margot leaps on him. They struggle, and she pushes him into a water tank where he’s been housing a pet eel. (He joked earlier in the episode about which parts of Hannibal’s anatomy to feed it.) Margot and Alana both hold him down to drown him. The eel swims directly into Mason’s throat and eats him from the inside.
Hannibal and Chiyo deposit Will at his house. Hannibal asks her if she’ll continue to watch over him as his guardian angel. Chiyo asks if he ate his sister Mischa. He admits that he did, but claims that he did not kill her.
When Will wakes up, he and Hannibal sit and talk about how the two of them are “a zero sum game.” Will says that he won’t chase Hannibal. He doesn’t even want to think about him ever again. He’s done. Hannibal is disappointed and saddened, but says his goodbyes and leaves.
Jack Crawford arrives with a contingent of police. Will tells him that he’s too late; Hannibal has already slipped away. However, before that news can even register, Hannibal steps out from behind the house and surrenders himself. He didn’t run. With a sly look toward Will, he says that he’s ready for them to understand what he is, and he wants them to always know where he is. Will is heartbroken. He’ll never get Hannibal Lecter out of his life.
This is an amazingly entertaining episode that’s probably the most dementedly twisted of the entire series, and also happens to be richly layered with terrific character psychology. This third season as a whole has been pretty uneven so far, but this is the show at its finest.
The episode very much feels like a season finale, if not an ending. In fact, I’d be comfortable if the show stopped right here. However, we still have six episodes left, which will comprise the ‘Red Dragon’ story arc from Thomas Harris’ first Lecter novel, after which the show will end its run on NBC (and seems unlikely to be picked up anywhere else at this point). Given that the first book has been adapted to film twice already (in Michael Mann’s excellent ‘Manhunter’ and Bret Ratner’s inferior remake ‘Red Dragon’), I’m very curious what series creator Bryan Fuller has planned to differentiate his version and make it special.