Sorry for the delayed review of the fifth episode of the third season of Hannibal. Things have been busy and threw off my review’s already strange schedule. But I’ve caught up on what was an eventful episode and am skimming my normal period of reflection on the episode and diving right into a review.
The episode, titled “Contorno”, picks up where the third episode left off. Jack Crawford is in Italy, Hannibal is in Italy with Bedelia, and Will and Chiyo are on their way to Italy. It seems like characters might finally converge, and while they certainly do by the end of the episode it’s in entirely unpredictable ways.
The episode starts with Will and Chiyo discussing their relationships with Hannibal. Naturally they use wholly new and interesting turns of phrase and metaphors to keep the oft returned to topic of conversation from feeling stale or repetitive. They’re heading to Italy, but Will isn’t entirely sure where to find Hannibal. Italy may not be a large country but it’s still entirely too vague a hunting ground. Chiyo compares her relationship with Hannibal to that of a tiger cub. It was fun and satisfying initially, but now the cub has grown up and their games are no longer safe.
Back in the states Alana and Mason Verger are having a meeting. Verger, in all his crude mouthless glory, needles and insults Alana through the whole thing, still chiefly relying on jokes about her fling with Hannibal. Ah Hannibal and its food related puns. “Taste” of course becoming a tossed around double entendre. It’s all about as gross as you’d expect from the horrifying specimen that is Mason Verger. No sign of his sister this episode, and no sign of this grimly referenced chocolate either. Alana calmly ignores her new employers insults and explains the situation. She’s found a routine transaction in Florence that bears the telltale signs of Hannibal’s tastes.
Meanwhile Jack returns to the part of Italy he met Bella in and returns her ashes to the water. He tosses his wedding ring in afterwards. It’s all beautifully depicted, with the sun shining through the floating particulate and slow motion shots of the ring piercing the surface of the water and diving towards the depths. Jack then meets with Inspector Rinaldo. The two discuss Hannibal. Rinaldo explains that he will not make his hunt for the serial killer official until he can be sure Hannibal is really the monster he hunted before. To accomplish this he feigns investigating Hannibal’s missing predecessor and questions the man. Hannibal almost immediately identifies the Inspector, even recognizing the tracings of his old family’s history in his visage. The two talk a bit about the history of the Inspector’s prestigious lineage before parting ways. The inspector pulls up wanted posters from his last hunt for Hannibal and looks at the photo. The question is clearly gone from his mind, he knows this is the same man and he knows he could hunt him officially. What he does is an entirely different matter.
Will and Chiyo are riding a train through Europe on their way back to Italy. The two discuss Hannibal almost exclusively. Will seems to be equal parts sating his desire to bond over discussion of the man he’s clearly come to worship and manipulating his travelling companion. Chiyo on the other hand seems reticent to discuss the matter, and remarks that it’s been a long time since she’s heard another human voice and isn’t used to this much conversation. Chiyo and Will discuss the line Chiyo crossed, and if she’d kill Hannibal. Will asks her if she imagines killing Hannibal over and over again in her mind’s eye. “It’s you I see,” Chiyo responds. Chiyo also compares herself to a piece of taxidermy, hollowed out by Hannibal. Will asks what he replaced her fillings with, and Chiyo responds that she remains empty, as she did not prove as malleable as Will. These are cuttingly true words, as Will this season has been broken and remade by the menticidal powers of Hannibal. Chiyo then speculates about Will’s goals, proposing that Will seeks to kill Hannibal because he fears he’ll follow in the man’s footsteps otherwise. Except that Will only speaks about killing Hannibal around Chiyo, and it seems like a manipulative tactic more than an honest plan. Even if Will lied about his forgiveness he seems to be playing Hannibal-like mind games with his new companion, even forcing her to murder someone as some kind of twisted message to his nakama. The two lie in their bunk beds, Will dreaming of Chiyo impaled by deer antlers.
Inspector Rinaldo starts making phone calls about Hannibal. Instead of starting any kind of official investigation however he’s inquiring about Mason Verger’s two million dollar bounty for anyone who cares to bring in Hannibal alive. Alana looks disquieted through the conversation and when Rinaldo gets of the phone she assumes aloud that he’ll die at Hannibal’s hand. There’s an expensive initial reward for fingerprint evidence of Hannibal’s location, so Rinaldo goes to Hannibal with a family heirloom he thinks he’ll find interesting. The heirloom is a metal cage for the head – yet another visual call-ahead to Hannibal’s iconic headwear from Silence of the Lambs by the show. Hannibal procures another heirloom (the two are in a museum) he thinks depicts the Inspector’s family and, as he is discussing the piece, the conversation turns to cannibalism. Hannibal attacks the inspector like a shot, overwhelming him and taking him alive.
Chiyo and Will stand on the edge of the train and discuss murder and Hannibal. Chiyoh explains that she would feel comfortable killing when it’s necessary now. She then leans in and kisses Will. They part and Chiyo shoves Will off the railing of the speeding train. He skitters along the track and lies battered on the wooden slats. Then a familiar spectre appears. Barely visible in the dark the black deer returns. It nudges Will with its muzzle. He drags himself onto all fours and starts crawling after his guiding spirit.
Alana Bloom tries to call the Inspector. The inspector however is duck-taped, tied to a chair and next to Hannibal, who answers the phone and gently quips with her before hanging up. It’s chilling to see just how upset the hardened Alana seems. She’d been presenting a surface of Machiavellian drive the last few episodes, but all it takes to crumble her facade is a single conversation with Hannibal. Hannibal towers over the Inspector and correctly guesses who offered the bounty on his head. Then he explains how meat hanging works to the Inspector. Hanging recently killed meat is a necessary part of preparing the flesh for cooking. Without hanging, meat tends to be tough and unpleasant. Hannibal starts fashioning a rope noose and goes onto explain that the organs are the only body parts that are tender enough to eat without hanging. He essentially starts to wonder what fate the Inspector would want. Then with a fluid and savage movement Hannibal guts the Inspector, whose tender organs spill across the floor as his body swings out the window. The hollowed out Inspector continues to swing, held up by Hannibal’s rope noose above the courtyard of the museum.
This sudden flair of violence is unexpected, and quickly removes the Inspector from the show’s playing field. However the violence isn’t over yet, because Jack Crawford has been searching for the missing Inspector. In fact he’s standing in the courtyard when the man’s body drops down into sight. Hannibal starts tracing his way through the artifacts in the Italian Museum, knife in hand, waiting for Jack to make himself known. Hannibal had never really shown any hand-to-hand combat until the season two finale, but that episode showed that the filmmakers have an incredibly original and striking approach to that sort of event, and it shows up again unexpectedly soon in this season. Hannibal starts taunting Jack about Bella’s death. However, most disturbingly, Hannibal correctly guesses that Jack deliberately put Bella out of her misery. It’s a horrifying and antagonistic taunt. Jack plays a record in the museum to mask his steps and creeps up behind Hannibal. Then with unyielding forward momentum he beats the shit out of Hannibal. He hurls the killer through glass display cases, punches him, kicks him, stabs him in the leg, snaps his arm on a wheel, and punches him some more.
He just keeps walking forward, not breaking a step, not bending or flinching, and inflicting horrible damage on the man who ruined his life. The scene changes between glorious slow motion, as broken glass plays off Hannibal’s face, and normal speed, as Jack kicks the broken man back to floor. In season two Hannibal displayed his propensity for hand-to-hand combat, but Jack really gets the jump on him and just stays one step ahead of him. He works Hannibal back to the window and smashes him out of it. Hannibal hangs briefly from the Inspector’s body before dropping painfully to the courtyard floor as the episode ends.