“Some are born cannibals, some achieve cannibalism, and some have cannibalism thrust upon ’em. Thy Fates open their hands. Let thy blood and spirit embrace them.”
[With apologies to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night]
This episode is, at last, a thorough exploration of cannibal theory. At this point, almost half way through the final season of Hannibal (unless our appeals and supplications are answered) we need to ask – who is a cannibal now, and did they achieve it or have it thrust upon ‘em?
Hannibal was almost born into it, apparently, fed, while quite young, some casserole made out of his sister Mischa; by Nazi collaborators in the books and films; by person or person as yet unknown (until Season 4?) in this television series. Jack, some members of the Baltimore Philharmonic who so enjoyed Hannibal’s hospitality, and quite a few others had cannibalism thrust upon them – they were “innocent” cannibals – fed human flesh while assuming it was, perhaps, a mature veal. Will Graham, on the other hand, seems to have achieved cannibalism, as a form of bonding with Hannibal. He killed the “cave bear” dude and probably took some of his flesh to Hannibal`s dinner party, pretending it was the journalist, Freddie Lounds. Yes, he was trying to fool Hannibal (always a foolish thing to do), but they ate it, and it bound them together.
And let’s not forget the wendigo mythology, which says that once you eat human flesh, you are destined to crave it forever more. Now, when Jack asks “Will you slip away with him?” Will replies,
Hannibal is pretty upset about leaving Florence, and especially missing his planned feast – Bedelia. He tells her
This refers to Il Mostro, the “Monster of Florence”, a real character who terrorised the city from 1974-85, killing couples as they had sex in their cars, and often cutting out the woman’s sexual organs, possibly for later consumption. He says he “sees my end in my beginning”, and Bedelia, who is becoming quite a Nietzschean herself, discusses the eternal recurrence:
Bedelia has packed for a quick escape, but only for him. It’s not how Hannibal imagined their goodbye. She has outmanoeuvred him – probably the only character in the show who can.
They exchange a rather chaste kiss; a taste, shall we say, of meals to come.
Meanwhile, back at Mason Verger’s estate, Muskrat Farm, Cordell is serving pig tails, cut to appear like human finger joints. They are planning to cook and eat Hannibal but, even for Mason, this is not an appealing prospect. Cordell has also made marrow in a similar shape, which Mason spits out into a Buddhist singing bowl, pointing out that Buddhists don’t eat meat (sic). Cordell replies:
“This isn’t meat. This is man.”
Not totally clear what the difference is (aren’t we made of meat?) but it’s bothering the hell out of poor Mason.
Mason is so old fashioned, so normative in his ethics! He is happy to molest children (even if the broken spine Hannibal gave him limits him to mental abuse). But Cordell tries to reassure him; eating Dr Lecter will make Mason
“the apex predator. We could Peking Duck him. You have to torture a duck to prepare it. Pump its skin up with air then glaze it with a hot honey and hang it by its neck until it dries.”
Mason dreams he is ambulant again, he dreams about Hannibal, who is pumped, glazed, hanged, and roasted until crispy.
Yes, like Jesus turning the church wafers and wine into his body and blood, so Mason dreams of turning Hannibal into a Peking Duck. But he wakes to find Hannibal has killed his bounty hunter and escaped.
Hannibal, meanwhile, is in the Uffizi Gallery, sketching Botticelli’s Primavera, but substituting Will and Bedelia into the drawing. Will comes in from behind. It’s a touching reunion, almost a love scene, of two battered but unbowed warriors.
Hannibal asks Will where the dividing line is, for him, between past and future.
“Every crime of yours feels like one I am guilty of. We’re conjoined. I’m curious whether we can survive separation.”
It’s so tender! But it’s not totally a love scene. As they leave the gallery and cross the street, Will pulls a knife, prepares to kill Hannibal, but Chiyoh shoots him from the roof.
Margo and Alana are having a less complicated relationship, if somewhat more artistic.
We are treated to a kaleidoscope of lesbian sex. But nothing is free. Margo wants to have a Verger baby, which will inherit the family fortune, but it’s tricky, since her brother had her uterus removed.
Hannibal removes the bullet from Will’s shoulder. The anaesthetic puts Will into a trance, during which we are treated to some more Nietzschean philosophy from both of them.
“Taste and smell are the oldest senses, and closest to the centre of the mind.”
“Parts that precede pity and morality.”
Will asks, “What’s for dinner?” Once again, we are treated to a kaleidoscope, but this time it’s Hannibal and Will.
Will wakes up strapped to his chair, at a long dining table. Hannibal is in a reflective, almost sentimental mood. He talks about all the things he is sorry to be missing by leaving Florence.
While they talk, he feeds Will from a soup tureen. Will is not impressed by the taste.
Yes, Will is getting ready for dinner – but as the main course.
Jack appears with a gun, but Hannibal is under the table and cuts his Achilles tendons, disables him, drugs him and ties him to the chair to watch Bryan Fuller’s reimagining of the final scene of the book and movie Hannibal. You may remember Hannibal, in those days almost unimaginable as anyone but Anthony Hopkins, sawing off the cranium of Paul Krendler, a very rude person who had ruined Clarice Starling’s career, and cooking his frontal lobes. Well, this time, it’s Will. Jack is invited to dinner too. Hannibal tells him
“I’ve taken the liberty of giving you something to help you relax. You won’t be able to do much more than chew.”
Hannibal unpacks an electric surgical saw, telling Will,
“Jack was the first to suggest getting inside your head. Now we both have the opportunity to chew quite literally what we’ve only chewed figuratively.”
Hannibal starts sawing off the top of Will’s skull. Blood runs down, turning Will into a figure reminiscent of Jesus with the crown of thorns.
But even the best laid plans of mice and cannibals gang aft a-gley. We see pig carcasses hanging from hooks. We see Will and Hannibal, also hanging upside-down. Mason rolls in.
“Gentlemen. Welcome to Muskrat Farm.”
Yet another dinner is in preparation. This time, Hannibal is to be the main course.