“… if you ate the brain right out of his skull” – HANNIBAL 3:09 ” (…And the Woman Clothed with the Sun)

We’ve met the Red Dragon, AKA “The Tooth Fairy”, AKA Francis Dolarhyde. We’ve seen what he does.

Will Graham has been reluctantly dragged back into the team, trying to find this new serial killer. But where’s Hannibal, and why hasn’t anyone been eaten for a while? This is a cannibal blog, after all. Well, cannibalism is about incorporation of the bodies of others, and this episode is about the way people incorporate into families, friendships or alliances. This episode is also very much a reimagining of the book that started all this, Red Dragon, and its sequels, The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. Much of the dialogue comes straight out of the Hannibal canon.

Three years after his arrest, Hannibal is locked up in a glass cage in the Baltimore Asylum for the Criminally Insane.  Will has come to see him, to ask for help catching the “Tooth Fairy” killer; he says he wants Hannibal’s ideas on how he picks his victims. But Hannibal sees right through that, and reminds Will of his earlier prognosis that they are just alike. All of us have the elements to make mercy, or murder.

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“Came to get the old scent again. Why don’t you just smell yourself?”

Alana is his jailer. She has the keys. Remember that Hannibal has promised to kill her, and he always keeps his promises.

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But he agrees to help Will. Because they are family, even after Hannibal killed their “child”, Abigail, and cut Will open.

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Families do terrible things sometimes, but “we still help our families when we can”. Yep, it’s all about families, and how we need them, to remain sane, to torture us, or to escape reality.

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In the age of coronavirus, we are all learning the need for connection, and the pain of not being able to access it. Hannibal has a flash back to Abigail, when she asked if he was going to kill her, and now he grants us some more detail of how he faked her death, by transfusing her blood and spraying it around the room, then cutting off her ear.

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Will’s superpower, of course, is imagining himself in the shoes of the killer, seeing himself committing the murder. Hannibal is happy to talk him through this.

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“Could you see yourself in their eyes Will? Killing them all?”

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None of the families in Hannibal are terribly functional. Think of the Vergers. Think of Hannibal eating his sister! Think of Will, now with a wife and step-son, and still vainly trying to deny his love for Hannibal. Think of Alana and Margo, who have now given birth to a son, the heir to the Verger fortune, whose conception resulted from an electric shock they delivered to Mason Verger’s prostate before they killed him. Think of Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley from True Blood), who thinks she has found ‘Mr Right’ in Francis Dolarhyde, because he doesn’t pity her blindness, and she doesn’t judge his appearance (being blind helps there).

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Think of Abigail’s dad killing (and respectfully eating) girls who looked like her, so he could control his desire to kill her. Hannibal has dug him up and preserved the body, so she can make peace with his corpse, using a sharp knife to pay back the unkindest cut he performed on her. Somewhat similar to the scene where Hannibal digs up Clarice’s dad in Hannibal (the book).

“We have a basic affinity for our family. We can detect each other from smell alone.”

Think of the murdered victim families, sleeping in their beds when Francis Dolarhyde killed them, broke all the mirrors in the house and stuck pieces in their eyes so they could be his audience as he raped the mother. Think of Will, coming apart as he tries to re-enact the murders. Just like Hannibal’s teacup, he will not come back together so easily.

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Think of Francis as we see a flashback to him as a boy, at a table of old people with his abusive grandmother. Cuts to him now, watching movie of dead families. Think of Jack, whose wife Bella, has died; now his family is the FBI, who doubted him when he was ready to catch Hannibal. Consider Jack’s dialogue with Hannibal as he visits to discuss his use, his consumption really, of Will, in his plans to find the killer.

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Who is eating whom here? Hannibal is sad that Will is cold and unforgiving, but he is also angry that Jack is cynically using Will as bait for the killer, who they know has seen Will in Freddie’s scandal-sheet.

“It would be more honest if you ate his brain right out of his skull.”

 

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Hannibal remembers getting ready for his new family, Will and Abigail, who hunted with her father, and now agreed to hunt with Hannibal. We find out why she defenestrated Alana.

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Even Francis Dolarhyde, the serial killer that the press is calling “The Tooth Fairy”, is looking for a family to understand him and help him grow. He calls Hannibal.

“The important thing is what I am becoming. I knew you alone would understand this.”

“What are you becoming?” asks Hannibal.

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Yes, in some very twisted ways, we are all looking for family.

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“I’m not insane” HANNIBAL S03E08: “The Great Red Dragon”

Aficionados of Hannibal will remember that the good Doctor Lecter was introduced to the world in the book Red Dragon in 1981. That book became the first Hannibal movie Manhunter in 1986 with Brian Cox as Hannibal, and was then remade under its original title with Anthony Hopkins in 2002, years after he had made Hannibal (in)famous in The Silence of the Lambs. A lot of the characters, plots and dialogues of Red Dragon were used by Bryan Fuller in making the television series Hannibal, but the main plot, Will Graham trying to track down the serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, only comes to the television screen in this, the eighth episode of the final season. The rest is all prequel.

We’re not going to get an origin story for Hannibal here, except – he ate his sister, but he didn’t kill her. That’s all we get, and it’s all we need. We get one right at the start of this episode, though, for Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage, who also played Thorin Oakenshield, the Dwarf Prince in The Hobbit). Dolarhyde is slightly disfigured – a cleft palate that has been repaired but is still visible, and gives him problems with his speech, and a major case of social anxiety. He sits alone, OK, he’s a loner (sometimes called “rugged individual”), and he reads Time Magazine, OK, he’s a loser. No wait – there’s an article on the cover about William Blake and his extraordinary 1805-10 watercolours of the “Great Red Dragon”. He heads off to his gym to work on some already pretty beefy musculature. He gets a huge tattoo of the Dragon. He gets some dentures made, snaggly-toothed ones. It’s a cannibal show – so people are going to get bitten. He’s going to become that Dragon, or more accurately, the Dragon is going to become him. On the full moon, he sacrifices to the Dragon, by murdering “perfect” American families. As Frederick Chilton puts it in a visit to Hannibal:

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The press call him the “Tooth Fairy” because he likes to bite his victims.  We see him dripping blood into the snow. It’s all super-gothic.

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Three years after his surrender, Hannibal is locked in an asylum – at least, his body is, but his mind wanders freely through his memory palace – we see him in church listening to a young boy singing Hallelujah, while in fact he is being processed and incarcerated. Then he’s talking to Alana, in his office, drinking Montrachet, but really he’s in his painfully white cell in the asylum, and she is his jailer. He has been spared the death sentence everyone expected after his trial for the murder of a dozen people.

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Hannibal and Alana were friends, lovers at one point. He asks her if she still prefers beer to wine.

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Hannibal is the trickster. Not what, “who” he corrects her. She had people in her beer.

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Will doesn’t want anything to do with the FBI or, apparently, Hannibal; he is living a peaceful life with Molly and Walter (her son).

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But Jack Crawford comes looking for him. No one can profile serial killers like Will. Will he go with Jack? He reads a letter from Hannibal, with a cutting about the Tooth Fairy, warning him that Jack will come knocking, and cautioning him not to accept.

“We have all found new lives. But our old lives hover in the shadows. Soon enough Jack will come knocking. I would encourage you as a friend not to step back through the door that he holds open.”

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Will goes though, and visits the crime scenes, where he recreates the crime in his mind, with the swinging pendula, just the way he did in the first season, that we all miss so much.

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Will figures that he (as serial killer) would take his gloves off to touch his victims. The team is thus able to get a partial thumb-print from the victim’s eyeball. And then there’s a piece of cheese that he bit. And the victim that he bit. They have his (or his denture’s) toothprints.vlcsnap-00066.jpg

Dolarhyde is assailed by roars and high pitched tones as he tries to watch his home movies of his murders. Where are they coming from? Ah yes, the false teeth. Dolarhyde is being taken over by the Dragon, becoming the Dragon. He is, to his own tortured psyche, becoming more than human, an Übermensch like Hannibal. He will need to absorb the essence of Hannibal to become the superman. Will has to do the same to identify and stop him.

There’s only one way to get into the mind of a biter.

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Dawkins won’t eat it, but can’t say why…

OK, this is a film and TV blog, but Richard Dawkins is always show biz, so let’s consider him briefly. He’s just posted a new Tweet in response to an article about the booming market for real meat, but grown in a laboratory instead of being cut from a living, sentient animal.

The Christians aren’t buying it, saying that we can’t eat people because people are made “in the image of God” (whatever that means).

But if you are not a believer in immortality and the sacred soul, then why should it be OK to eat an animal that wanted to live, but not to eat a dead human (who didn’t care) or a lump of flesh grown painlessly in the lab from any species? Richard Dawkins can’t say.

Interested in hearing your feedback. The comments on the Twitter page range from the sublime to the ridiculous.  What do you think?

Don’t play with your food… HANNIBAL Season 3 Episode 7, “Digestivo”

Pigs and people. Are they identically different, like Hannibal and Will?

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Why do we consider pigs uncontroversially edible, and yet are so shocked at Hannibal or Mason eating human? [If you have the answer to that, please let me know – I’m up to 65,000 words and still haven’t come to a conclusion]. We use them in gruesome experiments because they are like us, but then justify it by saying they are not really like us at all. This episode is all about pigs and people interchangeably being used, abused, and prepared for dinner.

Pigs of course are remarkably similar to humans – have you ever seen a butcher carrying a pink corpse into the shop and wondered for a moment who he has killed? Geneticists have proved the similarity:

“We took the human genome, cut it into 173 puzzle pieces and rearranged it to make a pig. Everything matches up perfectly. The pig is genetically very close to humans.”

The episode is called Digestivo, which in Italian is an after-dinner drink, usually a liqueur or bitter, which is meant to settle the stomach. We have, in this episode, finished consuming the plot of the book and movie Hannibal, which follows Mason’s quest for revenge. Next episode, we go to the central plot of Red Dragon, which of course pre-dated the other books but, by the brilliance of Bryan Fuller, is readily reimagined as a later time in this new universe.

Mason always carries a little knife that belonged to his father. Perhaps it’s the same one that he used to slice off his face. His father would test the depth of fat on a pig’s back by poking him or her with this knife, something neither the pig nor farmer found terribly acceptable. Now he is doing it to Hannibal. It’s clear that he is planning to turn Hannibal into a pig before he eats him.

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Of course, there’s many a slip, as they say, or as Nick Cave says:

“If you’re gonna dine with the cannibals, sooner or later baby you’re gonna get eaten”.

Or as Alana warns:

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To the sublime tones of the Mozart Piano Concerto 21, Hannibal and Will are dressed and brought to Mason’s table. In the opulent dining room of Muskrat Farm, Mason tells Hannibal that “I snatched Will Graham right out of your mouth.” He is referring to Hannibal’s plan to eat Will’s brain, foiled by the arrival of the Italian police, who were in Mason’s pay.

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Hannibal and Mason compare their depth of reading, as Hannibal reminds Mason of the biblical story of Jezebel, who was, like Mason’s face, eaten by dogs. Mason in return spouts a news story he read about “that German cannibal” (he can’t remember the name of Armin Meiwes?) who advertised on the Internet for someone who wanted to be eaten.

The cannibal and the intended meal ate the man’s penis together before the latter died and was packaged up in the freezer. Mason’s assistant, Cordell, arrives hilariously at that moment with some pork sausages, thus emphasising the human/pig parallels.

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“Go to all that trouble to eat a friend and you overcook his penis. They ate it anyway, they had to, they committed. But they didn’t enjoy it.”

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Mason reveals part of his plan – he likes Will’s face, and intends to graft it onto Hannibal before he eats him. The rationale is that Will and Hannibal were both there watching as the dogs ate Mason’s face. They banter pleasantly (Hannibal shows no fear) about the order in which Mason will eat the various parts of Hannibal’s body. Everyone loves to chat about cannibalism! Will’s banter is a little less polite, as he takes a healthy bite of Cordell’s cheek, much to Hannibal`s amusement, and is left with a bloody chin, reminiscent of Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs. Will has become at least a functional cannibal.

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Cordell sews up his own face, then advances on Hannibal with the Verger branding iron. He brands Hannibal with the Verger emblem.

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Hannibal is being turned into an edible pig, because as Mason admitted, he did not really fancy eating human flesh. Much easier to eat the animal that daddy made his fortune exploiting, than to eat the man who consistently outsmarted him.

“Mason would have preferred to brand your face. He fought bravely, and with his own funds, against the humane slaughter act, and managed to keep face-branding legal.”

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Part of what supposedly makes us superior to other animals is the power of speech. Pigs can grunt and scream eloquently, but they can’t form their words into either maxims or complaints. The tongue is crucial, and Cordell tells Hannibal he intends to

“…boil it, slice it very thin, marinate it in olive oil, garlic, parsley and vinegar.”

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Cordell describes the rest of his plans, in something almost out of a cooking show. But looking down appreciatively, he adds

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“Every day I’ll feed Mason some new part of you. And don’t you worry Dr Lecter, you will always be cooked to perfection.”

Anyway, we know that nothing like that is going to happen, because we still have six episodes to go. AND SEASON 4 [please?] The rescue involves Alana and Margo, who find that Mason kept Margo’s eggs and that there is a surrogate having her baby.

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A pig, of course. Not too successfully; the baby is dead, which makes her fighting mad. They head off to kill Mason. First, they release Hannibal, because he has to save Will (about to have his face cut off without anaesthetic). Alana knows that Hannibal promised to kill her at the end of Season 1. But she has no other choice if Will is to survive.

“You’re the only one who can save Will. Promise me you’ll save him?”

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The “abyss” that Heidegger described between human and animal is further breached as Mason is eaten by his pet eel. Or chokes as he eats the eel. All lines are crossed.

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Having saved Will, Hannibal finally meets up with Chiyoh. She is willing to watch over him, but not in a cage: “Some beasts shouldn’t be caged.” Her obsessive hunt, she tells him, was motivated not by his plight or hers, but Mischa’s.

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“Yes,” says Hannibal, “but I did not kill her”.

We see the broken teacup that has bothered Hannibal throughout the books, movies and this TV series. Can time reverse? Can we undo what has been done?

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As he waits for Will to recover and awake, Hannibal is working on some higher level calculus, presumably still trying to work the maths on how to reverse time.

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But Will is having none of it.

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“I miss my dogs. I’m not going to miss you. I’m not going to find you. I’m not going to look for you. I don’t want to know where you are or what you do.”

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“You delight. I tolerate. I don’t have your appetite.

Goodbye Hannibal.”

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The digestivo here is a bitter drink – look at Hannibal’s face. Takes a hell of an actor to portray strong emotion so simply. Will has divorced Hannibal. But Hannibal is not giving up – he never does. He escapes before the FBI arrive, but then returns and surrenders.

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Next episode, Will takes on the Red Dragon, but – can he do it without Hannibal? Silly question really, don’t know why I bothered asking it.

“What’s for dinner?” HANNIBAL Season 3 Episode 6, “Dolce” (Fuller, 2015)

“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.

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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,

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Hannibal is pretty upset about leaving Florence, and especially missing his planned feast – Bedelia. He tells her

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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:

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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.

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They exchange a rather chaste kiss; a taste, shall we say, of meals to come.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Hannibal asks Will where the dividing line is, for him, between past and future.

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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While they talk, he feeds Will from a soup tureen. Will is not impressed by the taste.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

“In the Belly of the Beast” HANNIBAL Season 3 Episode 5 “Contorno”

Cannibalism is at its heart all about food, food from a particular species of animal. This episode, Contorno (Italian for side dishes) is also about food – our choices, our enjoyment, how food affects us and how it identifies us.

We start with Chiyoh and Will on a train to Italy. Chiyoh fills in a little bit of what we don’t know about the early Hannibal. Chiyoh was sent to be attendant to Hannibal’s aunt, Lady Murasaki. The young Hannibal was there, an orphan. He was meant to be with his sister, but he was alone. We don’t know why, although we will be told (episode 7) that Hannibal ate, but didn’t kill, his sister, Mischa.

They get talking about snails, a side dish of which we know Hannibal is inordinately fond, particularly when they have been snacking on human flesh. Chiyoh observes:

“Birds eat thousands of snails every day. Some of those snails survive digestion and emerge to find they’ve travelled the world.”

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Then we see Hannibal feeding snails to Bedelia – he explains that, as a young man, he kept sea-snails to attract fireflies.

“Their larvae devour many times their own bodyweight. Fuel, to power a transformation into a delicate creature of such beauty.”

Snails, Hannibal tells Bedelia, follow their nature. She dismisses his metaphor: fireflies live such brief lives. A bit more evidence follows that Hannibal is a Nietzschean:

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In a scene in which Hannibal is clearly checking whether Bedelia is ready for dinner yet (his), they move on from snails and fireflies, a story about transformation, to a discussion on Hannibal’s other main interest: Will Graham. In particular, Will’s fascinating struggle to retain his ethical certainty in the face of Nietzsche’s amor fati – the love of fate, and his true nature as a hunter.

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Bedelia protests: “Almost anything can be trained to resist its instincts. A shepherd dog doesn’t savage the sheep.”

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Still on the food theme, Alana has laid out Hannibal’s table setting for Mason Verger – she has worked out that he can be traced through his exquisite purchases, just the way Clarice did in the book Hannibal. She has tracked him to Florence through receipts for Bâtard-Montrachet (Chardonnay) and tartufi bianchi (white truffles). Mason, never one for social niceties, observes that Hannibal must have liked the taste of her too, and perhaps she enjoyed her own taste of him. He offers a double-entendre that the Guardian critic described as

“actually the most disgusting part of the episode. That’s pretty impressive given the extreme close-ups on snails and Pazzi’s bowels flopping to the ground as he is hanged from a window”.

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Chiyoh is not really getting Will. She cannot seem to see the attraction between the men, just the shared aptitude for violence: “If you don’t kill him”,

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He agrees. So she pushes him off the train. As you do.

No humans were eaten in the making of this episode; snails are the man-eaters. But we do get the gory killing of police inspector Pazzi, who goes as his ancestor went – hanged with his bowels out as punishment for treachery. His ancestor tried to kill Lorenzo the Magnificent in 1478; this Pazzi recognised Hannibal and tried to sell him to Mason Verger rather than turn him over to the FBI.

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Hannibal shows Pazzi a woodcarving of his ancestor’s death, and mentions that the Archbishop bit Francesco.

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Running out of time, Hannibal just tells Pazzi “I’ve been giving very serious thought to doing the same” (although in the book and film Hannibal, this line was “I’ve been giving very serious thought to eating your wife”).

No one actually gets eaten, but Hannibal gets a solid beating from Jack Crawford, who has just dumped his wife’s ashes in the Arno and is fighting mad, particularly after spending the afternoon with Pazzi’s soon-to-be widow. Some readers interpret this scene as Hannibal finally discovering he is not as smart and invulnerable as he thinks, but I hold to the oft-stated theme that Hannibal is always way ahead of the plot. The beating that Hannibal takes is almost without resistance; as if he somehow feels that he owes Jack a chance at revenge for betraying his friendship, a chance to grow into a predator.

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So Jack pushes Hannibal out the window, but he catches himself on Pazzi’s corpse and limps off. The inspector is without his bowels, but not without his uses.

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Remembrance of Things Past: HANNIBAL Season 3 Episode 4: “Aperitivo”.

There was a “Hannibal” in Proust: Comte Hannibal de Bréauté-Consalvi in The Guermantes Way. Now there is some Proust in Hannibal – everything in this episode is à la recherche du temps perdu – “Remembrance of Things Past” or, more accurately, “In Search of Lost Time”.

Hannibal, let’s be clear, gets into people’s heads (including those of his loyal Fannibals). That of course is his job as a psychiatrist, but he takes it well beyond work hours, getting into the heads of everyone with whom he deals, including Miriam Lass, who was his captive for a long time, and shot Frederick Chilton, because Hannibal was in her head.

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It’s episode 4, and we are finally finding out what happened to all the people knifed, shot and pushed out of windows (or made to eat their own faces) in the previous season. Those still alive have it in for him, are hunting him in their own ways. Mason Verger, whose fortune is based on breeding and killing pigs, wants to catch Hannibal and feed him to those pigs. He has offered a reward of one million dollars for his capture. Chilton, less one eye and half his teeth from Miriam’s bullet, just says “Happy hunting!” Verger’s words about Hannibal are taken from the Bible, the Book of Job, where Satan tells God he has been “going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it”. He is relating Hannibal to a supernatural being: Satan. But also to an edible being: a pig. This can’t end well.

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We know Will was cut up good in his last dance with Hannibal, but we get a new perspective in the next scene after the credits – we are inside Will’s body cavity, in the coil of guts, looking at the stomach skin as it is punctured by Hannibal’s linoleum knife. Waking up in the hospital, he is visited not by Abigail, as he had hoped and imagined in episode 2, but Chilton, who wants help catching Hannibal, who would be a prize specimen for his “hospital” for the criminally insane.

Will spurns Chilton’s offer of compassion and friendship, which leads to one of Chilton’s best lines of the show:

The optimist believes we live in the best of all possible worlds;

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Will is still imagining scenarios – in the next scene, he and Hannibal are plunging knives into Jack Crawford in a scene that could only have been inspired by Julius Caesar.

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But Will finally didn’t go with Hannibal, and Jack’s not dead – he’s tracking to Will’s boatshed to seek Will’s help, just as he did at the beginning of Red Dragon, where the whole saga started. Will admits that he warned Hannibal, wanted him to run, because “he was my friend”,

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Alana is still alive too, despite being pushed out of a first storey window. She wakes up full of rods that hold her together. The doctors have told her that a lot of marrow got into her bloodstream from her multiple broken bones, so she should expect to think differently. And she does.

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She goes to see Mason Verger, who tells her he has found religion, been saved by the risen Jesus or, as he familiarly calls him “the Riz”. As a believer, he says he has forgiven Hannibal. Alana is not so convinced.

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Jack remembers his apparent death at Hannibal’s hands, but has somehow recovered. His health, not his career – he has been forced to retire from the FBI. The culture has found a new nightmare to slap its clammy flab and ruin its sleep.

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He also remembers waking up in hospital, lying next to Bella, his wife, who is continuing to die without him as it turns out. He takes her home, sits with her, holds her while her heart stops and her brain dies. He dresses for church and visualises their wedding, but it’s a funeral, she is in a casket, and there is a splendid bouquet from – who else – Hannibal. The card contains a John Donne poem and finishes “I’m so sorry about Bella, Jack”. Fighting to the death does not, apparently, reduce the respect or affection Hannibal feels for his opponents.

Everyone, everyone alive that is, wants to find Hannibal, and most of them want to kill him. What does Will want, as he embarks on a sustainable sailing voyage to Europe to find Hannibal? We don’t know. Mason Verger is talking transubstantiation – his face has been (somewhat) restored by extensive surgery, now he wants to transubstantiate Hannibal. In most ceremonies

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He is planning a more elaborate ceremony. He tells his major-domo nurse Cordell

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Alana is helping, telling Verger that Hannibal will be traceable because, wherever he goes, he will be ordering the very best wine, truffles, etc. She tells him “You’re preparing the theatre of Hannibal’s death. I’m just doing my part to get him to the stage.”

It sounds like they are all conspiring against poor Hannibal. But remember what Alana told Jack when they thought they were outsmarting him – Hannibal is always in charge of the narrative. Whatever the others are doing, he wants them to be doing. Or as Bedelia said, he is drawing them to him. Nietzsche wrote:

“In your friend, you should possess your best enemy. Your heart should feel closest to him when you oppose him.”

While everyone else is remembering things past, or searching for lost time, Hannibal is making friends.