“The fans never went away” – HANNIBAL: A DELICIOUS REUNION

Nerdist’s Rosie Knight hosted the much-awaited (ZOOM) reunion of the cast and crew of Hannibal (the link is above – starts at about 4½ minutes in), featuring series creator Bryan Fuller, Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal Lecter), Hugh Dancy (Will Graham), Gillian Anderson (Bedelia Du Maurier), Caroline Dhavernas (Alana Bloom), Katie Isabelle (Margot Verger), Raúl Esparza (Frederick Chilton), Hettiene Park (Beverly Katz), Kacey Rohl (Abigail Hobbs), Scott Thompson (Jimmy Price), Aaron Abrams (Brian Zeller), executive producer Martha De Laurentiis, co-producer Loretta Ramos, director/executive producer David Slade, and food consultant Janice Poon.

I intended to dip in and out looking for highlights, but of course ended up watching the whole fascinating one hour three minutes of it. Certainly, it is worth watching the whole thing, but (from a cannibal studies POV) don’t miss the Q&A  in the last 15 minutes, when Fannibal @hannigram_trash asks

“How do you think Hannigram / Hannibal and Will would have spent their quarantine time? And it must have been a very hard time for cannibals, because – no hunting?

Hugh Dancy (Will) replies:

“It’s easy, isn’t it? You know where everybody is – they’re at home. Baking! The oven is already on!”

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Then of course come the torrent of questions – will there be romance between Hannibal and Will in Season 4? @Bryanfuller says:

“From our very first meeting with Mads, he redefined the character immediately for me because he’s the devil. He is this thing both of the world and outside of the world. So for me, the devil is pansexual.”

So really, if/when Season 4 starts – anything could happen. And probably will. But give the devil his due. In Christian texts, Satan is usually a fallen angel, the enemy of heaven, intent on snaring humans into sin and taking their souls. By the time of Revelations, he is called The Great Red Dragon, the name used by the serial killer who dominates Season 3. As a New Testament Satan, the Great Red Dragon is obviously interested in absorbing the Old Testament Satan, represented by Hannibal.

The Old Testament Satan appears very sparsely, and is subservient to God. He is probably the serpent who tempts Eve (Alana? Will?), and he appears under the name Satan (הַשָּׂטָן – the accuser) in the Book of Job. What is an “accuser”? Basically, he is God’s district attorney, looking for evidence against humanity, and not usually having too much trouble finding it. Like Hannibal, and later Will, he sets up obstacles or temptations for everyone he meets, and is curious to see what will happen. In the apocryphal Book of Jubilees, God grants the satan (referred to as Mastema) authority over a group of fallen angels, or their offspring, to tempt humans to sin. Isn’t that the story of Hannibal and his patients, who he assiduously tries to convert to his ways? Consider his words in Ko No Mono:

“I have not been bothered by any considerations of deity, other than to recognise how my own modest actions pale beside those of god…. God is beyond measure in wanton malice. And matchless in his irony.”


The final question of the reunion, the one we are all waiting for, was: will we get a Season 4 of Hannibal? Bryan Fuller replied

I am very hopeful.

So are we, Bryan. So are we.

Hugh Dancy adds that, after five years on the lam,

It’ll be like “Grumpy Old Men”, with cannibalism.

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  • A complete listing of my Hannibal blogs can be accessed here.

HANNIBAL: a complete listing of my Hannibal film and TV blogs

Movies

“Manhunter” (Mann, 1986)

https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/07/29/hannibal-the-cannibal/

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“The silence of the lambs” (Demme, 1991)

https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/03/04/1991-the-silence-of-the-lambs/

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“Hannibal” (Scott, 2001)

https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/03/17/hannibal-scott-2001/

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“Red Dragon” (Ratner, 2002)

https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/09/09/what-a-dragon-it-is-getting-old-red-dragon-ratner-2002/

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“Hannibal Rising” (Webber, 2007)

https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/09/22/hannibal-rising-2007/

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And a spoof, just for fun:

“The Silence of the Trumps” (Colbert Late Show, 2017)

https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/05/10/the-silence-of-the-trump/

Television

Season 1

  1. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/10/07/very-hard-to-catch-hannibal-episode-1-aperitif-fuller-2013/
  2. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/10/21/amusing-the-mouth-hannibal-season-1-episode-2-fuller-2013/
  3. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/11/04/hiding-the-bodies-hannibal-season-1-episode-3-potage-fuller-2013/
  4. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/11/11/happy-families-hannibal-season-1-episode-4-oeuf-fuller-2013/
  5. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/11/25/inside-the-shell-hannibal-season-1-episode-5-coquilles-fuller-2013/
  6. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/12/09/who-is-the-ripper-hannibal-season-1-episode-6-fuller-2013/
  7. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/12/16/nothing-here-is-vegetarian-hannibal-season-1-episode-7-fuller-2013/
  8. https://thecannibalguy.com/2018/12/30/i-see-a-possibility-of-friendship-hannibal-season-1-episode-8-fuller-2013/
  9. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/01/06/i-know-what-monsters-are-hannibal-season-1-episode-9-fuller-2013/
  10. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/01/20/the-very-air-has-screams-hannibal-season-1-episode-10-fuller-2013/
  11. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/01/27/madness-can-be-a-medicine-hannibal-season-1-episode-11-fuller-2013/
  12. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/02/10/im-so-sorry-jack-releves-hannibal-season-1-episode-12-fuller-2013/
  13. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/02/24/savoureux-hannibal-season-1-episode-13/

Season 2

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  1. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/03/31/i-never-feel-guilty-kaiseki-hannibal-season-2-episode-1-fuller-2014/
  2. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/04/07/you-are-dangerous-sakizuke-hannibal-season-2-episode-2-fuller-2014/
  3. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/04/21/merely-the-ink-from-which-flows-my-poem-hannibal-season-2-episode-3-hassun-fuller-2014/
  4. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/05/05/death-is-not-a-defeat-hannibal-season-2-episode-4-takiawase-fuller-2014/
  5. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/05/19/he-is-the-devil-he-is-smoke-hannibal-season-2-episode-05-mukozuke-fuller-2014/
  6. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/06/02/an-act-of-dominance-hannibal-season-2-episode-6-futamono-fuller-2014/
  7. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/06/16/hannibal-season-2-episode-7-fuller-2014/
  8. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/06/30/we-are-all-nietzschean-fish/
  9. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/07/14/typhoid-and-swans/
  10. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/07/28/hannibal-season-2-episode-10/
  11. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/08/11/hannibal-season-2-episode-11/
  12. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/08/25/hannibal-season-2-episode-12/
  13. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/09/08/hannibal-season-2-finale/

Season 3

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  1. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/10/13/the-eating-of-the-heart/
  2. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/11/03/hannibal-season-3-episode-2/
  3. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/11/24/how-did-your-sister-taste/
  4. https://thecannibalguy.com/2019/12/15/hannibal-season-3-episode-4/
  5. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/01/05/in-the-belly-of-the-beast-hannibal-season-3-episode-5-contorno/
  6. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/01/26/hannibal-season-3-episode-6/
  7. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/02/16/hannibal-season-3-episode-7/
  8. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/03/08/im-not-insane-hannibal-s03e08-the-great-red-dragon/
  9. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/03/29/hannibal-309/
  10. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/04/19/murder-and-cannibalism-are-morally-acceptable-hannibal-310/
  11. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/05/17/hannibal-3-11/
  12. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/06/07/hannibal-312/
  13. https://thecannibalguy.com/2020/07/05/hannibal-s3e13/

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“Meat’s back on the menu”: HANNIBAL S3E13: “The Wrath of the Lamb”

The grand finale of Hannibal.

#savehannibals4

Finales have an obligation to tie up loose ends, answer questions, bury the bodies. It’s the showdown, the shootout, the denouement. But they don’t have to spell it all out too clearly, particularly for the more discerning audience who watch artistic masterpieces like Hannibal. Hannibal Lecter always leaves us thinking.

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Yes, Dr Lecter, we will think about you. What you have to teach us about lots of things, not just about cuisine.

In the first episode of Season 1, the serial killer and cannibal Garrett Jacob Hobbs kills his wife and slits his daughter’s throat because Hannibal has warned him that the FBI “knows” about him. Will shoots him several times, but as he dies, or even as he lies there dead, he smiles at Will at asks:

you-see

Each episode of this extraordinary show has had a theme that can be teased out – some more obvious than others. The theme of this one is multifaceted; it is about life, death, growth, conspiracy and betrayal. The plot is convoluted: the serial killer Francis Dolarhyde has faked his death but has revealed that he wants to meet, greet and eat Hannibal. Hannibal is locked up in The Baltimore Asylum for the Criminally Insane because of his own cannibalistic serial killing events. You will perhaps remember Hannibal gave himself up at the end of episode 7, so that Will would always know where he is. That, my friends, is love, Hannibal-style. But he is not enjoying the rigors of asylum living:

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The FBI wants them both dead, and conspire to “fake” Hannibal`s escape to lure the Dragon.

Will doubts that he will survive this conspiracy and betrayal

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Everyone else is terrified of Hannibal really escaping and coming for them. Hannibal`s former psychiatrist and, well, housemate, Bedelia, is convinced this is a terrible idea. She quotes Goethe’s Faust, a work much loved by Hannibal as well:

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Will has no sympathy. He knows Hannibal will also come for Bedelia if (when) he escapes, because she is on his menu.

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Alana knows Hannibal is going to kill her, because he has promised to do so, and reaffirms that promise:

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Will knows The Dragon will free Hannibal, and then try to kill him, change him, absorb him, as cannibals are so often accused of doing to their victims. We absorb the nutrition of our food, why should cannibals not absorb the strength, spirit and experiences of their victims? And Hannibal is willing to play along, as long as Will asks nicely:

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The climax is at Hannibal`s house overlooking the “roiling Atlantic”, where the Dragon takes on Hannibal and Will takes on the Dragon. Who has conspired with whom, and who is being betrayed?

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Will replies:

“If you’re partial to beef products, it is inconvenient to be compassionate towards a cow”.

The battle is epic, brutal and bloody, and we expect no less. Will learns his lesson at last, that blood really does look black in the moonlight, as Hannibal told him in episode 9. That life and death are not opposite or even separate but part of the “becoming”. That his extreme empathy and Hannibal’s cruelty are one and the same.

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That murder and mercy, as Thomas Harris told us at the end of Red Dragon, are just human constructions, and mean nothing to nature, “the Green Machine”, which is indifferent to who lives and dies, and to conceptions of right and wrong. When we inevitably die, someone will eat us, and nature cares not a whit the species of the eater or eaten. Natural selection means that the Dragon, with the gun and the knife, will kill and absorb Hannibal. The Green Machine doesn’t care. This is what Hobbs was trying to tell Will in the first episode, and what Hannibal has shown him, 38 episodes later.

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But then, there’s love and compassion, the emotion that makes a rat fight a snake to protect her young. Will and Hannibal – together at last, covered in blood, cut to ribbons, but feeling the love.

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Is Hannibal dead?

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The Death of Sherlock Holmes | Conan Doyle Info

Remember how Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty fell to their deaths into the Reichenbach Falls in 1891, causing a massive public outcry among their avid fans, only to see Sherlock reappear in 1894, explaining that he had faked his death to fool his enemies? Well, Bryan Fuller has given us a pretty great clue, as in the final scene we see Bedelia sitting at a table with three settings, about to enjoy a sumptuously prepared meal, the centrepiece being her leg, roasted to perfection.

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Who’s doing the cooking?

We hope, we conspire, we betray, we demand Season 4. Remember that this whole story, the three seasons, has been a prequel to the book and film that made Hannibal famous, The Silence of the Lambs. There is plenty of material in there with which to continue the story, or reimagine it as Fuller does so very well, perhaps, as he suggested, with “Margot Verger taking down the meat industry as a hot, powerful lesbian” and turning them over to PETA.

Hugh Dancy, when asked about another season, suggested it might take five years. Well guess what, Season 3 finished in 2015…

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Next week I’ll publish, for ease of reference, a complete listing of my Hannibal blogs.

“Is Hannibal in love with me?” HANNIBAL 3:12 “The Number of the Beast Is 666”

The penultimate episode of Hannibal! You see, I thought if I dragged out these reviews, they would surely have a fourth series ready by the time I finished the whole 39 episodes (in three weeks from now); after all, I’ve been reviewing Hannibal episodes since October 2018! There is certainly talk of a fourth season or a movie, a discourse reignited by the fact that Netflix has just started streaming the series in the USA and some other countries (not Australia – here it’s on Stan).

#savehannibals4 

What do you do when you can’t go home?

It’s a very contemporary question, Hannibal has told us he cannot go home to Lithuania, although we don’t know why (but hopefully will find out in Season 4). But in this episode, made in 2015, the threat is not a pandemic but a serial killer, “The Great Red Dragon”, who slaughters families and puts broken pieces of mirror in their eyes so he can watch them watching him changing them. Will Graham’s family have fled after the killer came for them, their address supplied by the ever-helpful Hannibal. He told the Dragon “Save yourself. Kill them all”.

You and I don’t want to catch COVID-19, but Will certainly wants to catch the Dragon. But he is broken – his family is gone, in hiding, unlikely to see him again, or certainly not until the threat has been eliminated. In dreams, Will sees himself killing the Dragon’s victims, but each woman is his wife. This was Hannibal`s design. Will asks Bedelia:

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Bedelia: “Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for you and find nourishment at the very sight of you? Yes. But do you ache for him?”

Bedelia is quoting, or paraphrasing, Dante, the sonnet that Hannibal quoted in the movie Hannibal to Inspector Pazzi’s wife, Allegra:

“He woke her then, and trembling and obedient, she ate that burning heart out of his hand. Weeping, I saw him then depart from me. Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for her? Find nourishment in the very sight of her? I think so. But would she see through the bars of his plight, and ache for him?”

Is Bedelia paraphrasing Dante because she also loves Hannibal? Or do all psychiatrists do a unit in fourteenth century Italian literature? We know her Italian is good enough to order Bâtard-Montrachet (Chardonnay) and tartufi bianchi (white truffles) – there’s a clue! Anyway, Bedelia now loves Hannibal being in the asylum – because he wants her dead, but only if he can do the actual killing,

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Will is not contemplating love in any form, gustatory or otherwise, he is plotting destruction. As Hannibal puts it,

“Will’s thoughts are no more bound by fear or kindness than Milton’s were by physics.”

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Well, now we’re getting somewhere, and it’s not medical but metaphysical. John Milton was a seventeenth century poet who wrote Paradise Lost, a fair description of Will’s current domestic situation – neither he, his wife or his step-son can go back to their idyllic estate until the Dragon is caught or, preferably, killed. Rather than getting lost in empathy, as he usually does, Will is now drowning in rage, and is “free and damned” – Hannibal is paraphrasing Sartre’s insistence that humans are “cursed with freedom” – other animals are bound by their instinct, but we always have to make choices, often between less than ideal options.

Hannibal sees Will more clearly than anyone, and quotes the Book of Revelations to Jack:

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Yes, it’s Armageddon coming up – and it starts with confrontation. Will is going to make himself a target for the Dragon, to draw him out. He calls together Freddie Lounds, who will publish anything if it sells her magazine, and Frederick Chilton, who will spout his pop psychology to anyone in order to get publicity for his new book, which is called (honest) “Hannibal the Cannibal”. Chilton is furious with Hannibal for publically repudiating the book as nonsense, effectively disproving the insanity defence by which he was saved from execution. Why would Hannibal do that? Because Frederick doesn’t have “the proper stuff” to write about either Hannibal or the Dragon.

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Now he’s quoting Goethe. Imagine what else he could find to enrage people with if Alana hadn’t taken away all his books!

There are a lot of allusions in this episode, both to the Classics and to the Hannibal books, particularly Red Dragon – lot of the dialogue comes verbatim from that book, although often from different characters. There is a good analysis of the intertextualities on the Hannibal Fandom page.

During the interview, Will translates Frederick’s pretentious psychobabble into real insults, the ones that your regular alpha serial killer might reasonably object to:

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Then Freddie takes a photo, showing the Dragon where Will is, and with Will’s hand on Frederick’s shoulder.

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Frederick has two security guards to ensure his safety, but their brains are splattered on the back of his car while he is still gloating on the phone about his new book. He is captured, and learns that the Dragon is “becoming”, he is “Other”

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Hilariously, blind Reba comes to visit in the midst of Frederick’s torment. She can’t see Frederick (although she must be able to smell him; he’s been shitting himself since the Dragon took the stocking off his face), Frederick can’t say anything (or she’ll be killed) and the Dragon can’t hear her concern, her love, as she gives him some soup she made because he took the day off work. They are the three wise monkeys.

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Yeah, it’s not the flu.

Like COVID-19, the Dragon’s psychopathy is worse than the flu. It’s more serious, and Frederick has caught it bad. He is shown slides of the Dragon’s work: before and after shots,

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The Dragon opens his mouth and puts in his falsies, a set of his grandma’s dentures, the grandma who screwed him up by threatening to castrate him with her scissors when he was an incontinent little boy. He wears them whenever he goes killing. Both Hannibal and Freud would love to meet this guy.

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He jumps over the couch, growling, a predatory animal, and bites off Frederick’s lips, which he posts to Hannibal, who in turn eats one of them.

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The Dragon sends the FBI a video of Chilton’s forced confession, including the screams during the lipectomy. Will is less than thrilled as he watches. But, as Bedelia tells him, quoting the words Hannibal used to her, “that’s participation”. Will knew what would happen: the Dragon always kills the pet first.

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With that photo op, Will might as well have lit the match that sent Frederick, burning, rolling down the hill.

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Burnt flesh, eaten lips. At last, a trace of cannibalism. This is a cannibalism blog (I quickly remind you, and myself). And Hannibal never disappoints.

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Next (and, sob, final) Hannibal blog in three weeks – June 28. 

 

“…crazy sons of bitches” – HANNIBAL 3.11 “…And the Beast from the Sea”

Here’s a trivia question for the serious Hannibal aficionados: what is the name of
Will Graham’s son /step-son?
*Answer at the bottom of the blog.

Hannibal has been in a cell in the Asylum for the whole season, so not many people are getting eaten. Will is back in the game, desperately trying to catch the “Great Red Dragon”, who is certainly a biter, and a necrophile, but not so much a swallower of human flesh. But to understand why the GRD (Francis Dolarhyde) does what he does, and why Hannibal did what he used to do, we need to understand a bit about Hannibal’s Nietzschean understanding of the Übermensch (superman) and how, Will finally realises, he encourages his patients and acquaintances to “change” people as part of the development of the “higher self”.

The asylum security is surprisingly lax, considering Alana Bloom is in charge, and she is deeply motivated by the fact that Hannibal has promised to kill her as soon as he can. Nonetheless, calls come in from what appears to be Hannibal’s lawyer’s office and are patched through to his cell, and so he can happily chat to the GRD and give him advice on life, love, and killing, or what you might call “eat, prey, love”.

Dolarhyde is worried about his new girlfriend, and what the Dragon (his higher self) will do to her.

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Like, frinstance, Will. Hannibal tells him: “He has a family. Save yourself.”

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There’s always a problem bringing a classic story into the present day. Imagine Henry V with machine guns. Clarice Starling with a cell phone (“just on my way down the basement stairs now. Send a coupla dozen agents over stat”). Dolarhyde, in the book and films, was choosing his victims on the super-8 family movies he developed at work. Probably read telegrams too. But this is a new century – how does he choose them in 2015?

Indeed. Dolarhyde is watching videos of Will’s wife and step-son, Molly and Walter – Reba, who is blind, asks if these are his nocturnal animals? Yes. Do you think they know they’re being filmed? No.

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Will has a vague idea he’s being played, but is clueless to what is really happening. He says he is not fortune’s fool, he is Hannibal’s fool, and that is certainly true. “Fortune’s fool” is a phrase Shakespeare liked a lot. It’s used in Romeo and Juliet, King Lear and Timon of Athens. Will hasn’t got his head around Hannibal’s coaching system yet, despite some very broad hints. He has worked out that he ran into Dolarhyde last episode at the museum because Hannibal planned it that way. Now he wants Hannibal’s help to identify the next family that Dolarhyde will kill, but he’s still not getting those broad hints from Hannibal about who that family might be.

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Still clueless, Will asks, “you’re willing to let them die?”

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Now Molly (Nina Arianda), Will’s wife (sorry Hannigrammers, he got married when we weren’t looking) is not fortune’s fool, and she’s not Hannibal’s either. It’s almost like she was expecting the GRD to come looking. She bundles her son out of the window, distracts Dolarhyde with the car alarm, flags down a passing car (in the middle of nowhere, mind you) and drives off as the Dragon shoots the driver. When Will visits her in hospital, she jokes about getting angry. She may be the best adjusted person in the whole series.

Anyway, Jack and Alana are woke to Hannibal’s little game now.

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Mads Mikkelsen plays Hannibal as Satan, and Jack wants him to be the Devil’s advocate. They want Hannibal to talk to the GRD, keep him on the phone while they run a trace. What he says to Dolarhyde, though, is a direct line into Lecter/Nietzschean philosophy.

“You are the Dragon, you don’t have to be afraid. You know who speaks. From the beginning, you and the Dragon had been one. You are Becoming. And the Dragon is your higher self. Don’t let fear leach your strength. You are almost blind to your own true feelings. No more able to express them than a scar can blush.”

Dolarhyde is still worrying about Reba and his unlikely ability to be loved. “She called me a man! A sweet man!”

Hannibal talks just long enough for them to get a trace, but not to catch him, as he then warns Dolarhyde, just as he warned Garrett Jacob Hobbs in the very first episode of season one.

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Will was already a bit upset at Hannibal…

Wonderful cartoon by “Nat Draws Stuff

But now, he’s back, and mad as a murder hornet!

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This just gives Hannibal an opening for more philosophy.

“The essence of the worst in the human spirit is not found in the crazy sons of bitches. Ugliness is found in the faces of the crowd.”

The Dragon, Hannibal muses, “likely thinks you are as much a monster as you think he is.” Hannibal of course realises the “nice” Dolarhyde is trying to overcome the Red Dragon side of his personality, and Hannibal of course knows Goethe’s Faust off by heart:

“Two souls, alas, are dwelling in my breast, and one is striving to forsake its brother.”

The episode finishes with Hannibal offering Will friendship, absolution, the chance to start again.

“The Great Red Dragon is freedom to him. Shedding his skin. The sound of his voice. His own reflection. The building of a new body and the othering of himself, the splitting of his personality, all seem active and deliberate. He craves change.”

Will finally gets it: “He didn’t murder those families.”

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* Will’s son/stepson? It’s a trick question – the little boy’s name keeps changing.

  • In the book Red Dragon, he’s Willy.
  • In the movie Manhunter, he’s Kevin.
  • In the film Red Dragon, he’s Josh.
  • In the TV series, he’s now Wally (Walter).

WTF? Almost a full circle.

Even the hockey mask has made a comeback.

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Only two more episodes to go before the finale. Where, oh where, is Season 4?

#savehannibal

“If we just do whatever evolution equipped us to do, murder and cannibalism are morally acceptable” – HANNIBAL 3:10 “…And the Woman Clothed in Sun”

In case you’re wondering, yes, this is a cannibalism blog, and yes, there were plenty of human body parts consumed in Hannibal Seasons 1 and 2. Season 3 is different, because Hannibal Lecter is locked up in the Baltimore Asylum for the Criminally Insane for most of it, so cannot offer us a lot of gastronomy. But there’s more to eating than flesh, and there’s more to Hannibal than just eating. Hannibal believes he is the Übermensch and so is all about becoming, and becoming requires the use of others to fuel his radiance, and the radiance of those he chooses to mentor.

In the previous episode, Francis Dolarhyde, a.k.a. The Tooth Fairy (Freddie’s name for him) or The Red Dragon (his own preferred moniker) had killed two families, each event happening on the full moon. Besides the date, though, there seemed to be nothing in common between the victims, so Jack called on Will, and Will called on Hannibal, to get the old murder scent.

In this episode, Francis finally contacts Hannibal, breaking into the office of Hannibal`s lawyer so the call will go through to Hannibal’s cell. He visualises Hannibal in suit and tie, a master rather than a captive. He wants to be recognised by Hannibal in his becoming of the Great Red Dragon, he wants to “meld” with Hannibal (eat him). Hannibal is happy to play along, stroking the killer’s ego, telling him how magnificent he is, quoting Blake, who of course painted the Great Red Dragon in the early 19th century.

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Bedelia is back in town, no longer claiming to be Mrs Fell, now being bugged by Will Graham to admit she lied about her identity confusion. But she has her own philosophy of subjectivity now. She tells Will, and an adoring audience of psychiatrists (?) that everything we see and believe about ourselves is just a mental construction. When she was under the control of Hannibal, she was metaphorically in Hell – Hell before Dante turned it into an urban environment, Hell when it was portrayed not as the “gates of Hell” but the “mouth of Hell”

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Will scorns her story of…

“suffering inside Hannibal Lecter’s bowels for what must have felt like an eternity”

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Thank goodness, we finally got to the alimentary canal.

Francis, meanwhile, is trying to go straight, falling in love with Reba, his blind colleague, who cannot see what, he imagines, is his abhorrent deformity. He takes her to a zoo to feel a sedated tiger, tying her to another Blake image:

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

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Just as Reba can ‘see’ the tiger with her hands, so she can see the radiance (or at least the nice part) of Francis, with those same hands, which she proceeds to use to seduce him, when they get home. He experiences probably his first time with a woman that does not involve blood and biting and broken mirrors in eye-sockets; he is falling in love. She is part of his fantasy now – if he is the Dragon, she is the “woman clothed in the sun”

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He decides to solve the problem of the Dragon, who is not going to want him to get all soft and mushy, the way Hannibal solves a problem – by eating it. He tricks his way into the National Gallery of Art and eats the original Blake painting, stopping on the way out to beat the shit out of Will, who has come to find out about this Red Dragon business.

Bedelia has told Will to make an appointment and guess what – he did! Now they spar in easy chairs in her office.

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B: I can’t blame him for doing what evolution has equipped him to do.
W: If we just do whatever evolution equipped us to do, murder and cannibalism are morally acceptable.
B: They are acceptable, to murderers and cannibals.

The moral of the story, children, is that we are all capable of love and mercy, and capable of murder and cannibalism. Bedelia has a flash-back to killing a patient sent to her by Hannibal, no doubt to see if she would help him or save him. She explains this theory to Will, in one of the seminal aphorisms of the series. She asks Will what he thinks if he sees a wounded bird on the grass. Will would see the bird as vulnerable, and try to save her.

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“A primal rejection of weakness which is every bit as natural as the nurturing instinct. Of course, I wouldn’t crush it, but my first thought is to do just that.”

Hannibal explains Blake’s Red Dragon to Will, and to us. The Dragon stands over a pleading woman who is caught in his tail. Few images in Western art radiate such a unique and…

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“I like this dragon Will. I don’t think he’s crazy at all. I think he might be quite sane. A magnificent thing, to watch the world through his red haze.”

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“… 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.