Saturday, 18 July 2015

HANNIBAL, 3.7 – 'Digestivo'

Saturday, 18 July 2015


First, a word of warning: NBC have moved Hannibal from Thursdays to Saturdays for the rest of season 3, so this review is scheduled alongside the unchanged Canadian broadcast. Consequently, this post contains huge spoilers for most people reading in the U.S, UK, and most other countries. Continue reading at your own risk...

There were some narrative inevitabilities with "Digestivo", which ended the third season's focus on Dr Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) as a European fugitive, and not just for book-readers who've been aware of Mason Verger's (Joe Anderson) fate from the beginning. Arriving just half-way through the season, and with a recently-released trailer showing Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Lecter as part of the 'Red Dragon' storyline (which begins in episode 8), there was little doubt how this hour was going to resolve. However, it was enthralling to see exactly how things panned out in Bryan Fuller's TV-universe, and the smattering of changes to the novel's storyline helped keep things spicy—particularly Will's off-book involvement, as a fellow captive of Mason's with frenemy Lecter, poised to become the unwilling donor of a full facial transplant (sans anaesthetic).

Much of "Digestivo" was a string of queasy situations, as Mason played host to the two men responsible for making him carve chunks off his own face and feed it to dogs. It's truly remarkable how Hannibal manages to make us feel an ounce of sympathy for Lecter, too, considering he's a prolific serial killer and cannibal who, only last week, had a bone saw pressed against the side of the hero's temple! But Mason's such a reprehensible sicko that he feels like the lesser of two evils; perhaps a sign that audiences are snobby when it comes to fictional serial killers. We prefer the erudite, sexy ones to triumph against ugly, pig-farming paedophiles.

The situation with Will and Lecter was very grim, as Mason took sick pleasure in explaining his crazy plan to gain a handsome face of one enemy, in which to devour the other. Cordell (Glenn Fleshler) has been on the periphery most of the season, but stepped up as another chilling component of Mason's vengeance—teasing Will and Lecter about their eventual painful demise, while tasked as both surgeon and chef. He's a man of many talents, it seems! (Best not to spend too long thinking about the ridiculousness of a physician having the skill to perform a complete facial transplant, OK?)

Mason's comeuppance wasn't anything too unpredictable (it stuck close to the book's solution, with his beloved eel wriggling down his gullet), although I loved the freakish deviation of him having Margot's (Katherine Isabelle) surrogate child inside the uterus of an enormous sow attached to an ultrasound scanner. Perhaps a step too far into crazy-town, even for this show, but it was still a memorably twisted visual as Margot and her lover Alana Bloom (Catherine Dhavernas) walked in on the unconscious swine below a baby's mobile decorated with little piggies.

There actually wasn't much catharsis of Lecter turning the tables on his captors, as the story was instead more focused on his promise to Alana about rescuing Will in return for his freedom, which led to their final farewell in Will's bedroom. The writing becomes remarkable whenever those two characters are allowed to chat about their twisted relationship (which bodes well for the latter half of the year, where we're entering the potentially sticky scenario of Lecter behind bars), and their last scene in this episode was another dose of brilliance. I especially loved how Lecter almost—almost!—broke his inscrutable expression after hearing Will wants nothing more to do with him, and won't attempt to find him if he runs again. Perhaps that's partly why, without a pursuer of any perceived worth or interest to him, Lecter surrendered himself to Jack (Laurence Fishburne) and the FBI.

Looking ahead, Hannibal's future is still very much in doubt on television—at least in its current form. Talk has moved to the possibility of a movie; which would be an intriguing circle for the franchise to close, but perhaps a tough sell to the masses who've mostly ignored this NBC drama and still envisage Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster as the apex of Thomas Harris' vision. Still, Hannibal's first seven episodes have felt much meatier than expected this season, and knowing there's six more hours of fresh storyline—tackling the laudable Red Dragon plot the show's a prequel to—has me giddy with anticipation.

We're going back to the procedural heart of the show from next week; but with new characters to meet (including the notorious Francis "Tooth Fairy" Dolarhyde), and a dynamic between Will and Lecter that's finally going to bring Manhunter/Silence of the Lambs-style exchanges to the show.

Let's savour this meal; it could be our last.


  • Chiyoh (Tao Okamoto) lives to see another day, having proved her usefulness as Lecter's gun-toting guardian angel. It was also made clear that Lecter ate his sister Mischa, but didn't kill her. See, he's not a complete monster. One has to wonder if Chiyoh is perhaps the mechanism for breaking Lecter from prison in the future, if the show manages to continue and doesn't want to keep him caged forever.
  • Did you see the Hannibal San Diego Comic-Con panel? Click here.
written by Bryan Fuller & Steve Lightfoot • directed by Adam Kane • 18 July 2015 | NBC

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