So the long wait is over, and while we get to see Hannibal maneuver himself into an ideal life as a library’s curator in Florence – and get a glimpse of what exactly his and Bedelia Du Maurier’s relationship is like – we still have next to no hint about the fate of Will Graham, Jack Crawford, Alana Bloom, or Abigail Hobbes – all of whom he left bleeding and possibly dying on the floors of his home in Baltimore. Throughout the episode, however, we also get to see flashbacks from both Bedelia and Hannibal’s points-of-view of significant events leading up to their elopement.
Hannibal stalks and kills an eminent academic named Dr. Roman Fell and his wife in Paris, France, assuming his identity and winning a job at a prestigious library in Florence, Italy. Unfortunately, while stalking Dr. Fell in Paris, Hannibal attracts the attention of Anthony Dimmond, a bright young man who used to study under Dr. Fell and who fancies himself an enigmatic adventurer. When the two cross paths again in Florence, Anthony instantly remembers Hannibal. Hannibal apparently likes playing with his food, because he invites Anthony over for dinner and then invites him to a lecture that “Roman” is giving at the library, knowing full well that Anthony will only find Hannibal assuming Dr. Fell’s identity. Anthony does attend the lecture, but seems more intrigued and enchanted by Hannibal’s deceit than anything else, and proposes a mutually beneficial arrangement – by which he means payment for blackmail, of course. It is at this point that Hannibal finally kills him, using him as an illustration in his lesson to Bedelia about the difference between observation and participation. And while Bedelia seems to be actively looking for an escape, it also seems there’s something she finds captivating about the violent possibilities of a life with Hannibal. Hannibal takes Anthony’s body by train to a church, arranging and mutilating the body to appear as a giant human heart – presumably as a message to Will Graham that he’s still out there.
Hannibal has flashbacks, peppered throughout the episode in black and white, of his time with Dr. Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) in Baltimore. You may remember from last season that Hannibal had amputated Gideon’s leg and fed it to him, that being the last we heard of him. As it turns out, Hannibal kept Gideon alive for an unspecified length of time, feeding him to himself piece by piece – another leg here, escargot fattened on his marinated arm there. Their conversations are intelligent and insightful, with Gideon understandably growing ever more antagonistic as he continues to lose limbs. Gideon is also clever, intelligent, skilled at manipulation, and a fellow psychopath. All while Hannibal is torturing Gideon, he keeps reminding Hannibal that its only a matter of time before all this happens to him. In the end, Gideon knows exactly why Hannibal has kept him alive: because Hannibal prefers company when he eats, and he can’t share his true meals with Will Graham.
It is still somewhat unclear what kind of relationship Hannibal and Bedelia share. They seem to enjoy each other’s company, tense as it sometimes is, but Bedelia is not an altogether willing participant either. Hannibal wants to make her totally complicit, a joyful participant in his activities and not a detached observer – even tries to convince her that she’s already participating by knowing what the outcome of events will be and doing nothing to change it. While she seems on the road to becoming complicit in Hannibal’s exploits, she also spends her days sitting in view of public security cameras with location specific shopping bags – perhaps aiming to be found and rescued by the FBI.
Bedelia also has flashbacks, although hers are curiously in color, of the patient she killed “in self defense” – a man named Neal Frank, whose corpse is fabulously played by Zachary Quinto. The high profile actor tells me that he’s not just here to play a dead body, so we’ll be seeing more of Neal Frank and the events that lead up to his death in the coming episodes. Bedelia recalls a scenario very like that between Hannibal and Abigail Hobbes when she killed Nicholas Boyle in season one. Hannibal convinces Bedelia that what she did was not self-defense and then says that he “can help you, if you ask me to”. This, of course, puts the responsibility firmly in her hands, while putting her in Hannibal’s debt for helping her. She also recalls arriving home after her interview with the FBI to find Hannibal in her home, cleaning up after the bloodbath at his house. She awaits him with a gun, but establishes a sort of truce with him. Its worth mentioning that this indoctrination of Bedelia is reminiscent of Hannibal’s brainwashing of Clarice Starling at the end of Thomas Harris’s “Hannibal” novel. In the final scenes of the book, Hannibal has captured Clarice and keeps her drugged and restrained. While his methods are unclear, some years later a law official glimpses what he thinks is Hannibal and Clarice sharing a box at an opera somewhere.
The FBI and Co.
No clues have been given during the actual episode as to the fate of our heroes – not even when Bedelia asks Hannibal if Will Graham is still alive (to which he vaguely replies “Will Graham was not a suitable substitute for therapy”). However, all three of our heroes – Will, Jack, and Alana – appear in the season three preview at the end of the episode, and in seemingly non-dreamlike situations. It’s entirely possible that all three of them survived the season two finale. No sign of Abigail Hobbes, but there was a flash of Frederick Chilton, last having been seen shot in the head by the traumatized FBI trainee Miriam Lass. And that’s a trick the show has pulled many times, making the audience think someone has died and then bring them back suddenly.
According to Hannibal Postmortem, the behind-the-scenes show hosted by Scott Thompson on the NBC website, what we can expect from this season after a short stint of Hannibal in the wild, is that Hannibal will get caught and then the show will skip ahead three years to investigate the Red Dragon murders – at which time Hannibal will have been incarcerated and Will Graham will have gotten married.