The episode begins with a dark replay of the events at Hannibal’s house from the end of season two – the reveal of Abigail Hobbes, Will and Abigail’s deadly injuries, and Hannibal’s escape. We see Will enveloped by a red stream and the shattering of a tea cup that bears the impression of his face. Suddenly, the tea cup comes together and Will is awaking in a hospital, greeted by Abigail. From this point on, Will and Abigail are on a search for Hannibal – haunted by the void he has left in their lives and the possibility of what could have been. In a world where all permutations of choices are made by other selves in other universes, there is a universe out there where Will and Abigail left with Hannibal that night and no one died. Will and Abigail travel together to Palermo, Italy, where Hannibal had described a chapel with a skeleton engraved on the floor. They arrive before Hannibal leaves his gift for them, the bent and broken body of Anthony Dimmond, and find themselves in time to be caught up in the investigation. Will is approached by Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (Fortunato Cerlino), a Florentine policeman who pursued Hannibal as a young man, then known as the serial killer Il Mostro. Pazzi wants a second chance to catch Hannibal, while Will cautions him away from the investigation, telling him that Hannibal will kill him. While we already suspect that Abigail might not be what she seems, another scene between her and Will confirm that Abigail is in fact dead and merely a figment of Will’s imagination. Will realizes that Hannibal is still in the chapel, hiding in the crypt below. Will searches for Hannibal through the crypt, the two coming within a few feet of each other but never meeting. Will calls Hannibal’s name and tells him that he forgives him. Hannibal turns back, leaving Will alone in the crypt.
Despite the span of eight months between attack and recovery, Will’s emotional scars are still very fresh. He is haunted by the choices he made and the family that he betrayed in order to catch a killer. Most of all he seems haunted by the physical absence of Hannibal – in some ways the truest friend he ever had – versus his constant presence in his mind. Will seems to understand Hannibal better than ever, especially now that all the pretenses between them are gone. Will talks about Hannibal almost as if speaking about himself in the third person, but speaks about him with bitter regret and humorless jokes. When Will’s figment of Abigail insists that she wants to be with Hannibal, despite everything that he’s done, it’s really Will who wants to take back what he did and be with Hannibal. When Abigail asks him why he betrayed his family, Will says that it was too horrible to believe that the wrong thing was really the right thing to do.
While there was very little of Hannibal in this episode, because he was the constant subject of conversation and thought he seemed more present than ever. I don’t think there was a single conversation in the entire episode that wasn’t about Hannibal, either directly or peripherally. For Hannibal’s part, he knew that Will would come to the chapel that he described to him from his mind palace, so he left Will a gift – Anthony Dimmond contorted and mutilated into the shape of his broken heart – which is probably the most aggressive passive aggressive note ever. Hannibal, not only taking perverse pleasure in Will’s reactions to his gift but probably desperate himself to see Will, stays on at the chapel and observes from the shadows. Will realizes this belatedly and pursues Hannibal while Hannibal is pursuing him. When Will tells Hannibal that he forgives him, I don’t think Hannibal was expecting it. He breaks off his pursuit, not ready to forgive Will for his betrayal of friendship.
If you’ve read the novel “Hannibal” or seen the movie, then you might remember the ill-fated and ambitious Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi. He recognizes Hannibal as one of the FBI’s ten most wanted criminals, but rather than arrest him he tries to catch him for a sizable reward that the scheming Mason Verger has set for his capture. This doesn’t go so well for Pazzi. Will Graham told Pazzi that Hannibal will kill him and I think we can probably look forward to this eventuality.
Vincenzo Natali is the director of this episode, along with last week’s and a couple from season two. We can look forward to more of his direction this season as he helms a total of five out of thirteen episodes. You probably don’t know his name, but he’s been the director of some of the strangest and darkest episodes of television, as well as the creator of the wonderfully twisted and misunderstood Splice (2009). I believe this makes him uniquely qualified to convey the murky, discomfiting, dark, and compelling waters of moral ambiguity that this show explores so thoroughly. If you haven’t seen Splice I highly recommend it. Mass audiences typically have a violent reaction to the film – and they’re meant to – but lovers of the psychological and surreal Hannibal might just be thrilled and compelled by Splice’s dark possibilities.
Still no mention of other survivors of Hannibal’s attack. Next week Will heads to Hannibal’s home to speak with his adoptive Aunt while Hannibal spends his time in Italy killing off his co-workers. The preview does give us a brief, dramatic look at Jack Crawford with no information attached, so his or Alana’s survival is still up for question.