It felt like tonight’s episode of “Hannibal” would have been better served as the first or second episode in the season, not the fourth as most everything it covered was pretty much well established to this point. It wasn’t a bad episode by any means, it merely seemed to stop the season in its tracks. Perhaps, however, that’s a good thing, offering anyone that wasn’t up-to-date a chance to play catch up while offering fans (or #Fannibals as has become the popular Twitter hashtag following the show’s cancellation at NBC) an emotionally charged episode as Jack (Lawrence Fishburne) finally must say goodbye to Bella (Gina Torres) and Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) makes a strong first appearance in this third season.
Serving as a prequel to everything that’s taken place so far this year, the fourth episode of this third season, titled “Apertivo”, explores the survival of our three main protagonists, though largely focusing on Jack and Alana with a small dose of Will (Hugh Dancy), with the narrative connection between all of them being Dr. Fredrick Chilton (RaÃºl Esparza), who, like Jack, Alana and Will, has also suffered at the hand of Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen). Speaking of…
This episode also gave us our first look at Joe Anderson taking over for Michael Pitt as the disfigured Mason Verger who’s putting together his own plans for revenge. Revenge… interesting… Mason is looking for revenge, but what exactly are Jack, Alana and Will looking for? What is Dr. Chilton looking for? Well, to that last one we know the answer, notoriety. As Jack says to him, “First thing you did after getting shot was copyright ‘Hannibal the Cannibal.'”
One of the more interesting storylines and scenes involved Alana and Mason as they will offer a tie back home while Jack and Will are playing “hunt Hannibal” abroad, each with their own partners. What exactly does Alana want though?
Of the characters tightly involved with this season’s storyline, I’d argue Mason and Chilton are the only two with a clear idea of what either of them want. Jack says he’s in Italy for Will, which I believe is partially true, but I also believe he’s looking for a bit of his own revenge. I’m sure a psychologist could give me a satisfying diagnosis of what is going on with Will and I can’t tell what Hannibal wants other than to say he may actually want to be captured. I don’t believe for a second he wants to kill Will, though, he may want to eat him and therein lies an interesting perspective on how Hannibal’s mind works.
So what is Alana looking for? What about Bedelia (Gillian Anderson)? The best thing about these questions is it means there are still surprises in store.
Overall, however, I don’t believe this episode accomplished much in terms of advancing the story. It certainly does add some motive and gives us a little more back-story on the recovery process for our lead characters, but given it just feels we were already beyond all of this, I’m not sure why the showrunners felt it was best to save this episode for the fourth rather than the first or second. It’s really nothing more than a flashback and it even has flashbacks within the flashback. I don’t know, a bit of clumsy storytelling if you ask me even though, as a fan, I still enjoyed what I was able to take out of it.
For those that watched the preview for the next episode (included below), titled “Contorno”, it feels safe to say we are now out of the woods when it comes to flashbacks as it seems we’re now caught up with everyone left in Hannibal’s bloody wake before he left for Europe and the hunt is on. The question now is to ask Who is the hunter and who is the prey? It seems the answer to that questions shifts with each character and even the hunters aren’t all out for the same thing…
Click to the next page for a synopsis for next week’s episode plus preview pictures.