The worst thing about Hannibal is that it’s almost impossible to watch during the day because exposing the darkness of the show’s deep colour palette to glare from the sunlight seems sacrilegious … alternately, the worst things might be the murder, the cannibalism, and the psychological manipulation.
Hannibal returned for its third season Thursday night. Leaving behind the bloody season two finale, “Antipasto” exists firmly in Hannibal’s domain, beyond the constraints of Will Graham and his team.
Everything about Hannibal’s European adventures are dreamlike, ephemeral and fleeting. While images never lingered too long on the screen, folding into each other through cuts and dissolves, the action in “Antipasto” never felt rushed, instead inviting the audience to luxuriate in Hannibal’s world of indulgences, fine foods, wines, art, and other *ahem* delicacies while occasionally flashing back to what he left behind, but even that was positioned with a strange sense of calm and certainty.
The opening sting was pure seduction, pulling us into Hannibal’s world and positioning him firmly as the show’s new centre. Inviting us into his fantasy world until we’re reminded what a nightmare it really is. I think “Antipasto” is kind, in that it’s violent imagery is almost always suggestive but hardly ever graphic and always, in Hannibal’s strange signature style, always beautiful and bordering on sensuous, making the internal act of watching even more deeply uncomfortable when you stop to think about what you’re enjoying. This is a stark contrast to the season 2 premiere, “Kaiseki”, that felt almost hostile. Beginning with a frenetic fight scene between Hannibal and Jack with no clue how we got there, then throwing the audience into a particularly horrifying and graphic case that doubled down on the horror angle pitched with high anxiety and particularly heightened anxiety and particularly gruesome imagery.
“Kaiseki” and “Antipasto” couldn’t be further apart in that sense. The former set the tone for a season full of suspense, unknown, and dread. “Antipasto” delivers a world of possibility, but one that can’t help but reach back for the past left behind.
Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier is a mystery, we’re not quite sure how she went from ending their professional relationship to accompanying him on his European escape, but through the premiere we’re given glimpses of the past, paired with Gillian’s brilliant performance as a woman barely keeping it together dramatically changes the tone from what was presented in the season 2 finale as the pair flew off into blue skies.
Like Will, she seems to have been drawn into his web, likely thinking she could best him, and maybe she still can. Much like Will, it’s likely her curiosity got her here, and like Will she’s been compromised.. There’s a moment in the premiere where Hannibal confronts Bedelia’s claim to innocence, she’s a participant in his crimes now whether she likes it or not. Her behaviour during the premiere, the visits to the train station, eyeing the cameras indicates she may be playing a long game or simply making silent pleas for help.
Other Notes & Favourite Quotes:
The sexual tension between Hannibal and Dimmond was outrageous. Like gimme one of Hannibal’s kitchen knives and cut right through that palpable. More obvious than Hannibal’s not-so-veiled cannibalism puns in your face. It was spectacular and dare I say, rivaled that of the well established Will/Hannibal dynamic. I’m not super sure that’s a tumblr spiral I want to go down, but the fact was he used Dimmond’s body to send Will a very special Valentine says plenty.
“My wife and I would love to have you for dinner”. Hannibal is just not subtle. Like. At all. It’s that weird quirk of humour that cuts through the visually rich, often abstract, nearing super pretentious tone of the rest of the show.
The knowing dread with which Bedelia delivers this, “My husband has a very sophisticated palate. He’s very particular about how I taste.” …contrasted with this giving Dimmond an opening to ask if it was *that* kind of party was just the kind of weird well of humour Hannibal pulls from (see bullet #1, I think he already thought it was that kind of dinner).
Anthony Dimmond: Clearly you found him as distasteful as I did.
Hannibal: On the contrary.
Bedelia: What have you done, Hannibal?
Hannibal: I’ve taken off my person suit.
What did you think of “Antipasto”?