Friday, 10 July 2015

Hannibal - Contorno

Crazy drum music. Hannibal playing the piano. The feathered stag. Killer plot twists. Jack vs Hannibal. Contorno felt almost exactly like a season two episode of Hannibal, and in all the best ways. It's no secret that the show improved monumentally in its second year (not that its first outing was bad, it was actually very good) and it seems to be common knowledge that this season three was struggling to live up to the run of episodes that came before it. Whilst episodes one, two and three were focused on necessary exposition and filling in the blanks, last week's Aperitivo struggled to keep things interesting. But if the plot needed kicking off with a bang, Contorno took on the job and delivered one hundred percent. I can't help but feel a sense of whiplash; Hannibal has, after all, just ricocheted from it's all time weakest episode into a strong contender for its very best.

And yes, I'm including Mizumono in that statement. Whilst this episode may not have been as shocking as the show's stellar second season finale, Contorno benefited from covering a great deal of plot in just forty five minutes, but keeping the characters first and foremost while still remaining just as visually resonant and thematically powerful as ever. And then there was that fight. It has been said frequently throughout the show, "If you think you are ahead of Hannibal, it is because he wants you to think that". But when Jack Crawford threw him through that glass frame, stabbed his leg with a claw and broke his arm in some form of mechanical device, Hannibal was well and truly behind. Jack's first scene in this episode showed him scattering Bella's ashes into a Florence river, followed by his wedding ring. He has nothing left to lose now, any aspect of his life that could have pulled him away from catching Hannibal has left him. And Laurence Fishburne demonstrated that terrifically throughout the entirety of this episode; it was a truly stunning performance.

But this fight was preceded by Hannibal's gruesome murder of Inspector Pazzi, a death so sudden and shocking, yet so obviously foreshadowed. Jack lost his wife last week, and was then seen spending time with Pazzi and his wife at the beginning of this episode. After we watch Hannibal drug Pazzi, we cut back to Jack and Pazzi's wife, and Jack knows immediately what's happening. And if anyone in this episode knows what it's like to lose those dearest to you, it's Jack. The rage he has built for Hannibal over the course of this season and the final third of season two has been on the tipping point for a while, but now he has reached his maximum. Pazzi's death is unquestionably the most violent thing we've seen this year so far, and it's good to see that the show hasn't lost its touch for graphic but innovative displays of murder. Pazzi being sent soaring from the top of the museum, only for his bowels to fall to the floor as he remains hung from the tower via the noose Hannibal tied him to was a heart stopping moment, despite its inevitability.

In episodes one to four, this would've been enough plot to last the full episode. But, as previously stated, Hannibal took it up a gear or two (or ten) tonight. Will and Chiyo's train journey originally did a solid job of fleshing out one of the show's more unusual characters by discussing her original meeting with Hannibal, but the dynamic changed between these two the second Chiyo sent Will plummeting from the back of the moving vehicle. As this scene took place before any of the aforementioned Jack/Hannibal/Pazzi sequences, it held top prize for the most surprising moment of the season for about ten minutes. For Will to be awakened by the feathered stag, his subconscious and metaphorical representation of Hannibal, gave Will's story a season two kind of tone that I'd sorely missed throughout this year so far. Hopefully now that the story is full swing they can keep this up for the second two thirds of the season.

Alana and Mason may not have had as much screen time in this episode as they did last week, but they still held their own against the avalanche of plot momentum and drama coming from the other sides of the world. This newly reformed Alana, dressed consistently in brighter and harsher colours than her toned down greys from the previous two seasons, demonstrated that she might not be as cold as she portrays. As she phones Pazzi to warn him of what will happen to him should he go after Hannibal, the horror on her face when Hannibal himself answers the phone says more about her character than her costume and words ever could. This show is so loaded with excellent performances that Alana seems to be forgotten frequently; Caroline Dhavernas has been better this season than she's ever been before. Just when season three seemed like it might start losing that sublime consistency the show has always offered, it comes out and gives this mighty punch of an episode. Thrilling, beautifully shot and reminiscent of the show at its very, very best. Welcome back, Hannibal.

Notes - 

  • Also a big welcome back to the show's crazy drum music. They'd had odd splatterings throughout this season, but came back full force at the beginning of Jack and Hannibal's fight. I didn't realise how much I'd missed a series of irregular drum beats until I heard them again. 
  • Speaking of music, Brian Reitzell was on top form with his scoring in this episode. Contorno took on a much stronger electronic theme than ever before, only for Jack and Hannibal's fight to be played under some upbeat classical music. It was a wonderful contrast. 
  • The shot of Jack's wedding ring submerging into the river was stunning, as was the framing for the feathered stag sequence on the train tracks.
  • "So, bowels in, or bowels out?" Hannibal sure knows how to please. 
  • "How will you feel, Jack, when I'm gone?" "Alive". 
Next - Dolce

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