Friday, 24 July 2015

Hannibal - Digestivo


If there's one show you can always trust to deliver an absolute smash of a finale, it is Hannibal. Yet, Digestivo wasn't even a finale. Well, it was and it wasn't. This episode saw the conclusion of essentially everything this show has built towards so far; Hannibal on the run, the Verger storyline, Will and Hannibal's relationship..etc. Despite this being just episode seven of the thirteen in season three, Digestivo acted as a finale in a number of ways, and just as one would expect, it delivered entirely, acting as a perfect cap to each arc the show had run through so far. Hannibal surrendered, Jack arrested the Chesapeake Ripper, Will freed himself from Hannibal's control, Margo took what she needed from Mason and killed him, Alana accepted that she could never understand Hannibal. It's a monumental amount of plot and character work to get through in just forty five minutes, but Bryan Fuller did what Bryan Fuller always does. Absolutely fucking nailed it.

Reviewing Hannibal is a task that becomes harder with each and every week, as every time I sit down to write I get a repeated sense of Déjá vu. The reason for this is that the show manages to be so consistent in almost every aspect that I struggle to find new ways of describing simply how fantastic it really is. Much like every other episode thus far, and every other review thus far, Digestivo was stunning visually, although this time we got less of the non-linear visual metaphors that normally make up a hefty amount of Hannibal's screen time. But this worked in the episode's favour, besides that stunning teacup shot making a (final?) return in the episode's climax, there wasn't really much time to indulge in such pleasures. Yet director Adam Kane found his delights in other places, such as that wonderfully disorientating camerawork as the Polizia stormed into the hotel at the episode's beginning, as well as that circular birds eye panning shot detailing Hannibal bound in the pig pen. It's just a real "Take that!" moment to anyone who believes that Hannibal's only visual splendor comes through the crazy metaphors. Digestivo toned that back, and still looked stunning from the offset.

But as much as the visuals were as great as ever and the music was just as gleefully weird (as well as powerful, seriously whoever's idea it was to keep playing the Mizumono music over Will/Hannibal scenes, are you trying to make me cry?), this episode was all about the characters. There's a lot of character work to get through here, but I'll start with Margo. Margo is an entirely different person to the patient we met back in the second half of season two, darker and colder, yet more commanding. These two sides of her, as well as similar traits in Alana, were represented seamlessly in last week's kaleidoscopic sex sequence between the two of them, but also surfaced fully in Digestivo. After Mason lead her to believe she could have the child she's desired for so long by revealing he harvested some of her eggs, Margo discovers that the surrogate mother is a pig, with her unborn - and, ultimately, stillborn - baby inside. The look on Margo's face is heartbreaking, performed excellently by Katharine Isabelle, but this is her tipping point. Within ten minutes, she has drowned Mason in his own eel tank, but not before harvesting his sperm to create the child she longs for. It's a darkly beautiful transformation for Margo to undertake, and one that ended exactly how it should have.

Alana Bloom has also developed vastly over the course of this show so far, displaying many of the traits that Margo has grown to encompass too. Alana is content to be cold and dark towards Mason, when he threatens her  by simply telling her she is dead, she bleakly responds "Oh, Mason, we all are, didn't you know that?". But when Alana is faced with Will, she loses this iciness that she portrays around anyone else. The sympathy returns to her eyes as she talks to him, Alana and Will have been through a lot together, and Alana cannot forget that. It will be interesting to see how she develops in the upcoming Red Dragon arc. Jack, whilst not appearing as much as I expected in Digestivo, underwent most of his transformation over the previous two episodes. It's certainly an interesting plot mechanic that he never actually catches Hannibal, he is surrendered to instead. Jack was always an underdog against Hannibal besides their showdown in the excellent Contorno two weeks ago, but in this finale of sorts Jack is again demoted to second place. He arrests Hannibal, sure, and he will find some satisfaction in that, but it again confirms Bedelia's (noticeably absent from this episode) theory of "If you think you are ahead of Hannibal, it is because he wants you to think that".

And that is exactly what Hannibal wants as he surrenders to Jack outside Will's house. After their smiley reunion last week, Will has detached himself from both Hannibal's mind and his control. Will tells Hannibal he does not want to find him, and he will not look for him, and he does not want to know where he is. But Hannibal, again taking control of the situation, refuses to allow Will even that. He surrenders right outside his doorstep after giving Will the impression he had left, meaning that Will can't escape him; he will now always know where he is and what's doing, without even having to look. It's a beautiful sequence, again scored with the Mizumono music for maximum cry-ability, that demonstrates the bond these two had. They were in love, of sorts. Not in the conventional way, of course, but Hannibal and Will had a connection that was defined through sexual tension across the second season and a bond that will always draw them to each other. Both Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen were excellent here, this show has always been terrifically acted but this might've been the most heart wrenching scene yet.

Last week, in my review for the also excellent Dolce (unless I express otherwise, just assume every episode I mention is excellent), I stated that if this all came together it could be the show's greatest ever episode. This is a difficult feat to work out, Hannibal has so many perfect episodes it becomes difficult to work out an all-time best. But I think that claim will always lie with Mizumono, it is just a stunning achievement of television that transcended every boundary that was expected of it, delivering jolt after jolt in terms of plot, character work and genre convention. But Digestivo doesn't fall far behind, and neither do the two stellar episodes that preceded it. It's been said throughout this show's third year that it has become too indulgent in its own metaphorical weirdness, and I couldn't disagree more. Whether Hannibal is off the walls crazy or dialogue driven and slow, it has such a firm grasp on its pacing and its plot and its character development that it's tough to think of any moment as "too self indulgent". As we head into the show's last stretch of episodes before it leaves screens for good, we jump three years into the future to catch up with everyone this episode left behind. It will be terrifying, it will be darkly comic, it will be powerful, it will be insane, and it will be exhausting. And I, for one, cannot wait.

Notes - 

  • This was the longest Hannibal review I've written yet, so forgive me if I began rambling at any point. There was just a hell of a lot to say. 
  • Mason's eel going down his throat was a bleak metaphor. After he denies Margo the baby she wants, it's only fitting that he should die not only by her hand, but with a sperm shaped object entering an orifice. 
  • Seriously, I can't express enough how good Hugh Dancy was in that ending sequence. If the Emmy's bothered to show any interest in Hannibal, he would be a shoe-in. 
  • As much as I've found Chiyoh an interesting addition to the show's plethora of compelling characters, I'm hoping we don't see her again. Her story is finished now. 
  • The same cannot be said for Bedelia Du Maurier. God, I love that woman. 
  • I will miss Mason, as nasty as he was. I began to feel sympathy for him when he awoke with Cordell's face bound to his own, but once he laughed at Margo's pig surrogate discovery, I wanted him to die. 
  • Hannibal's gleeful smile as Will bit a chunk out of Cordell's cheek was a nice touch. Hannibal just seemed amused by everything in this episode's first half. 
  • As much as I'm excited for the Red Dragon arc, I'm rather sad that the show we've known for two and a half years has ended. God help what state I'm going to be in this time in six weeks when the whole thing is done. 
  • I dislike giving two or more perfect scores consecutively, but Hannibal has now achieved three. And it's a show that always lives up to hype, so expect a fourth next week. 
  • I'm going to miss this show so much. 
  • So much. 

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