Scars of all types have been a recurring theme of exploration for this early run of Hannibal season three. While “Primavera” took a scalpel (figuratively speaking) to Will’s head space as he dealt with the mental trauma of losing Abigail to Hannibal and “Secondo” uncovered more details on the personal pain found in Hannibal’s family past, last night’s “Aperitivo” was notably focused on the physical scars left behind by Jack’s failed attack on Hannibal and also prior events. Through Marc Jobst’s direction, as well Nick Antosca and Steve Lightfoot’s script, the preoccupation with fleshy wounds and the ache they bring with them in “Aperitivo” sets the season on its narrative path after three previous hours of quiet reflection.
This week sees the return of a few characters to the fold after sustaining life-threatening injuries, two of which, Alana Bloom and Frederick Chilton, are conspiring separately with the third, Mason Verger, in their plans to take down Hannibal Lecter. All of their injuries resulted from Lecter’s manipulation skills in some way, shape, or form (Mason’s drugged state, Miriam shooting Chilton, Abigail pushing Alana), and Chilton and Mason come to a mutual understanding when the latter asks that they talk “face to face.” The two men pull back the layers of makeup and masks (Chilton’s injuries strikingly recall Silva’s in Skyfall) to showcase how their lives have been altered by these incidents. Jobst uses C.S.I.-like graphics to highlight Chilton and Alana’s injuries and recreate the process of events in viscerally exact fashion.
By continually returning to the causes of these bodily distortions and how they drive the characters forward, the show demonstrates the weight and consequences of these traumatic events. In comparison to Game of Thrones, which for all its many positives often uses violence for momentary shock tactics, the heavy focus on the Hannibal characters’ mental and physical scars is indicative of how the show uses horrific violence to leave lasting effects. When a character undergoes pain at the hands of others (mostly Lecter), it lingers and festers, changing the person for better or worse. Alana’s recovery after being pushed out of the window became a rebirth for her, and she’s out for Lecter’s blood while fittingly draped in her strikingly red coat.
Two Doctors and a Pig Loving Wacko isn’t the only revenge on everyone’s minds though. In one of the many reality-distorting dreams in this episode, Hannibal brings another immaculately prepared dinner to the table for Will and Jack’s enjoyment, but something’s off about the situation. Each of them gives piercing glares across the dinner table until Will and Hannibal suddenly spring forth and attack a surprised Jack in unison. Both men hold animosity against the former F.B.I. head, but Will’s is more notable, considering that he’s trusted Jack since the start and that Jack has frequently used Will for selfish gain even when he knew it would endanger Will’s life. This episode returns to the moral uncertainty of Will’s mental state as we continue to sit on edge, pondering whether or not he can repress the manipulative urges of Hannibal’s dangerous influence, letting Laurence Fishburne’s worried face in the garage scene speak to that anxiety.
The end sees Will on his sailboat riding off to Italy, a highly romanticized image of a man off to rekindle the most fulfilling human connection he’s made in this story, even if it’s with someone who had just gutted him not too long ago. During their garage talk, Jack questions Will’s motivation for tipping off Hannibal to the attack, and we’re reminded that Will wanted to leave with him on his travels. Will doesn’t feel at home anywhere or with anyone except Hannibal, who is probably the only person that truly understands Will. With the emotional fallout and rejuvenation out of the way, it’s time for the hunt of “Hannibal the Cannibal” to commence, and everybody’s about to find out that they’re all on similar yet very separate paths leading to the same person.
EPISODE RATING: 10/10