Hannibal: 302 “Primavera” Review
Reviewed by Lewis Hurst.
Well… that was a strange one. There have been moments in the past where Hannibal has dipped into its surrealness a little too much, but I think this episode takes the prize as the biggest dip yet. It’s quite frankly hard to discern how much of the episode was real or how much of it was happening inside Will’s head. If that was the intention, then it was a job well done.
Picking up in the final moments of last year’s finale, we re-witness Hannibal brutally attacking both Will and Abigail leaving them both to bleed out on the floor, but not before Hannibal asks Will to forgive him. We then move to a recovery room to see Will is alive and well (as if that was in any doubt) as well as the revelation that Abigail is alive too. The fates of Alana and Jack are yet to be revealed, but to be honest I love this idea of drip feeding the answers we all crave over the first few episodes rather than revealing it all in one go in the first episode. It shows that Hannibal can stand on its own and doesn’t need to rely on the “shock value” of cliffhangers and mysteries that most other shows use and rely on a little too much. Instead of the plot charging on, we got a rather extended character study of Will’s mental current mental state. And it was fascinating.
Will is conflicted. The episode makes that much clear. He wants to find Hannibal, but why? Does he want to arrest him? Kill him? Help him? Or even… kiss him? It’s all deliberately very vague. Abigail herself reveals that Hannibal cut them with surgeon like precision. Enough to hurt, but not enough for them to die. Abigail believes that Hannibal has “let” her and Will live. But why? Does this tie into the previous episode? Does Hannibal in fact crave the company of Will? Regardless, Will has come to Italy to find Hannibal, remembering Hannibal mentioning Italy as somewhere he’d like to go when he has to flee. Will and Abigail go to Norman Chapel in Palermo and there share a rather interesting discussion on the existence of God, with Will offering up the argument God exists but just doesn’t interfere as that would be “inelegant”. Could this be a metaphor for Hannibal himself? Has Hannibal deliberately laid clues for Will to follow but won’t reveal himself, instead relying on Will to find him? Hannibal, like God, will not interfere with Will’s search as that would be inelegant and not part of Hannibal’s plan? This entire sequence is just begging for a dissertation length study.
Soon the body Hannibal left in the Church at the end of last episode is discovered and Will is taken for questioning. I mean… I suppose that makes sense. Will was arrested for murder and spent a considerable amount of time in an asylum. Will then meets Inspector Pazzi who questions Will about Hannibal before revealing his own history with Hannibal. Pazzi, while investigating the murder of a couple suspected a young Hannibal of the crime but of course could not gather the evidence to connect the dots. Will then returns to the church where he does his thing and attempts to get into Hannibal’s thought process of the murder. The imaginary body then morphs into a blood covered human/stag hybrid and advances on Will. The Stag has acted as the symbol of Will’s connection to Hannibal throughout the series appearing in various forms, the familiar raven feathered Stag, the iconic “Wendigo” and now this. Does this mean Will’s connection to Hannibal is still present and runs as deep as it did before?
It’s here that the episode then plays its best card. Abigail is dead. She has been all along. She died that night in Hannibal’s home and Will has merely been imagining her presence. With the episode’s earlier revelation of Hannibal’s precision with Will’s wounds, its clear Hannibal intended Abigail to die and for Will to live. Was Abigail’s death meant to be a punishment? Or a warning?
Will realises that Hannibal is still in the Church and with Pazzi descends into the catacombs to find him. We briefly see Hannibal in the catacombs but the episode leaves it vague enough that we can’t be sure if it is Hannibal or another figment of Will’s mind. And its here, with Will standing alone in the catacombs and saying aloud to the darkness “Hannibal, I forgive you” that the episode ends. An intriguing ending. It also begs the question of what Will has forgiven Hannibal for. The obvious answer is that Will has forgiven Hannibal for murdering Abigail.
More surrealist imagery covered this episode. The episode started with Will drowning in a pool of blood from the dying Stag. The imagery was incredibly similar to Bedelia’s dream of drowning last week. Does the drowning signify sanity? Inner darkness? Hannibal’s control? Perhaps the most memorable sequence was the intercutting of Will’s surgery and Abigail’s body being treated. The cold detachment in both sequences was chilling.
I must also commend Hugh Dancy for delivering a fantastic performance in this episode. Will came across as believably broken and conflicted but trying to piece himself back together. To say this episode lacked the show’s usual scene stealers of Mads Mikkelsen and Laurence Fishburne, Dancy managed to hold his own and carry the episode which bodes very well for the Red Dragon plotline in the latter half of the season.
Vincenzo Natali continues to impress as a director, delivering many unique and beautiful shots and sequences quickly emerging as one of the show’s strongest directors. With him directing the next three episodes as well, I’m intrigued to see if he can continue to deliver.
However this episode wasn’t all perfect. The episode certainly lacked anything resembling a conclusion. Perhaps this is the route the show intends to take in the future? To focus less on inter-connected smaller stories with a running main storyline and instead focus on telling one long main story. While I have no problems with this approach, it did leave me a little cold when the episode cut to credits without actually resolving anything. This may be more my problem though and it may take me a while to get used to the new approach.
The episode also seemed to be less tight and enthralling as the previous episode. While it was still great television, it begs the question on whenever more focus was placed on making the previous episode fantastic and less focus on this episode? Or perhaps the Hannibal/Bedelia storyline is going to be significantly better than the Will hunting for Hannibal storyline. I did miss Bedelia and Hannibal this week, so here’s hoping they’re allowed some time to shine next week.
Overall, this episode was a step down in quality from the premiere. But even so, an episode of Hannibal not up to previous standards for the show is still great television and miles better than most other shows, so it’s a moot point. This episode was more focused on reintroducing us to Will than advancing the plot so it succeeded in that aspect and can be forgiven for very little plot advancement. Once we’re past the next few episodes and all the pieces are in place for Will to begin a full scale manhunt for Hannibal, I imagine it will be full steam ahead plot wise from there to the finale.