Hannibal: 305 “Contorno” Review
Reviewed by Lewis Hurst.
The slower pace of Hannibal this season has proven an extremely divisive decision by many of the fanbase (I myself loved it), but those worrying about the slower pace needn’t worry. With this episode the pace quickened considerably with the figurative noose tightening around Hannibal’s neck as his hunters close in. With only two episodes left before the Tooth Fairy begins his killing spree, it’s time for some payoff on this brief trip to Italy.
Picking up with Will and Chiyoh taking the most beautifully shot train ride ever, we see the two discussing Chiyoh and her connection to Hannibal. Chiyoh claims she was sent to be an attendant of Hannibal’s aunt Lady Muraski and it is here she met the orphaned Hannibal, sometime after the death of his sister Mischa. However, I have doubts as to the truth of this claim. Will meanwhile probes Chiyoh, reminding her of how he manipulated her into taking the life of the unidentified prisoner earlier in the season. Chiyoh ponders if Will wants to kill Hannibal in order to stop himself becoming Hannibal and Will doesn’t actually deny this. After several more conversations, Chiyoh then reveals the truth of the matter. She wasn’t being manipulated. She was the one doing the manipulating and has known all along where Hannibal is, telling Will so before throwing him from the train, telling him “There are other means of influence other than violence, but violence is what you understand”. Exactly why Chiyoh did this is as yet unclear. Is she protecting Hannibal? Is she protecting Will? Or does she have another motive entirely? Regardless, Will is awoken by the raven stag (which symbolises his connection to Hannibal) and slowly makes his way onwards. While this was only a small part of this episode, it was nevertheless one of it’s most intriguing parts with the entire storyline giving off a Hitchcockian vibe with its stunning cinematography and two characters who don’t really trust each other questioning the other’s motives and character.
The rest of the episode was focused on the action in Italy. Jack has a final goodbye to his wife Bella and spreads her ashes into the river, shortly followed by his wedding ring. Jack then shares a meal with Pazzi and his wife leading to one of the episode’s few happy moments. Alana meanwhile, excitedly tells Mason she’s tracked Hannibal to Florence thanks to receipts from a wine store matching Hannibal’s fine taste, thus Hannibal’s taste being what has led to him being found just like Alana predicted last week. Pazzi then interviews “Dr Fell” at the Palazzo and manages to discern his true identity as Hannibal but instead of doing the obvious thing and arresting Hannibal on the spot, Pazzi decides to contact Mason and agrees to hand Hannibal over for a lucrative reward. Mason offers Pazzi a $100,000 advance on the reward if he is able to provide a fingerprint of Hannibal, confirming his identity. Pazzi goes back to the Palazzo to obtain the fingerprint but ends up brutally murdered for his troubles. Jack however, has tracked Pazzi to the Palazzo after he didn’t return home just in time to witness the murder and engage Hannibal in a rather one sided fight. A bloody and beaten Hannibal then limps away into the night and lives to kill another day. For the moment.
This entire storyline was phenomenal. I’m sure fans will now appreciate the slower pace of the first four episodes now, considering it allowed for the story to move significantly quickly here. I especially liked Alana questioning Mason on if he’s aware Pazzi will die, implying Mason has set up the whole fingerprint thing just to get Pazzi killed as so to avoid paying the bounty.
There were so many wonderful moments on display here that it’s hard to choose one as a highlight, so for this reason I’m going to choose the last 10 minutes of the episode simply because it covers the best (Pazzi’s death and Jack and Hannibal’s fight). Pazzi was always a doomed character, so his death didn’t come as a huge shock but it was nice to see that his death was lifted directly from the books; being hung outside the Palazzo with his bowels spilling into the street, just like his ancestor. Hannibal has always taken a more liberal approach to adapting Thomas Harris’s novels, so actually seeing a scene being adapted almost word for word came as a pleasant surprise. The death certainly showcased Hannibal’s flair for dramatic irony.
But what followed this scene was something else. It’s important to note that this is the first time one of the series regulars has had an encounter with Hannibal this season (not counting Will’s brief scene in the catacombs and Alana’s brief phonecall). We must also remember that the last time Jack and Hannibal fought, Hannibal won easily thanks to the element of surprise. Jack however had the element of surprise this time. Note how Jack has removed his shows to sneak up behind Hannibal undetected, Hannibal used this same track back in Season One to take Jack’s protégé Miriam Lass by surprise so it’s nice to see Hannibal falling afoul of his own tricks. The fight itself was shockingly brutal. We’re not used to seeing Hannibal on the receiving end of such brutality, so after three seasons it’s about time Hannibal lost for once. The scene was just magnificently shot, mixing slow motion with normal speed made every hit feel weighty, like it was doing true damage. I certainly wouldn’t expect Hannibal to be fully recovered from this encounter by the next episode.
I would say this was the second best episode of the Season yet. Antipasto was still the stronger episode, but Contorno moved the plot along significantly well and began to set all the pieces in place for an explosive conclusion to the first arc of this Season. With all the current storylines now beginning to converge in Florence, expect more big moments across the next two episodes. And if the upcoming reunions lead to more amazing sequences like the last ten minutes of this episode, then we’re in for a treat.