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Review: ‘Hannibal’ Season 3, Episode 1, ‘Antipasto’: Observe or Participate

Review: 'Hannibal' Season 3, Episode 1, 'Antipasto': Observe or Participate

Appetizer

At the end of last season, Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen,
stellar as always), finally exposed as the super-murderer the audience had always
known him to be, stabbed everyone else in the credits and traipsed off to
Europe with his former therapist, Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson). And
that’s where we pick up, after an undisclosed amount of time has passed since
the Season 2 finale. What horrors
do Bryan Fuller and his writers have for us this season?

READ MORE: Review: How ‘Hannibal’ Season 3 Sets the Table for a Wholly Different Meal

Hannibal and Bedelia’s European Vacation

In a classic premiere tease, this episode has no sign of
most of our leads. Instead, we follow Hannibal and Bedelia as they acclimate
themselves to their new Italian setting. Hannibal is relaxed, noting how few
people he’s killed since they arrived. In fact, his killings have been
downright practical. After all, how can he get a job translating at the
university if there is no open position to fill? So before arriving in Italy,
Hannibal also targets a certain Dr. Fell and his wife in Paris, so that he and
Bedelia will have cover identities when they arrive.

The show makes the most of its surroundings. There’s just
something right about seeing Hannibal
stalking around all the gothic architecture. “Hannibal” has always
been gorgeous, but in the streets and buildings of Italy, the show has found a
setting as sumptuous as its culinary presentations.

A good deal of this episode is dedicated to Bedelia, whose
motivations last season were rather opaque, in part due to her sporadic
appearances. Now that Anderson is a series regular, we see that she’s not
necessarily the partner in crime last season’s epilogue might have led viewers
to believe. She seems to be half-prisoner, half-volunteer. She claims that
she’s with Hannibal of her own free will, and she’s allowed plenty of autonomy,
but while she’s doing her daily shopping she stops at the train station to gaze
longingly at a means of escape, should she have the nerve. Of course, fleeing
would have its consequences, as she’s reminded when she discovers that her
current diet is identical to what the Romans fed their animals to improve their
flavor. Suffice to say, her relationship with Hannibal is rather strained, and
he asserts his dominance over her when he kills his next victim.

Don’t Play With Your Food

While casing Dr. Fell in Paris, Hannibal meets Anthony, a
young man who was Fell’s TA at Cambridge and can’t stand the man (Fell’s
apparent rudeness, of course, makes him a prime target for Hannibal). Anthony
shows up again in Italy, not realizing that Hannibal has assumed Fell’s
identity. Anthony seems like an obvious kill at first, but Hannibal goes so far
as to reveal that he’s posing as Dr. Fell, and is pleased when Anthony goes
along with the ruse.

But no, it’s all just another one of Hannibal’s little
experiments, as he brings Anthony back to his apartment and bludgeons him in
front of Bedelia. “Are you observing or participating?” he asks her.
Hannibal points out that Bedelia is not the passive observer she would prefer to
believe herself to be. Her refusal to act is itself a kind of action, a tacit
approval of Hannibal’s murderous instincts. In fact, in wanting to see what
would happen when Hannibal revealed himself to Anthony, she’s not far off from
Hannibal himself. “What have you gotten yourself into, Bedelia?”
Hannibal taunts, moments before breaking Anthony’s neck.

READ MORE: Watch: Gillian Anderson Says ‘I Do’ to ‘Hannibal’ in New Season 3 Trailer

Grand Guignol

After dispatching Anthony, we see Hannibal on a train,
carefully folding a piece of paper into an origami heart. Then we see Anthony’s
body displayed in a cathedral, twisted and mangled into the same heart shape.
Cue “That’s Amore!”

Humor Even In Darkness

When Bedelia makes a crack about her husband being
particular about how she tastes, Anthony slyly wonders, “Is it that kind
of party?” which leads Hannibal to do a wonderful take to Bedelia, as if
to say, “Hey, is it? Totally up to you!”

Most Wonderfully
Unsubtle Moment

I should point out that this header is not meant as a
criticism or joke. “Hannibal,” by its operatic nature, is often
screamingly obvious. True, its imagery can be occasionally confusing (why this
particular slow-mo close-up?) and its more florid dialogue is sometimes
downright impenetrable. But then sometimes Hannibal is lecturing on Dante and
stands right in front of a slide depicting the devil so that it looks like he
is the devil in the slide and you kind of want to high five whomever you’re
watching the show with because the show is ballsy enough to not only present
that image, but completely get away with it. (Also, earlier, a character
literally says to Hannibal, “You’re the devil.” Hannibal, of course,
demurs.)

The Main Course

We get the typical loving preparation montage as Hannibal
cooks the liver (at least that’s what it looked like) of Dr. Fell, and oysters
he served Bedelia looked particularly delicious. But most of the food attention
this episode is given over to the severed limbs of Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard).
In black-and-white flashbacks, we see Hannibal tempting Abel with his own leg,
smoked in thyme. “You’ll be falling off the bone,” he purrs in Abel’s
ear. Later, Abel’s arm is used as a feast for snails, to make them all the more
delicious.

It’s nice to see Eddie Izzard again, and he plays these
scenes with a pretty funny world-weariness, more resigned than horrified at
what’s happening to him. Hannibal reveals his nature to Abel, but nothing
beyond the surface. When Abel mentions cannibalism, Hannibal notes that
“It’s only cannibalism if we’re equals.” Abel may not be on
Hannibal’s level, but he’s perceptive enough to see that the only man Hannibal
comes close to viewing as an equal is Will Graham. When Will betrayed Hannibal
last season, he may have cut him deeper than he realized.

Poor Will Graham

After being viciously gutted by Hannibal at the end of last
season, Will doesn’t even show up this episode! Not to mention Jack and Alana.
Let’s just assume that wherever Will is, he’s feeling suitably down in the
dumps.

Grade: A-

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