This is, Hannibal fans, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the last two episodes of the Italy arc. Since we know the back half of the season will adapt Red Dragon, we also know these are also Hannibal Lecter’s last two weeks of freedom.

I’ve used this quote from Red Dragon before, but it seems especially appropriate this week:

“The reason you caught me is that we’re just alike” was the last thing Graham hard as the steel door closed behind him.

Which is perfectly true, as far as it goes. In fact, Hannibal has done a better job than either film adaptation of Red Dragon of portraying just how similar the two are.

And yet as we face down the inevitable, there’s another quote that comes to mind. It’s from a season two episode, “Tome-wan.” I don’t remember the exact words, but Bedelia du Maurier tells Jack Crawford that Hannibal is completely in control of the situation. If Jack and Will believe they are close to catching Lecter…it’s because Hannibal wants them to think that.

Caroline Dhavernas stars in "Dolce."

Season 3, episode 6: “Dolce” (July 9, 2015)

“Next follows the dolce, or dessert…Though there are nationwide desserts, popular across Italy, many regions and cities have local specialities.”Wikipedia

Guest stars: Joe Anderson, Fortunato Cerlino, Katharine Isabelle, Glenn Fleshler, Tao Okamoto, Giorgio Lupano.

I haven’t discussed Bedelia du Maurier much over three seasons of these recaps. That doesn’t mean she isn’t important. In fact, she’s been very important, and this season, her place in the thematic structure of the series has been crucial. As someone who sees inside Hannibal Lecter more clearly than anyone save Will Graham, she provides the insight into Lecter that we otherwise wouldn’t get (nice to have as this season has delved into his childhood)–not do mention helping define Hannibal’s relationship with Will by specifically not being Will.

What she’s not is a particularly active character, the sort that drives plots forward. Those characters are often easier to write about, because they, you know, do things. So I’m really happy to say that I can write a few things about her this week. In fact, despite knock-it-out-of-the-park performances from just about everyone, not to mention another trippy sex scene involving Margot (and, probably not coincidentally, directed by Vincenzo Natali), Gillian Anderson simply owns this episode.

Bedelia has claimed to have an exit plan in the past, and she finally puts it into motion. Turns out it was to make it look like Hannibal pulled a Miriam Lass on her (a comparison Jack explicitly makes), brainwashing her into thinking she was actually Lydia Fell. Hannibal agrees to support her story, on the grounds that he intends to eat her at some point and it’ll probably be easier to do that if she’s not in prison.

Meanwhile, having learned of Pazzi’s death, Mason Verger (at Alana’s suggestion) decides to up his game and, apparently, buy the entire Florence police department. Also, in a rare moment of actually caring about Margot, he offers to help facilitate a baby for her. A Verger baby, from his sperm and Margot’s eggs. Admittedly, Margot doesn’t have a uterus anymore, so does she know of any viable surrogates?

“Dolce” answers that question by cutting to the trippiest sex scene the series has yet to offer (admittedly, how many has it offered so far? Two? Three?) as Margot and Alana make love inside a kaleidoscope. I bet Forzani and Cattet would have been proud.

Of course, the law of narrative development means that things have to get worse before they get better. Hannibal and Will reunite, giving Lecter a chance to attempt to “forgive” Will in that very special way he discussed with Bedelia a couple of episodes back. Exactly how that results with the dynamic duo ending up hanging upside down at Verger’s Muskrat Farm…well, I can’t spoil everything for you, can I?

Between Gillian Anderson’s performance and the beautiful Alana/Margot giallo love scene, “Dolce” is probably the most memorable episode of the Italy arc even if it isn’t the best. But thanks to the escalating tension and dread, it’s still very, very good.

Laurence Fishburne stars in "Digestivo."

Season 3, episode 7: “Digestivo” (July 18, 2015)

“The digestivo…is the drink to conclude the meal. Drinks such as grappa, amaro, limoncello or other fruit/herbal drinks are drunk…Digestivo indicates that the drinks served at this time are meant to ease digestion of a long meal.”Wikipedia

Guest stars: Joe Anderson, Katharine Isabelle, Tao Okamoto, Glenn Fleshler, Giorgio Lupano.

One of the things I kept thinking back to over the last couple episodes of the Italy arc is how Hannibal never operates from a position of weakness, only from strength. You might think you have the advantage over him, but that’s only because he wants you to think that. He’s completely, utterly in control.

The midseason finale gives us Lecter at his most vulnerable, held by Verger like one of his prize hogs, with an elaborate plan in the wings for eating Hannibal the Cannibal. (Not only does this fulfill Abel Gideon’s “Everybody gets ate” foreshadowing in “Antipasto,” Glenn Fleshler’s performance as gourmand-surgeon Cordell is delectably Izzard-esque.) Will’s prize as runner-up is to be the donor for Verger’s remake of Eyes Without a Face.

Of course, we all know Mason won’t get the chance to have his long pig and eat it too, even if we haven’t read Hannibal or watched the movie (although the series’ interpretation of his fate is appropriately awesome). But it’s brilliant, being able to see Hannibal work his way out of this situation by doing what he does best: by using people, specifically Margot. (Less so Alana. Yes, he does promise her he’ll save Will’s life, but honestly I think he’d do that even it weren’t for his erstwhile protege/lover. It wouldn’t be in his character to leave Will to Mason’s tender mercies.)

Of course, “Digestivo” isn’t all talk and no action. Will gets a good one on Cordell, while Margot gets proof of just how much sicker her brother has become. But it is, honestly, the talkier bits that make the episode: Cordell detailing his plans for butchering and cooking his boss’s captive; verbal sparring between Mason and Margot; Mason’s ecstatic cry of “Transubstantiation!”; Alana’s pained plea of “Could I have ever understood you?”

That you can see very clearly where things are moving isn’t much of a weakness. Indeed, the climax feels like nothing less than Fate exerting itself. And in the context of Hannibal-the-series, as opposed to the Thomas Harris canon, Hannibal’s capture makes sense. Hannibal, as someone who always takes control of every situation–however subtly–simply can’t be caught. Therefore, the only way for him to get where he needs to be at the beginning of Red Dragon–in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane–is to put himself there.

Think about that one for a while: Hannibal actually wants to be imprisoned. I’m not sure I can think of anything more terrifying than that.

HANNIBAL title screen.

Next on Hannibal“And there appeared another wonder in Heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.”

"The Great Red Dragon"

Season 3 episode ranking

  1. “Digestivo” (3.07)
  2. “Dolce” (3.06)
  3. “Contorno” (3.05)
  4. “Antipasto” (3.01)
  5. “Aperitivo” (3.04)
  6. “Secondo” (3.03)
  7. “Primavera” (3.02)

One thought on “Hannibal, “Dolce” / “Digestivo”

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