A review of tonight's “Hannibal” coming up just as soon as I freebase my alibi…
In their first major scene together in season 2, Will tells Hannibal, “You and I have begun to blur.” This is an understatement, or perhaps just a reflection on an episode where everything – identity, sexuality, morality, and more – is a blur, both emotionally and visually.
Bedelia's plan to escape prosecution is to present herself as another of Dr. Lecter's victims, so chemically and psychologically altered that she's come to believe she really is Mrs. Fell. Her scenes are hazy, her movements languid, her speech affected, yet it is clear to Jack, Will, and even the crooked Florence detective that she knows who and what she really is. (When Chiyoh, a character with no power to arrest or prosecute her, turns up, Bedelia has no problem identifying herself as Hannibal's psychiatrist. Gillian Anderson is so sharp and funny in that scene that I didn't even mind that it also involved Chiyoh.)
Alana and Margot Verger fall into bed together, in a scene where they're presented as mirror images, forever joining and separating from each other in a series of kaleidoscopic images so unapologetically vaginal that Maude Lebowski would approve. And it turns out that Alana appearing to jump across legal and ethical lines to join Mason's quest for revenge is really her own con job, as she's panning to turn him into the authorities the moment he has Hannibal in custody…
… which he somehow does by the end of this episode, through methods – whether because Bedelia sent the cops to Sogliato's apartment, Chiyoh interrupted the attempt to eat Will's brain, or both – not remotely made clear here. Instead, we get more of Will and Hannibal merging in a way that's physically different from what Margot and Alana are doing, but which is even more emotionally profound to the two of them, and presented in a manner just as abstract and visually striking.
It's an episode that looks so good – and gets such a powerful charge out of finally having Dancy and Mikkelsen together for an extended period – that it was easier to overlook some of the show's recent plotting issues, which continued here.
Again, “Hannibal” is not a show that's particularly interested in the logic of the real world, or even of a more traditional crime procedural. But whenever it actually tries to explain why the realities shouldn't apply all it's doing is forcing the viewer to think about the silliness of this stuff in the first place. Jack's explanation to Will for why he didn't just kill Hannibal himself – “Maybe I need you to” – isn't a logical one, but it feels emotionally honest to this version of the story. Mason somehow bribing every single cop in Florence – after he was previously incompetent enough to need Pazzi to get a fingerprint, which turned Hannibal into a fugitive again – just feels like clumsy plot mechanics, and makes no sense even as it's trying very hard to. And Chiyoh is such a poorly-defined character to this point that she exists only to prolong this storyline, regardless of whether her actions seem to have any internal consistency.
But when you put the two leads in a room together (and then add Laurence Fishburne), or when everyone working on the visual side of things goes for broke the way they do again and again here, it covers for a lot of sins.
I mean, any episode that can contain an exchange like the one Hannibal and Will have – “Would you have done it quickly, or would you have stopped to gloat?” “Does God gloat?” “Often.” – as Hannibal is tending to Will's bullet wound, and that has Anderson enjoying herself to this degree can get away with almost anything.
In case you missed the news earlier in the week, Bryan Fuller tweeted that Netflix and Amazon are out as potential homes for a fourth season. Between that and everyone being let out of their contracts – which means Fuller now has “American Gods” in first position, and might not be available to return to “Hannibal” for a year or more – it feels like there are too many hurdles for the show to return in a traditional sense. As I noted, the best we can likely hope for is a series of occasional miniseries or TV-movies featuring Mikkelsen and Dancy.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org