Review: ‘Hannibal’ – ‘Secondo’: The first silence of the lambs?

A review of tonight's “Hannibal” coming up just as soon as I don't require conventional reinforcement…

“Our minds concoct all kinds of fantasies when we don't want to believe something.” -Will

As “Hannibal” has drifted deeper and deeper into dream logic over the course of the last couple of seasons, I've seen some understandable complaints from people who preferred the slightly more coherent form the show took in its first season-plus. The show is definitely much less interested in plot or clarity than it used to be, and there are times it plunges so deep into Will's head that it feels like we're never going to find our way out of it. I've gone willingly into this stranger phase of the series, in part because it's encouraged some of the show's most memorable scenes and images – like Hannibal's Broken Hart (aka Stagenstein) last week – in part because it feels more honest to the nature of the story and its central characters. Hannibal Lecter is by any reasonable definition of the term a supervillain, and Will Graham a tormented superhero, and their actions make no sense in any plane of reality as we understand it. I'm by and large someone interested in plot logic above most other things in my storytelling (only consistent characterization tends to matter more to me), but on this show, it works.

That said, “Secondo” was definitely at the extreme end of the show's fuzzy new normal. It's the first “Hannibal” episode in a while to make me impatient through some of the dream sequences and other macabre imagery (this season loves extreme close-ups of snails in motion), particularly during Will's visit to the rundown Lecter family estate in Lithuania. The trip was designed to introduce us to  Chiyoh, a mysterious figure from Hannibal's past with a complicated moral code – which allowed her to keep Mischa's alleged killer imprisoned like an animal for years on Hannibal's say-so, but wouldn't let her simply kill him – but her presence in the midst of a slightly elevated level of the show's usual crypticness tipped the scales too much the wrong way, I'm afraid. If the point was to show that Will has, in the wake of the latest torment Hannibal put him through, become even more like his quarry, then that's territory the show already took us to when an imprisoned Will was trying to have Hannibal murdered by proxy last year. That's not to say the series can't repeat its themes or character beats; it's just usually livelier and more entertaining (in its own sick way) than it was here.

Bedelia continuing to delicately navigate life as Hannibal's pretend wife was far more interesting and varied, even as it complemented what was happening with Will. Both men are grappling with the feelings of loss and betrayal from the other – this is, and will continue to be, treated as the most violent and dysfunctional break-up in TV history – while also exploring the aftermath of Mischa's murder. Bedelia's annoyed enough with Hannibal to put poor Professor Sogliato out of his misery (I laughed very hard at Hannibal's cheeky, “Technically, you killed him”), and emboldened enough to confront him with her theory that he was the one who ate Mischa, and not the monster in the dungeon back home.  And the scene where he washes her hair was every bit as beautiful and full of menace as a Hannibal cooking sequence, because at this point, is there anything the man can do that wouldn't be both extremely photogenic and terrifying?

The episode also brings Jack Crawford back into the mix, allowing him to hang out with Rinaldo Pazzi and admit that at this point, he only cares about finding Will. Hannibal was already a monster when Jack met him, whereas Jack understandably blames himself for what Will has become with his prodding. It's only a couple of brief scenes (Laurence Fishburne was splitting time this season between “Hannibal” and “Black-ish”), but Will needs at least one foil on his side of the game who isn't a figment of his imagination.

Didn't love this one overall, but can't help appreciating the only show on television where a main character would answer a question about what he was like as a young man by saying, “I was rooting for Mephistopheles and contemptuous of Faust.”

What did everybody else think?