Spoiler Shields up. This is going to be a detailed and spoiler-filled recap with critical commentary. Check it out after you’ve watched the episode and see if there’s anything I missed. Or anything you missed. Enjoy! As usual, the title for the latest episode of Bryan Fuller‘s definitive Hannibal, “Antipasto,” gives us a head’s up. This is an appetizer, teasing our palates and building our anticipation for the main course. But this isn’t some throwaway snack with no personality or flavor. “Antipasto” is a bold and densely-packed opening that establishes the new status quo for the series and gives us a look at a Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) that we’ve never seen to this point. A Hannibal in the wild. A predator with no reason to hide his true nature. At first, anyway. The episode opens with a signature Hannibal visual flourish, tight close-ups on objects in action that we may or may not be able to identify, followed by explosions of slow motion flame. As we pull back, it turns out to have been the combustion of a motorcycle engine roaring to life. The scene is set as the motorcyclist powers through Paris, zipping in and out of traffic in a sequence reminiscent of last year’s arthouse sci-fi masterpiece Under the Skin, and as it turns out our biker is very nearly as alien as that film’s protagonist. A leather-clad, Hannibal reveals himself, removing his motorcycle helmet and preparing for his hunt. The prey? Dr. Roman Fell. While watching Fell during a fancy gathering, Hannibal is spotted by another man on the hunt, most likely for prey of his own: Anthony Dimmond (Tom Wisdom), a grifter with claims to have served as Fell’s T.A. in the past. When the party ends, Hannibal waits for Fell at his home, and, well… We are treated to a Hannibal cooking montage as he prepares liver and then enjoys a meal of Dr. Fell, before being interrupted by Mrs. Fell. “Bonsoir,” indeed. The episode features a number of flashbacks, some clearly marked as such, others not so much. The first of these shifts to black and white as we join Hannibal in serving Dr. Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) his own leg. The last time we saw Gideon alive he was missing one leg, now both are gone. This scene serves to provide some insight into Hannibal’s personality, maybe the only bone thrown to prospective new viewers in the entire episode, as he notes to Gideon that “It’s only cannibalism if we’re equals.” Back in the present, we find Hannibal and his ex-psychiatrist Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) waltzing in Italy and seeming to have a glorious time at it. There’s actual joy on both their faces, which immediately puts Bedelia’s motivations into suspicion. Is she collaborating with Hannibal? She doesn’t seem like a prisoner, that’s for sure. Hannibal has his hooks in her, of course, but how deep? Even Bedelia doesn’t know yet. But she will. It is revealed that Hannibal has assumed the identity of Dr. Fell, with Bedelia playing his wife, and he has just been approved for a job as a museum curator in Florence, but his appointment has rubbed some the wrong way and after demonstrating his mastery of both Italian and the work of Dante by reciting Dante’s first sonnet in Italian, Hannibal/Dr. Fell is tasked with lecturing on Dante at the Palazzo as a final test. Harris utilized this alias in the Hannibal novel, taking inspiration from the near-forgotten nursery rhyme “I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,” which goes: I do not like thee, Doctor Fell, The reason why – I cannot tell, But this I know, and know full well, I do not like thee, Doctor Fell. Seems apropos. With so many elements lifted directly from the novel and film, Hannibal, Fuller once again opens up questions about just what he plans on adapting if and when the series reaches the fabled Season Six? While Bedelia asserts her independence once they’re back at their home, there’s a very clear sense that this is tenuous as best, given that once alone in the tub, she slides under and we are shown a long shot of her sinking into darkness, drowning, immersed, before she breaks the surface gasping for air. Methinks her subconscious is telling her something. This is a storytelling technique usually reserved for Will Graham, but with this episode’s entire lack of Will, Bedelia has stepped into the traditional Hannibal role of potential friend, probable foe. Then in the first of a number of Bedelia-centric flashbacks, we discover just where Hannibal went after the bloodbath of last season’s brilliant finale. To Bedelia’s abandoned house for a slow-mo shower to wash away the blood that covered him as he stalked away from the slaughterhouse that had been his home. It’s the only real hint we get this episode about what happened that night, but it does provide Hannibal to opportunity to deliver one of the best lines of the evening. When Bedelia asks what he has done, he replies “I’ve taken off my person suit.” It’s a chilling callback to the first time we saw Hannibal and Bedelia together in the first season. Horrified, she asks, “You let them see you?” “I let them see enough.” With those simple lines, it is made clear that there’s no going back, and out of either curiosity or the result of Hannibal’s mind-games, Bedelia goes on the run with him. After a very brief return to the present where Hannibal runs into Dimmond once again and invites him to dinner, we return to the black and white world and a gorgeously photographed reveal of snails feeding on Dr. Gideon’s severed arm (with a red wine marinade). Gideon asks if Hannibal’s feeding him mostly oysters, acorns, and sweet wine is a way of making him taste better and discovers that it also makes the snails tastier after they’ve fed on him. This revelation is almost immediately echoed in the present as we cut to dinner and Bedelia’s meal of oysters, acorns, and sweet wine. When Dimmond notes that the ancient Romans fed the same to their beasts to make the meat more delicious, a note of awareness sparks in her eyes. I think this is the first time she has realized just what Hannibal may have planned for her down the line. Surely the possibility was always there in the back of her mind, but when made explicit, she realizes that her curiosity may have gotten the better of her. The next day, back at the Florentine grocer Vera Dal 1926, where she shops for exquisite food and wines, she fixates on a rabbit hung and bleeding in a moment of self-recognition before ending up at the train station sitting and watching the trains come and go. Whether or not she can leave, we don’t know, but the scene ends with her staring up at the security camera. Is this another moment of awareness, that she’s always being watched or something more subtle? Is she leaving clues for the FBI to follow when they, hopefully, track them down? This sense of being trapped triggers a flashback to a scene we’ve only been teased with in the previous two seasons: the night Bedelia was attacked by her patient. It’s disconcerting and sudden as she finds herself gasping on the floor of her office with a barely recognizable Zachary Quinto as the dead patient beside her. Before we can get our bearings, this is followed immediately by a jump cut to Bedelia pulling her entire blood-drenched forearm out of Quinto’s mouth, as she has shoved his tongue down his own throat. As if he were lurking around waiting to see what happened, Hannibal suddenly arrives and makes sure Bedelia is aware that this doesn’t look like self-defense. Instead it was a “controlled use of force” and she was “not defending herself” when she shoved her arm into Quinto’s mouth. He helps her wash up and tells her he can help her “tell the version of events [she] wants to be told.” All she has to do is ask, and like anyone on the verge of selling their soul, she does ask. It’s interesting how this scene echoes Hannibal’s manipulation of Abigail into trusting and relying on him in season one. This is apparently a trick Hannibal knows all too well. Combine that with his penchant for taking on patients prone to violence and then aiming them at targets to see what happens, and we have another portrait of Hannibal come to light before us. Maybe he really is Lucifer? As if to drive home the fact that there is no escape for Bedelia, Hannibal’s Dante lecture focuses on the 9th Circle of Hell, the ring reserved for betrayers, with special attention paid to Judas and his suicide. In a gorgeously clever moment during this lecture, Hannibal’s face blends with the image of Lucifer being projected onto the screen behind him. Bedelia doesn’t miss the message. “I make my own home be my gallows.” This scene is another echo of both the novel and film versions of Hannibal, although in both of those cases, it was disgraced Italian detective Pazzi who was the focus of the lecture and if you didn’t know, he ended up hanged and disemboweled at the Palazzo Vecchio before Hannibal fled back to the States. Is this where we’re heading with Bedelia? With the lecture over, Bedelia gone, and Dimmond flirting with Hannibal, it looks as though it may be possible for her to get away, but in a scene Fuller tweeted as being inspired by Mary Steenburgen’s attempt to escape Jack the Ripper in Time After Time (1979), it is not to be. She is made witness to Hannibal’s murder of Dimmond and forced to answer the question, “Are you observing or participating?” She claims to only be observing as she trembles, Dimmond’s blood on her face, but Hannibal makes her admit that by anticipating what might happen and staying this long out of curiosity, she is participating. To make his point, he snaps Dimmond’s neck as he crawls toward the front door. In perhaps the most haunting line of the evening, the scene ends with Hannibal asking, “What have you gotten yourself into, Bedelia? Shall I hang up your coat for you?” Only it’s not a question. It’s confirmation that her life is no longer her own. That sense of free will she claimed earlier was an illusion. She’s a part of Hannibal’s bloody trail across Europe and there’s only one way out if he has his way. When the episode ends with Hannibal folding a realistic origami heart from a sheet of paper with Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man printed on it, followed by the display of Dimmond’s torso, carved and mutilated into a realistic heart shape, Hannibal is calling out to the only person he feels a connection with: Will Graham. Because as Gideon taunts in one final flashback, “Snails aren’t the only creatures who prefer to eat with company. If only that company could be Will Graham.” And next week we will finally get to see what happened in the aftermath of the Season Two finale as Will and company arrive in Italy to begin hunting Hannibal once again. It was a bold move, to spend the entire episode with Hannibal (although the show is named after him, after all), especially given the cliffhanger nature with which the previous season ended. Although, to be honest, we know that everyone survived. We just don’t know how and we don’t know where they’re heads are at. Which makes next week’s episode all the more anticipated. This episode of Hannibal gave no fucks if you were a new viewer. It gave you no special treatment beyond the cursory “previously on” montage at the beginning, and dove headlong into a sumptuous visual feast as director Vincenzo Natali initiates his three-episode residency by crafting one of the most beautiful episodes of network television in recent memory thanks to a simply inspiring collaboration with cinematographer James Hawkinson. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the nightmare-inducing score by Brian Reitzell again. Together with Fuller’s impeccable showrunning and scripting (this time with series veteran Steve Lightfoot), there is simply no question that Hannibal is the most innovative and interesting show on television at the moment. Also, be sure to check out Janice Poon’s Feeding Hannibal blog for insight into the creation of the dishes shown during this episode. They look delicious! Bonsoir. Hannibal 3.01 "Antipasto"Paul's Rating4.5Overall ScoreReader Rating: (1 Vote)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related 3 Responses giantslor June 10, 2015 Great review, maybe the best I’ve read for this episode. You cleared up several things — I didn’t realize that the shower scene was a flashback. And the symbolism of the strung-up rabbit is clear now. A couple things I’d add — the bathtub scene is also reminiscent of Under the Skin, with Bedelia submerging into the inky blackness. Also, I’ve read that we won’t find out what happened to every victim of the “Red Dinner” until episode four. Log in to Reply Paul Brian McCoy June 10, 2015 Thanks for the compliment! It’s greatly appreciated! I can’t believe I didn’t make the Under the Skin connection with the tub! That’s a great catch! Log in to Reply giantslor June 11, 2015 You’re welcome, thank you for providing a great review. I actually didn’t think of the tub/Under the Skin connection until I started reading people connecting the motorcycle scene to UtS. Better late than never! Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.