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! An apertivo is both the ritual of going out for a pre-dinner drink and also the type of drink one might have. “Apertivo” is derived from the Latin for “to open” and recalls the experience of something appetizing — something that encourages your hunger, preparing you for the upcoming meal. Not only is this episode of Hannibal a gathering of friends and associates, it is also a whetting of the appetite for what is to come next. And what comes next is the hunt for Dr. Hannibal Lecter. After spending the first three episodes of the season essentially ignoring the Season Two finale in order to casually spend time and energy exploring what Hannibal, Bedelia, and, last episode, Will, have been up to, “Apertivo” returns us to the violent near-deaths of all of our other main characters. First up is the thread that ties these introductions together structurally, Dr. Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza). It should come as no surprise that Chilton survived the Manchurian Candidate assassination attempt Hannibal sent his way in the form of long-lost Miriam Lass. The gun’s retort rolls like a thunderclap as the bullet tears into Chilton’s cheek in slow-motion and bursts out the back of his head in an explosion of gore. But as we open our story here, Chilton is alive, if not well, and meeting with another survivor of Hannibal’s wrath: Mason Verger (recently recast as Joe Anderson, who makes a valiant effort at retaining the flourish that Michael Pitt brought to the character last season — luckily his facial deformities allow the transition to go smoother than it might otherwise have). Before Mason will discuss anything with Chilton, though, he playfully demands that they expose their true faces to one another in what will be the first of many unmaskings this episode. Mason removes his ceramic mask to reveal the result of massive amounts of money and plastic surgery, and unfortunately the end result isn’t nearly as scary as Gary Oldman’s make-up job in the film Hannibal. If I were an ungenerous sort, I’d compare the look to Jim Carrey’s Fire Marshall Bill. While this is actually more believable than Oldman’s nightmarish result, given what unlimited money could actually do with regards to reconstructive surgery, it’s still a disappointment for this reviewer. Chilton’s reveal is much more satisfying, as he removes a contact lens to reveal a blind, milky eye, wipes away makeup covering the still gaping bullet hole in his cheek, and then removes the denture plate that is apparently keeping the entire left side of his face supported. Naked, he is much more disturbing than Mason, sagging, slurring, and half-blind. It’s no wonder he burns to get Hannibal into his “care” at the hospital. However, once they are face-to-face, Chilton realizes that the million dollar reward Mason has offered around the world for information about the location of Hannibal has nothing to do with capture and incarceration, but is instead all about revenge, exclaiming, “You don’t want a therapist. You want a profiler!” As Mason replies that he wants to understand Hannibal to better understand himself, Chilton will have none of it, declaring that understanding what it meant to survive Hannibal is what is important. To which Mason scoffs, that he didn’t survive. “This is exactly how he intended me to live.” At least he’s not a paraplegic, as he is in Hannibal the film. Interestingly enough, as we already know that the back half of the season will be Fuller’s adaptation of Red Dragon (finally), in the background of this scene we get a glimpse of our first taste of William Blake’s artwork and imagery. On the wall to the right of Mason’s bed is Blake’s painting “Ancient of Days” which captures a demiurge, Urizen, crouching with a compass, separating the order of the material world from the chaos that preceded creation, in Blake’s opinion, a “sublime error” leading to the “reduction of the infinite” and “the destruction of imagination” (hat tip to the Glasgow University Library Special Collections Department website for more insight into both the image and the work for which it served as a frontispiece, Europe: a Prophecy – 1794). This stripping away of chaos and providing order is symbolic of what Hannibal has done to Mason, as he makes plain later in the episode, co-opting the language of religion, claiming to have been reborn in the eyes of Jesus with a renewed purity of focus and intent. But more on that later. Chilton is dismissed as unsuitable for Mason’s needs, and we next flashback to Will receiving his ‘smile’ from Hannibal – although interestingly enough, our initial vantage point is from inside Will as the knife thrusts in, allowing in the light of the outside world before slashing across. It’s a flashy transition, but doesn’t seem to serve any further purpose thematically as we return to the familiar shot of Hannibal cradling Will and stroking his hair as he bleeds out. Will then wakes up in the hospital as we saw in “Primavera” and it turns out his vision of Abigail’s visit was triggered by the actual visit of Dr. Chilton (explaining the mystery of why the doctor who gives Will a drink introduced what turned out to be a hallucination). With Will, Chilton attempts to establish a bond of similarity; they were both “suckers” who were “framed and maimed” by Lecter. Together, they can find Hannibal, capture him, and put him in a cage at the hospital, but as with Mason, Chilton is not connecting with Will. He doesn’t understand what Will wants and misplays his hand. When Will also rejects him, Chilton’s true personality emerges and he practically snarls that Will’s world is collapsed and he’s not going to get a better opportunity to make it right again. The next scene transition spirals along Will’s psychic trajectory, as he dreams of his last dinner with Hannibal and Jack, which turns into a bloodbath as he betrays Jack, holding him while Hannibal cuts his throat. It’s a very literal interpretation of the guilt that Will feels about what happened in the finale, and the scene quickly shifts to Will working in his garage, welding and rebuilding a boat engine as Jack arrives. On the surface, Jack says he’s there to make sure that Will sticks to the story they created about what happened that night at Hannibal’s house, but in reality he’s there to ask another question entirely: Why did Will call Hannibal and warn him? With his back to Jack, Will admits that he hadn’t decided to tell Hannibal when he called. “I just called him,” he says. “I deliberated while the phone rang. I decided when I heard his voice.” Jack looks stunned and betrayed: “You told him we knew.” “I told him to leave. I wanted him to run.” Why? Because Hannibal was his friend and he wanted to run away with him. Fuller and company have a history of obfuscating the story in order to lead the viewers into a false sense of understanding, only going back later to fill in holes and details withheld (particularly during Season Two’s revisitings of Will’s Season One experiences of lost time), so it would not be unheard of for this to be a moment where Will is explicitly lying to Jack in order to push him away and keep him safe, knowing he will be off on a Hannibal hunt sometime in the future. By keeping his back to Jack, it ensures he can give nothing away to the detective, but I don’t really think that’s what’s happening here. I think this is another moment of a character’s true face being revealed. Will’s revelation to Jack is an attempt to be honest and to make it clear that they shouldn’t interact again. Our next scene shift takes us back to Dr. Alana Bloom’s descent from Hannibal’s window (again in slow motion), flying backwards into the air in a cloud of glass shards and rain. We immediately cut to a shot from below for an x-ray image of Alana’s pelvis shattering as she smashes into the ground. When next we see her, she is in an extremely stylized recovery room — something seemingly inspired more by Lynch or Cronenberg than real hospital décor – immobilized on a table with a halo of seven steel rods piercing her pelvis, holding her in place. This is the next stop on Chilton’s failed recruitment tour; only he’s not so nice this time, blaming Alana for her own situation without hesitation. Not surprisingly, she doesn’t buy into his plans either. As is pointed out in an excellent review by Psycho Drive-In contributor Laura Akers over on Den of Geek, the Alana we get here, after her accident is a very different Alana from what we’ve seen over the previous two seasons. While I agree that the way we get this new Alana (a lot of bone marrow got into her bloodstream after the accident, and she thinks differently now – which is about as accurate a reference to what’s called Fat Embolism syndrome as Georgia Madchen’s Cotard’s Syndrome was back in Season One) is a shortcut, I still approve of the end result. This new Alana is a revenge machine, modeled somewhat on Hannibal himself. Once she’s out and about in her wheelchair, the first thing she does is return to Hannibal’s house to revisit the scene of her rebirth. But she’s not the only one there, revisiting the past; Will is already there, being creepier than he has any right to. Before she sees him though, she hears a voice, whispered, accented, say “You were so afraid of me, the last time I saw you. Before the last time I saw you…” Then she wheels around the corner to find Will sitting in the floor alone. That bit of dialogue wasn’t a callback to the Season Two finale. Was that Will, channeling Hannibal? Was Alana not supposed to hear that? They both act as though nothing happened and Will, in his completely normal voice, says he’s there to visit old friends. And when Alana asks if he wouldn’t rather forget them, he says, “I don’t want to forget. I’m building rooms in my memory palace for all my friends.” Then we get one of the most important exchanges of the night: “Friendship with Hannibal,” says Alana, “is blackmail elevated to the level of love.” To which Will responds, “A mutually unspoken pact to ignore the worst in one another in order to continue enjoying the best.” If that’s not a solid definition of love, I don’t know what is. The next stop on Alana’s voyage is the Verger Estate, interviewing for the “therapist” position that Chilton was rejected for earlier. However, before Alana meets with Mason, she crosses paths with Margot (Katharine Isabelle) and sparks fly before she’s even out of the car. She spots Margot riding (in slow motion) and gets a funny look in her eye, then as she’s getting out of her car (in slow motion), Margot gets a similar funny look. And if you weren’t sure what was going on there, how about this dialogue: “I wasn’t sure this was my entrance,” Alana says. “It can be your entrance. It’s not easy to find the first time you come,” replies Margot. Hmmmmm. Not enough evidence for a mutual attraction for you? Then how about Bryan Fuller tweeting this: Alana’s meeting with Mason, while substituting sexual tension for condescending sexual innuendo, goes better than it has any right to, with Mason playing his Jesus card, but Alana seeing right through him, dismissing his supposed “forgiveness” of Hannibal as “not what it’s cracked up to be” and declaring that she doesn’t “need religion to appreciate the idea of Old Testament revenge” before the camera moves in close and she cracks a deadly smirk. And with that, Mason has found his profiler and Alana has taken on a quest for vengeance. With Alana situated on Mason’s payroll, the episode shifts back around to Jack in what is simply the most heartbreaking segment in the history of the series. We are immediately back to Jack in the pantry at Hannibal’s house, with Hannibal leaping at the door, trying to burst it open. Inside the pantry, Jack’s blood spray plays in reverse (and in slow motion), echoing a similar scene in the finale, but here we follow the droplets up into the darkness of the ceiling, where they glitter like stars before the scene fades to black. Then Jack wakes up next to Bella at the hospital, the first words out of his mouth, “Did I die?” He is convinced that he died, as he explained to Pazzi last episode, and then Bella suggests that he do what she can’t, and cut out what’s killing him. This leads us to a scene of Jack packing up his office while Chilton tries to convince him that they need to pursue Hannibal, or at least keep an eye on Will, who most likely will be pursuing Hannibal. As with Mason and Alana, Jack rejects Chilton and counters his charge that he’s lost focus with the fact that he is now refocused… on taking care of Bella. The next scene opens with Jack noticing that Bella’s breathing is labored. He gets up from his chair, crosses over, sits next to her on the bed and lays his head on her chest, listening to her heartbeat. It’s one of the most honest and tender acts I’ve ever seen on television. He takes her hand in his, kisses it, then goes to get her medicine. He takes a small bottle of liquid over to her IV and in the patented Hannibal style we cut close on the meds being drawn into the syringe, close on the needle entering the IV port, then a lovely tight shot of the meds injecting into the fluids already in the IV bag. Then Jack gets into bed next to Bella and holds her, rests his head on hers, and cries as she die in his arms. It seems fairly obvious to me that Jack just helped Bella cross over, but opinion in mixed. We then cut to a shot of her empty bed with Jack looking on. Bella appears, choosing a white dress that Jack approves of whole-heartedly. But it’s really Alana there, helping Jack prepare for the funeral. Jack looks out the window and declares, “Bella’s dead. That should change the view from these windows. It’s not right if the view stays the same. It’s not right.” The words are simple, but they speak volumes. The loss of someone so important to your world is a devastating thing. Your emotional world is thrust into turmoil and quite literally collapses. On the inside. Out there, outside the window, the world keeps turning, oblivious to our pain and suffering. It’s not right. Not right at all. What comes next is almost too painful to watch. It’s a montage that echoes the one at the end of “Primavera,” but this time rather than cut between the machinery of life and death, it cuts back and forth between the social preparations involved with death; Jack getting dressed in his suit, Bella being prepared in her white dress. This then flashes back to a different white dress: Bella’s wedding dress. In the past, Jack moves in to kiss her, smiling; in the present he kisses her forehead as she lies in the casket. And then we are drawn back into the world of the show, as Jack realizes that Hannibal has sent flowers and a card. In a scene taken straight from Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal has sent a card featuring an excerpt from John Donne’s poem “A Fever”: “O wrangling schools, that search what fire / Shall burn this world, had none the wit / Unto this knowledge to aspire, / That this her feaver might be it?” This is followed by, “I’m so sorry about Bella, Jack.” The irony here is that Hannibal is expressing the exact same feeling that Jack did earlier. When Jack decried that fact that the world hadn’t changed, it echoes the sentiment of Donne’s poem. In “A Fever” the death of the woman about whom the poem was written is an apocalyptic event, unbalancing the world. Whether it’s cruel taunting or an actual heartfelt sentiment, Hannibal has tapped perfectly into the emotions Jack is feeling at this very moment. As if on cue, Jack’s reading of this note signals the arrival of Will — apparently the only other person to attend Bella’s funeral. With Bella gone now, Jack is able to return some attention to Will and asks that he not do whatever he’s planning. “You don’t have to die on me too,” he says as he gets up to leave Will to contemplate Hannibal’s note. This brings us to the final moments of the episode. First we focus on Mason receiving massage therapy by a character we know from the film, Hannibal: Cordell (Boardwalk Empire and True Detective‘s Glenn Fleshler). In the film, Dr. Cordell Doemling is Mason’s caretaker who ultimately turns on Mason at a critical moment, but here appears to be staged as someone ready to do whatever he needs to in order to meet Mason’s needs. In this case, it’s to begin setting into motion a plan to capture Hannibal and eat him alive. In an odd creative choice, we move directly into a flashback for Mason. It’s out of place narratively and thematically, given that we already know that his “born again” schtick is just that. So for some reason we are now shown his actual facial reconstruction, complete with horrific absence of nose, lips, and cheeks, along with disturbing skin peels and grafts to give him that television-acceptable burn-victim look discussed earlier. After his unbandaging, he picks up a mirror, checks himself out and declares himself “Good as new.” In case you were wondering where his head’s at. While the scene seemed fairly unnecessary, at least it provides us with an opportunity to listen to an unreleased track by series composer Brian Reitzell: The final two scenes center around Alana. In the first, she plays the Clarice role in Hannibal (book and film), figuring out that Hannibal will be discovered due to his tastes, and Europe aligns with those tastes. So with a general area of interest and an idea about how to start narrowing down their search, the Alana and Mason show have the in they’ve been looking for. Although it seems circulating a picture of Hannibal would speed up the process… Then Alana shows up at Will’s house, apparently recruited to dogsit again. Jack arrives only to learn that Will has left on his Hannibal-Quest. The odd part is that Alana shares this knowledge by saying that Will “knows what he has to do,” and then puts Jack on the spot, asking “Do you?” This raises the question, did Will establish a plan of action with Alana before leaving? Clearly he was in touch; she’s taking care of his dogs. Jack doesn’t know what’s going on at this point, apparently, so his arrival in Palermo is either him playing the actual role of concerned friend, or he’s doing everything he can to help provide support without giving away some master plan. In the meantime, Will closes out this episode by sailing away. To Europe? It’s a lovely poetic moment to go out on as we connect the dots and bring all of our cast of characters up to date, but I have to admit, the initial image made it seem like Will sailed away across the ocean. That’s probably not what happened, right? Overall, this episode was pretty solid; the script by Nick Antosca, Fuller, and Steve Lightfoot, did what needed to be done and maintained the tone of the season so far without sliding into the excessive symbolism and near-surrealism of the first three episodes. Director Marc Jobst does a nice job maintaining the overall feel of the series, but he lacks the firm visual hand that Natali demonstrated in his episodes. But given a lot of the audience reaction, maybe that’s for the best. Having some clearly delineated plot movement along with answers about just what happened to our main characters after the bloodbath at Hannibal’s last season is exactly what many viewers were looking for. Personally, I found this episode to be satisfying, but lacking in comparison with the other episodes so far this season. And while that sounds like damning praise, “Apertivo” was still the single best piece of film on television this week. When the weakest episode of you season is still the best thing on television, you’re doing something right. Hannibal 3.04 "Apertivo"Paul's Rating3.5Overall ScoreReader Rating: (0 Votes)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.