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! In the world of food, “Contorno” is a side dish of salad or vegetables commonly served alongside the main course, but it is also a noun meaning “outline” or “border” as in “fare da contorno a” which translates as “to surround.” Every single one of these definitions fits this episode. It serves as a side dish to the main course, which is of course Will vs Hannibal, to give us a wonderfully cathartic scene between Jack and Hannibal to close the episode. At the same time, all of our characters are closing in on Hannibal from all directions. First, we follow a close-up of smoke rising, shift smoothly to coals being shoveled in a boiler room, then pull out to see an old-fashioned steam-driven train traveling through the European countryside. Chiyoh’s voice-over tells of her first time meeting Hannibal as a child, when she was the attendant to Hannibal’s aunt. Mischa was supposed to be with him that day, but she was already gone. She hints that he taught her things, but doesn’t go into detail. Will, in what seems like an attempt to play Hannibal to Chiyoh, asks her if she sees herself killing the stranger over and over again. Cooley, she replies, “No. I see you.” There are no illusions with Chiyoh. She sees Will for what he is and responds accordingly. Interestingly, this scene plays out with both characters facing each other in their train car, mimicking the Hannibal/Will therapy dynamic, with Will flipped to the standard Hannibal position on the left and Chiyoh playing Will on the right. The only difference here is that Chiyoh is much more in control of the situation than Will ever was. This trip through the countryside has a strange, fairytale-like quality to it, which is only enhanced by what seems to be back-projected scenery scrolling by outside the window. I almost expected to see shadow puppets or marionettes acting out Chiyoh’s memories. Then, out of the blue, Chiyoh shares a story that is both intriguing and oddly chosen, given the symbolism. She explains that birds eat snails, thousands a day around the world. “Some of those snails survive digestion and they emerge to find they’ve traveled the world.” “In the belly of the beast,” Will responds. Clearly, Chiyoh is seeing herself as the snail arriving curiously unscathed (for Will surely isn’t) in a new land, transported there by the beast who ensnared her — Will? It’s a dreamlike fable that is only undermined in its simple beauty by the fact that, as Fuller tweeted: Carrying the snail imagery into the following scene, we get our obligatory transition shot of macro lens slow-motion snails followed by a brief return of Firefly Man hanging at Castle Lecter, before melting into images of snails Hannibal is preparing for Bedelia. Post-coital snails, that is. As a shirtless Hannibal feeds snails to Bedelia, he tells her about his childhood snail garden, raised specifically in order to feed firefly larvae (as we discussed in “Secundo”). The snails are fuel for their transformation. As Bedelia and Hannibal continue to verbally spar, Will is clearly the firefly in their ongoing metaphorical dialogue, but a firefly that agonizes over “inevitable change.” For once, the dialogue is somewhat obvious, rather than either illuminating hidden meanings or throwing a shadow over others, it’s all very surface here. Bedelia’s assertion that “almost anything can be trained to resist its instinct. A shepherd dog doesn’t savage the sheep,” is countered, almost lovingly, as Hannibal rests his head against her hair and says “But he wants to.” The scene ends with Bedelia stating the obvious yet again; that Will is on his way to kill Hannibal, and Hannibal is waiting to kill Will. Then we fade, yet again, to Firefly Man before cutting to the opening credits. The return to this image is an odd choice, both here and earlier. It seems to serve as a simple image of the snails and fireflies, of Will’s apparent transformation, but the motivations for his creation of the Firefly Man are still so muddied that whatever it is intended to signify is unclear. I’d almost go so far as to say the image is used just because it’s a striking image, rather than for any significant symbolic resonance. After the opening credits roll we return to Florence to find Jack strolling along a bridge, cradling the beautiful antique urn that holds Bella’s remains. In an odd and out of place use of the standard Hannibal slow motion and creepy soundscape, he dumps her ashes into the river and then removes his wedding ring, throwing it out into the water as far as he can. We watch the ring sink slowly into darkness and witness a Jack truly unburdened. He is free of all obligation and responsibility, except perhaps for what he feels for Will. From here we cut to Jack having dinner with Pazzi and his young wife. There’s something unsettling about the scene, until you realize that it’s because things are mostly normal. The speech patterns are no longer the stylized word games of all the other characters. It’s almost disturbing how mundane the scene seems. This is how far down the rabbit hole we’ve come. The everyday has become unnatural and off-putting. Of course, as soon as Pazzi’s wife is out of the room, we return to the cryptic pronouncements and poetic phrasings as Pazzi hints at his plans for Hannibal. Jack’s warnings that stepping outside the law is a losing game fall on deaf ears. But we knew it would. I’m beginning to feel as though the weakest parts of Hannibal are those that stick the closest to the source material. It’s okay to use dialogue or images when they’re shifted out of phase with what we expect, but as soon as the plot — the inevitable plot — resurfaces, there’s a loss of magic. And then it’s back to normality as Jack tries to pronounce the name of the dish that Pazzi’s wife has returned with. It’s so heartbreakingly human that you just know it can’t last. As if to contrast the healthy nature of this relationship, we cut to Alana and Mason, as she walks him through just how they’re going to catch Hannibal by following his tastes. Alana is a stern and serious teacher here, walking Mason through the details of Hannibal’s place setting. As she describes each piece, we get a brief glimpse of Hannibal himself setting the table, smoothing the tablecloth. She is now the profiler, dipping her toe into Will’s world, attempting to recreate Hannibal’s cool. It’s a cool that Mason seems unable to resist attempting to ruffle. In what may be the most obvious oral sex reference I’ve ever heard on mainstream television, Mason suggests that Hannibal has exquisite taste, and that Alana surely tasted Hannibal. His “Spitters are quitters, and you don’t strike me as a quitter” comment is cooley stared down (although behind her eyes you can imagine her wishing him dead). It’s an awkward moment that seems almost as out of place as the normalcy of the previous scene; particularly given the more poetic nature of most characters’ interactions. It’s the most blatant of a few creative stumbles that pop up here and there throughout the episode. The others however, are more like odd editing mishaps, whereas this is a tonal glitch. I understand the purpose, but it’s forced into the scene in such a way as to make it seem childish and probably not even intended to make final cut, but the sensors left it alone for some reason. Are they even watching anymore? Anyway, Alana has discovered that someone is buying the same expensive wine and food every week, and is positive that it’s someone shopping for Hannibal. She’s right. This raises the question of whether or not Bedelia is purposefully setting up this pattern in the hopes that someone will notice it. I’d like to think so. Just as the sitting at the train station and watching the security camera is a breadcrumb trail, I think she’s trying to send a signal for help. Back on the train, it’s bedtime and Will stares at the ceiling from his top bunk as Chiyoh returns and slips mechanically into her bed beneath him. Will attempts to draw her out, to probe for some sign of similarity that he can latch onto — either to manipulate or to empathize with, it’s not clear — but she’s having none of it. When he asks her if she ever observed herself, to see what she was becoming, she answers, “I wasn’t becoming anything. I was standing still. Exactly where he left me. Like taxidermy.” And then she draws the line between what she is and what Will is: “I’m not as malleable as you are. I was violent when it was the right thing to do, but I think you like it.” Defensive, he counters with “Hannibal and I afforded each other an experience we may not otherwise have had.” “If you don’t kill him, you are afraid you are going to become him.” “Yes.” “There are means of influence other than violence,” she states hypnotically. This scene makes it pretty clear (in more dialogue that relies on the obvious rather than the implied) that despite thinking that he’s up to Hannibal’s speed, Will is no Hannibal. Chiyoh experienced Hannibal’s manipulations first hand and had more than enough time to understand them and to see the workings behind the curtain. Will is still playing at being Hannibal, but he’s keeping his hands clean; he’s refusing to go the extra step to engage Hannibal fully. As stated earlier, he’s agonizing over his “inevitable change.” In Florence, the events that we knew were going to happen begin to take shape as Pazzi shows up at the museum to ask “Dr. Fell” a few questions about the missing professors. Pazzi has no poker face. As soon as he sees Hannibal he recognizes him, and as soon as he recognizes him, Hannibal knows — and wastes no time bringing up the fact that Pazzi’s ancestor was a notorious traitor who attempted to assassinate Lorenzo the Magnificent in 1478 and was hung, disemboweled. The convenience of this mutual recognition is something that I assume occurred because of the abbreviated season (originally, this entire season was to be “Hannibal in Europe,” but with the likelihood of reaching a fourth season dissipating, this story was truncated to the first half with the original fifth season’s plan of adapting Red Dragon squeezed into the back half), which forced Fuller’s hand in adapting material from Hannibal. In the novel (and the film), Pazzi has not actually met Hannibal before, and he wasn’t tied to the Il Mostro case. Hannibal is recognized due to a scar on his hand (the novel’s version of Hannibal had six fingers on one hand, and it had been recently removed via plastic surgery) and the memory of an image he saw while visiting FBI headquarters during his hunt for Il Mostro. This gave Pazzi a more satisfying storyline in the novel, and also enhanced Hannibal’s own abilities to recognize danger. At this point, I’m wondering why they even attempted to have him bond with Will over their shared “gift” of imagination. He doesn’t display that ability even once. Anyway, his discovery of Hannibal here is simply too convenient. And without the drama of wondering if Hannibal realizes Pazzi is hunting him, when Pazzi arrives later to attempt to steal away with a fingerprint, it’s all over way too soon. Each of Pazzi’s interactions with Hannibal feature dialogue taken directly from the novel Hannibal, but without any real alteration of the context. Even the moment when Pazzi checks Mason’s website and decides to turn Hannibal in for the million dollar reward, is hampered by the fact that right there on the web page is a big picture of Hannibal. It beggars belief that he’d be able to live out in the open like this in the first place, but poetic license allows us to roll with that. To an extent. The real problem here is that right there on the web page, it lists “Dr. Roman Fell” as a known alias. That’s just sloppy editing, and the second moment where I was totally taken out of the episode. There is one nice piece of editing during this portion of the episode, as Hannibal sits in his apartment playing the piano. The camera watches him from behind as he sits, playing. The scene cuts to another shot from behind as he sits sketching the Botticelli painting from twenty years prior. The camera begins to move in, recreating the moment when Pazzi met him during the Il Mostro investigation. This cuts back to the same movement forward as Hannibal plays piano, but this time it’s Bedelia entering the room behind him. This is the second time that Bedelia has been paired thematically with Pazzi as a betrayer (the first being where she played the Pazzi role from the book and film during Hannibal’s lecture on Dante), and I’m afraid it’s a sign of bad things to come for poor Bedelia. They banter again, and together decide that someone has put a bounty on Hannibal’s head, and Pazzi is being tempted by it. Again, this would not be obvious if Hannibal and Pazzi hadn’t met years earlier and the detective hadn’t been able to avoid clearly recognizing the killer before him. I’m finding myself really wishing this storyline could have been stretched out and played with for a while. Back on the train, where it’s apparently still night, despite days seeming to pass in Florence, Will dreams of Chiyoh defying gravity, impaled above him on a ceiling of deer antlers. When he wakes, she’s gone, so he goes looking for her only to find her standing outside on the last car of the train. They share some shallow sentiments about being different at night and she admits she knows Hannibal is in Florence. How? There’s no explanation. The woman who spent years not leaving an estate in Lithuania somehow knows that Hannibal is hiding out in Florence despite having spent years in America in the meantime. It doesn’t matter. Life on the train is a fairy tale story with fairy tale logic. So it’s no surprise that Chiyoh leans in to kiss Will, muttering again “There are means of influence other than violence.” She kisses him and once again, Will is taken completely off-guard by a woman, as she says, “But violence is what you understand,” and shoves him over the railing and off the train. In yet another editing mistake (I assume), Will went flying backwards headfirst, but when we cut to a slow-motion side shot he is flipping forward, in the opposite direction. It’s jarring, and if it was intentional, I didn’t like it. I suppose it adds to the otherworldly, out-of-time feel of the train, but I’m more inclined to think it was just an editing goof. Anyway, Will wakes up battered and bloody on the tracks after the return of the original RavenStag nudges him awake and then wanders off into the forest along the train tracks. Will staggers along behind in what seems like a further delving into more mythical, fairytale-type landscapes. And that brings us back around to poor Pazzi. He made his deal with Mason (who is looking more and more like a Dr. Seuss character with each passing episode) and Alana (who knows immediately that Hannibal is going to kill Pazzi, but Mason couldn’t care less for some reason — one would think that alerting Hannibal that there is a noose tightening around his neck would be something that might send him scurrying somewhere new, forcing the search to begin again from scratch…), and shows up at the library in a misguided attempt to secure Hannibal’s fingerprints. He arrives bearing a gift; an iron headpiece — a mediaeval version of the familiar Hannibal mask, really — worn by his ancestor Francesco: his family’s “guilt cast in iron.” This scene is laden with tension as Hannibal appears, knife in hand, cutting pieces of apple. As soon as the knife is introduced, all attention focuses on it. With gloves (curses!) Hannibal examines the “skull’s bridle” and is suitably impressed. He then shares an item with Pazzi (who fumbles and fails to pocket the knife for its fingerprints): an antique carving of Francesco hanging outside the Palazzo, bowels out with a bite from the Arch-Bishop. Hannibal casually mentions that Francesco was led astray by 30 pieces of silver in a not-so-subtle Judas reference. As he returns the carving to a shelf, Pazzi scrambles for the knife again, only to be grabbed from behind and chloroformed. He wakes up to a scene straight from both the book and film Hannibal, bound and gagged, tied to a hand truck with Hannibal ready to murder him — but not before confirming that Mason sent him. The dialogue in this sequence is almost word-for-word from the novel except for the surprise phone call from Alana, whose Hannibal-suit has cracked. She wants to warn Pazzi that Hannibal will kill him, but it’s too little too late. Hannibal is glad to hear her voice, though, as he takes the call. And then we get the inevitable hanging/disemboweling of Pazzi. But in a fresh twist to the story, Jack has arrived. And oh my god, has Jack arrived. Lawrence Fishburne has dropped some pounds this season and as he stalks Hannibal in the museum he looks about as dangerous as he possibly could be. Psychologically, with Bella gone and no ties to anything in the real world holding him back, Jack becomes a predator the moment he locks eyes with Hannibal. He’s not fazed by Pazzi hanging above him, nor by the intestines piled on the ground at his feet. He simply looks up at Hannibal in Hannibal’s moment of semi-triumph, and you can see it on his face: This shit is on. In what is one of the greatest fight sequences in modern television (maybe second only to the Season Two finale, in my humble opinion), Jack sneaks up on Hannibal in his socks (a reference to the way Hannibal snuck up on Miriam in the Season Two flashback?) after turning on the phonograph to play Rossini’s “Thieving Magpie.” Hmmm. Where have I heard that before set to a violent outburst? The rest of the episode is pretty much just Jack beating the living shit out of Hannibal. Unlike last season’s finale, Hannibal doesn’t even get a punch in. This is a different Jack. With nothing to lose, he’s become a punishment machine. Hannibal is beaten, kicked, and even impaled with a hook when he tries to crawl away. That this all takes place in a room filled with torture devices is perhaps the most enjoyable part of the entire scene. As the scene begins, Hannibal taunts Jack, intuiting that Jack actually did give Bella too much medicine to send her on her way, which helps to emphasize just how cathartic it is to see Hannibal take some punishment for all the horrible things he’s done. Even as he sits before Jack, bloody and swollen, he keeps talking: “I brought Bella back from death and you returned her to it. Is that where you’re taking me, Jack?” Jack punches him in the face. Again. Jack takes a moment and retrieves the huge metal hook that he recently impaled Hannibal’s leg with and returns to where Hannibal is slumping, next to the window where he just minutes earlier had tossed Pazzi. “How will you feel when I am gone?” he asks, therapist to the last. “Alive,” Jack says as he knocks Hannibal out the window with the big metal hook. But of course, Jack can’t kill or capture Hannibal. That’s Will’s job. And Hannibal escapes by clinging to Pazzi’s hanging corpse and dropping to ground to shamble off into the night. But not before a quick look back up at Jack, their positions reversed from only moments earlier. And the “Thieving Magpie” comes to a close. Hannibal 3.05 "Contorno"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.