All of our players begin to converge in this week’s episode of Hannibal, no longer content to live in the echoes of the trauma Hannibal has caused, but ready to enact fresh violence of their own.
For Chiyoh, who is making her way (very slowly) from Lithuanian to Italy with Will, that transition from memory to violence comes on a train. She tells Will of her upbringing with Hannibal in a rare scene of heavy exposition for this show. He was charming like a cub, she says, and perhaps she sees some of that same charm in Will, who admits to being worried that — if he doesn’t kill Hannibal — he will become him. Under these circumstances, one can hardly blame Chiyoh for pushing Will off of the caboose of the moving train. Perhaps if more people took action before Hannibal went from charming mode to killing mode, the good doctor would have a few less victims.
In tonight’s episode, Pazzi became Hannibal’s latest victim, an act of violence he wanders so frustratingly into. When the detective finds Dr. Lecter in Florence, he chooses to go for Mason Verger’s reward rather than play the police card — and it ends up costing him his life. Though it was tough to see Pazzi gutted and hung by a noose from a palazzo window, this was a character who we hadn’t gotten to know as well over the course of this slow burn season 3. Like Chiyoh, Pazzi is more fascinating for his connection to Hannibal’s past than in his own right. Unfortunately, that past connection doesn’t stop Pazzi from trying to out-game Hannibal. Seeing Pazzi go for that fingerprint was like watching a zebra wander into a lion’s den. Extra points to Alana for immediately knowing that this wouldn’t end well. Was she calling Pazzi to warn him off of Hannibal or did she have an ulterior motive? Could she somehow be aligned with Jack? This is a whole new bone-marrow-in-the-bloodstream Alana, so who knows?
In the aftermath of his wife’s death (which happened much more recently for us viewers, given the chronological disorientation of this season), Jack returns to Florence to dump Bella’s ashes into the Arno River. Can we pause for a moment here to talk about how beautiful this moment wa shot? Even in death, Bella’s presence is a light in Jack’s life.
But Jack isn’t just in Florence to say goodbye to Bella. He is also there to find Hannibal, and finds him he does — just moments after Hannibal has sent Pazzi to his gruesome death. Unlike Pazzi, Jack resists scheming or trying to manipulate. As he tells Pazzi earlier in the episode, he already tried to play the game once and lost. Here, when Hannibal tries to pull him in with subtle manipulation, Jack doesn’t even speak. He doesn’t engage. He just gives Hannibal a beating in a rare show of domination against Hannibal. It is so strange to see, so used are we to seeing Hannibal in control of the situation.
As Hannibal somehow managed to limp away from the fight, we are left to wonder if Hannibal is really as confused and broken as he has seemed in the aftermath of Will’s betrayal or if his seeming lack of effort is part of a larger manipulation. Perhaps these two options are not mutually exclusive? Perhaps Hannibal is being the predator by embracing his identity as prey.