Hannibal: Digestivo Review
Hannibal closes out its Italian story arc by letting its eponymous serial killer play the savior.
Hannibal and Will may have “broken up” in the Season 2 finale, but it isn’t until seven episodes into Season 3 that Will is finally able to free himself from Hannibal’s orbit — or at least put in a solid effort at it. It comes in Will’s vocalization of the difference between himself and Hannibal Lecter: Will tolerates Hannibal’s compulsions, while Hannibal delights in them. And Will is done putting himself in a position where he is made to tolerate them. Of course, though Will may be willing to let Hannibal go, Hannibal is not ready to let Will go. The first story arc of this season ends with “The Chesapeake Ripper” turning himself in, somehow still a victory even though it will end with Dr. Lecter behind bars. Does it count as a cage if you put yourself there? For Hannibal, perhaps not. Either way, he is willing to pay the price if it means keeping Will in his life in some shape or form.
In the acts leading up to this decision, Hannibal does something clever in Season 3, Episode 7 (“Digestivo”) in giving it main characters a common enemy: Mason Verger. It is no longer a game of cat-and-mouse between Will, Hannibal, and their various companions; it is a game of cat-and-mouse-and-pig, with Mason Verger playing the relative Big Bad. Hannibal doesn’t usually let the audience root so solidly for its eponymous character. Even when we are cheering for him to evade the authorities, we are conflicted due to his murderous, cannibalistic ways. This episode is the closest we may ever get to absolute support, as we don’t see Hannibal kill anyone on-screen (though he does kill Cordell and Mason’s henchmen off-screen) and we root for the familiar, polite serial killer over the disfigured, ill-mannered one.
It also helps that Hannibal is trying to save Will — aka the man who spends the episode trying not to have his face cut off or his brain eaten. Here, in yet another example of believable narrative whiplash this show regularly pulls off, Hannibal is Will’s savior. This episode somehow begins with Hannibal sawing into Will’s skull and ends with Hannibal more or less tucking Will into bed. (Side note: How far away are Muskrat Farm and Will’s house?) For a season that has taken its sweet time moving the plot along, it certainly didn’t waste any time in this arc-ending episode.
Of course Will and Hannibal were not the only characters in play here. Alana and Margot were also made to choose a side to stand on. Wisely, they chose Hannibal’s, with Alana freeing her former lover and making him promise to save Will. It seems silly that Mason would leave these two unattended, but his overestimation of himself and his underestimation of these two women is not without precedent. After accepting that Mason will never give her anything that she actually wants, Margot kills her brother with Alana’s help — but not before stealing his sperm for a Verger heir to inherit the estate. Hannibal helped, in another example of this cast of characters teaming up in an unexpectedly successful way.
The closing of the Italian story arc was fast-paced, emotionally-resonant, and filled with cringe-worthy moments, the perfect cap to the meditative strangeness of Season 3’s first half that leaves us with that familiar, lingering question: Will Will Graham ever be free of Hannibal Lecter?