Hannibal's “Digestivo” finishes characters with a burp, despite NBC moving our dinner reservation. Shifted to Saturday night, without preamble, this week's episode had lots of action for fannibals who don't care about the show's cancellation, not while there's still plenty to see in this season. (Of course, the more vigorous and plentiful the viewer affection, the better chance of the show being picked up elsewhere.)
After the disruption of another simply awful dinner party, we get to see the corrupt Questura (Giorgio Lupano) miss Hannibal “by that much,” at least that's what they'll say officially, while exporting their valuable trophies to Maryland for Mason's bounty. Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) is still drugged and bound, looking like a loose end in need of cutting, until the sniper par excellence, who always finds the vantage and angle, shoots those trying to kill him. Chiyoh (Tao Okamoto) also helps free him in exchange for information about Mason's lair. Jack says Will and Hannibal are on their way to Muskrat Farm, where pigs are spoken of with great admiration, but what's done to them… well, spare me from ever being held in such esteem.
Dr. Cordell Doemling (Glenn Fleshler) has risen to the occasion, and for whatever reason, the gents are cleaned and formally-dressed—only to be stripped again later—to enjoy a meat-improving feed and to get the download of what's planned. It was fun to see Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) be the one served oysters for a change, and this “exotic swine” is intended for the platter, to be eaten by Mason Verger (Joe Anderson), once he's had the transplant to wear Will Graham's (Hugh Dancy) face, of course. Of course! Lots of Mason's crass joking about overcooked penis, and Hannibal smiles in this scene more than in the rest of the season. As over-the-top as Mason and Cordell are, I saw Hannibal genuinely enjoying having the right kind of opponents. Remorseless, theatrical, perverse. He has to be almost paternal with the rest of the broody brood. With these two, no such emotional caretaking is required. The festive atmosphere also raises Will's game, because the underestimated face donor shocks all by biting a huge chunk from Cordell's cheek during a simple round of moisturizing. After which, Will pointedly spits the flesh onto the table, rather than asking for bordelaise sauce. Nonetheless, Hannibal still beams like a proud papa.
Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle) and Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) have been conferring about how to handle the situation. They both seem to want revenge upon Mason, Hannibal only optionally—and why this should be true, I'm not precisely sure—and look upon the prospective tortures of Will and Hannibal as giving them time for plotting. If Mason's planning to eat with a brand new face firmly attached, to me, that sounds like a lengthy recovery, so loooots of time. Perhaps just playing fair (?), Alana points out the folly of that approach to Mason, especially where Hannibal's concerned, but good advice goes unheeded.
Cordell's white smock becomes a metaphorical red shirt when he starts doing that thing, the blathering about every little preparation about to happen to the bits of Hannibal's corpus. First, he brands Hannibal's spine with the Verger seal, which the suffering pro digests with no more than a swallow. There's more special emphasis on what's going to happen with the doctor's loins. (FYI, the junk will be dry-aged with the ribs, eaten last.) Once you've disclosed all, we viewers know the egg timer is ticking on your future. Meanwhile, Mason tells the sister he had forcibly sterilized that he's got an egg of hers cooking in a surrogate. We know his favorite animal and fear the worst, but Margot's full of hope at having her dreams of motherhood resuscitated. Alana goes to see Will—there are never any guards or household staff around this immaculate castle, but whatever—and isn't pleased at his attitude. He's trying to guilt her and push her into action, which seemed hypocritical and self-serving of him at best, but what the hey, she goes for the bait. He's still a decent fisherman after all.
Margot and Alana visit Hannibal to make a deal. Margot gets free therapy, a return to Hannibal's earlier-season advice that she should kill her brother, and Alana wrings from him a promise to “save Will.” This is what everyone seems to want, but I don't know what it means anymore. Save him from seeing and doing horrors? Too late. Save him from disappearing into the cloaca of his own musing? Also too late. Save him from going on the road with Hannibal as the Odd Couple of serial killing? Does that really seem likely, given the way Hannibal covets Will's delicious brains? Does saving Will Graham only mean not killing or eating him? Alana didn't even get Hannibal to promise not to kill her. And we know sharing his bed doesn't exempt a woman from nefarious plans. Whatever the Save Will Project has morphed into, they seem to come to an understanding, and a Hannibal unbound is a glorious thing.
As punishment for turning his cheek into a bullseye, Cordell plans to operate on Will without anaesthesia, and all the dials are being turned in the lab-ora-tory when we see a bloodied, now-clothed Hannibal hit the scene. YAY!
Mason wakes with a new face alright, but it's really just a slab-mask of Cordell that slides off as the slaughterhouse scion comes to. Alana and Margot intervene, explaining that not only has Hannibal killed the twisted surgeon but helped them use a cattle prod to milk Mason's prostate for live Verger swimmers to create the necessary male heir for inheritance. I hope Alana's open-topped, un-temperature-controlled sample tube is just extra for show, because soon, Mason will not be able to donate any more, and that's no way to treat a specimen. Mason's good hand rises with a gun, and to protect Alana from being shot, Margot throws herself at his robo-chair. They fall over as a bullet cracks the floor's eel tank. That eel tank is a landmine I've been waiting to go boom, and this weirdo eel doesn't just bite Mason as Margot holds him down, completing her theraputic evolution with Alana's help. The eel becomes a drain snake for Mason's esophagus. That was a satisfying digestive, really.
Hannibal has brought back the drug-immobilized Will to his farmhouse. There's some indication that he's carried him the whole way over miles of snow-clad hills before returning him to his flannel-clad self and tucking him into bed to wait out the effects. (If Mason's prostate can experience all that drama while he was knocked out, what's been happening every time Will has had to be cleaned like a helpless infant and tucked into a onesie?) Chiyoh was perched there when they arrived, again to be the sniper ex machina picking off offensive guards (here's where all the guards were!), and apparently, fulfilling her purpose.
She told Alana she wanted to cage Hannibal, but she doesn't. Since having dispatched the Caged Man, she's become the proverbial killing machine, and maybe that's why she seems fine setting Hannibal free. She can't go home again, and obviously, this couple is not picking back up where they left off. Every lover Hannibal leaves alive seems willing to kill for him later. Most people just keep their concert T-shirts and badmouth them when drunk. Perhaps Chiyoh walks off into the snow, because Hannibal's “saving Will,” whose welfare she's only betrayed minor interest after throwing him off the train. But eh, whatevs. It's wrapped up, and I hope she finds happiness as an assassin or bi-athlete.
Hannibal returns to Will's bedside to resume his therapy, trying to put the teacup back together. This part threw me, although it also delighted me. There's been so much focus on “saving Will” that everyone forgot that he might be able to save himself. The old, strong-while-vulnerable Will was capable of that, and I'm so glad to see that guy resurface. What's happened has happened, and can't be changed. He vows not to miss Hannibal or look for him. Will can't unsee or undo what's done, however, he doesn't have to give Hannibal any more time or space in his mind. And that's the place—moreso than his heart, I don't care what anyone says—Hannibal wants to be. Eviction from the memory palace! Will's changing the locks!
This causes Hannibal to pull a wonderfully Hannibal-esque, and to be crude, dick-ish move. Descending upon the farmhouse, Jack Crawford, who I thought had left the FBI, but perhaps was only on bereavement leave, is surrounded by official windbreakers awaiting his commands. Hannibal shows up to surrender, just so, you know, he'll always be easily reachable when and if Will wants to think of him. That's why Jack doesn't look that happy. If Hannibal's surrendering, Jack suspects trouble. That's smart.
Will's back in control of his limbs and his eyewear. Glasses on! Faith in humanity restored!
Next week, we'll flash forward, get to see how everyone's been doing in the forensics lab (I still mourn you, Beverly!), and we'll get to meet Richard Armitage as The Tooth Fairy.
This episode wasn't very moody or theme-y, because it was full of linear action, and from what I'm seeing online, one of the fans' top of all time. What did you think?
Clare Toohey is a literary omnivore, admirer of eel soup and snowy landscapes. Aside from editing The M.O. and site wrangling here, she freelances as an editor, writes short, surreal crime fiction, blogs at Women of Mystery, and tweets @clare2e.