Hannibal 3.06: “Dolce” For a Sweet Divorce

The couple that does home surgery together… no, that’s definitely a bad sign. / Photo Ian Watson for NBC
Hannibal 3.06's “Dolce” answers whether “Dr. Fell” will accept an amicable divorce over widowerhood. It also returns to Bedelia's axis of Betrayal vs. Forgiveness, and whichever of those claims to be deployed, it comes with lethal edges. As one couple parts, a new power couple will ascend, and the fans' favorite couple will finally reunite. Amid all this, there's a whole lot of shooting up.

Just after dawn, a badly-wounded Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) drags himself through deserted streets to the Palazzo Cappone after a long night of disembowling one unfaithful law enforcer and being beaten (he could've been killed) by another who waited until his attack no longer betrayed his obligations to his badge or his wife. Let us say that Dr. Fell feels a different sort of “until death” commitment to his faux Mrs. Fell, aka Dr. Bedelia DuMaurier (Gillian Anderson). But before they can negotiate the terms of their impending severance from married bliss, because payback is coming a-knocking, there's cleaning and stitching of flesh to do. As Bedelia sponges the blood from Hannibal's hand, we're reminded of how tenderly he cleaned her up after her first killing. As she stitches his leg—he's lucky it wasn't a compound fracture from that fall—he even looks a bit pleased with himself. Happiness is all about grabbing moments in the now, isn't it?

By now, you know it's impossible to discuss this series without spoilers, but of all the episodes this season, so far this one had the most twists and turns, highs (ahem) and lows.

Italian train tracks have claws. / Photo: Ian Watson by NBC

Pazzi, which everyone at Verger Central will carefully pronounce as “patsy,” has been cut down as Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) watches, and in some unexplained way, a track-battered Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) has finally managed to arrive in Florence to meet him. Jack knows Hannibal is wounded, says he's also worried. Neither Will nor I are so sure about the Hannibal worried part. IMO, things have finally gotten interesting for Hannibal. The cataclysmic culminations of these long-term schemes are even more his medium than individual grostequeries. To interlace so many lives into a grand tragic artwork, sometimes you have perforate some organs and crack some spines.

Part of Will will always want to slip away with Hannibal, he confesses. Jack tells him to cut that crap part out and explains why he didn't kill Hannibal. I have had serious trepidations about the logic behind Jack's Save Will Project. Will isn't constantly fantasizing about Hannibal's death, but about running away with with him. Hannibal, on the other hand(saw)…. But, wait, I get a-head of myself.

Modern divorce means he gets the luggage, she gets her life. / Photo: Ian Watson for NBC

Hannibal's sketching everything he can, including Florence's cathedral, Il Duomo di Firenze, as preparation for his memory palace. He knows he won't be back, and Bedelia's got his bag packed. She knew that the guidelines of her special diet was all about another sort of preparation… something unhurried, with a simple, elegant sauce. So, in a time crunch, Hannibal will go along with whatever her cover story, because she asked. But when? I feel like we're still hearkening back to Baltimore, where he choregraphed the patient attack that led her to ask for his assistance and to become his caged bird. Nonetheless Mr. and Mrs. Fell share a final moment of intimacy and a kiss farewell. She doesn't even close the door on future dinner plans.

If you’re not a Lecter, human flesh can be an acquired taste. / Photo: Ian Watson for NBC

The slaughterhouse scion, Mason Verger (Joe Anderson), is having his palate trained by Dr. Cordell Doemling (Glenn Fleshler). Pig tails in ginger-black-vinegar sauce are a substitute for Hannibal fingers. Not a huge hit with Mason, until he tried the worse bone marrow in fermented veal sauce. People may fail to appreciate that staging a fitting revenge requires unceasing dedication, not to mention a sanguine view of few wasted million dollars. Cordell, who's having entirely too much perverse fun with all this, has his boss/patient spit the rejected morsels into a Buddhist singing bowl while flattering the eel-collector he's an “apex predator.” A still-disfigured, but standing Mason dreams of dining on a Hannibal prepared like Peking Duck and enjoying “transubstantiation.” I think Will has failed to become Hannibal, so maybe the twisted and cruel meat heir just starts with less distance to travel. 

Sure, her brother sterilized her, but she stayed. Fine thoroughbreds are expensive to keep. / Photo: Ian Watson for NBC
We get our first look at sis Margot Verger (Katharine Isabelle) since she sort-of-welcomed Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) to the property to see about becoming Mason's professional psychological enabler. She's taking an active interest in catching Hannibal as Team Verger convenes around to see reports of Pazzi's death on Italian TV. If one dirty cop wasn't enough to get the job done, and they need the cops to stay clear so they can privately chase Hannibal, a whole department of dirty cops might be necessary. Now that's a Verger-sized solution, and Margot is on it.

Back in Florence, Bedelia is planning her alibi. From behind a round, Catherine Wheel-shaped port in the wall, she fishes out a shoot-up rig and ties off in advance of giving herself a “medicinal” injection. But soft, here comes Chiyoh (Tao Okamoto), seemingly taking longer to get to Florence than Will who had to walk uphill both ways, though perhaps she was delayed by the need to acquire a high-performance rifle. The women confer about being devoted to Hannibal while being caged birds whose reactions he watches for his own interest. Bedelia's learned a lot from what she's had to witness because of Hannibal and recognizes that quality in Chiyoh, who's seen his early development. Chiyoh says her revenge is not to kill him, but to “cage” him. Then she hies off, wherever and inexplicably, allowing Bedelia to hit the spike and become fascinated by staring at her own hand. Oh, no… more visitors!

I am Mrs. Fell, and I’m ready for my close-up, Mr Demille.

It's Jack and Will, and the lady of the palazzo gets to do a trial run of her “I am Mrs. Fell” delusion, as if Hannibal mindwiped her and dragged her along. Jack notes (by sight?) that her injectable cocktail is the same custom mix of relaxants and psychotropics Hannibal's used before, notably on Jack's hand-less, dead FBI protege Miriam Lass. Bedelia's an unconvincing mix of lucid and plowed, but Jack's impressed by her cleverness, and possibly her hollow leg for narcotics.

Margot and Mason have a disturbing (even for them) conversation about starting a family. She'd adopt, but he's thinking Verger DNA. I laughed when he teased her about weaponizing her uterus and waving it around. See, if she hadn't gotten pregnant with Will's baby, Mason would never have had to defend himself by making sure the baby and Margot's fertility were destroyed. In psycho logic, it's indisputable. With those options among the men in her life, and Alana showing up with her new taste for strongly-cut suits, a big stick, and red lipstick, is it any wonder Margot's now wearing loose curls and wrap dresses? She and the good doctor enjoy kaleidoscopic orgies of skin, and whatever other substances they're indulging to their satiation.

Knowing how they’ll end up, can you sense that vibe already at their first meeting? Margot, you scamp!

Hannibal's at the Uffizi, saying goodbye to Botticelli's Primavera by sketching it again, adding Bedelia and Will's faces. Will walks in to join him for a private conversation, because no one else ever wants to see that painting. The “conjoined” ooze at each other's awesome irreplaceability. I know for many fans of the show, this—and the scene where Hannibal and Will reprise their pain-hugging—will be their most favoritest part of the episode. But for me, the mushy Will has been less interesting than the externally soft one we first met, the guy who had his bulletproof vest hidden deep inside. That was more Season 1 and 2.5, but after events and Hannibal “broke” Will, it doesn't matter how many times you tell me they're like just the same guy, I don't see it. The part of Will that I thought drifted into the Hannibal-esque is the person who knows he's apart from and above the world, and autocratically takes that unique perception to change it to his view of what should be—starting with how he dealt with Abigail Hobbs. It takes strength to walk around like an open wound as Will used to do. Now, after braving bad acts, he's muddled and weaker—even Chiyoh can diagnose that.

(The slash-friendly hurt/comfort in this episode will spawns a million gifs, but personally, I just can't believe Hannibal will miss showing Florence to today's angsty Will. I can, however, believe that a Will restored to wholeness with a strong inner core of anger and mistrust against Hannibal in the future could be worth the tango, and I hope to see it.) 

The two rise to leave together, as if we can be sure where Will would escort Hannibal, to jail or getaway vehicle. Then, hesitantly, Will pulls out a knife to attack Hannibal in the very plaza where nuns in big wimples have just swept through. Really?! Well, not really, because Chiyoh's on the roof with a bolt-action rifle with scope, and blows a hole in the shoulder above Will's knife hand. Poor Will, he never gets a chance to heal before more affronts are visited upon his corpus—does he ever consider that rather than all the pensive pre-musing, he should just do like everyone else and wound first, discuss later?

Not every bird hunter becomes a sniper, but she had a lot of time on her hands. / Photo: Ian Watson for NBC

He awkes to being medically treated by Hannibal in some other lovely residence. Just another embrace for strength [add #fannibal caption here] as Hannibal rips the suitcoat away from the bullet wound. Hannibal found Will's Forgiveness, apparently the pet name for a folding knife now. A  little injection under the armpit and Will travels again. His stag isn't quite there, but cloudy images of Hannibal and the smell of butter, a sense, not higher thought, in “the dome of our skulls” projected like miracles on a church ceiling. When Will rouses again, he's being belted down—Bedelia really did pack the essentials—and being fed a nasty parsley and thyme infusion from a soup tureen, a quickie internal marinade. Wait, Bedelia's flesh demands the care of a massaged Kobe beef cow, but Will's okay as fast food? Burn, dude.

Jack figures out they're at the ice-picked Professor Sogliato's abaondoned apartment, while Bedelia's sharing that info circumspectly with a newly-purchased member of the Questura (Giorgio Lupano). The polizia are not motivated to make any speedy arrests, but they're sure interested in earning Verger bounty. Jack rides the elevator up with Chiyoh. He sees her tall ballistics case and leather gloves. She eyes the grip of the gun in his pocket. She bails on the scene, again, no explanation. But when Jack arrives and rishes to Will's side, Hannibal's got the jump, hiding under the dinner table to slash Jack's Achilles' tendon. Now he's drugged, too, so he can be the audience, as Hannibal reprises the Worst Dinner Party Ever from Baltimore, trying to end up with the right people eaten and dead this time.

The cannibal fires up his own sharp-edged Forgiveness, a rotary bone saw. On this show, redemption is as painful as revenge. Stooooooppp, Jack shouts as the blood from Hannibal's intial skull-cut courses into Will's eyes.

Next thing we know, we're on a snowy road through tall pines. There's a truck festooned with meat hooks and plastic-tarped dead pigs. This episode, when not being actually wounded, drugged, or sawn-upon, Will was moony-eyed, to the point that, as he was conveying his emotional journey, he was almost reproached by Hannibal not to let emotions get in the way of his reason. Ah, but it's too late for that. And too late for regrets once you're hanging upside-down with Hannibal in Mason's pork locker. Or, maybe it's nothing but regrets then. Anyway, welcome to Muskrat Farm, gentlemen.

A digestivo is a drink after a heavy meal to ease digestion, and the name of next week's episode. Perhaps after consuming Hannibal, Mason would enjoy a nice grappa or limoncello? I can't wait to find out what Cordell's pairing.

Clare Toohey is a literary omnivore, admirer of tidy bathtub surgeries and private airports that flout international borders. 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.

See all posts by Clare Toohey at Criminal Element.

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