Warning: Bloody Spoilers
& Graphic Images
After the glorious and sublime departure from the usual expectations of a show about serial killers in the premiere of NBC’s Hannibal season 3, “Antipasto,” the show took a curious and unpredictable U-turn into flashbacks that contained much that viewers already knew. Instead of moving the story forward in its new landscape of Florence, Italy, where Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) “has found a kind of peace” that he’d “like to preserve” since he’s “hardly killed anybody” while he and his “wife” — his former psychiatrist — Bedelia du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) have been in Europe, episode 2, “Primavera,” took viewers back to the finale of Season 2. It was a strange.
It was an unnecessary flashback — even if we did get to see just how gracefully Mads, formerly a dancer, can move. First of all, anyone who hadn’t seen Seasons 1 or 2 would not be likely to begin Hannibal with season 3 episode 2. For all of us who have seen those previous seasons, “Primavera” contained an unnecessary flashback of the season 2 finale. More important in artistic terms, however, was the fact that instead of viewers’ getting any new information in E2’s flashbacks — as we did in episode 1, “Antipasto,” where we learned Bedelia’s secret about her attack by a patient and Hannibal’s role in “saving” her” — we got no new plot information or character development in this episode’s flashback.
I do agree with some of my readers, however, in comments, that viewers had a long #HeAteUs of about 12-18 months, and so they might have appreciated the flashbacks of the S2 finale. (I watched both seasons on DVD, and recently, several times, so the flashbacks were fresh in my mind. However, I stand by my assertion that any flashback, in any artistic medium which allows it, must always provide new information in order to be relevant and not become repetitious: see my sample details in the reply to Dannibal Lecter’s comments below.)
I’m at the head of the line applauding last season’s finale, which was an absolute tour de force: the acting, writing, character development, and choreography were magnificent beyond description. It left everyone covered with blood, even Hannibal.All his victims were mortally wounded and bleeding out: Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), filleted like the fish he loved to catch himself; and Abigail (Kacey Rohl), beside Will on Hannibal’s kitchen floor, with her throat slit as her own serial killer father Garret Jacob Hobbs had originally attempted to do before Will shot him dead.
Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), after having been given a choice by her lover Hannibal “to walk away,” sobbing in grief and betrayal, attempted to “do her job” and shoot him. No bullets in the gun. Hannibal had removed them while she slept.
Following Hannibal’s instructions (before he slit her throat), young Abigail pushed Alana out the window of the second floor.
Department Chief Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), despite his larger girth, was simply no match for Hannibal’s savagery, skill at using multiple instruments to kill, and his physical speed and agility. (I mean, the man leapt over a kitchen counter, for heaven’s sake.)
Maybe they just wanted viewers to see the artistry of that scene once again, even if it was only in “flashbacks” — which, to be effective in art, should always provide new information, not information that the viewers (readers) already know; otherwise, it’s just repetition.
And, perhaps, as one of my readers suggested, they wanted to make up for the long break between seasons 2 & 3.
May I suggest that, in the future, if there is going to be a long #HeAteUs between seasons of Hannibal, NBC show re-runs before the premiere of the new season, as cable channels do, and that the writers still include new information in the flashbacks, as they did so expertly in S3E1 with Bedelia’s secret.
Will & Abigail
Despite the severity of Will’s and Abigail’s wounds, despite the massive amount of blood on Hannibal’s kitchen floor around them, they both seemed to have survived. Imagine my surprise.
Despite Abigail’s claim that Hannibal knew “just how to cut them so they would survive,” I still found it bizarre that both of them lived. Hannibal is a killer — a serial killer. And yet, these two survived?
I found the survival of both of them neither probable nor believable — even though I guessed that Will would survive, not only because he does in the Thomas Harris books on which the show is based, but because the trailers showed Hugh Dancy discussing what his character and Hannibal… (thank you very much for all the Spoilers, NBC-guys).
I turned off the trailer.
So, in episode 2, I found that, apparently, both Abigail and Will had survived mortal wounds.
As if that weren’t disappointing enough because of its unreality, I found their dialogue in the Florentine church dull, uninspired, and uninteresting. They sat and talked on the altar steps in front of dismembered, inside-out, headless body of Tony the poet, who discovered Hannibal and Bedelia as imposters in S3E1 because they were posing as Dr. and Mrs. Fells, and Tony had been Fells’ TA. Hannibal was forced to kill Tony the poet.
I didn’t understand Hannibal’s arrangement of the body, I admit, until Will said, to Abigail, of Hannibal, “He left us his broken heart.”
I admit, I totally missed the fact that the body was supposed to look like a giant, mounted heart.
So… unlike all serial killers in reality, Hannibal can not only have a heart, he can have a “broken heart.”
Sculpted out of another human being’s body, but… all right, I’ll play along.
Still in the church despite the amount of time it would have taken Will to get from the US to Italy? No, it was probably an hallucination, or a memory from the crime photos.
Beyond that, considering the fact that this is an artistic portrayal of a serial killer, I think I can see how Will broke Hannibal’s “heart,” but I’m not sure how Abigail broke it. By recognizing Hannibal for what he really is: a serial killer and not a surrogate father-figure?
Yet Hannibal seems more comfortable when people see him as he is, e.g., Bedelia is well aware of exactly who and what he is without his person-suit, and Hannibal said he’s been feeling a sort of peace, living in Paris and Florence with her as his “wife.”
Did Abigail and Will “break Hannibal’s heart” by not “living up to their potential” and becoming serial killers like him? It wasn’t clear to me, and it’s still not.
Will & … Will
Then we discover that Abigail, despite the theological and philosophical discussions with Will in the Florentine church, did not survive the attack. That confused me even more. I know Will has the so-called “empathy disorder” (a common trope in serial killer novels) where he can see both the victims and the killers at the crime-scenes so that he can “re-create” the scenes. I know that when he was afflicted with auto-immune encephalitis, he was having delusions and hallucinations, which Hannibal encouraged him to view as “reality,” if only to see how far Will would go with his own murderous impulses.
Since when does Will hallucinate when his AIE has been cured? When he’s in the hospital recovering from his wounds? Okay, those could have been pain-drug-induced. But when he’s in the Florentine church? So all his conversations with Abigail about Hannibal were hallucinations?
Or were they just his thoughts with himself?
Why didn’t he hallucinate Hannibal himself then? Or is Abigail supposed to be Hannibal’s spokesperson for Will at this time, right after he’s recovered from his wounds? Her responses do sound an awful lot like Hannibal’s philosophy.
So, who, exactly, is Will having these philosophical conversations with?
Episode 2 introduced us to Inspector Pazzi (Fortunato Cerlino), an Italian homicide detective from the Harris novels who was unable to capture an Italian serial killer known as Il Monstro, who modeled his murdered couples in tableaux after Boticcelli’s Renaissance paintings, especially Primavera. While I can usually understand most accents within a minute or two, I found it virtually impossible to understand Mr. Cerlino, who was attempting to tell Will who Il Monstro was.
He produced a sketch of Mads-as-Hannibal as a young man, saying he was still an active killer. Of course, Will recognized Hannibal immediately. But the endlessly talky scenes with Pazzi delayed the forward momentum of the show, making it drag.
Hannibal as Lurker
One of the most exciting scenes in “Primavera” was seeing Hannibal appear above the church cloister looking down on Will. I thought we were going to have a major encounter between the two.
Or at least a really good chase.
When Will went down into the catacombs with Pazzi, and then began roaming about by himself, talking about Hannibal, and we saw that Hannibal was down there with Will, I was sure the momentum of the show was back on track.
Yes, Hannibal was there, presumably all the time that Will had been there — both in the church and in the catacombs. He was either stalking Will or attempting to avoid meeting him. In any event, that made the tension, which was largely absent in the episode, begin to build.
Hannibal as Lurker.
Despite the fact that the season 2 finale had Hannibal saying to his victims, “Now that you know me, see me.”
Very interesting play, making Hannibal lurk about the church while Will is there.
Then Will raised his face to the ceiling of the catacombs, as if he were raising it to the heavens, and said, “I forgive you, Hannibal.”
(Pan to Hannibal’s silent visage, pensive.)
I don’t know what the whole forgiveness theme is about in Hannibal because most of us would not forgive a serial killer who had killed one of our loved ones. Most of us would even be angry at law enforcement who didn’t catch the serial killer, and thus stop him, earlier.
But if we were an actual victim of a serial killer and we had survived? I think our PTSD would take years of therapy to control; I don’t know if we’d ever feel safe enough to “forgive” a serial killer, whom we know has no empathy and who, furthermore, gets sexually aroused by torturing, raping, and killing his victims. Especially by killing them.
(Serial rapists who kill in order not to be identified, for example, report no arousal by the actual killing, whereas serial killers in captivity who have been interviewed extensively by the FBI do admit that the killing itself it what excites them the most. In fact, many of them don’t get sexually aroused until after the killing.)
The true empathy disorder is the inability to empathize with the suffering of another, even if the victim’s suffering is caused by the one with the empathy disorder. So despite the serial-killer-fiction trope of the investigator with an “empathy disorder,” it is, in reality, serial killers who have an empathy disorder. Still, the show’s based on the books which use that trope, so I’ve been going along with it, even though it’s nothing new (or realistic).
But what’s with this forgiveness theme?
In last year’s finale, Hannibal told Will, “I forgive you. Can you forgive me?” But there are multiple things Hannibal could have been referring to.
- I forgive you for trying to kill me. Can you forgive me for trying to kill you?
- I forgive you for trying to arrest me and take me into custody. Can you forgive me for defending myself?
- I forgive you for being so blind and not seeing my true nature. Can you forgive me for attempting to force you to see me as I really am?
- I forgive you for not becoming like me. Can you forgive me for trying to make you more like me by not telling you about your auto-immune encephalitis, for trying to frame you for murders, and for hiding my own serial killings so expertly?
Or was it as simple as this:
I forgive you for not loving me. Can you forgive me for everything I did to you?
I don’t know what Hannibal meant when he said it to Will.
I don’t know what Will meant when he said it at the end of S3E2.
I do know that I don’t want to listen to Bryan Fuller’s interpretation of what Will meant because, brilliant and innovative as Bryan is, his interpretation is only one of many that are available. I don’t want to hear how the actors interpreted it either, for the same reason.
I want to know how other viewers interpreted it.
What is Hannibal forgiving Will, et al, for?
What is Will forgiving Hannibal for?
Hannibal, Season 3
Bello, Bellisima: NBC’s Hannibal, Season 3 Premiere: “Antipasto”
Hannibal, Season 1
The Nightmare Under the Pillow: NBC’s Hannibal, the Series, Season 1
Hannibal, Season 2
The Nightmare that Followed Him Out of his Dreams: NBC’s Hannibal, Season 2
7 Responses to Hannibal Lurker: NBC’s HANNIBAL S3E2, “Primavera”
First, my apologies in the delay of a reply. I knew this was going to be lengthy, and wanted to make sure I had enough time to devote to it. Plus, been battling headaches the past few days.
I understand where you are coming from regarding flashbacks, but I think in this instance, we don’t need any new information. The purpose of this flashback was strictly emotional; to elicit that same visceral reaction that we experienced when we first saw it over a year ago, to remind us just how traumatic that situation was for Will (and for Hannibal, to be honest). I was live tweeting during the airing and I seen a number of Fannibals tweet about how they forgot just how painful that scene was. Also, I think Bryan Fuller is a sadist and just likes to make the Fannibals suffer (haha). On a side note, I have rewatched Mizumono at least a dozen times, and it still hurts so much. Ha, what does that say about me?!
The conversations between Will and Abigail, in my opinion, are really just conversations that Will is having with himself. Back in season 2, in episode 10 (Naka-choko), when Will is having the internal dialogue with the dead Randall Tier, he says to Tier, “You forced me to kill you,” to which Tier replies, “I didn’t force you to enjoy it.” This was Will acknowledging to himself that he did enjoy killing Randall. Likewise, the conversations with Abigail are his way of coping with Abigail’s loss, but also coping with (and acknowledging) the fact that he still wants to go to Hannibal, and giving himself permission to do so. She sounded like Hannibal because Hannibal has gotten so far into Will’s mind ( remember back in season 2, Will told Hannibal “My inner voice sounds like you; I can’t get you out of my head.”), that his internal voice even by way of his imagining of Abigail, sounds like Hannibal.
I believe that Hannibal loves Will because Will is able to understand Hannibal, like no other person has been able to. Bedelia mentions, I believe it is in season 1, that Hannibal carefully constructs walls, and it’s natural for him to want to see if anyone is able to climb those walls. Will has been able to do that. Of course, it helps that Will has that part of himself that is like Hannibal, despite how much he tries to deny it. Of course, Will broke Hannibal’s heart by betraying him. Hannibal fully believed that Will was on his side; he wanted them to live their lives together but Will lied to him. It’s like finding out that the person you married isn’t who you thought they were; it would be devastating. As the one Tumblr blog I posted the link to previously, even after Hannibal realized Will was lying, he was willing to give Will a chance to come clean but Will continued with his deception. The look of resignation on Hannibal’s face during that Mizumono dinner scene (“To the truth then…and all its consequences.”) always breaks my heart.
As for when Will says “He left us his broken heart,” I don’t think he really meant that Abigail broke Hannibal’s heart and that the symbolic broken heart was for both of them. I think it was meant more figuratively than literally. I don’t know how to quite explain it.
Will was already in Palermo when Hannibal left the heart in the chapel for him. He had been visiting the chapel frequently, according to Pazzi, prior to the murder. However, yes, when he is deconstructing the crime scene, the heart has already been removed (we see Will sitting on the steps, looking at the pictures). The show is blurring the lines between reality and fiction. I think in the show, Hannibal is il Mostro. Yes, in real life il Mostro killed couples, but even among those couples, none of the crime scenes were as elaborately displayed as the one on the show (mimicking the Botticelli painting). As for Hannibal’s crimes, remember he has used a variety of MO’s; so it is entirely possible that the Primavera-like crime scene is Hannibal’s. Some people believe that Thomas Harris dropped hints in the book Hannibal that Lecter was indeed il Mostro. I wrote this a few days ago about il Mostro: http://hannibalfannibals.com/2015/06/17/hannibal-the-history-of-il-mostro-fact-vs-fiction/
What do I think Will is forgiving Hannibal for? I think he is forgiving him for gutting him; for the bloodbath that occurred that night at Hannibal’s house. I think (as evidenced by his discussions with himself-via-imaginary-Abigail) Will blames himself for what happened; he realizes that Hannibal did try to avoid that outcome; that Hannibal gave him a chance for them to leave together so none of that would occur. If only he would have left with Hannibal after their dinner; if only he would have told the truth to Hannibal. They would have been gone before Jack and Alana got there; no one had to die that night. I think Will realizes this all and therefore able to forgive Hannibal the outcome from that night. (Of course, that totally is coming from my perspective as a Hannigraham shipper, and wanting Dark Will to prevail).
And yes, I absolutely think Will loves Hannibal!
To be fair to Bryan Fuller, he never states his own personal interpretation of what is happening unless he is directly asked, “what is happening here?” Bryan is one of those people where he does appreciate other’s interpretations (and also appreciates the fanfiction/fan art). He’s not the type to say “This is what it is, and no other points of view count.”
Your bf just needs to binge watch seasons 1 and 2 so he’s not asking a million questions during the show. 😀
(And thank you for the compliment on the email, haha…the teacup references, in the last few minutes of Mizumono, kill me).
Hugs to you, as well. 🙂
My Dearest Danielle Dannibal,
I’m so sorry about your headaches. As a migraine sufferer myself, I know they’re beyond dreadful. I hope you’re feeling better.
You’ve given me so much to think about. So let me see… where to start… I understand how you feel about the flashbacks, but I stand by my opinion that flashbacks need to contain new material in order not to become mere repetitions. Of course, repetition can be used for emphasis, and used very effectively, but as T.S. Eliot said, “You must almost make a pattern and then break it” for repetition to work, and in the Thomas Harris novel Hannibal Rising, each time he gives us a flashback, he gives us additional information, eventually starting in the middle of the flashback before moving forward and giving us new information. Some of the fans may have appreciated just seeing those scenes again, or Bryan may have just loved those scenes — I don’t know — but I admit I’m a pretty tough critic of art when it’s literature, film, or TV series. So, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this flashback point.
I, too, think the conversations that Will has with Abigail are conversations with himself, but I also think they conversations with Hannibal. Things he wants to say to Hannibal but can’t because he’s not there with him. Or, like with Randall Tier, things Will imagines that Hannibal would say to Will during such a conversation.
So you think the broken heart is only for Will? Or that Will is the only one who broke Hannibal’s heart? Or both? I can see that Abigail’s pushing Alana out of the window because Hannibal told her to might be an indication of her not breaking his heart: she’s become the daughter to his father-figure. But Will not only lied, as you pointed out, he betrayed Hannibal by trying to arrest him. Alana would also be one of his betrayers in this way. I was just wondering whom the “us” was when Will said “He left us his broken heart.” He didn’t say, “He left me his broken heart,” after all, but “us.” Since Abigail was symbolically there, I assumed that Will meant he and Abigail had broken Hannibal’s heart.
I must have totally missed the fact that Will was already in Palermo when the crime happened. Score, Danielle. This is the first time I’ve watched a network show for blogs, and it’s very frustrating that (1) there are commercials, which annoy me terribly, (2) there are no reruns (I can’t even catch the later showing on the West coast since the local channel here delays the “current” showing by an additional hour) and I actually don’t like writing a blog without seeing a show at least twice, if not three times, so that I don’t make mistakes or ask stupid questions, and (3) since I’m not a professional reviewer, I don’t get advance copies of the show on DVDs, so I can watch it multiple times and play the dialogue over and over to get it right. Why was Will already in Palermo? Did he suspect that Hannibal was there because of the missing Dr. Fells?
OK, now we’re talking about Il Monstro. And we do have to make a differentiation between the book-Hannibal Il Monstro and the TV-Hannibal Il Monstro. I’m totally fine with that. I’m starting to think I should have waited to read the books since I’ve seen all the films, since now I don’t know what to ignore from the books.
I thought Pazzi told Will that one of the couples was arranged like one of the figures in Botticelli’s Primavera, complete with fruit coming out of her mouth, and that Pazzi had seen the man he suspected of being Il Monstro sitting in front of the painting, sketching it. Then Pazzi showed Will the drawing of younger-Mads-as-Hannibal-as-Il-Monstro. I actually think it’s a cool twist to have Hannibal as Il Monstro. I realize that things will be different from the books, but I was just trying to figure out why Hannibal, if he is Il Monstro (was?), why he would have tried to make the victims look like art? Or maybe he hadn’t become a chef yet. God knows, his dinners and dishes are pieces of art. Maybe he changed from imitating other artists’ art to creating his own art out of his own materials: his victims.
Yes, I think Will is forgiving Hannibal for gutting him like a fish. I also wondered if he was forgiving Hannibal for making him think he killed Abigail, for force-feeding him her ear, for getting him framed for murders, etc. What I wondered is this: did Will forgive Hannibal for killing Abigail after Will saved her by killing her father?
The Dark Will is not only more interesting than the “good” Will: he has more potential. Heroes are so passé: anti-heroes have been the preference in art for almost a couple of centuries now since anti-heroes have both good and bad qualities, not just one or the other. Some teachers instruct their students to use just the terms “protagonist” and “antagonist” instead, to get rid of the semantic baggage of the word “hero.” The protagonist becomes the main character and the antagonist becomes whatever forces or characters he pits himself against. Hannibal is clearly the protagonist in this series, especially this season, so Dark Will is a more formidable antagonist for that protagonist.
I think I’m losing the train of thought going back and forth to your comments and my reply, so forgive me if I miss something important. I feel as if I am. I’m glad Bryan doesn’t give his interpretation unless someone asks, but he should just do what the best teachers and artists do: when asked, he should immediately turn it back on his audience and say, “What do YOU think it means?” My students never knew how I interpreted the literature they studied because I wanted them to trust their own intuition and interpretations when they read the work. I think the viewers of a show like Hannibal are literate enough to articulate their own interpretations, so when people ask directors or actors what some character meant or what something represents, I think they either don’t trust themselves or they just want a quick answer for an interview. Glad Bryan isn’t like Ron D Moore and Diana Gabaldon of Outlander fame, however, since those two will come right out and tell viewers and readers of the books that they’re wrong in their interpretations (so disrespectful in itself) without supporting their own arguments against the readers/viewers’ interpretations (even more dismissively disrepectful). Glad to hear that Bryan’s not like that. He doesn’t do it on the commentary on the DVD extras. Just tells what he was trying to do, what the actors added, and tells us how obsessed he is with plaids. (I’m so glad those dreadful plaid are gone!)
My BF… he finally figured out that I was leaving the room as long as he kept making comments and asking questions, and has now stopped, since he apparently wants to watch Hannibal this season. He likes Mads very much, and I suspect he’s fallen in love with Gillian.
I’m going to read your blog, but first I have two blogs to write: one on Penny Dreadful and one on the premiere of the new season of True Detective. So I may not be able to reply for a couple days, but I don’t want you to think I’m ignoring your posts. I’ve read every one that my readers have given me, and tried to reply to each. I really appreciate all the links to the other posts as there’s only so much social media I can get on. I also have my own books to write, other authors’ books to edit and publish, and… but that’s another story for some other blog post.
Yeah, that teacup… what a cool metaphor. What a cool email.
Love our conversations.
Wish we could have a chat room.
One other thing I forgot to mention in my comment above, in regards to the opening of Primavera with the Mizumono flashback. There may be new people watching this show that had not seen that finale. This opening allows for them to fully understand what Will has been through and where he is now.
Yes, there may have been viewers who had not seen the finale. And I’m guessing that, like my BF, who watched neither seasons 1 nor 2, but who is familiar with the Hannibal character and stories from all the movies, those viewers also did not know what was going on.
My BF kept asking, during the flashbacks, “What? How on earth did somebody survive an attack like that? Why’d he kill the girl? Who is the girl? Why’d he kill Laurence Fishburne? I like Laurence. Did he survive? Is that guy [Hugh] the one who played with Hannibal in King Arthur? Who’s the guy playing Hannibal again? Yeah, and he played Tristan in King Arthur, right? And who’d the other guy play? Why’d Hannibal kill him? It looks like they were really close: hey, they weren’t lovers, were they? etc etc etc” until I was forced to leave the room and go watch the show on the other TV because I was missing key dialogue and had to re-watch the episode.
My BF may be only one example, but since he’s familiar with the character of Hannibal and all the films, if not with the books and the TV series, he seems representative enough of someone starting the show with S3 (and, yes, he asked the same kinds of questions last week: “Who’s that woman again? She looks way better than she did on the X-Files. Why’s she with Hannibal? How do they know each other? Where are they? Is Florence close to Paris? Why’d they leave Paris? — and when she was speaking Italian — What’d she say?” forcing me to go into the other room during that episode, too.
My BF, if he’s representative of anyone else who did not see “Mizumono,” would have needed someone who had seen it originally to answer all his questions, too. I didn’t, however, as I wanted to watch the show. I simply got up and went into the other room. When the show was over and I returned, my BF casually asked, “Did you know that the girl with her throat slit was really dead, after all?”
No, my dear, no, I did not figure that out. That must have been one of the scenes I missed while going to the other room..
I have a few points to make.
While the flashback to the season 2 finale may have seemed pointless to you, for most viewers, they have not seen Mizumono in over a year. This flashback gave the audience a chance to see where Will’s mindset is and why. The events of that evening were extremely traumatic for all the characters, but mostly for Will (and Hannibal). To bring the audience back to that night, to emphasize just how badly Will was hurt, not just physically but also emotionally, in order to better understand where he is now, was, in my opinion wise on Bryan Fuller’s part.
I felt the dialogue between Abigail and Will in this episode was some of the most important dialogue between them in the entire series. In fact, I liked Abigail the most in this episode. What she represented, in my opinion, is Will’s subconscious and a way (eventually) for him to finally allow himself to let her go. Their discussions were his way of dealing with the fact that he blamed himself for what happened at Hannibal’s and for questioning himself on why he made the choices he did. Finally, when we see that Abigail actually was dead, (after that final conversation in the Chapel), I believe that was Will finally being able to let Abigail go (at least for now; I don’t think we’ll see her again later, but I could be wrong). Really, Will seeing her in the hospital and then later in Italy is really no different than when Will use to envision them fishing together when he was locked away at the BSHCI (and keep in mind by then he was healthy and he believed she was dead at that time). It has just been how Will has coped with his loss of Abigail, who has been very important to him since season 1.
This show has always been steeped in an unreality of sorts; so this human-heart thing is no different. I mean, who really builds a totem pole of humans? Or grows a human mushroom garden? When was the last time, aside from on Hannibal, have you seen a person crawl out of a dead horse? Bryan Fuller has said many times that the show is meant to have an operatic feel. So the human heart is not really outside the norm for this show.
And Hannibal definitely loves Will; this is something that has been confirmed by Bryan Fuller, Mads Mikkelsen, and Hugh Dancy in various interviews. It’s not necessarily a sexualized love (though, if you read the fanfiction…..), but it is an intense, intimate, love between these two men. Will definitely broke Hannibal’s heart when he betrayed him. This Tumblr post articulates so much better than I ever could just how much Hannibal loves Will:
I think the scenes with Pazzi will prove to be important to the overall plot of this arc in the show. I cannot recall if you have seen the movie (or read the book) Hannibal, but Pazzi is a key character in the Italian part of the mythos. So, while right now these scenes may seem unimportant, I don’t think that will be the case in the long run. Also, keep in mind that this show has always (in my opinion) started off each season with a slow burn (in a good way), and picks up speed over the course of the season til we get to the crescendo in the finale. Also, this show likes to build up layers and include details that we don’t even notice or realize will be important until later. An example is in season one, in episode 4 when Hannibal is feeding Will’s dogs and then messing with his fishing lures. Seems like a pointless scene, but consider what we learn later…those fishing lures turned out to be quite important. Sometimes it is difficult to see the importance of conversations or scenes when we have to wait a week in between episodes; when you binge watch it is easier to pick up on things.
The theme of forgiveness….in at least one interview I have read, Bryan Fuller said that Will is basically forgiving Hannibal for being who he is; he analogized it to forgiving a shark for being a shark…that is just their nature to do what they do. Personally, I am rooting for Dark Will; I want Will forgive Hannibal and join him…though I strongly suspect that probably won’t happen (thank goodness for fanfics).
My dearest Dannibal,
(love your email address, by the way)
Thank you for the thoughtful comments on the Hannibal “Primavera” post. I do realize, after our having spoken on the twitter, that since I watched seasons 1 & 2 on DVDs, I did, indeed, see the finale to season 2 much more recently than most of my poor fellow #Fannibals who had to wait through a most dreadful #HeAteUs of … what? 12-18 months? So I can understand that those of you who had not recently watched it would, indeed, have appreciated the flashback of that stunning finale.
However, I stand by my original comment regarding any flashback in any medium that allows for them, whether it be film, literature, or television. Flashbacks must always provide new information for the viewers or readers, even if, at the same time, it is providing information they already know. The writers of Hannibal S3E1 did an excellent job of this with Bedelia’s secret. After all, we knew that she had had a patient who had attacked her, that the patient had been killed, that somehow Hannibal had been involved. What we did not know, and what we learned from S3E1’s amazing flashback was that it was Bedelia herself who killed the patient who attacked her, that Hannibal arrived on the scene afterward, and promised to help her protect herself if she asked for his help. So we not only learned Bedelia’s deep dark secret, but also Hannibal’s hold over her.
The writers of “Primavera” could have done the same thing with the flashbacks of S2’s finale, adding small bits of information not previously presented so that the flashbacks became more than just repetition. After all, if they just wanted to remind viewers what had happened, they could have shown re-runs, as many of the premiere cable channels do when a new season is about to begin: they show all the previous seasons so everyone can be reminded, or so new viewers can catch up.
What kind of new information could they have provided in the flashbacks to S2’s finale? They could have shown us Hannibal kicking in the pantry door after he gutted Will and sliced Abigail, making us even more fearful for Jack. Hannibal could have come out in the rain, discovered Alana attempting to use her cell phone, and knocked it out of her hand, leaving us to wonder it she’d managed to reach 911 before Hannibal passed by her. We could have seen Jack’s wife telling him that she was calling for help, while he was bleeding out in the pantry, telling him to “Hold on,” for instance, just as Hannibal was kicking open the pantry door.
In short, if any new information at all had been included in the flashbacks, then they would have been effective in “Primavera.” In Harris’ novel Hannibal, for example, which, as you probably know, shows Hannibal from childhood on, Harris continuously returns to the major traumatizing event of Hannibal’s young life. Each time Harris presents it, though, he adds just a little more of Hannibal’s “memory” to the flashback — sometimes starting mid-memory from previous flashbacks so the readers won’t get bored — until finally the reader reaches the extent of Hannibal’s memory. He simply cannot recall the most painful part of the childhood trauma. It is at that point that the most heartless of the bad guys in the book, all of whom Hannibal is hunting for revenge, tells Hannibal the final part of the story. Hannibal denies it vehemently even as he realizes that it must be the truth. That revelation changes Hannibal forever.
That is the point of flashbacks in literature, movies, etc., and I still believe that the writers of “Primavera” could have done the flashbacks better — adding information to heighten the tension and increase the Urgency. Even if they had only developed the characters and their relationships more, as they did the previous week with Bedelia and Hannibal and their strange “bond,” the flashbacks to the S2 finale would have been more effective.
As for Abigail and Will and their conversations. You make a good point that the chapel and hospital “conversations” are much like the fly-fishing conversations Will used to have with her when he was imprisoned. My problem was the length of the conversations, the fact that Abigail sounded too much like Hannibal philosophically and I wasn’t sure if that came from her having lived with him so long (in secret, of course, and without one ear), and the fact that I couldn’t tell if their conversations were supposed to be symbolic, i.e., if Will was really talking to Hannibal in his mind but seeing Abigail because it was too painful for him to “see” Hannibal.
What do you think? I’m really curious to know other viewers’ interpretations.
Oh, sure, I know the show has an air of unreality to it. You mention some really good instances of it. But they’re more theatrical unreality, and I didn’t see that in the Will-Abigail exchanges, so I guess I was not only confused but felt they were too long. If it had been clearer that Will was seeing and talking to her in his mind, I may not have found it so bewildering, I’m not sure.
We know for a fact that real serial killers are incapable of loving anyone but themselves. That fact aside, for the purposes of discussing an art form that is portraying a serial killer, I, too, believe that Hannibal loves Will. But why? For what he could have become? Or for what he already is?
Will, too, seems to care about Hannibal, but I’m not sure why. Or perhaps he did love him before Hannibal gutted him like a fish, I’m not sure. I definitely agree that, erotic as the gutting scene between Hannibal and Will was, their feeling for each other is not a sexual love. The eroticism of that violent scene was more an indication of Hannibal’s arousal at killing.
How did Will break Hannibal’s heart? By not becoming like him? By trying to usurp his relationship with Abigail? Will did say, “He left us his broken heart,” didn’t he? So how did Abigail break Hannibal’s heart?
I know who Pazzi is and his importance to the book, etc., but Will would have already been as familiar with Il Monstro and his tableaux as he would be with Russia’s Chikitilo (sp?). After all, Will is a teacher at the FBI Academy for the BSU. He lectures on serial killers. So the Pazzi revelation that he had a drawing of the man he believed to be Il Monstro, which Will could recognize as Hannibal, of course, would have been more than enough. After all, the heart in the church — which I assume was also from Will’s seeing the photos since the body would not have been left on display long enough for Will to get there from the US — is not the tableaux that Il Monstro was known for: he killed couples. Pazzi and Will could have had some disagreement about this fact, with the drawing of Hannibal convincing Will that he now needs Pazzi’s help, etc. etc. etc. My problem with those scenes is that they were too long. I do agree with you that many of these things may become more important later in the series, and that it is known for throwing out tid-bits that later become important. (Note the word “tid-bits,” not extended scenes LOL)
Ah, the theme of forgiveness. How I would like to have a discussion about such things in which the writers, creators, actors, etc., do not insist that their view of the art is the only one available to us viewers. That’s why I posed those questions: for other viewers to examine what they think the theme of forgiveness is about.
What was Hannibal forgiving Will for? Just what is Will forgiving Hannibal for?
And I don’t really care what Bryan Fuller thinks Will’s forgiving Hannibal for (sorry, Bryan, you’re brilliant, but your interpretation is yours alone, and we’re allowed to have ours, which may differ from yours): I want to know what other viewers think. We Fannibals are obviously intelligent, literate, articulate viewers or we would not be watching this show. I don’t need Bryan to tell me his interpretation, which is why I avoid such post-show interviews with the people involved. I always feel like they’re the bad English teachers I used to have, trying to force-feed us their interpretations while ignoring our own, equally valid interpretations.
Okay, so Bryan thinks Will is forgiving Hannibal for being a shark and doing what a shark does. But I think there’s a lot more going on, and that’s what I want to know, and I want to know it from other viewers, like you, not from the creator, writers, or actors, since they may have entirely different interpretations than those of the viewers. Shakespeare left us his art, without interpretation, and that’s what Bryan needs to do, too. He needs to trust us to have these discussions ourselves and come to our own conclusions and interpretations, and to honor them if they differ from his own, or from what he originally intended. That is the beauty of art.
I’m guessing viewers or reviewers who ask the creator-writers don’t trust their own interpretations enough because (a) they had bad English lit teachers who dismissed their views of the work being discussed, and (b) they never had a Lit Professor like me who encouraged them to be brave enough to trust their own intuition and interpretation of the art so long as the art justified the interpretation.
I, too, like the Dark Will. He’s more interesting than a crazy Will, or than a sick Will, or than a delusional Will. But, then, I also liked the Dark Abigail who lured her father’s intended victims to him by being his bait, then lied to everyone and pretended complete ignorance and innocence. It added depth to her character.
And I adore this interpretation of Hannibal. So different from the books. So intriguing. So original. So subtle.
Thank you for your patience with me, and for taking the time to write such a detailed commentary. Now I’m going to go read the blogpost you listed, and I may answer you again on that.
Hugs, my fellow Fannibal,
What a delightfully well written exposé on Hannibal’s feelings for Will. Very interesting interpretation here.
But you know what? I think Will kinda probably really loves Hannibal, too, in some kinda way.