When the Betrayed becomes the Betrayer: NBC’s HANNIBAL, S3E3 “Secondo”

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Warning: Spoilers & Graphic Images

Bedelia: Are you the betrayer or the betrayed?
Hannibal: I’m vague on those details.images-21

NBC’s Hannibal is glamorous, luxurious, elegant, violent, bloody, viciously cruel. What is it that makes this show so captivating? Multi-dimensional characters, brilliant dialogue, devastating plot, stunning special effects, and absolutely delish irony. Viewers were treated to all of this show’s best in last night’s episode “Secondo” (which some reviewers are listing as “Secundo”).

Castle Lecter

UnknownWill (Hugh Dancy), describing his gutting by Hannibal as being “left with a smiley face” on his abdomen, went to Hannibal’s ancestral home in Lithuania, which features prominently only in Thomas Harris’s novel Hannibal Rising, about Hannibal’s childhood trauma during World War II, the fate of his sister Mischa, and Hannibal’s “Becoming” as he hunts down the men who destroyed his family and looted their castle. It was appropriately gothic and haunting in last night’s episode.

images copyIn Lithuania, on the grounds of Castle Lecter, Will found an Asian woman named Chiyo (Tao Okamato), hunting in the forest for pheasant, viewing Will through the rifle’s sights, though she did not shoot at him. Later, we saw Chiyo caressing the carcass of the game-bird, plucking it, and preparing it for roasting (alternating, for the viewers, with scenes of Hannibal cutting the hand off a severed arm, and preparing it for roasting and dinner).images-1Chiyo claimed that Hannibal had left her there to guard a man responsible for the death of Hannibal’s little sister Mischa, whom he has already mentioned to Will. In a previous season, Will asked if Hannibal had ever been a father or if he’d ever had a child, or something to that effect, and Hannibal mentioned his sister Mischa. (Even those who have not read Hannibal Rising would have eventually figured out Mischa’s fate in last night’s episode, but I don’t want to spoil it for you yet.)

When Will showed his abdominal scar to Chiyo — it being the only scar he could reveal since the remainder of Will’s scars from Hannibal are psychological — she said, “All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story.”

Despite this, Will did not deign to relate his story to Chiyo.

imagesWill found the man who was being guarded in a basement dungeon, being starved to death (which confused me about the show’s timeline, since this man was supposed to have hurt Mischa during World War II, and Will et al seem to be in the 1970s or 1980s: Hannibal certainly doesn’t seem to be in a contemporary time period, so I’m not sure when this show is set).

When Will accused Chiyo of keeping the man “like an animal,” Chiyo responded that she “wouldn’t do this to an animal.” Will released the man, gave him clothes, then took him into the woods, instructing him to run away.

He didn’t.

He returned to his dungeon cage.

But the door was unlocked. images-2So when Chiyo came down again to the dungeon, the imprisoned man, who was never named, leapt out and attacked her. She killed him, in self-defense it would seem.

But then the strangeness happened: Will became Hannibal by saying he’d wanted to see what Chiyo would do.

Wait: isn’t that something Hannibal would say?

And then Will made a weird angel-moth-fetish of the man and hung him from the ceiling.

Isn’t that something some of the other serial killers Will has been hunting in the previous season have done: making angels, totem-poles, etc out of victims?

Either Will has lost his mind, or he has, indeed, become Hannibal.

Will as Dr. Hannibal Graham

images-10There was another bizarre instance of Will behaving as Hannibal: the two are sitting (in Will’s or Hannibal’s imagination) as they used to during Will’s psycho-analysis, only Will is asking the questions of Hannibal. The question and answer scene was filmed or edited in some fancy-schmancy fashion that made it seem as if we were viewing them through shards of broken glass, fit back together in some imperfect puzzle.

It was beautifully symbolic, not only of how much of Hannibal has infiltrated Will’s personality, but of how much Will was already like Hannibal before Hannibal encouraged him to “Become” more like him.

The initial similarity between the two men, I assume, is what drew Hannibal to Will originally, and what is drawing Will to Hannibal now.

They do love each other — that much is obvious, and I don’t mean in a sexual way, though they could have erotic feelings of arousal without their love being sexual.

Perhaps Will and Hannibal love each other for the parts of themselves they see in the other one.

Now, the question is this: do Will and Hannibal love each other for the good they find in the other, or for the evil?

Bedelia: Gone Girl

images-14Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) is, like… wow… suddenly cray-cray über-confident in her relationship with Hannibal.

She’s really starting to scare me silly.

She initiates the conversation on being betrayed and on forgiveness, telling Hannibal, as if she’s still his psychotherapist and as if she still retains some of his respect or still has some authority over him, that it takes two to forgive: the betrayer and the betrayed.

Casually, while sipping wine, she asks which Hannibal is: the Betrayed or the Betrayer?

He tells her he’s vague on that.images copy 2Then Bedelia, who’s already killed one man herself  (the patient who attacked her) as we discovered in the flashback in “Antipasto” S3E1,

images-23become like Abigail (Kacey Rohl) after killing the brother of one of her father’s victims by asking Hannibal for help and protection afterward (becoming, in effect, like a slave or a voluntarily indentured servant for life),

images-12“participated” in another killing (this time in Florence, of Tony the poet, who was going to reveal that Hannibal and Bedelia were not Dr. and Mrs. Fell, as they are claiming to be),

images-24all the while knowing that Hannibal is still killing people and serving his victims to their dinners guests as food,

Unknown-2Bedelia then virtually taunted Hannibal, claiming she was confident that she could “navigate her way out of what she’s gotten herself into.”

With Hannibal.

With Hannibal.

Gone is the frightened, disoriented woman who begged Hannibal to protect her after she killed the patient who attacked her.

Gone is the girl who sat in the train station being “surveilled” just as she was being watched by Hannibal.

Gone is the terrified girl who was going to run away, who was running away, just as Hannibal opened the apartment door with Tony the Poet behind him.

Yes, that Bedelia seems to have vanished.

She’s gone.

This girl, she’s giving me the shivers.

The Hannibal & Bedelia Show

images-11Yes, some critics have expressed concern that Hannibal is becoming the Hannibal and Bedelia Show, but I find Bedelia’s relationship with Hannibal fascinating, even though I’m scared to death for her.  After inviting his nemesis Sogliato (Rinaldo Rocco) for dinner, Hannibal stabbed him in the temple with an ice-pick.

Sogliato continued laughing and talking weirdly, though not really moving much. So he was alive after Hannibal skewered him.

That is, he was alive until Bedelia got up from the table and, annoyed by his incoherent gabbling about his not being able to see anything or his inane giggling, I suppose, yanked the ice-pick out of his temple, causing him to pitch forward, blood gushing from the wound, onto the dinner table.

She turned to Hannibal and said something like, “Now that’s two you’ve killed from the Palazzo Caponé.”

To which Hannibal responded, “For the record, technically, you killed him.”

images-6Bedelia knows that Hannibal kills and eats people. She doesn’t eat the people-entrées when they’re served to guests. Tony the poet commented on her “different diet.” That avoidance of eating Hannibal’s victims was shown again last night, while Bedelia was again eating oysters, which the guests were not being served, and Bedelia was clearly uneasy about the guests’ expressions and exclamations of pleasure over the food.

images-2Yet Bedelia was, in effect, scolding Hannibal after she yanked the ice-pick out of Sogliato?

I guess that means the girl never sleeps.

But then, when has Hannibal ever killed any his victims while they were sleeping?

Hannibal likes them to know he’s coming.

Apparently, so does Bedelia.

Cruella-du-Bedelia

UnknownIn an ironically erotic scene, Hannibal was washing Bedelia’s hair while she was in the tub discussing little Mischa and her fate, letting viewers know that Bedelia knows all about Hannibal’s sister and what the Nazis (or pseudo-Nazis) did to her and his family during the War. This linking of sexual arousal and killing is exactly what real serial killers unconsciously do. The writers of Hannibal did it by linking the erotic nature of Hannibal’s washing Bedelia’s hair, camera focused continuously on the weaving and entangling of his long fingers through her hair, while she asked things about his past that involve murder and cannibalism.

Things like: “What happened to you in Lithuania?”

To which Hannibal replied, “Nothing happened to me. I happened.”

Then Bedelia, wicked little girl that she’s become, casually asked, “How did your sister taste when you ate her?”

Hannibal knelt there, motionless, his soapy hands and fingers mid-air, staring, as Cruella-Bedelia sank slowly — almost luxuriously — into the tub, rinsing her hair — and herself — clean of the filth of that question.

imagesThe teacup has once again been broken.

images-17Only this time, Bedelia and Will, in different scenes, are the ones who have knocked it from its secure place, both of them betraying and intentionally hurting Hannibal.

You’d think they’d know by now that the teacup, once shattered, cannot be put back together again.

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Filed under Actors, Hannibal, Movies/Television, Serial Killers, Violence

2 Responses to When the Betrayed becomes the Betrayer: NBC’s HANNIBAL, S3E3 “Secondo”

  1. Dannibal

    I loved this episode so much. Of course, I enjoyed the other two episodes as well, and next week’s episode looks like it will be the best one yet of this season (it just keeps getting better and better).

    Bryan Fuller is changing up the origin story on Hannibal because, as you pointed out, the timing. Our Hannibal is too young to have been alive during WWII. Also, the line “Nothing happened to me. I happened,” comes from the book “The Silence of the Lambs,” and something I know many Fannibals were hoping would be in the show. Many seem to feel it is more accurate to the character than having what happened to Mischa being the cause of Hannibal being who he is. I think what Bryan is doing is trying to combine the two. Yes, Mischa was important to Hannibal, and yes this terrible event happened…however, it was not what caused Hannibal to be who he is. To reiterate this fact, not only did Bryan include the “I happened,” line, but also had Will tell Chiyoh that what happened to Mischa didn’t quantify Hannibal.

    Bedelia, Bedelia, Bedelia…what have you gotten yourself into? Honestly, she has always been one of my favorite characters on the show. I find her relationship with Hannibal to be immensely fascinating (ha, that is probably the psych student in me). I think she does have a plan and I think it will be revealed in time. Whether or not she will be successful with that plan…remains to be seen. My jaw literally dropped, though, when she asked Hannibal how his sister had tasted. That was bold! Also, the scene with them having dinner with Sogliato made me laugh out loud, literally. The look on her face when Hannibal stabbed him is priceless (A+ for Gillian Anderson!) and then Hannibal’s sass later on, “Technically, you killed him.”

    I loved the memory palace-therapy scene; it was really beautifully shot (I say that all the time about this show, but seriously the cinematography is so amazing). It illustrated so well how Will is becoming more and more like Hannibal (did you notice that Will was even sitting in Hannibal’s chair when he was asking the questions?), which of course makes me excited.

    I was disappointed in Will for letting that guy go at first, but was later pleased when Chiyoh pointed out (after she killed the guy) that Will was doing what Hannibal does. Will tried to deny it, saying “I didn’t want this.” But, Chiyoh calls him on his bs, and tells Will that Hannibal would be proud of him. This reminded me of the scene from Naka-choko (season 2, episode 10), when Will tells the dead Randall Tier, “You forced me to kill you,” trying to deny to himself that he is like Hannibal, only to be called out on that lie (this time by Chiyoh; that time by his own subconscious-posed-as-dead-Randall). Speaking of Naka-choko….this recent episode is not the first time that Will has made a murder tableau….back in Naka-choko he also did the dead Randall Tier tableau. Hannibal has taught him well.

    In regards to the Secondo tableau of the firefly guy, there are a few different theories as to what it symbolizes. Some have suggested it is symbolic of Will setting Chiyoh free, or maybe setting himself free, of Hannibal’s grasp. Another theory (and the one I’m rooting for, for reasons), is that it is symbolic of Will’s final transformation; an imago.

    I can hardly wait til next week’s episode. Things are about to get really crazy.

    • You are so right on the Mischa-as-cause theme, Danielle Dannibal. There are a multitude of things that contribute to a serial killer, a mass murderer, to dysfunctional persons, to abusive persons, and to people like me, who grew up in an incredibly abusive violent family with a mother who was a serial killer (a Muncher — a woman who practices Munchausen’s by Proxy, and who abuses, tortures, attempts to kill, and sometimes does kill, repeatedly, her own children or others dependent upon her care, so that she herself can get attention and adoration) and who turn out to be good people despite the horrific abuse that was inflicted upon them. There is also the individual genetic makeup that forms our personalities in the midst of such abuse and horrors. I’ve always believed that the artist in me was present from a very early age, helped me see things clearly, helped me keep telling outsiders what was being done to me and my siblings (no one did anything, and the rest of my family actually knew and chose to protect my mother), helped by hold on to my “truth” when everyone told me I couldn’t possibly remember things that had happened or told me I was simply imagining them, etc.

      In short, to say that what happened to Mischa “caused” Hannibal to become a serial killer is facile and fails to take into account the millions of people who do not kill or abuse or eat those who harmed them in sometimes unimaginable ways. Thomas Harris is very careful to make all Hannibal’s choices in Hannibal Rising just that: conscious choices. That’s one of the things I respect about him as an author and artist. He doesn’t fall into simplistic cause-and-effect with Hannibal, even though he clearly gives us many reasons to justify his behaviour and empathize with what he becomes. At least in terms of the men who killed and ate Mischa. As for the others, well… I guess that’s when Hannibal “happened.”

      Bedelia… OMG! I love her. She is über-cray-cray this girl. Taunting and scolding a man whom she knows to be a cannibalistic serial killer. Oy, vey, when she asked him what Mischa tasted like when he ate her, I almost squealed. What on earth is she doing? And her comment, “I’m confident I can navigate my way out of whatever situation I’ve gotten in to.” Wowza! Really, Bedelia? Really? I’ve always loved her character because (1) they got the therapist part completely correct in her interactions with Hannibal in season 1 (that’s the artist/writer in me, as well as the survivor, who always psycho-analyzed people in order to survive and to create art, and the person in me whose own very good therapist saved me by believing me), (2) she got scared of Hannibal in season 2, (3) she had the balls to hold a gun on the naked Hannibal coming out of her shower, while she had a glass of whiskey in her other hand. So, she real cool.

      But what is she doing now? It’s so… so… I’m just so scared for her, I don’t know what to think about what she’s doing. The looks on her face are priceless during some of the dinners, or when she feels uneasy around Hannibal. And then she goes and asks such a triggering question while they’re in an intimate situation and in very close quarters. It’s like she’s no longer being his therapist, though she seems to be pretending to, but is, instead, letting her own cruel nature come out the more she’s with him. She intentionally trying to hurt him as far as I can tell. Or push him. And that makes her just like Hannibal, doesn’t it?

      I’m going with your interpretation of the imago: Will wasn’t setting Chiyoh free. And he certainly wasn’t setting himself free. He was doing what other serial killers have done in the series: create fetishes or imagoes. And he’s doing what Bedelia claims Hannibal is doing: calling them to him. Will made that imago to call Hannibal to him.

      I love what they’re doing with the show. How they’re changing things, like the timeline, to make it somewhat contemporary, but still honoring the spirit of the books it’s taken from. Some shows/series/films completely disregard the books that are the source material when they change the artistic medium, and it always makes me wonder why they even use the books in the first place if they’re going to brutally rearrange the story there, but I think Fuller et al are doing a wonderful job. Love it.

      Love talking to you about it, too.
      Love your insights, my dear. If we ever get a chance to meet, we’ll have to spend at least a weekend with our own Hannibal fest, batting our interpretations around. So intellectually stimulating.

      Love,
      A x

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