Hannibal: S03E01 “Antipasto”

Good evening, Avocado. Welcome to my season three Hannibal reviews. I plan to post these sporadically, without much warning. May you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy watching the show.

We open with a flame, and then, machinery. It’s an engine, and in little time, we are following a motorcycle on the dark edge of a lush city. Florence is a different place, indeed, one with no Chesapeake Ripper, one where Hannibal can move unknown as well as undetected.


Our setting is established in little time. Bedelia is here, unharmed and nothing less than stunning. Dare I say that her beautiful wardrobe upstages even Hannibal’s in this episode? I believe so. To be clear, they are both elegantly dressed at all times; even Hannibal’s leather jacket in the opening scene is nothing less than impeccable.

It’s clear that the stakes have been raised here. The lavish clothes are necessary just to keep up appearances. But regardless of the public appearances, there are no allusions behind closed doors. Bedelia may have an opulent lifestyle here, but it is temporary; a new friend points out the purpose of Hannibal’s cuisine, a meal designed to prepare for another one.

So we have an uneasy coexistence, as we float between the past and the present. The last days of Dr. Gideon are shown, as Abel protests is slow and well-prepared end. Bedelia’s history is revealed as well, and we understand what kind of complicit codependence she and Hannibal share.

Florence only remains calm for so long, of course. Hannibal makes a new friend quite easily, by way of a shared distaste. But the new friend cannot help himself, and so the episode does not end without a murder. This man crawls for an escape he will never reach, as Bedelia watches in shock. The line of blood on her cheek parallels her single tear; she may grieve but she is no less tainted for it.

This is where things end, Bedelia’s escape thwarted by bad timing, but also by the realization that she is no less guilty for maintaining a passive role. “Observing or participating.” You may stand there and watch, but you are participating.

She is right about one thing, though. Her unsuccessful efforts to leave note awareness of the situation’s impermanence. Hannibal will not outrun his past even by assuming the name of another, and she is here for the motorcycle ride.

Finally: Look at you, Bryan Fuller, getting off on withholding. After the violent bloodletting of “Mizumono”, the second season finale, we are given nary a hint about who might have survived. Watching these episodes the first time, as they originally aired, made for a damned long week as I waited to see who might have joined Bev as a casualty.

Stray thoughts:

  • Hannibal is very well dressed in this episode. His double-breasted honey-colored suit comes with no tie, and it absolutely needs no further adornment. But I feel that Bedelia upstages him somewhat here. Her formal gown is dazzling, and the white-and-grey dress she wears to the lecture is understated elegance. Even her casual day-errand clothing is bright and wonderful:


(Hat from the Freddie Lounds collection)

  • For gore, I give this episode two Husserls out of five. It’s not that hard to watch, outside of one moment – the aftermath of Bedelia’s attack. Some blood is fine, but extracting your forearm from a person’s throat? Another story.
  • What other show could get Zachary Quinto to show up as a handsome corpse? Even the dead extras are stars here.
  • As crude as it may be, I have to mention how stunning Mads and Gillian look together. These people are aging so well it’s damn near criminal. There is just enough eye candy in this episode. It is an incredibly seductive game of cat and mouse.
  • It is nice to see Bedelia take some initiative, holding Hannibal at gunpoint as she enjoys a drink and he dresses after a shower. But guns are crude and informal; they are tools for those who kill only because it is necessary. For the fanciest of cannibals, nothing less personal than a barehanded neck snapping will do.

Up next: “Primavera”