This episode seems to be a turning point in the season. Much like he did in the middle of last season, Hannibal finds himself throwing a dinner party. The main difference this go-round is the party ostensibly serves as a sort of pick-me-up. His near-crucifixion, he claims, has put him out of sorts.
Given that the only way he seems to know how to lift his spirits is to eat and serve a ton of anonymous people, I think we can justifiably label Hannibal one sick mofo. The sequences dealing with party preparation don’t read quite as darkly humorous as the ones from last year; but there’s still a lengthy sequence set to sprightly classical music that sees Hannibal thumbing through a rolodex full of the world’s most unfortunate people.
And then he makes roses out of their flesh. What fun.
The dinner party isn’t all fun and games, though. For Will, accurately predicting it represents the first time he really manages to plant the seed of suspicion in Jack’s brain. Post-dinner party, however, there’s a strange turn of events where Jack’s investigation reveals the food he lifted from Hannibal’s spread only contains animal meats. What happened to the people in his rolodex? This seems to be a ploy by Hannibal to expose the suspicion facing him in Jack and Dr. Chilton; it will be interesting to see the next couple of moves on both sides.
I never, ever, thought this show would manage to get me to like Dr. Chilton, and yet here we are. While his hospital is as dysfunctional as ever (I’d feel sorry for Gideon if he wasn’t… you know, a murderer), Chilton has become one of the clearer-eyed figures on the show at present. I guess when you’re up against Satan himself, a regular old slimy doctor seems like an ally.*
Personally, the Alana/Hannibal hookup struck me as a bit forced. It makes sense subtextually — the conversation afterwards about funeral sex thankfully clarified what the writers were going for — but it just doesn’t feel earned. It admittedly complicates the plot nicely, and make Hannibal just that much more creepy, so I’ll let it slide.
The most uncomfortable scene, however, is undoubtedly the dinner shared between Hannibal and Abel Gideon. This scene, wherein Hannibal serves Gideon his own severed leg, should immediately jump to the top of any self-respecting “Hannibal cannibalism scenes” list. Just when you thought this guy couldn’t be revealed as any more of a monster…
And then there’s that ending. You know, I’m starting to wonder how this season can possibly be only halfway done.
On a technical note,** this episode featured some pretty slick scene transitions. The outstanding one is probably the bit where the notes in Hannibal’s composition sprout flowers, taking us to the murder tree in the FBI morgue. The link between Hannibal’s disparate pieces of art is pretty frank, and the show is stronger for its willingness to go for moments like that. There’s another great little morph where Will’s visitor cell bars appear over the Vermont forest where Alana and Jack walk through yellow leaves.
Still, the unnerving transition award, obviously, goes to the cut from Will asking, “Who does he have to kill for you to open your eyes?” straight to Alana Bloom.
In terms of evocative visuals, the transitions have to take a silver medal to the moment where Will grows those bizarre antler-branches in his visitor cell. The image is more dramatic than its last appearance, winding into the shape of a tree (or a cross?) as they push through the rusted metal of his prison. Is becoming more like Hannibal the only way for Will to free himself? It’s an idea that’s been in play since the very first episode; Will’s murder of Garrett Jacob Hobbs is what sets his whole character arc in motion.
*Also, holy crap the gag with him and that foot hors d’oeuvre was hilarious.
**Pun unintended but acceptable.