As all you Fannibals probably know by now, the recap of this week’s episode is coming a bit later than usual. If you didn’t think the show was doomed enough after its cancellation and then rejection by both Netflix and Amazon, NBC put yet another nail in Hannibal‘s coffin early this week when they changed its time slot for the remainder of the season from Thursday night to Saturday night – a television black hole, ratings-wise. However, I, and hopefully all of the other dedicated Fannibals out there, have followed Hannibal to its new night in order to continue supporting and enjoying this amazing show to its end. And considering how the last episode ended, there was no way I was missing this next installment.
The climax of the previous episode saw Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham captured by Mason Verger, and episode seven, “Digestivo,” begins with just how that all went down. It seems even the Italian police have a price for breaking the law, and a group of them, led by the officer who was questioning Bedelia in the last episode, come in to Hannibal’s dinner party with Will and Jack. He saves Will from having the top of his head cut off with a bone saw, but still capture him along with Hannibal, and tell the other officers to kill Jack when they leave. Thankfully, Chiyo had been keeping an eye on things across the street with her trusty rifle and is able to take them out. She and Jack seem to come to an agreement to help each other out for the time being to each get what they want – Jack gets out of Italy alive, and Chiyo finds out where they have likely been taken so that she can continue to watch over Hannibal.
Speaking of Alana, she shows here that she hasn’t completely converted to the dark side when she is finally reunited with Hannibal and Will. She approaches Will in the dining room and he expresses his disgust at her involvement with Mason. She tries to explain herself, and actually seems genuinely disgusted with herself, though she was just trying to do what she thought needed to be done. Will has lost all respect for her, and it will be compelling to see whether or not they can repair their damaged relationship when they were once so close. Alana also has a great scene with Hannibal just before she frees him when she asks if she could have ever really known him, referring to their previous involvement. Hannibal can only answer truthfully and say no, which hurts Alana, but that’s what you get when you’re dealing with somebody like him.
Mads Mikkelsen particularly excels in this episode during his scenes at Muskrat Farm. The audience has known from the beginning of the show just who Hannibal is and what he is capable of, but Mikkelsen is often so cool and charming in his performance that one could forget all that and be utterly seduced by him. Here, we get more than a glimpse into the true madness of the man; his tendencies for sadism and masochism; and his lack of empathy. While Mason throws his own macabre dinner party for his captives (even dressing them up in nice suits) and tells them what his plans are – to eat Hannibal and cut off Will’s face to replace his own – Hannibal actually seems amused, and to be enjoying himself. There is no reaction from Hannibal when Mason sticks him with a knife, or when Mason’s chef Cordell brands him like a pig. When Will, in a move almost completely out of character, bites off a piece of Cordell’s cheek, Hannibal only smiles at him like a proud papa. But Mikkelsen’s best moment comes when Alana frees him from the pig pen, and the look on his face when stands up shows the audience that shit is definitely about to go down.
The biggest character change in “Digestivo” is of course Will. Highlighted by the aforementioned cheek-biting scene, it was clear in this episode that Will has reached a pivotal point in his arc. He’d already been stabbed by Hannibal, and now after almost being killed by him again and put through the evil of Mason Verger, he’s had all he can take and doesn’t want to be a part of Hannibal anymore. Hannibal takes Will home after saving him from Muskrat Farm (on the promise he made to Alana) and he cares for him and heals him, thinking that the two will just continue on as they have. But as soon as Will wakes up, there is an obvious shift in his demeanor. He then pretty much breaks up with Hannibal. Thinking that Hannibal will run away, Will says that he won’t look for him anymore and won’t even think about him anymore, ending it all with a simple “Goodbye, Hannibal.” Hannibal tries to hide it, but he’s visibly upset by this. When Jack Crawford and the rest of the FBI shows up later, Hannibal’s solution to not have to leave Will is to surrender himself. But I believe Will is a much stronger and different person than he was even from earlier this season. Jack correctly describes the two men as “identically different” and though there will always be a link between them, Will doesn’t need Hannibal anymore like he used to.
And so ends an important part of the story of the famous cannibal. The next episode brings the story to where Thomas Harris originally began it, with Hannibal being incarcerated. This means that Frederick Chilton will be back in all his smarmy awesomeness, and that the show will return to its procedural beginnings with the appearance of Francis Dolarhyde, aka The Red Dragon. This is the part that most fans have probably been waiting for, and based on the strength of the show so far, I don’t think there is any way it can disappoint them.