Going into episode three of the third season of NBC’s Hannibal, there was much anticipation and excitement. I vaguely know what is coming later, with the teases that have been given about the Red Dragon storyline coming into play, and past characters returning. My admiration for the show is such that I cannot wait to see what beautiful spin they put on all of that, while still exploring the psychology and backstory of its titular character. But we have to stay in the moment at hand, and at the beginning of “Secondo,” viewers are still waiting for Will and Hannibal to be reunited; to find out what happened to Jack and Alana; and to find out just how long Bedelia will survive the season, if at all.
Indeed, Bedelia and Hannibal’s quote-unquote “relationship” this season is still a rocky one. The episode opens with Hannibal reflecting on his encounter with Will at the end of episode two, about which he seems rather sad and confused about his feelings. Compounding these feelings is Bedelia, who more boldly expresses her disdain for “what she has gotten herself into” with Hannibal than in previous episodes, and that makes me very scared for her. Still, the two go on about their lives in Italy, inviting friends over for dinner.
Have no fear about one thing, viewers, Jack Crawford is alive and back in action. He teams up with Pazzi in the chapel in Italy, but makes it clear to the Inspector that he is there for Will, supposedly to continue his paternal protection stance over him. Jack is not given much to do in this episode, but it is good to see him back, and still loyal to Will and determined to help him. Alana’s fate is not revealed, but once again, she is shown in the preview for episode four, so it’s safe to assume that she is still alive as well.
I believe that “Secondo” introduced the most important part of Hannibal’s backstory. The opening scene ends with Bedelia asking Hannibal where he thinks (or rather, knows) Will will go to look for him next. Hannibal replies, “A place I can never go to again – home.” Will then arrives in Hannibal’s birthplace of Lithuania, showing that he is not only concerned with finding Hannibal to stop him, but also taking this opportunity to explore the man’s origins to better understand him.
Now, whether you have read the book or seen the movie adaptation of Hannibal Rising (and whether or not you liked it), you hopefully know exactly what that means and where the story is perhaps going. Home represents the real origins of the Hannibal we know today, and the harrowing events in his past having to do with his beloved younger sister Mischa that made him what he is. Though Thomas Harris was sort of forced into creating an origin story for Hannibal before somebody else did, I think what he came up with was brilliant. As terrible as the things are that Hannibal has done in his life and the number of people he has killed, this is the thing that has somewhat endeared me to the character, because, to be blunt, what happened to Mischa-and in turn to Hannibal-was really f**ked up. I of course cannot condone any of Hannibal’s actions, but because of this, I understand them to a degree. Is Hannibal scarier without a motive for his cannibalism? Perhaps. But he is a bigger and more involved character than just a faceless killer, and he deserves this kind of backstory.
The full Mischa story is not revealed in this episode, and it almost seems like it may not be the same as Harris’s original story. On the grounds of Hannibal’s home, Will meets a strange woman named Chiyo and the man she keeps locked in a cage underground. The woman tells Will that this is the man who killed Mischa, and that Hannibal tasked her with keeping an eye on him. That there is any truth to this story is quite hard to believe, and is probably just another manipulation technique of Hannibal’s. Will helps Chiyo break out of this by the end when she kills the prisoner, and the two of them are now going to be a team in Will’s quest to track Hannibal down (just ignore the fact that he even left Italy in the first place to find him). A very strange turn is Will turning the dead man’s body into a gruesome, Chesapeake Ripper-like creation that makes him resemble a moth covered in snails. He’s not expecting Hannibal to see this, is he?
The title of the episode, “Secondo,” refers to the second course in a formal Italian meal that is mostly meat. There are several shots in the episode of both Hannibal and Chiyo preparing meat, and I see this episode as the show finally getting to the real meat of Hannibal’s story, and the overall Hannibal universe. Next week’s episode looks to be a real doozy, with characters like Alana, Chilton, and the Vergers returning for some payback.