Lost inside Hannibal’s memory palace, we and Will are once again left to wander from room to room, traversing the fragmented pieces of Hannibal’s past, places where Hannibal himself can never return, places filled with too many painful memories. This week, ‘Secondo’, the third episode of HANNIBAL’s season 3, welcomed us to the childhood home of Hannibal Lecter.
“All sorrows can be born if you put them in a story”.
Foraging through the countryside of Lithuania, Will came across a gate, the gate to Castle Lecter. What he found inside appeared to be clues as to why Hannibal is the way he is, but it turns out no new information was ascertained from Will’s trip, at least no new insight as to why Hannibal is the man we know today. Will discovered a woman living on the premises and a man that she is keeping prisoner, the man who ate Hannibal’s sister, but events were not all as they seemed. You see, ‘Secondo’ was an episode about stories, lies, love and betrayal. About the lies we tell and the lies we tell ourselves.
“How did your sister taste?”
Will realised very quickly that the story Hannibal had spun to this woman was a fallacy, a lie concocted to hide the truth. Hannibal was born a sociopath, a human divorced from conventional feelings, so when his sister evoked the emotion of love inside him, he didn’t know what to do, this person was influencing him in a way that he didn’t understand. So he ate her. Hannibal forgave her in the only way he knew how, he consumed her into himself. There is no explaining why Hannibal is the way he is, there was no incident inflicted upon him, no trauma, he was simply born a monster. His sister’s only crime was loving her brother, and now Hannibal has someone else to forgive. Will has also influenced him, the relationship between the two has crossed the barriers of traditional friendship, they are in love and Hannibal can’t accept that. “I have to eat him,” he tells Bedelia during one of episode three’s many wonderful sections of dialogue.
For a show known for its words, HANNIBAL is never afraid to stew in prolonged silence. There were long instances of quiet this week, mostly of Will surveying his new surroundings, being haunted by the demons he has never been able to vanquish, including a subtle return for Wendigo, lurking over his shoulder as he edged closer to revealing Hannibal’s past, further into his memory palace. One of the aspects I love most about this season is how it has gotten away from the ‘killer of the week’ formula from seasons past and is instead focusing on a more serialised story, making us cling to the cobwebs found in these characters minds. This has allowed us to experience HANNIBAL more like a film, focusing only on prime story and the key characters that tell it. Hannibal was great before this shift but it’s pure magic now, magic witnessed by few, but magic all the same.
Jack made a welcome return this week, following Will to Florence, arriving at the cathedral, hot on the trail of his most prized asset. What is most interesting about Jack’s mission is that he isn’t apparently after Hannibal, he is actually only trying to bring Will back. He feels he needs to save him after “borrowing his imagination” for so long, using and abusing Will, with not much thought for his fragile mind. Jack is a man filled with guilt and he has some atoning to do. There are many individuals at fault for what has happened to Will, and Jack is most certainly one of them. He helped to create a monster which Hannibal began to nurture. Will would not exist as his current self without either one of them.
“Our minds concoct all sorts of fantasies when we don’t want to believe something.”
After Abigail was taken again from us last week, it was nice to see that Jack was a survivor of season two’s finale, or was he… I am seriously doubting the reality of anything being presented to us this season. Jack mentioned a few times how, “we all died” and that Will Graham was dead. Was this all metaphorical? Probably, but the case is there to be made if we want to make it. It’s certainly interesting to ponder, and for an episode that focused so heavily on lies, and the stories our minds make up, I’m not going to give up on this theory until it is proven definitively otherwise, not until character’s stop saying things like, “Belief comes from imagination. We also imagine the possibility that we live on after death”. I mean come on.
The lines between Will and Hannibal have been fuzzy for a while now, but this week the line has virtually been erased. Will has taken on many of his friend’s personality traits of late, this week demonstrating one of his most distinct, the tendency to manipulate others, testing to see what they might do, seeing if Hannibal’s old acquaintance was actually capable of killing. Will sacrificed a life this week, lest we forget, the life of a man who may well have been an innocent soul. Not a single eyelid was bashed however. This is seemingly now acceptable behaviour for our hero.
Gone are the days where Will would wake up from a nightmare sweaty and afraid, now there is no distinction, his night terrors are eternal, what is reality and what is not, is no longer as clear. We see that vividly when he strung up Hannibal’s deceased prisoner, mutilating him and designing his aesthetic into a butterfly like motif. Was this scene real? Was any of it happening? I would be willing to hedge a bet that it was contained inside Will’s disturbed mind but it’s hard to tell for sure and to be honest, I’m not sure if it even matters.
This was another terrific episode of HANNIBAL, adding to what has so far been a literal dream of a season. Learning that Hannibal was actively seeking to lure in those that follow him and readily announcing his intention for Will, we were given even more fuel to propel the rest of the season forward.
“The door is at the centre of my mind and here you are feeling for the latch,” Hannibal told Will inside the depths of his mind, but he wasn’t just speaking to his friend, he was speaking to us. We are right there with Will, trying to unravel all that Hannibal is, reaching in the dark for what makes this mercurial creature tick. I’m not sure if we will ever reach the centre however. I’m not sure if we want to. I’m not sure if it even exists, and if it does, the only we thing we are likely to find is a broken human, a cruel accident of nature, an accident incapable of accepting love. Like Hannibal said, nothing happened to him at the place he called home. He happened, and now he is happening to us. I kind of like it.