June 5, 2015
Hannibal Season 3 Premiere: “Antipasto” Review
Meet the Lectors.
And we’re back, everyone. And by “we’re back,” I don’t just mean Hannibal — I mean weekly reviews of Hannibal. Some of you might remember that I once reviewed Hannibal for a very, very brief time, covering both the pilot and second episode of what was, at the time, an extremely anticipated show of mine. So why did I stop? Not quality, of course: the show was very good from the start, but evolved into something that’s just incredible, with it winning most of our TV accolades for 2014 (including our “Best of Show” award for the year.) But the first two episodes were extremely low-read at the time (mostly because the ratings were equally horrid), and I just couldn’t put the effort into reviewing a show I thought would be great, but a one season wonder.
Now we are two seasons in, and a lot has changed: not the viewership of course (that remains as low as ever, sadly) but the show itself — even in early Season 1 I couldn’t predict how crazy this show could get, and how unlike anything else on television it would become. And those aspects of the series are certainly at play in “Antipasto,” which is certainly Hannibal at its weirdest — but is it Hannibal at its best? Let’s find out.
…Right now, in fact. I’m not going to bait you guys, okay? “Antipasto” was a very strong season premiere for Hannibal, one that is equal parts oft-putting and alienating well also being absolutely beautiful and completely engrossing. That’s typical of the show at this point, but especially the case for “Antipasto.” Following the Season 2 finale I think everyone suspected their would be a huge shake-up for the show in its next season: simply put Hannibal is completely on the loose, a wanted man across the sea trying to jump start a new life for himself. Alongside him is his former therapist turned hostage Bedelia Du Maurier, played by newly promoted series regular Gillian Anderson. Hannibal and Bedelia are now hiding low in Florence, Italy, with Hannibal just recently assuming the identity of a deceased university Professor Fell. And that’s where “Antipasto” begins, and that’s where it ends.
Yes, “Antipasto” features very little of what I would call typical Hannibal material…like its main cast, for one. Series protagonist Will Graham is nowhere to be found following the bloodbath of last season’s finale, nor is Jack Crawford and Elena Bloom, also caught in the crossfire of Hannibal’s wrath. It’s an extremely risky move to focus your season premiere on your show’s antagonist and his previously recurring hostage, but the way I figure it, Bryan Fuller and co. figured they had nothing to lose: there aren’t going to be a lot of people going blind here and watching this as their first episode of Hannibal. At this point, you’re either in or your out with this show. But a bigger question was if centering an episode on Hannibal and Bedelia hanging out in Italy would end up being any good: after all, it’s such a big change of pace for the show, and even someone in love with the series as much as myself was concerned such a break from the status quo could hamper the series quality.
No surprise though, I was wrong: with “Antipasto,” Hannibal remains as fantastic as ever. Yes it would have been nice to see the rest of the cast but, at the end of the day, this was Hannibal and Bedelia’s story, and a fantastically told one. I particularly love the use of time in this episode, and how it’s conveyed visually throughout the premiere. The most noticeable of course was in the first scene, in which Eddie Izzard makes his triumphant return to the series as now deceased Abel Gideon. The whole scene (and subsequent scenes between Abel and Hannibal) are filmed in black and white, which was a cool visual effect to distinguish the flashback nature of the plotline. But even cooler was the other storyline of the night, showing us how Hannibal and Bedelia ended up together on their big trans-continental flight that concluded last year’s finale. Taking pure inspiration from The Grand Budapest Hotel in its use of aspect ratio shifts, this was an extremely cool effect, and proof that this show is probably the best looking one on TV (if all the shots of food, exploding bottles, and the like wasn’t enough proof of that.)
So despite the fact that “Antipasto” was unlike any other episode of Hannibal, what makes the show so great was very much apparent. The excellent dialogue (of which I’ll highlight in the Loose Ends), the visuals, the performances, and the incredibly chilling music (Brian Reitzell is doing some out of this world work here) remains as effective as ever. And for those worried this new direction the show is taking would last the rest of the season, the episode’s conclusion should be a strong argument against that theory. Things might be radically different for the Hannibal series now but, just like it’s main character, old habits die hard. Hannibal is back to his old shenanigans, and I can’t wait to see where this series will take him by season’s end.
And Will too. It would be great to see that guy again! Alas, there’s always next week.
- I love where they are taking the character of Bedelia, and Gillian Anderson remains as great as ever at portraying her. Through the flashback you understand why she traveled with this man (he basically did the same thing he did to Will with him, and she feels helpless because of it), but it’s unclear just what he wants to do with her. Keep her as his partner that Will wouldn’t be? Or is he simply flavoring her up like he did with Abel Gideon? Who’s to say, but I can’t wait to find out.
- And speaking of Hannibal’s motives, I thought it was brilliant characterization showing the scenes between him and Gideon. Gideon really hit the nail on the head when it comes to Hannibal: even a monster like him doesn’t want to be alone, and his ties to Bedelia are the only person ones he has left.
- This week in Hannibal Double Entendres: “Though, on occasion, dissection is the only thing that will do.”
- “Special guest star: Eddie Izzard” indeed.
- Mads Mikkelsen can rock Italian.
- “Morality doesn’t exist, only morale.”
- “I still feel I’m in constant control of my actions. Given your history, that’s a good day.” She’s right you know.
- “I’ve taken off my person suit.” Oh Hannibal, you crazy motherfucker.
- “Will Graham was not a suitable substitute for therapy.” You can say that again. Can’t wait to see what’s to come with this character. Next week can’t come soon enough.