“Observe or participate?”
“Antipasto” is only an appetizer for what’s to come, but it’s just as meaty as a main course. The episode continues delving into the dreamlike state created by “Mizumono”, this time taking us away from characters like Will Graham and Will Graham’s Dogs and letting us watch the Bedelia-Hannibal saga play out on screen. It’s a beautifully unsettling dynamic to observe, and the hour twists and turns with a graceful flair, sliding us in and out of a waking nightmare as this Hannibal world envelops us yet again.
The central question of the episode revolves around Dr. Bedelia du Maurier and her state of mind, and while we don’t quite get a concrete answer, we see the uncertainty and apprehension front and center. Gillian Anderson–looking fabulous, by the way–plays all of this perfectly, and she and Mikkelsen clearly have a sparkling bit of chemistry going on between them. It’s a brilliant set of performances, and the questions raised through the dynamic not only apply to the characters; they extend to the audience itself, and we as members are asked if we are observers or participators. The key point Hannibal is getting at here is the fact that Bedelia knowing what’s going to happen to his victims, yet not doing anything about it, is just the same as participating. If that’s the case, then what about us? Of course, this is a television show, but questions like that are worth pondering.
The episode also explores the idea of aesthetics, which should come as no surprise considering the show’s penchant for artful visual design. “Ethics become aesthetics,” Hannibal tells Bedelia early on in this episode, and it’s a nice encapsulation of where he’s at right now as a person. Because Will Graham is no longer there, Hannibal’s more concerned with “making appearances rather than maintaining them”. He’s throwing himself into the aesthetic world, taking on a new identity as art curator Dr. Fell at the Palazzo Capponi museum. His ruthlessness is also on full display–literally at the end–and he seems, more than ever, like a man who simply cannot be stopped, who controls people psychologically rather than physically.
After all, it’s the case with Bedelia, and her brilliantly filmed bathtub drowning scene is representative of her situation right now, of her state of mind. There is some element of her attracted to Hannibal’s attraction to the aesthetic, but at the same time, she’s simply not the one in control here; she’s going under at every second, and it’s hard to fight her way out.
As Hannibal states, “morality doesn’t exist. Only morale.” This is Hannibal’s morale at its strongest, and poor Anthony Dimmond’s attempts to talk about morality to Hannibal come at a time in which Dr. Lecter is pulling every string. Simply put, Hannibal is on top right now, and it’s going to be extremely difficult to kick him off that perch. Your move, Will Graham.
-Yes, that is Zachary Quinto Bedelia killed.
-Next week on Hannibal: Hey, everyone’s alive! Thank you to NBC for conveniently telling us a week early.
-I like how the Gideon and Bedelia scenes seem to contrast a bit. The former is pretty accepting of the fact that he’s, you know, eating himself, whereas the latter isn’t quite as ready to do that. Also, always nice to see Eddie Izzard back on the show.
– “It’s only cannibalism if we’re equals.”
-Hannibal: “May I get dressed?”
What everyone wanted her to say: “Uh, I’d rather you not…”
-What an opening sequence, right?
-The changing aspect ratio, the black and white, the soundtrack, the cinematography in general, the specific shot of Bedelia in her purple coat against the white buildings, etc. etc. etc. Someone could probably write a series of books analyzing the visual and audio aspects of this show. I still can’t believe something this artistic and beautiful is on network television. Also, this shot:
-I will be covering every episode of this season here. Summer is usually a dead zone for television, but leave it to the TV gods to put all the good shows on one night (in the same time spot): Hannibal, Rectify in July, and Review also in July. Next thing you know, HBO is going to move True Detective to Thursdays just for the hell of it.
Photo credit: Hannibal, NBC