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Hannibal: Contorno

"He comes in the guise of a mentor, but it's distress that excites him."

‘Contorno’ is a real trip. This show, it's just total lunacy. I marvel at it every week. I can't even believe a second of it ever got made. We’re at a narrow stretch of road (getting more narrow by the moment) where not everyone will fit. I mean that about the audience. God, this season has really gone off the rails so much sooner than usual. (Actually I don't know that season three ever had any discernible order to it!) I'm already mourning the loss of a show with this much spirit. Whether you think this experiment in upside down storytelling works or not, it's an exquisitely delirious ride. And it's unlike any other.

Better to live true to yourself for an instant than never know it.

I really have loved the Bedelia and Hannibal Show. Every single scene of theirs enthralls while it beguiles the time. Sometimes I wonder, does it just come down to that fact that they both have exceptional hair? What's happening a millimeter below the surface for Bedelia makes it so damn hard to take your eyes off of her. Half the time, I'm secretly imploring the camera to show her face for a little bit longer so I can search it even more fervently than I already am (which must be impossible) for anything I can interpret as her feelings about all of this. Did you notice Hannibal repeats the line about having a snail garden as a child to her, as he had once said to Gideon (towards the end of his life)? Can any one of them survive Hannibal, undigested, with the incredible realization they have traveled the world in the belly of the beast?

I defy anyone to tell me I am wrong about their genetically anomalous tresses.

When I looked into his face and stood close enough to him to smell him, I was well aware that all the elements of epiphany were present.

RIP Rinaldo Pazzi, a Pazzi of the Pazzi, chief inspector of the Florentine Questura. I know, I know, inevitability and all. And even if you're not familiar with the canon, every moment screamed 'it's only a matter of time'. His story was well-told in a short time span, and we got as close to the person whose life was good and ruined by il Mostro di Firenze, as one could hope. There was a Mason Verger quality to Pazzi's death. It was that same clinical version of Hannibal that showed up to disembowel this man with whom he'd crossed paths in his youth. Hard to believe that "Take a deep breath, while you can, to clear your head" is among the most terrifying things Hannibal has ever uttered to the unfortunate still-cognizant soul standing before him. (Hannibal insists some people feel as much horror as their brain can process, the thought of that undoes me on several levels.) I shall not indulge the visuals too much here, but Guillermo Navarro really outdid himself with the tumbling rope cum intestines. My lord.

Empathy and reciprocity.

Live together in perfect harmony. You guys, I researched the finer points of reciprocity from the viewpoint of social psychology because dialogue. I mean this is a fuck of a social contract these two have made, shook on, twisted, broken then re-made perversely. (I say perverse because there was nothing about murdering and/or eating each other in the Wikipedia passage.) I guess this is the natural evolution of an experience that Hannibal and Will afforded the other. Chiyoh's presence really took a turn. She got Will's number alarmingly fast and articulated in a way only he can understand her distinct experiences with Hannibal. Will hung off every word. I love how she referred to him as more malleable than she is. His empathy has wrecked him.

How will you feel when I'm gone?

Alive... Jack says with a bit more than a half-grin on his face. Jack does not, did not, will not in the future, give a fuck about anything in or around the law, morality, ethicalness, accepted standards of conduct, consequences or humanity. I've watched that scene now five times and I still shake my head in disbelief that they went there. Like all the way there. Every element to that fight had the quality of a revenge fantasy worthy of the Quentin Tarantino stamp of approval. Love that Jack took his shoes off, too, a subtle callback to avenge his other broken pony, Miriam Lass. It's like Jack was going to get his licks in since god only knows where, how or what Hannibal is going to be sometime in the near future. What made it all the better is that Hannibal absorbed it. It's distress that excites him.

Odds and Ends:

*Question: Alana references a blonde who is with Hannibal these days, does she know it's Bedelia? Does anyone?

*There are like 10 things I want to say about Mason and Alana but I'm just going to leave it at this -- because this line of dialogue really happened, you guys.

Hey, Standards and Practices -- A+++


*The inserts showed the passage of time so indirectly, so inventively: Bella's ashes, Jack throwing his ring in the river, the multitude of quarters Pazzi went through before he was finally able to ask to get the nerve up for his morally compromised query on the payphone, the espresso machine whirring as two people sit worriedly waiting into the wee hours, dreading what's already gone so wrong.


*And on the subject of that sequence... Goddammit, Brian Reitzell, how dare you. I am going to need an adult-sized weighted blanket to watch any more of this show.

*La Gazza Ladra (It's 10 minutes and four seconds, by the way. I guess that's all Jack needed.)

*Check out the Hannibal -- Post Mortems with Scott Thompson on You Tube when you have a moment. They are real gems.


Hannibal: “Will has reached a state of moral dumbfounding.”

Bedelia: “Reciprocity. If we keep track of incoming and outgoing intentions, Will Graham is en route to kill you while you lie in wait to kill him. Now that's reciprocity.”

Alana: “A table setting from the home of Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The silverware is 19th-century Dutch from Christofle. The plate is Gien French china from Tiffany. The table linen is damask cotton, also from Christofle.”
Mason: “You've got to hand it to the man. He has the most marvelous taste.”

Will: “I hear voices from all directions.” The very air has screams smeared on it.

Hannibal: “I prefer the sound and feel of the harpsichord. More alive, the music arrives like experience, sudden and entire. The piano has the quality of a memory.”

Hannibal: “It's hard to see, but here's where the archbishop bit him. Eyes wild as he choked, the archbishop locked his teeth in Pazzi's flesh. On a related subject, I must confess, I've been giving very serious thought to doing the same.” (Lol.)

Hannibal: “Hello, Alana. I'm afraid the inspector is otherwise occupied. There is nothing I would love more than to be able to chat with you, Alana, but you caught me at a rather awkward moment. Nice to hear your voice.”

Hannibal: “I brought Bella back from death and you returned her to it. Is that where you're taking me, Jack?”


  1. Sometimes, when I watch this show, I don't know whether to weep or cheer. Cheer that this is available to watch; that someone conceived and produced it; that our collective viewing experience can be this rich. Weep because why would anyone watch dreck when they can watch this? Heather, you highlight the harpsichord vs piano lines: how many other shows would go there? Not only are these few lines so sharp and evocative, but they are also simply ruminations that reveal character. There is nothing plot driven or self-consciously clever about it. I want to cry that this show was always in danger (and that danger made manifest... but let's hope), while other drivel hangs around and remains popular. Extraordinary review of an extraordinary show!

  2. This was a wonderful episode.

    I loved the fight between Hannibal and Jack Crawford. The best part, for me, was the look on Jack's face when Hannibal picked himself up and walked away.

    Did anyone see the preview for next week that aired right after this episode? It said something like: "There's a bunch of stuff from next week's episode that we can't show you. But trust it, things get crazy." I'm paraphrasing, but not by much--it was disturbingly informal after the stately dialogue of the show.

  3. We are definitely at a narrowing stretch of road, Heather. :) This show clearly speaks more deeply to you three than it does to me. It has many things about it that I like --- including several performances that are spell-binding --- but I often find it incredibly self-indulgent. The dialogue and visuals can be downright off-putting in their excess. A little of that goes a long way. It works like gangbusters for me in small doses, but we're now entering the "too much of a good thing" zone. Did we have to get the slow-motion, loving close-ups of snails again? And the firefly man? Really?

    I'm glad that the show draws you in and is a rich experience for you --- I love that there is so much room in television for such a wide diversity of tastes these days --- however, the trappings of this one are increasingly holding me at a distance from the story and many of the characters. I can certainly understand why a wider audience hasn't taken to it, even setting aside the violence and graphic tableaus.

    I agree that the fight between Hannibal and Jack was great, but the stuff with Will and his travel companion was tedious in the extreme. As soon as they popped on screen, I sighed deeply and hoped it would end quickly. I'm hoping this phase of the story wraps up in whatever craziness is coming next week and we can move on into the back half of the season with a bit of a fresh slate.

  4. Heather1,
    I think those same things, too. And that harpsichord/piano line, well, it's just this show at its level best!

    I was laughing so hard at the NBC promo for next week. You are totally right in the way you've characterized it. It's so incongruent.

    I feel you. I can't quite figure out the right metaphor for the accordian-like pulsation this series has but there are definite points in the last 3 seasons where some of the audience just jumps off. Did you read The New Yorker article by Emily Nussbaum a few weeks back? FWIW, certain things take me multiple watches to really appreciate fully and sometimes on first watch I don't see the point/brilliance (in some cases). Also I think without an anchor in this season so far, the show might be better served streaming it, one after the other, without having to wait a whole week in between episodes. The season is going to shift soon though...

  5. I was very surprised with Jack/Hannibal fight. They had a fight — a marvelous one — in the end (or beginning) of the previous season; and they were more or less equal there. Now Jack clearly has the upper hand. Hi trashes Hannibal as he likes, and the only thing that the latter can do — is run.

  6. migmit,
    Bryan Fuller tweeted this the night of the broadcast: "Mads Mikkelsen insisted it be much more of a beat down than the clash of the titans S2." I mean it was all in caps because Bryan Fuller.

  7. I found the NBC preview on You Tube:

    There are things we can’t show you.
    But trust us.
    The next Hannibal gets crazy.

    There is so much here in the spaces between the words (or just the words themselves), I don't even need to editorialize it.

    One more thing, I am starting a re-watch from the pilot tonight because I am insane. My future reviews will be informed by this,

  8. "It works like gangbusters for me in small doses, but we're now entering the "too much of a good thing" zone."
    No such thing!!!! News of its cancellation was already out in the open at this time... I refuse to read suggestions on how to make it more crowd-pleasing by this point. Firefly Man was beautiful and Will's art, of course it deserves a second appearance.

    Will being thrown off the train amused me the same way Hannibal getting tasered did, I'm not sure why. I'll have to re-watch to see what kind of grunt Hannibal made after his "he shouldn't have done that" quip (the guy had pulled a knife I think that was embedded in his thigh). Maybe they both made the same sound.

    I loved the Mason and Alanna scenes. Half-faced Verger has a cute smile


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