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“HANNIBAL: Season 3, Episode 2” (TV Review)

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Ever existing as the classiest chiller on television at the moment, HANNIBAL’s third episode begins to clarify the events following the season two finale in its second episode, “Primavera.” While this episode is certainly less sinister in nature, nearly completely backing off of Hannibal to focus on Will, Abigail and Inspector Pazzi, an Italian detective who previously had a run-in with a much younger Lecter. However, one might argue that “Primavera” is an ultimately scarier episode than its predecessor, focusing more on the visceral and hallucinatory side of Bryan Fuller’s surrealistic vision while exploring the depths of Will and Hannibal’s dependency on one another.

Of course, while Will’s survival was all but guaranteed for the third season, considering a certain Tooth Fairy had yet to rear his ugly face, the reveal of Abigail Hobbs was a genuine surprise… at least, for a while. Hobbs was always the most expendable of those left in Hannibal’s wake last season, so her first appearance and the justification of said appearance was not only shocking but somewhat logical as well. Yet Fuller’s dreamlike narrative is certainly not one to be trusted, and as Will’s ventures take him to Italy, his relationship to Abigail becomes more and more apparent, culminating in one of the series’ best shot and edited montages to date, which is certainly saying something.

On the other hand, we have the more straightforward storyline for Will, which sees him in pursuit of Hannibal and presumably at his first crime scene since he was left for dead months ago. To be honest, Will’s rapport with Pazzi was a bit jarring and unnatural at first; the two actors, while incredibly talented, couldn’t find an emotional rhythm that felt organic or necessarily engaging. However, after receiving some first-rate exposition, Will finds himself face to face with Hannibal’s most recent work, which steers the episode firmly back into “Wendigo” territory and gives us our most claustrophobic moment yet of the season when Will and Pazzi discover Hannibal is in a cavernous passage beneath them.  While there are still answers to be revealed, especially regarding the 8-month gap between his recovery and his meeting with Pazzi, it’s undeniable that Will’s presence was somewhat missed in the series’ opener and added an atmospheric satisfaction to this weeks proceedings.

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Once again, Vincenzo Natali slays this episode of HANNIBAL with direction that is simultaneously both badass and beautiful, painting Fuller’s extravagant narrative portrait while navigating through the surreal and standard with equal precision. Natali’s slow-burn pacing from episode one has instead been replaced by a contemplative sense of dread, as if there’s rug beneath the audience that perpetually feels tugged as we wait for it to give way. Likewise, Natali emulates the some of the moments from season 2 impressively as well, weaving new perspectives on old moments as if we were seeing it for the first time. Furthermore, the script from Fuller and Jeff Vlaming is excellent and much more involving than the premiere whilst accommodating for the tonal shifts perfectly.

“Primavera” also sports some exceptional performances, even though the cast this time around is once again supremely limited. Hugh Dancy utterly owns this episode, injecting a passionate and fragile performance as Will Graham but with an added sense of confidence that the actor had yet to instill in the perpetually anxious character. Fortunato Cerlino feels authentic and honest in his performance as Rinaldo Pazzi, but, as previously mentioned, his take on the character doesn’t quite gel into the show until the episode nears its end. And Kacey Rohl is stellar in her multi-faceted guest appearance on “Primavera”, and her, dare I say, “reflective” performance is a brilliant move on the part of Rohl, Natali and the writers.

While not as utterly hypnotic and cerebral as “Antipasto”, “Primavera” does well to both continue the path of this season while instill some new flavors to the series altogether. Handled tastefully (no pun intended), Will’s perspective and story strikes the perfect balance between expository follow-up to last season while intriguing character study among a new environment. While this approach certainly appears to be the M.O. for the rest of the season, especially once Jack and Alana get involved, but if the show continues on its surrealistic, shocking and scary path, there’s a chance we’re in for HANNIBAL’s best and boldest season to date.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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