Even as a fan, it's hard to speak about Hannibal Season 3 with a huge degree of authority. At a certain point you just have to ask yourself "Am I Bryan Fuller?" at which point you look down and likely start screaming. Episode 1 "Antipasto", kicked Hannibal Season 3 off to a riveting yet tempered start. It's clear right away that episode 2 "Primavera" is switching to the perspective of Will Graham, and is thus a return to normality for the show and the audience. But is it? This is Season 3 after all. Here are a few choice elements of Hannibal Season 3 Episode 2 that may have passed you by!
Let's get metaphysical!
After recapping the veritable blood bath that was the Season 2 finale, Primavera gets a little heady as it visually tracks Will's close encounter with death. You can see that Hannibal's influence has him even at the edge of vitality, for he reworks the metaphor of the broken cup that Hannibal uttered right before he started going surgical. Look close, and you can see pieces of porcelain actually make up Will's face, and as he fits together, waking in hospital, we realize this is ultimately an episode about reforming and transformation.
The very concept of death is brushed away, from Abigail Hobbes' absurdly miraculous survival to Will's mediation upon "the end". A conversation between he and Abigail speaks of "other worlds", this one simply being one where they survived. "This is the way it ended for us" he says, to which Abigail says "we don't have an ending". In this sense, a violent death could be seen as a transfer between worlds. You die in one, but survive in the next within a series of infinite parallel afterlives. You could see Season 3 itself as an entirely new world from Season 2, with Hannibal as it's arbiter.
Now, am I saying that Hannibal Season 3 definitely takes place in an infinite multiverse of horror? Not at all. Am I saying I don't want to watch the show with that in mind? Definitely not!
"This is my design"
Will's pretty cool but actually horribly sad when you think about it catchphrase is back! It was unclear whether Hannibal would retain its investigative identity after Season 2, though it seems the show just can't resist a moment like this to bring Will and Hannibal together. It's funny that Will still indulges his empathetic crime scene skills to catch a killer when Hannibal is literally watching him form a balcony in the Norman chapel! He's still hanging around investigators who've been looking for him since he was a cutesy little novice serial killer!
The murder in question is hardly out of place for the show, with who we can only presume is Dimmond, the poet from last week's episode, being fashioned into a grotesque fleshy heart upon an easel. You can tell it was Hannibal's work because he very nearly looks like an roast turkey. I guess he was hungry that day, but put the extra effort in just for Will! Still, at least we've got Will Graham on the scene to solve the crime with his tried and tested ability of... oh...OH!
Is the stag back? Sort of...
One of the most saddening images of the Season 2 finale comes when Will sees his stag, the spirit animal that followed him throughout the series, dying on the floor across from him. For some, this was confirmation that Will would be dead by Season 3, but the Stag is more complicated than that. As its blood engulfs Will and Abigail, their transformation begins and they are "reborn" into Season 3, Will Physically, and Abigail living on only in his mind. We're left questioning whether Will can still see his stag, or if he has been irrevocably changed by the events of Season 2. Our answer comes when Will notices the Dimmond heart pumping, before something horrific emerges.
This is what's left of Will's Stag. Not the majestic creature he once saw, not Hannibal's own monstrous appropriation of it, but an altogether more vile creation. This abomination is the corruption of Will; his tainted nature upon letting Hannibal in. There is no going back upon Season 3. The characters are too far gone, and their psyches are mutated beyond what we once knew. Well apart from Hannibal. He's pretty well adjusted by the looks of things.
Opera and autopsies
I really hate musical juxtaposition. Putting on a happy song while grim events play out has a neat effect at first, but it becomes infuriating when it outstays its welcome. Given some of the unthinkably grim circumstances in Hannibal, you'd think it would indulge this trope, and it does in Episode 2 of Season 3, yet it somehow works. As we see Will and Abigail being taken in respectively by paramedics and morticians, a soothing, elegant piece plays as we see flesh sewn, blood drained, and eyes shut forever.
It's pretty dark, yet there's a beauty there not for the sake of irony of cognitive dissonance, but because the show knows how you perceive it now. If you've reached Hannibal Season 3, then in all likelihood, you perceive these bodies as a thing of beauty too, no matter how messed up that might sound. Just as with Will Graham's character arc, ideas of good, evil and justice fall to the wayside, and the notion of murder becomes a physical and aesthetic matter.
Hannibal as God
While last week took the perspective of Hannibal's lover, and constructed him as the devil, this week takes the perspective of people he very nearly murdered, yet posits him as a god-like figure. Now if that isn't the most poetic thing put to television I don't know what is. From the talk of Hannibal permitting Will to live in this new world, to him appropriating religious works for his own vicious means, Hannibal is seen in this episode a reworking of god, entirely separated. Will speaks of the near-nihilistic nature of him when he says Hannibal would like to see the roof of the norman chapel cave in mid mass, probably while wearing a fedora.
When asked if he believes in God, will says he didn't come to Italy to find God, and that he cannot appreciate religious artistry for, to God, elegance is more important than suffering. Sound familiar? Will's reality has been moulded to such an extent that the concept of a deity is irrelevant next to the influence that a man like Hannibal wields. Will says that his beliefs coincide with science fiction more than religion, and as with the infinite afterlives idea, we can see that he is living within an expanded reality, not looking for one.
Again, I'm not saying that the show definitely takes place within some magical universe with Hannibal guiding everything. Fiction itself is a magical universe, with characters that guide it, and there's nothing wrong with reading the nebulous imagery and ideas that Hannibal provides as blurred metaphors that have neither concrete meaning nor physical influence on the world, but ultimately change what you are viewing.
So there you have a very select reading of Hannibal Season 3 Episode 2! Now to just wait until next week to see where this morbid journey will take us next!