Last season of Hannibal ended with a lot of broken bodies lying on the floor; Will, Abigail and Jack bleeding profusely from a variety of stab wounds while Alana lay outside in the rain after being pushed from a first floor window. Out of the four victims, three are still alive (Abigail exists in Will’s mind palace shifting this week to a bloodier version than how she appeared in episode 2) and in various states both physically and mentally regarding their ordeal.
Other victims of Hannibal’s manipulation are still around to tell their tales and Fredrick Chilton acts as a sad kind of Hannibal hunting recruiter offering his services only to be rejected by all. One such person is Mason Verger and it was never Hannibal’s intention to kill him as Mason so astutely points out; his horrifically disfigured face and current state of living was all part of the plan.
What “Aperitivo” does is shift the focus away from Italy and back to Baltimore tracking the last 8 months through the physical rehabilitation of those Hannibal left behind. The most obvious in terms of time passing is Alana who goes from being pushed out of the window – now she has a reason to use the word defenestration – to a device which holds her broken bones in place in a room worthy of a sci-fi movie. A room without a TV is punishment enough without adding Chilton blathering on about how she put herself in the position to be pushed out of a window. He might bring a nice bunch of flowers, but he really needs to work on his bedside manner. Later she goes from a wheelchair to using a walking stick and as with the others who have been hurt by Hannibal she has a strong defense strategy in place.
Not that she isn’t haunted by what took place; you can bury those memories deep but they will continue to bubble under the surface in certain circumstances particularly when revisiting the scene of the crime.
Vengeance is what Alana is after and it is actually Chilton who gives her the idea to use Will to get there as psychiatry is her tool in the same way predators use understanding (which she points out to Mason Verger in a later conversation). Alana has been romantically involved with both Will and Hannibal and she was put in the position of Hannibal defender last year creating numerous issues (I wrote about the disservice to Alana here). Hannibal told her that he tried very hard to blind her and here she accepts some of the blame as you “cannot see what you will not see.” Instead of being fearful or a quivering wreck in need of a good psychiatrist Alana is heading into revenge territory by whatever means necessary even if that means teaming up with Mason Verger in the guise of his psychiatrist.
Opportunity is how Chilton presents himself and he doesn’t have much of anything that anyone else needs; he doesn’t have the same insight or resources as the other players in this game. Instead he comes with flowers for the wounded and reveals his true face to Mason comparing how Hannibal fucked up their look with an ‘I’ll show you mine if you show me yours’ kind of situation. Chilton has a lot of covering up to do, but at least he didn’t eat his own nose.
Mason rejects Chilton just like everyone else does despite their shared scars and interests. Chilton’s self-serving plan which he attempts to masquerade as team work is so transparent; all he wants is Hannibal in his hospital and the ability to use the “Hannibal the Cannibal” name he copyrighted straight after he had been shot in the face. Chilton wants what is owed to him through his lost body parts with fame and fortune and this has always been his primary concern. It is so great having Raul Esparza back as while Dr Chilton is a vulture picking over the scraps of everyone else’s work and falling foul to his compulsive imitation he adds much needed humor in the darkness.
Seeing his pitches failing over and over again doesn’t get boring and while he fails in finding a partner in his Hannibal hunting venture he motivates everyone else to do something without him. Mason wants to understand Hannibal and while he knows Chilton cannot provide his entry into the mind of his enemy he finds a psychiatrist who knows Hannibal intimately. Pointing this out in crude and slut shaming terms is what Mason does if you had forgotten how repulsive he is. The choking and drooling while Alana watches on calmly and looking like she gives none of the fucks is what you get for being so awful; this is not the way to find out who Hannibal is.
Later on Mason turns down the indecent remarks asking why Hannibal favored Alana. Amusement is the answer and “things either amuse him or they don’t and if they don’t… well you didn’t.” Nice burn. A quick costume note as Mason is wearing a plaid suit in this scene and he is pulling the imitation through clothes card in the same way Chilton did – is this so he can better understand Hannibal?
Taste is how you get to Hannibal and Alana accurately suggests Europe is where they should focus their hunt. Wine and truffles is how you track him as “His name will change, but his taste will not.” One other taste is Will Graham and Alana uses what Chilton said to her while she was in recovery as he discussed Will being back in Hannibal’s orbit. Manipulation is what is required to get to this point and even though Will dismissed Alana when she went to see him at Hannibal’s in a heartbreaking scene (as I mentioned on Twitter I still ship Alana and Will even though it makes zero sense at this point) motions have still been set in place and Will does indeed head out into the great beyond. By being at Will’s house at the end of the episode and telling Jack that Will knows what he needs to do it suggests Alana has had some influence over events set in motion. That or Will just needs someone to dog sit again.
Another interesting thing about Alana working with Mason comes with this idea of control and power. Mason in the past has been a fearful figure particularly for his sister Margot who he has violated in the most horrific way by not only terminating her pregnancy, but also removing her womb. His favorite drink is a martini with her tears and he still has plenty of goons around to prepare “the theater of Hannibal’s death” and yet Alana shows no fear in front of him.
Power comes in many different forms and Alana holds all the cards here through her psychiatric skills and her knowledge of Hannibal’s preferences. In this wide shot we see the petite Alana at the same height as Mason; she might have a cane but Mason’s injuries are far more severe and she is not afraid to get close and stare this man down.
She mentions to Chilton in the hospital that a lot of marrow went into her blood which might change the way she thinks and this Alana is all defense. While it is fun to see her embracing this darker side I hope she doesn’t lose too much of the empathy and compassion that gave us a warmer and more empathetic point of view in this bleak world.
Costuming wise Alana’s attire in this episode is just as exciting for me as everything Bedelia wore in the premiere and she is the only one wearing bold color, as Bedelia was. First of all Alana has ditched the wrap dresses and pencil skirts for pants (the cast promo photos pointed to this change) and by changing her style it further adds to this hardening of her character. The red lipstick and going from a lose wave to tighter curls gives an Old Hollywood impression as if Alana is starring in her own film noir. All she needs is a cigarette holder and birdcage veil (and Caroline Dharvernas has the perfect look for this).
Alana and Will are working the angles in very different ways but they woke up from their ordeals in very similar initially bathed in white light surroundings. One of them looks far more at peace than the other.
One hospital awakening which is in stark contrast is Jack’s as he has a companion laying next to him and his first conversation that we see is not with Dr Chilton (Abigail morphs into Chilton for Will). Last week Jack mentioned that he died, an assertion he repeats to Bella. Jack survived by not pulling out the glass sticking out of his throat and the version of his bleeding shows the blood flowing up towards the sky. There are plenty of repeats of what went down in the season finale such as the Hannibal/Will stabbing embrace and different takes on these moments add to the operatic horror.
Bella is still dying of cancer and this is where my heart felt like it had been stomped on as while Jack survived he then watches his wife die. As with the cutting between Will being saved and Abigail’s dead body being prepared, with Jack and Bella it switches between getting ready for their wedding and for her funeral. It is all about ritual by picking out dresses and putting on makeup but with very different end results. The flowers are switched out for candles and Alana appears in front of Jack where his wife once stood.
Even though Hannibal’s only appearance comes via a letter we see him writing to Jack offering condolences (not for stabbing him in the neck, but for the woman he had affection for even if he played with her desire to die with a toss of a coin) his presence is felt throughout. The discovery of this note comes with the well timed appearance from a bespectacled Will Graham and while he previously rejected Jack reaching out to him by revealing the why of his phone call warning Hannibal – he wanted to run away with him – he is there for Jack when he needs it most. Will earlier neglects to tell him that a version of their take down Hannibal plan ends with him getting stabbed by both Hannibal and Will.
Jack and Will are frank with each other and after Will has revealed his truth to Jack, Jack does the same telling Will that he knows what is coming for him while handing him Hannibal’s note as if it is a clue. It is like everyone knows how this game is going to play out and they are still going to proceed; not everyone has the same self preservation as the scar tissue which grows to protect.
Oh and Will is wearing his glasses in this scene as it is pre-Italy trip and suggests he is still hiding something from Jack.
When Chilton goes to see Jack as he is packing up his FBI desk he of course gets rejected as he has done by everyone else, but he does something very important and reminds Jack of his role in getting Will Graham into the position he is in using a lovely fishing ‘dangling’ metaphor. This is where Jack’s guilt of borrowing Will’s imagination from last week and once again Chilton is the catalyst, but not in the way he would want to be.
“There is no opportunity for you here” Will informs Chilton after he offers friendship by suggesting he literally knows how he feels. This is not the case and Will told Chiyo when they met that Hannibal is the only person who has ever understood him which is why he will fix a boat and sail to him. When they cut to the welding scene a small part (okay big part) hoped “Pony” would start playing.