“You seem more interested in making appearances than maintaining them.”
Morality, ethics and aesthetics are all covered in the first back and forth between Hannibal and Bedelia in the season 3 premiere of Hannibal, which takes place after a decadent party and Hannibal flexing his prowess through Dante and dance. Appearances are important and maintaining his cover seems like less of a concern when measuring egos and playing a game of cat and mouse with whatever person lies before him. These encounters include talk of fairy tales – Hannibal lives on the opposite end of the fantastical spectrum which Pushing Daisies also inhabits – playing the game of ‘how many times can you say ‘bonsoir’ before you kill someone?’ or giving a dinner guest delicacies to make them taste better.
Willing participants are hard to find and part of this season opener starts to explore why Bedelia is Hannibal’s European vacation (can it still be called a vacation if you are technically on the run?) partner and what her motivations are.
Professional curiosity is a term which has been used on Hannibal in the past including Alana citing this as reason why she couldn’t get romantically involved with Will Graham back in season 1 as she didn’t think she would be able to stop analyzing him. Curiosity is also something Bedelia cites on several occasions and it is like she hasn’t heard the well known phrase involving a feline. When it comes to making appearances Bedelia stands out in a crowd and the blue ensemble which I have been clamoring to see within the context of an episode was unveiled in “Antipasto” and it resembles the most incognito spy from the 1940s. Covert is not a word either Bedelia or Hannibal are considering when picking out their attire first thing in the morning and they are sartorially suited to each other.
Other than the carousel which lights up the shot, Bedelia is the only one wearing color in the square full of people with the local policeman taking note of her in a big way. He isn’t suspicious and instead gives her a flirtatious salute; he is not going to forget the woman in blue.
Bedelia is also caught on camera and this one seems kind of deliberate as she stares directly at the CCTV ‘eye’ while she is at the train station. Being enveloped in Hannibal’s world limits escape options as we witnessed in the house of horrors at the end of last season and everyone who came at Hannibal in his home were left broken and bleeding. Bedelia wants to flee attempting to do so later in the episode, but her curiosity coupled with her darkness that Hannibal has tapped into gives her a reason to stay. Even if she knows that ultimately she will end up on Hannibal’s plate.
Bathed in gold light in this twisted fairy tale life and coming home from the ball temporarily breaks the spell; giving Bedelia the opportunity to question Hannibal’s motives. Despite the warm light there is something incredibly icy in this scene as both circle around the other talking as if they are still in a therapy session. At the same time there is an intimacy which is evident in the way Bedelia asks him to unzip her dress (the same dress from these stunning promo photos).
Flashbacks reveal how Hannibal and Bedelia ended up on the plane together as her residence is where he cleaned off Will, Abigail and Jack’s blood. Hannibal is all about equal opportunities bathing and Bedelia had the opportunity to end it all when she pointed her gun at him as he stood their naked; instead she went for option number two with a fun packed trip to Europe. The why of this comes from the other jump into the past and the aftermath of her patient attack and subsequent murder (oh hey Zachary Quinto!) with Hannibal’s manipulation going according to schedule. He wipes her bloody brow and gets her to ask for his help while unlocking the darkness in her.
These revelations come after the bath of sinking into the depths and water is hugely symbolic on Hannibal. Will Graham’s ‘mind palace’ fishing sessions rest on water as cleansing and calming, but water also signifies how something can envelope. As Bedelia drifts down she is doing so out of choice and at this point she is a willing participant, well as willing as you can be with Hannibal who is a master manipulator like no other.
It is important that we can still see her in this shot as it represents some level of choice in how she floats downwards. The look of Hannibal is unlike any other show on TV and as Bedelia lets go she is lit up as if she is a figure on a renaissance painting and the light of heaven shines on her as she sinks into hell. Considering this is on network TV I am surprised to see something like this get through S&P, but maybe the ethereal atmosphere somehow trumps nudity (nipples have been erased/are not free on this occasion).
Yes she pulls out of the water with a shocked look on her face and it is this part of Bedelia that chooses to flee from Hannibal; albeit an unsuccessful attempt as she gets splattered with blood once again. Despite her assertion that she is observing, this is not something you get to do when Hannibal is involved and participation is a necessary requirement. It just might not be one you are conscious of.
Bedelia’s bathtub trip echoes Alana Bloom’s envelopment by inky water in the season 2 finale with one important difference as instead of sinking into it, Alana is consumed from the bottom up and we can’t see any of her below the surface.
“All I see is dark swarming behind my eyelids. I dream darkness comes into me. It comes and it is insidious. Up my nose, into my ears. It comes and I feel poisoned.” Bedelia is bathed in light as she drifts further down whereas Alana is consumed by the horrors of Hannibal’s crimes and her blindness to them.
In Hannibal’s flashbacks we see his time with Gideon in black and white. While no one can replace Will Graham as Hannibal’s favorite companion it doesn’t stop Hannibal from auditioning others or at least finding a temporary substitute. Even after he has helped consume two of his own limbs, Gideon is rather zen about everything that is taking place – the crimes he committed shows he is not of sound mind – and gets to the heart of the matter reflecting on Hannibal’s desire to eat with company and not just eating the company pointing to Will as his dream dinner date. Even a cannibal yearns for companionship.
How soon will Bedelia outlast her stay? Maybe she should stop eating the oysters.