When Will Graham was released from the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane he underwent a change in style or a makeover if you will. He ditched his signature glasses and switched to a more tailored look as he mimicked Hannibal’s refined sartorial choices without entering plaid suit territory as Dr. Chilton made the mistake in doing. Last week’s Hannibal premiere featured Will Graham in name alone, but fear not as “Primavera” shifts the focus back onto Hannibal’s favorite companion (the knife to the gut might not agree with this assessment).
When we last saw Will he was left bleeding profusely while attempting to stem the blood spurting out of Abigail’s neck and the opening moments this week revisit this traumatic moment. Hannibal plays with reality and fantasy in its structure and it has done since the opening scene of season 1 when we first experience seeing a crime through the mind of Will Graham. This episode spends a lot of time within Will from his mind palace realization pointing him to Hannibal’s location to everything involving Abigail. Will’s glasses are an important costume choice which not only represents Will’s past and time with Abigail, but how he uses them to shield himself from the world.
Hannibal doesn’t like to kill its characters, well not the recurring cast anyway so when Abigail walked into Will’s room alive and well there was a small part of me that took it at face value. I mean if Doctor Chilton can survive having his insides taken out and getting shot in the face then who is to say Abigail couldn’t live through two deep cuts to the throat? Except there is always a sense from the outset that she is not really here; other than the doctor with the tea cup filled with water no other person acknowledges her and who is to say this moment in the hospital was real? Or maybe Will had another visitor all together. The return of Will’s glasses 8 months later when they venture to Norman Chapel in Palermo, Italy signifies a barrier being put up between him and the world.
Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi is introduced this week and he has also been chasing Hannibal; his has been a long one spanning 20 years and while the broken heart symbolism is for Will alone there is significance for Pazzi who has been witness to Hannibal’s murder tableau making ways. Will’s glasses remain on for their first few meetings once again acting as a shield of sorts.
Even going so far as wearing them in the black and white flashback as Will visualizes Pazzi’s encounters with Hannibal or ‘Il Mostro’ as he refers to him. This feels very much like season 1 Will and the presence of Abigail heightens this further.
A brief interlude and oh, hello photo of Mads Mikkelsen from 20 years ago* that Pazzi shows Will. Another occasion where a show uses a real photo instead of a terrible photoshop version joining The Americans on my list of shows that do this well.
*Update – on Twitter Bryan Fuller notes that this is a photo from Mads Mikklesen’s Danish show Rejseholdet “with the hair from our production designer Rory Cheyne for a younger look.” Rejseholdet aired between 2000-2004 making it shy of the 20 years mark so the hair switch makes sense. Also this now falls under ‘good photoshop’ because this very much looks like his hair.
At the crime scene Will removes the glasses; first in his vision of how the body came to be which then turns into a twisted nightmare of the shell of Dimmond combined with the good old fashioned Hannibal stag imagery. Quick observation time – this is a perfectly okay beast to show on TV:
The repetition of this notion that there is “some other world” where things have turned out in a different manner is a direct clue that Abigail is all in Will’s mind. If he could change things he would and there is a version where “no one had to die.” At this point we still don’t know whether Alana or Jack is alive, but the previews and promo photos suggest they both survived, but without this clarification there is still the chance that they are referring to either one of them. Alas it was always going to be Abigail as the sacrificial lamb; she is Will’s punishment for his deception and the breaking of the tea cup. Abigail’s appearance is different from how we have seen her in the past as her clothes are more grown up as if she has been given a chance to live and mature.
Saying goodbye is hard to do, even when the person is not really there and it is important that Will takes the glasses off breaking the spell. The only place Will could make for Abigail is in his head and he did this in the past when he thought she was dead the first time. Fishing peacefully was how he pictured it before and there is a flash of this as it is revealed what really happened with Will after he was stabbed; he sees Abigail’s dead body lying on Hannibal’s floor and this is followed by a sequence which cuts between Will in the hospital and Abigail in the morgue. It is heartbreaking, but Will can’t hold onto this delusion if he wants to find Hannibal even if it is unclear what Will is going to do if and when he finds him. Despite what has transpired his loyalty is vague and his declaration of forgiveness could be seen as sincere or as another trick to draw Hannibal out. Whatever it is this high stakes game of cat and mouse has a way of drawing multiple players in.
It has been said many times and yet it is worth repeating that Hannibal is a show like no other on TV at the moment and there are a couple of other visual moments I would like to discuss.
First Will Graham’s mind palace as he discusses Hannibal’s own imaginary construction of this name.
By placing the hospital bed between the two chairs which are steeped in so much history between Will and Hannibal it not only holds a strong emotional connection, but also points to a version of this show that no longer exists. It is unlikely we will see them in this location again (flashbacks/imagination aside) and yet it is definitely not the last time they will be sitting opposite each other.
As paper rains down Will experiences the burning session and the moment Hannibal realized Will had deceived him (he smelt the not dead Freddie Lounds on him). For Will it gives him the clue as to where Hannibal might be hiding. Not that Hannibal is really hiding as we saw last week.
For Alana and Bedelia inky water consumes them whether through choice or as a kind of poison. Will’s experience in Hannibal’s kitchen leads to a different kind of drowning as he is consumed by the blood of Abigail, the stag and his own deep wound.
As Will sinks down into the depths he is alone and his face cannot be seen; the shot is not quite as bleak as Alana’s entire consumption, nor is at romantically lit as Bedelia; once again placing Will Graham in the blurry point between going to Hannibal and wanting to stop him. Just what will he do when they finally comes face to face?