Hannibal: Digestivo (recap and Review)

Hannibal and Will in the truck at Muskrat Farm
Last week’s episode ended with both Will and Lector hanging like sides of beef, or pork, and being welcomed by Mason Verger; after Hannibal began to saw open his protege’s head in front of a horrified and screaming Jack Crawford. This week in Digestivo it is revealed how things went from impromptu brain surgery to Muskrat Farm in the apparent blink of an eye.

During this episode, the viewer learns just how strong that bond is between Chiyo and Hannibal, just what a pig, literally, Mason Verger is, and how two women can kill a man with an eel after “milking” him. Poetic justice is the underlying theme this week and the show ends with a large dose of irony where Hannibal and Will are concerned.

While Jack screams and blood splatters through the air the same inspector that Crawford annoyed while he questioned Bedelia about the whereabouts of Dr. Fell, Commendator Benetti, turns up with several men and they take charge of the situation. Crawford repeatedly identifies himself in Italian as an FBI agent. The inspector tells his men that they are taking Graham as well as Hannibal, but not Jack as the FBI agent is not worth any money. Benetti tells Crawford that he is to be Lector’s latest victim.

“Arrividerci,” says the Commendator after instructing two of his accomplices to “prepare” Jack like Lector meant to slaughter Will. After leaving, the two Italian law officials move in to comply and two silenced shots take the men out. Jack Crawford, it seems, has more lives than a cat as he cheats death not only for a second time from Hannibal, but also from the polizia.

His savior? Chiyo.

She is, as Lector said earlier, very protective of him and obviously Chiyo has spared Jack to learn where Hannibal and Will have been taken. The two talk, after he convinces her to remove the needle that has been left in his neck, about exactly where Hannibal has been taken. Crawford explains that he will have to be very careful leaving Florence as he has been reported dead.

It now appears to be equally obvious that Chiyo will now head to Maryland and Muskrat Farm in an effort to save Hannibal.

Meanwhile back at the farm, Bloom and Margot wake up in bed together and after a phone call from Italy, the two share thoughts on Mason and Hannibal. Mason is enjoying his victory over Lector and gloats while he explains to the two captives, who are still hanging upside down in the back of the truck, that he still has his father’s knife, used to check for pig fat. The blade is shoved into Hannibal, who does not make a sound.

Mason continues to taunt both Lector and Will in the pig pens and later he speaks of Jack Crawford’s death to Dr. Bloom when Margot comes in and tells him that “feces is flying in Florence,” as the FBI agent is alive. After expressing disappointment at the news, Mason questions Bloom about her loyalty. Alana warns Verger that if he plays with his food it can bite him. Mason declares that he is not playing and she replies that Hannibal is. “He is always playing,” Bloom explains.

Both Hannibal and Will are unwilling guests at a meal hosted by Mason and served up by Cordell. Will realizes that Verger wants his face and after Hannibal question’s his next actions, Mason tells his new cook that Graham looks dry and needs some moisturizer. As Mason talks of his plans for Hannibal, Cordell starts to apply the salve when Will leans over and bites a chunk of flesh from the doctor-cum-cook’s face.

While Cordell screams, Will spits out the piece of cheek onto his plate. “No shorties for you Mr. Graham,” Mason says. He tells Will that he will be fed to the pigs after Cordell removes his face and transplants it onto Verger’s scarred remains. Later Doemling sews the bit of cheek back onto his face and immediately after brands Hannibal. Lector recognizes that Mason wants him to feel everything that his pigs do before being slaughtered and eaten.

The brand says “Verger.”

Hannibal taunts Cordell and states that Mason has a lot of ideas behind that “faceless skull.” Doemling takes offense and tells Lector that the longer he is respectful, the longer he will keep his tongue. The two speak of how the appendage will be prepared and Cordell goes into detail. Hannibal approves. Cordell then tells his captive that he will come back in a few hours and remove everything from below Hannibal’s elbows and knees. After a little discussion about how Lector will be kept alive, the doctor promises to always cook Hannibal to perfection.

Mason continues to torture Margot with promises of having his child. After questioning his sister about her relationship with Bloom, he tells her that a surrogate already exists for her “harvested” eggs. Margot demands to see her and Mason tells her that “she’s resting.” Verger also tells his sister that the surrogate is “on the farm.” Margot threatens him and he applauds her “maternal instincts revving up.”

Bloom and Will have a chat and she reveals that Jack is still alive. Graham accuses Alana of giving him and Hannibal up to Mason. She tells Will that she thought the FBI would have rescued Will and Lector. Graham tells the doctor that she needs to evolve her plans since that is not going to happen.

Margot comes to visit Hannibal in the pig pen. He is bound up with a collar around his neck. They talk about Mason’s promise to her about the surrogate and the baby. Lector tells her that Mason will deny her and that he always will. Hannibal tells her she needs to kill her brother, reminding her that he did mention this before in session. As they talk Alana comes in and shoots the guard.

Lector tells the women that the guard has a knife in his pocket and tells them if they cut one side of the rope he will do the rest. Bloom asks Lector to save Will and to promise, he does and she asks if he will kill Mason. Hannibal says that Margot will do this and that she should take some hair and skin from him and place it in Verger’s hand. She cuts the rope and the two women leave. Hannibal then removes his bonds and stands up.

Will is in prep and Mason is wheeled in by Cordell. Verger taunts Graham and tells him that he only wants his face and that since he believes in Jesus he is free. Doemling injects Graham telling him that he will not be able to move but will feel everything. Hannibal is watching.

Margot and Alana find the surrogate. It is a sow. A baby has been sewn into its uterus, the fetus is dead. After checking that the infant is not alive, Margot insists that it be taken out. Cordell starts to cut Will’s face and says, “Be sure to tell me if this hurts.”

Cue interlude of a face being removed from someone’s skull and Margot cradling the dead infant. Mason wakes up with his new face, the bottom of which is covered with a plastic half-mask. He begins calling for Cordell and reaches for a mirror, the face he is “wearing” is not Will Graham’s but his sycophantic cook’s. As he looks at the face, it slips off. He begins screaming for Cordell.

Meanwhile Hannibal is carrying Will across the snowy landscape of Muskrat Farm. Two men are following and Chiyo kills them both. Margot and Alana confront the pistol packing Mason after he learns that Cordell is dead and that Hannibal has escaped. He thinks the sow uterus very funny and warns his sister that if she kills him, with no heir, the Southern Baptist Church gets his entire fortune. Alana and Margot reveal that while he was unconscious, they stuck a cattle prod up his anus to stimulate his prostate gland, with Hannibal’s help, and the two have more than enough sperm to produce an heir.

Mason is shoved into the tank with his eel and the creature enters the monster’s mouth, killing him.

Hannibal and Will are back in Graham’s house, Chiyo stands away from the building in the snow, cradling her sniper rifle. She and Lector talk and she tells him that she cannot go home any more than he can. She reveals that is was Mischa’s plight that started her journey and Hannibal admits to eating his sister but not killing her.

Lector tells Chiyo that she is between iron and silver between the periodic table. Will dreams of a breaking tea cup and Hannibal asks him what he wants to talk about, teacups and time and the rules of disorder and Will says the teacup is broken. It will never, he says, “gather itself back together again.” “Not even in your mind?” asks Hannibal.

The two talk about the things they share and their differences. Will says that he will not find Lector after this is over and that he does not want to think about him anymore or know where he is or what he is doing. He bids goodbye to his “addiction” and Lector leaves.

Outside Will’s house police cars converge on the building. Jack Crawford exits one vehicle and Graham tells the man that Hannibal is not there as officers enter his house. “Jack, I’m here,” says Lector as he emerges from the shadows, arms up, and turns himself in to Crawford. This is his “punishment” for Will, who now knows exactly where Hannibal is and what he is doing.

Hannibal congratulates Crawford on catching the Chesapeake Ripper and Jack says he did not catch him, he surrendered. Hannibal looks at Will and replies that he wants to be where Jack always knows where he is at, meaning of course, Graham. Crawford tells officers to put Lector in his car and Chiyo walks off as the snow “tinkles” down in the forest.

This is the last of the Red Dragon “preamble.” The next time the audience see Lector he will be imprisoned.

In this first half of the final season, Hannibal proved just what a master gamesman he is. Mason Verger overplayed his hand with sis and picked the wrong accomplice in Cordell. Margot has gotten her wish and Alana managed to save Will from both Hannibal and Verger. Looking at the teaser for the next episode of Hannibal, it appears that the FBI, and Jack Crawford, have forgiven Graham and allow him to get involved with the Red Dragon killer.

It was apparent from the very first time that Mason mentioned it that the surrogate was going to be a pig. This particular bogeyman was nothing if not predictable and Mason will be missed. The series will be replacing Verger with Thomas Harris’s introductory killer from his novel.

Brilliant and thought-provoking as usual, Hannibal, in its last season on NBC, continues to feature outstanding performances from all its cast. Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, Katherine Isabelle, Tao Okamoto, Caroline Dhavernas and Joe Anderson, the Brit actor playing Mason Verger this season, all knock it out of the park with their portrayals. For the time being, Hannibal airs Saturdays on NBC.

Hannibal: Dolce (recap and review)

Hannibal and Bedelia in Dolce
Last week’s episode of Hannibal, Contorno had Will thrown off the train by Chiyo and Rinaldo Pazzi was murdered in the fashion of his infamous relative. In Hannibal this week, in Dolce; Will and Jack reunite, Bedelia is questioned by the late Rinaldo’s colleague, Chiyo intervenes and Jack gets a nasty cut from under the table. Will and Hannibal are taken to Muskrat Farm where Mason Verger welcomes them.

This episode changes from the extremely dark appearance and theme that has made up season three of Hannibal thus far. At the start of the episode, Lecter limps bloodied and injured through the streets of Florence. He is next seen soaking in a tub and then Bedelia begins treating his wounds, stitches are needed and one has no doubt that this is done sans anesthetic.

Jack and Will reunite as Crawford watches the la polizia wrap Pazzi in a bodybag. Jack asks Graham whose side he is really on. The two discuss Hannibal and Jack says that the man is wounded and worried, Will disagrees saying that being hunted rattles him no more than killing. They also discuss Rinaldo Pazzi, who decided to become a bounty hunter and therefore placed himself outside the law and alone, Jack echoes the statement referring to himself and Will.

It is at this point that Crawford questions Will about what he will do when they find Hannibal. When asked why he did not kill Lector when he had him, Jack responds, “Maybe I need you to.” This mirrors what Bedelia and Chiyo have both stated that Will needs to kill Hannibal or vice versa. Bedelia packs Hannibal’s bag.

The two discuss their relationship and why Hannibal has not eaten the doctor yet. The supposition is that she deserves to be savored before eating so Bedelia lives another day.

Cordell, prepares pigtails to resemble fingers, “Ah finger food,” says Mason. Serving up the dish, he also has made another from the pig’s marrow. Mason starts choking on the pigtail and Cordell holds up a Buddhist singing bowl for Verger. Doemling suggests that they “Peking Duck” Lector and Mason dreams of a crispy honey covered Hannibal.

He is awakened from his Hannibal dream by the news that Pazzi is dead. Bloom tells Mason that he needs to buy more Italian police to replace Rinaldo or he could lose Hannibal. Du Maurier is “shooting up” a cocktail of drugs and she meets Chiyo who has let herself in. The two discuss Hannibal and Bedelia muses whether or not the woman is a greater mistake than Will.

Later Jack and Will confront the drugged Du Maurier, who insists that she is Mrs. Fell, and it is during their off kilter Q&A that Will slips off to meet with Hannibal. As Jack calls Will’s name, Bedelia muses who will catch Hannibal first, Graham and Crawford or Verger’s purchased polizia.

Mason and Margot talk babies, uterus issues and incest. Mason wants to have a baby with his sister and she reminds him that the last time they talked about this, he had hers forcibly removed. Will comes across Hannibal sketching in front of a Botticelli, his drawing has the faces of Will and Bedelia, and the two talk. Future and past are discussed as is the fact that Will and Hannibal are beginning to “blur” and Will says that every crime of Lector’s feels like one that he, Graham is guilty of.

As the two men walk down the cobblestone street, Chiyo watches from the top of a building through a sniper scope. When Will pulls a knife out of his right trouser pocket, she shoots him in the shoulder.

A kaleidoscope sexual interlude between Bloom and Margot ends with the Verger sibling asking Alana what she knows about harvesting sperm. It appears that sis is interested in Mason’s proposition. An Italian detective questions Bedelia about “Dr. Fell” and Crawford tells the man that Fell is Hannibal. He also reveals to the detective that he knows that Mason Verger has bought the la polizia. The official tells Jack that he can go.

Will wakes up strapped to a chair, shirt off; wound exposed. Hannibal is preparing to take out bullet lodged in Will’s shoulder and he hands the agent his knife. “You dropped your forgiveness Will,” Lector says. “You forgive like God forgives,” he finishes.

There is a moving Rorschach Inkblot Test sequence where Will and Hannibal merge and separate only to merge again. During the fluid scene Will asks “What’s for dinner?” Lector replies, “Never ask, it spoils the surprise.” As the two images come together and start to spin, Will opens his eyes, he is still in the chair, his shirt back on.

Hannibal comes in the room with a soup tureen and begins to spoon liquid into Will’s mouth. He tells Graham that he will regret leaving Italy. At the other end of the long dining table there is another place setting and Will asks who the guest will be. Jack enters the room and approaches Will.

“He is under the table Jack,” Will says and Lector’s knife slashes Crawford. The polizia detective shows Bedelia the pictures on file of the real Dr. Fell and his wife Lydia. Du Maurier insists that she is Lydia Fell and the cop says that he does not care. When it is made clear that the lawman does not work for the Questura but for Mason Verger Bedelia gives him the information he needs for him to capture Hannibal.

Jack is strapped to a chair at the other end of the table from Will. Hannibal tells him that the drug he gave the FBI agent will allow him to do little more than chew. A horrified Jack watches Lector take an electric bone saw and start cutting into Will’s forehead. As the sound reaches a crescendo, Jack’s screams are drowned by the noise and the freshets of blood flying through the air.

Hannibal and Will are next seen hanging upside down surrounded by dead pigs and Mason Verger welcomes them to Muskrat Farm.

The writing in this episode is so tight that it screams and the interwoven links and signposts are delightfully clever. Hannibal’s quoting of the nursery rhyme, “To market, to market to sell a fat pig…” forewarns that Mason will have won by the end of the show.

Considering that dolce is word meaning “softly sweet,” it seems that Mason is about to have his sweet revenge on Hannibal after all. The re-enactment of the dinner at the end of season two, “the menu was not right,” mutters Will, makes it apparent that Jack was not meant to survive this second party.

Gillian Anderson was spellbinding as Dr. Du Maurier as was Tao Okamoto as Chiyo. Okamoto may not have had much screen time, but she rocked it when she was on camera. Anderson proved that even when her character was high as a kite, she can seduce the audience with an ease that could be seen as obscene. Kudos to Katherine Isabelle and Caroline Dhavernas in that intense sexual union where nothing was seen but was so erotic/exotic and damned artful.

The whole of Hannibal season three could be said to be the same, erotic; in term of the devotion to food, exotic; Margot and Mason…and the newest member of the household Cordell, and damned artful; the entire show, its cast and the creators. One final word on cast; Laurence Fishburne exudes so much gravitas, just from his eyes alone, that he may just overtake Moran Freeman as the current crown holder of this descriptive phrase. Hannibal continues to air Thursdays on NBC. Intelligent television for the discerning viewer, do not miss this if you like to think about what you have seen.

Hannibal: Aperitivo Darkly Drinking

Mason Verger in Hannibal
Hannibal continues to enthrall, with Aperitivo allowing the viewer to darkly drink in the gathering of those who have survived their encounters with Lector. All roads lead to Hannibal apparently as it seems that a climax will take place in Europe. The teaser at the end of Aperitivo has Bedelia saying to Hannibal, “Graham is en route to kill you, while you lie and wait to kill him.” Watching this week’s episode though makes it seem that Will may have company, or failing that, competition since a price has been put on Lector’s head.

Dr. Chilton has been busily visiting Hannibal’s other “victims.” Mason Verger (whom Lector drugged and then let the man start eating his own face) and Chilton agree to show off each other’s true face and each perform a slow prosthetic striptease that was splendidly horrific. “Now we can talk face to face” chortles Verger who definitely has not lost his sense of humor nor, as we learn later, his thirst for revenge.

While having his physical therapy from a struck off medico, he asks the man to find out how much it will cost to have Hannibal Lector eaten alive. Great stuff that, another example of what makes this show such a compelling one to watch, despite the stupidity of the network who have cancelled the series.

Bloom is visited by Chilton as is Will, although in his case he sees the dead Abigail as the two recite the dialogue from earlier when he hallucinated her visit. “It was surgical,” says Chilton, “He wanted us to die,” says Will, “But we didn’t,” Abigail/Chilton replies. All of season three has this dreamy off kilter feel.

Each character has their own flashbacks. Jack’s are tinged with sorrow and regret as he flashes back to releasing Bella and then his dismissal under the guise of retirement from the FBI. Crawford has been doubly damned in that Graham, “Hannibal thinks you’re his man and I think you’re mine,” betrayed Jack and his action almost cost him his life and has cost him his career.

The survivors are intertwined, Bloom is now working as Mason Verger’s therapist and is closer to Graham than Crawford, enough so that she tells Jack that Will has gone to take care of Hannibal. This week’s episode maintains the deep darkness that marks season three.

The dialogue continues to be double edged with hidden, or at least shielded, meanings and Jack’s line about how the view from the window has changed now that Bella is gone was poignant as it was deep. Will excuses his betrayal of Crawford by claiming that Hannibal was his friend. Certainly the two men are more alike after their relationship. Both understanding that to be free from the other one of them has to die.

That death must come from one of them, Hannibal cannot “forgive” Will unless he kills him, according to Bedelia and Bloom says that Graham knows what he must do. So the two men plot and other survivors are working to the same end. Verger’s via a contract and Chilton through his interaction with the players in question.

Kudos to the exchange between Katherine Isabelle’s Margot Verger and Dhavernas’ Bloom, “I wasn’t sure if this was my entrance…” “This can be your entrance,” Margot replies, “It isn’t easy to find the first time you come.” All before the introductions are made and then the doctor declares that there is a “Witchy beauty about the place.”

It is dialogue like this that makes Hannibal what it is. Over and above the more macabre humor, “If I had lips…” are these lines that add so much depth to the proceedings and provide a different kind of amusement. NBC may have axed this splendid show, but its creator assures us that the best is yet to come. Seeing the teasers of the next episode, there is no reason to doubt his veracity. Hannibal airs Thursdays on NBC.

The ABCs of Death 2 Good Gruesome Anthology Fun Again

Poster for The ABCs of Death 2
Another gem on Netflix at the moment is The ABCs of Death 2, which is good gruesome fun even if it is overly long. Of course covering the entire alphabet will be time consuming and well worth the time spent watching this blackly comic horror anthology sequel to the first ABCs which came out in 2012.

In this collection of death via the letter, versus by the number, the stories move from the outrightly comic, B is for Badger had me almost hysterical with laughter as did the M is for Masticate, to the outrageous and bang on point, T is for Torture Porn for example. The Soska Twins, Jen and Sylvia, lay it on the line with their segment. So much so that their part of the anthology was banned in Germany. These two incredibly talented filmmakers were the ladies responsible for American Mary, See No Evil 2 and many more brilliant horror films.

Scene from The ABCs of Death 2
M is for Masticate…

The short films in each alphabetized death even included one that was so political that it hurt. The C is for Capital Punishment was ironic as well as blackly comic. One of the more disturbing attempts at trying to stop “killing killers” which while entertaining was also just a tad irritating.

Harking back to Jen and Sylvia, their “statement” about how women are treated in the industry and by some men in general was both amusing and worth cheering for. It makes one wonder just what made Germany censors so uncomfortable about the scene? The only thing missing from this exquisite little message is the delightful Katherine Isabelle who worked in both American Mary, as the lead, and See No Evil 2.

It is a shame that there are not more anthology horror films available in the US. There was a surge of these type movies from Hammer and this collection certainly has its fair share of English actors in a number to the short tales on offer. The Japanese collection of Tales of Terror are another excellent example of terror filled tales that range from the brilliant to eclectic and amuse as much as scare.

Still from The ABCs of Death 2
T is for Torture Porn

Horror lends itself incredibly well to the anthology format. The 2007 film Trick ‘r’ Treat was a splendid little multi-tale film with Halloween as its theme and The ABCs of Death may be that bit more graphic and, in some cases, disturbing to watch, K is for Knell is a good example of being just plain creepy to the extreme but still very entertaining. The only other recent anthology series is the VHS franchise which, despite its brilliant start, has lost steam.

There is a third in the series yet to come and one can only hope that Jen and Sylvia get another chance to do their bit. For fans of Horror anthologies this is great news and hopefully there will be more blackly comic and excruciating to watch short films on offer. This is a real 4 out of 5 stars for entertainment with the loss of a star for a couple of clunkers in the mix.

24 May 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

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