Hannibal 3×02 ‘Primavera’: I forgive you

Hannibal - Season 3

Relationships have a way of warping us, changing us from who we are into some other version of ourselves.  In healthy relationships, the point of adapting to another person is to become a better person yourself, and to help the other person become a better version of themselves.  But even in the healthiest of relationships, other people are able to warp us into the thing that makes them more comfortable.  And in toxic relationships, that thing that makes them more comfortable often destroys and hollows us out, forcing us to amputate in order to survive.  It’s a horrifying thought, changing into something hollow without your consent, only realizing when it’s too late that you’ve been irreparably damaged.

Hannibal 3x02-1

Source: NBC

With that in mind, “Primavera” works as the other side of “Antipasto”.  Where “Antipasto” focused intently on Hannibal and Bedelia, “Primavera” focused on Will and Abigail, emphasizing the damage inflicted upon them by Hannibal and how it has damaged them beyond any repair.  Abigail’s damage is clear when it’s revealed that she didn’t survive the night at Hannibal’s house, that she has become a figment of Will’s imagination, imprisoned in his “memory palace”.  Even in Will’s mind, she’s still completely and utterly entrapped in Hannibal’s manipulation, as if there’s no other version of Abigail that Will can even fathom.  Abigail represents complete and utter submission to Hannibal, and it’s something that Will, after all this time, is still deeply terrified about.  Because Will is far from being removed from Hannibal’s influence.

Hannibal 3x02-3

Source: NBC

The largest emphasis is “Primavera” is Will’s mental condition, orienting us into Will’s head without entirely giving too much away.  It’s certainly apparent that Will is extremely damaged by the events at Hannibal’s house that night, as he needs Abigail as a part of his “memory palace” in order to adequately function.  It’s also apparent that he’s unsure of his own relationship with Hannibal, as their intimacy was shattered by his betrayal of Hannibal.  He never exhibits a great deal of anger towards Hannibal, mostly just a desire to find him and deal with him, though dealing with him is an undefined act.  There’s a part of Will that wants to put Hannibal away forever; there’s a part of Will that wants to kill Hannibal; there’s a part of Will that wants to be with Hannibal.  All of these thoughts are competing, but it’s apparent that Will really does want to be rid of Hannibal.  When the heart corpse opens and sprouts hooves and antlers (which, by the way, was one of the freakier images Hannibal has had to offer thus far), it stalks towards Will, as if seeing Hannibal’s work is beginning to contort him once again, reminding him of the darkness inside him as well.

Hannibal 3x02-4

Source: NBC

And so when Will descends into the crypt, it’s as if he’s descending into hell itself.  As he descends, he keeps warning Pazzi about the influence of Hannibal, and when he does that he exhibits this understanding that Hannibal’s influence is enough to destroy just about everybody that comes into contact with it.  The only person that has really been able to function after coming into contact with it is Will, and at this point he’s portrayed somewhat as a survivor.  Pazzi is nervous in the crypts, but Will has followed Hannibal into the depths of hell before.  He’s relatively at ease in the darkness, with Hannibal somewhere in the depths.  And when he forgives Hannibal, there’s an understanding that with forgiveness comes a level of detachment.  It’s Will’s way of saying that he will not be controlled by Hannibal, that the two are, in a way equals.  And we know that Hannibal views Will in a similar fashion, that he views Will as an equal of sorts.

Hannibal 3x02-2

Source: NBC

It’s all very interesting, very elegant and beautiful, but something about it keeps it from achieving the same level of excitement that Season 2 achieved in its beginning.  Largely, it’s the pacing of the plot that keeps the season from roaring to life.  Season 2 hit the ground running with a one-two punch in its first two episodes, but, at this point, Season 3 hasn’t even finished with all of its exposition yet.  We don’t know if Jack is alive, if Alana is alive, what the rest of the supporting cast is up to, and while it’s not a huge deal, it keeps the season from really taking off.  Then again, it’s not entirely a bad thing, as it goes to show that Hannibal is content taking its time and making us wait for the payoff.

Season 3 really is getting off to a great start, even if my enthusiasm for “Primavera” is slightly less than it was for the premiere.  It’s setting up the Will/Hannibal dynamic in a way that puts the two at odds with one another, and even though the supporting characters haven’t been introduced quite yet, the central dynamic of this season is in place.  Both of these characters, Will and Hannibal, have existed in each other’s lives in a way where their relationship now is built on damage and control.  Both Will and Hannibal are looking to be the one that controls the other, that has some way of taking back their life from the other.  But the thing about relationships is that the damage is already done.  And even if Hannibal eats Will, even if Will puts Hannibal in jail, the damage is still there.  And eventually they’ll both have to contend with that.

What did you think of “Primavera”?  Where do you believe Season 3 is going?  Are you excited for the Red Dragon in the second half of the season?  Let me know in the comments!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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