This week’s Hannibal is impossibly good, and as season 3 gets into full swing with "Secondo," we find Hannibal and Bedelia’s ever complicated relationship growing more interesting by the second. Will is back too this week and is on the hunt to unlock Hannibal's past. How did Hannibal become what he is? "Secondo" will take us down that path to discovery.
Will arrives at Hannibal’s childhood home (a castle!) in Lithuania and walks among the the foreboding grounds. In an overgrown graveyard, there is a gravestone for Mischa, Hannibal’s sister. It’s labled with her name, Mischa Lecter, and Mylima, Lithuanian for Loved. It’s also the only grave with flowers growing as the rest of the graveyard is covered in old, dead growth. While on the grounds, Will has a vision of he and Hannibal sitting and discussing Hannibal’s memory palace. Will wonders if this home is where the construction began. Will wants to know what is inside the rooms in Hannibal’s mind, wonders about the terrible memories the rooms must have within them. Hannibal explains, “Screams fill some of those places but the corridors do not echo screaming, because I hear music.”
Will continues his exploration of the grounds but hears gunshots and discovers a woman shooting duck. He is curious about this woman on Hannibal’s property and follows her to a small cottage where she is plucking feathers from the ducks she has shot and is preparing them for a meal. The scene is suddenly juxtaposed with Hannibal chopping off the hand of a human arm and then preparing the meat of the arm with salt. The meat is then carried out to the dinner table by Bedelia as Hannibal and Bedelia have Professor Sogliato over for dinner.
Hannibal muses about how Sogliato was very eager to see him discredited and his irritation with Sogliato, who is throwing out backhanded compliments at Hannibal’s dinner table, is beginning to show. Hannibal finishes preparing their drinks, Punch Romaine, the cocktail served to first class guests on the Titanic the day it sank. Sogliato toasts to Hannibal becoming the new curator, even though he is very obviously not pleased by it. Hannibal’s irritation is growing and he states, “If my victory pleased the Professor, I could not tell.” Sogliato responds, “Then you weren’t paying attention.” Hannibal has now reached the end of his rope with the Professor. He informs him that he pays lots of attention, and then drives an ice pick into the side of Sogliato’s head. Bedelia, still holding her Punch Romaine, looks on in horror and then glances to Hannibal who admits to her that he may have been impulsive. “I’ve been mulling that impulse ever since you decided to serve Punch Romaine.” She responds. Sogliato sputters and giggles at the table and Bedelia is growing more horrified. She stands up, grabs a napkin, and then angrily pulls the ice pick out of Sogliato’s temple. Thick blood flows from the wound as Sogliato’s head drops to his plate. Hannibal looks at the body then leans in close to Bedelia. “Technically, you killed him.” He tells her. Bedelia is concerned that two men from the museum are dead and Hannibal responds that he can only claim one, technically. It’s then she realizes that Hannibal is "Drawing them" to him. “All of them.”
The scene shifts back to the church in Palermo, Italy where a lone figure sits studying crime scene photos. It's Jack Crawford who is very much alive, and Inspector Pazzi takes a seat next to him. Pazzi wants Crawford to help capture Hannibal but Crawford insists he is only there for Will Graham.
Meanwhile, Will is still in Lithuania at Lecter’s Manor, and begins seeing fireflies crowded around an old fountain. A small child’s handprint left in paint, adorns the base of it. He moves from the fountain to an old stone house where the woman he saw from earlier, is preparing her duck. He sneaks into the basement and finds a man locked in a cage, clearly held prisoner there for a long time. The woman finds Will in the basement and he accuses her of keeping the prisoner like an animal. She responds, “I wouldn’t do this to an animal.” Will asks the woman what the man did and she responds, “He ate her.” Will deduces that the “her” is Mischa, Hannibal’s sister. The woman tells Will her name, Chiyoh, and Will shows her the scar on his stomach. “Last time I saw him (Hannibal) he left me this smile.” Chiyoh lowers her weapon.
The scene shifts and we find Hannibal and Bedelia having another dinner party. This time, they are serving Sogliato to his friends. Hannibal tells their guests that he first prepared the dish in honor of his sister when he was young. Bedelia adds, “I’m sure you’ve perfected the recipe over the years.”
Back in Lithuania, Chiyoh tells Will that Hannibal told her the prisoner killed his sister and when she refused to let Hannibal kill the man, Hannibal put her in charge of caring for him. Will tells Chiyoh that Hannibal did it because he was curious if she would kill the man, and that he imagines Hannibal is still curious.
Back in Florence, Hannibal is giving Bedelia a bath, carefully washing her hair (Donnie Pfaster anyone?) as she asks him what he was like as a young man and if he would like to talk about his first spring lamb. She presses him to tell her what happened to him at home. He explains that nothing happened to him, that he happened. She looks up at him then, innocent, and asks, “How did your sister taste?”
In Lithuania, Will sets Hannibal’s prisoner free and back at the church in Italy, Pazzi asks if Crawford is a believer. Crawford explains that he borrowed Will’s imagination and then broke it, and that he has no idea how Will managed to piece it back together. Crawford tells Pazzi that Will understands Hannibal and accepts him. “Who among us doesn’t want understanding and acceptance?” He asks Pazzi. Back in Lithuania, Chiyoh brings more Duck to the prisoner, who has gone back to his cell after Will set him free, but he breaks out of it and attacks her, forcing her to kill him. Will arrives to see Chiyoh shaken, and she accuses him of setting the man free on purpose, because he, like Hannibal, was curious if she would kill the man. Will says that he wanted to set her free. Chiyoh tells Will that Hannibal would be proud of him. Will asks her if she knew, that on some level she had to know (that Hannibal killed his sister). Will tells her that Hannibal created a story out of events that only he was a part of. Chiyoh tells Will she will help him find Hannibal, tells him she has no reason to stay anymore. Before they leave, Will constructs a giant moth (hello Silence of the Lambs visual) out of the body of the prisoner and raises it to the ceiling inside the stone house.
In the final scene of the episode, Hannibal plays the piano as Bedelia talks to him about what his sister made him feel, telling him it was beyond his ability to control or predict. Hannibal adds, “Or negotiate.” Bedelia tells him the way Will makes him feel is similar, a “Force of mind and circumstance.”
“Love,” Hannibal answers. “He pays you a visit or he doesn’t.”
“Same with forgiveness, and I would argue, the same with betrayal.” Bedelia adds.
Hannibal thinks for a moment. “The God betrayal who presupposes the God forgiveness.”
“We can all betray,” Bedelia continues. “Sometimes we have no other choice.”
Hannibal tells Bedelia that Mischa didn’t betray him, that she influenced him to betray himself, but that he forgave her. Bedelia responds, “If past behavior is an indicator of future behavior, there is only one way you will forgive Will Graham.”
“I have to eat him.” Hannibal responds, and the screen goes dark.
"Secondo" is a work of literary art. In the opening scene, Bedelia is cautious and careful as she speaks to Hannibal. She weighs each word ever so carefully and Hannibal, for his part, speaks to her in low tones as if he too knows something is hiding just beneath her words. The sheer level of subtext in the opening scene is enough to analyze for hours. Add to that the subtle microexpressions on the actors' faces and "Secondo" becomes extraordinary. The whole idea of Hannibal's lecture about Judas from "Antipasto" begins building from the very opening scene as Hannibal tells Bedelia that Will knew just where to look for him. Bedelia counters quite expertly that Hannibal knew where Will would look. The discussion of betrayal and love that follows begins to drive the point home that to have forgiveness, you have to first have betrayal and Bedelia talks about forgiveness and betrayal as akin to falling in love. Bedelia appears to be voicing her own feelings of love and that perhaps her betrayal of Hannibal, which is being heavily foreshadowed here, will be a consequence of her loving him. It’s also clear in this scene that Bedelia has put a lot of thought into how she is going to navigate herself out of this situation she finds herself in with Hannibal and she is thinking of him too as she asks him if he has thought about how he will get out of it. She tells him he will be caught, that the events have been set in motion, and I get the distinct feeling that they are in motion in no small part thanks to her.
While Hannibal and Bedelia talk about their complicated relationship issues, Will is off exploring Hannibal’s childhood home in Lithuania. We see Will becoming more and more like Hannibal now, the way he toys with Chiyoh, and the hanging of the moth body in the end but only after adorning it with bits of broken glas and snails...Chiyoh is right, Hannibal would be proud of Will.
While Will and Chiyo’s adventures at the Lecter Manor in this episode are dark and fascinating, and the return of Jack Crawford and his guilt over his part in Will’s descent into madness is poignant, the real beauty of this episode is the ever amazing dynamic between Hannibal and Bedelia. One minute, they are drinking Punch Romaine and murdering a rude dinner guest (technically Bedelia did it, and yes apparently Hannibal is keeping score), and the next minute, Hannibal is sensually washing Bedelia's hair in the bathtub as she stares at him innocently and peppers him with questions about his past.
The most beautiful dialogue of the episode is delivered during the final scene as Hannibal plays the piano while Bedelia, ever present at his side these last eight months, talks to him about his sister. It’s unclear if this is her speaking to him as a psychiatrist or her speaking to him as something more, but it sounds as though she trying to absolve him by insisting that what his sister made him feel was “beyond his ability to control or predict.”
They then come full circle to the discussion of betrayal, forgiveness, and love. “The God betrayal who presupposes the God forgiveness.” Hannibal tells her.
“We can all betray,” Bedelia adds. “Sometimes we have no other choice.” It’s at that moment, as the camera slowly pans in on Bedelia, that I think back to the train station from "Antipasto" and the way she looks right into those security cameras.
She has already betrayed him.