Hannibal is back in highly stylized form, with shiny new locales: Paris and Florence, which is where Hannibal Lecter and Bedelia have scampered off to after he went and practically killed everyone else we know and love. “Antipasto” is even more abstract than the usual Hannibal fare, bouncing from Hannibal’s present-day masquerade as a harmless museum curator and husband to Bedelia, black-and-white visions of conversations with Abel Gideon (the fantastic Eddie Izzard is back, woo!), and flashbacks to Bedelia’s first brush with Hannibal’s true nature.
Besides being more out-there, this episode also seems to be one of the least gory of the show (though there are a few pretty horrific shots thrown in), choosing instead to inflict terror through long drawn out pauses and mind games. Beautiful imagery and food porn also abound.
We start with Hannibal looking shockingly casual in a leather jacket and somehow flawless motorcycle helmet hair, hunting his prey at a party in Paris. He makes the acquaintance of Anthony Dimmond, who used to TA for Dr. Roman Fell — the next dish on Hannibal’s menu — and they bond over mutual distaste for the man. Hannibal then proceeds to kill and eat Dr. Fell and his wife.
Our first set of black and white flashback/vision scenes has Hannibal feeding Gideon his own leg, a scene we saw the beginnings of in season two.
Hannibal: “This isn’t cannibalism, Abel. It’s only cannibalism if we’re equals.”
A comment by Gideon about this all being a fairytale leads to Hannibal making chilling eye contact with the audience, purring, “Once upon a time…” which flawlessly transitions into him ballroom dancing with Bedelia in Florence.
Apparently after killing Dr. Fell, Hannibal and Bedelia assumed the identities of the Fells and moved to Florence. Hannibal wins the position of curator for the Palazzo Capponi museum, but not without attracting the ire of one professor.
Coincidentally, Hannibal ends up running into Dimmond again outside the museum. Though Dimmond knows who the real Dr. Fell is, and could potentially blow Hannibal’s cover, Hannibal invites the man over for dinner (where a threesome almost happens, to my and Hannibal’s utter delight) and then to a lecture by “Fell” at the museum.
Bedelia: “I still believe I am in conscious control of my actions. Given your history, that’s a good day.”
Throughout the episode Bedelia is shown to be increasingly wary of the situation she’s in by passively allowing Hannibal his games. A flashback to just after the kitchen massacre reveals Hannibal went to Bedelia, telling her, “I’ve taken off my person suit.” Another flashback shows what really happened when Bedelia’s patient attacked her; Bedelia was the one who killed her patient (apparently Zachary Quinto, not that I could tell with the angles in that scene). Hannibal came in to “help” her after the fact. It’s strongly insinuated that Hannibal manipulated ZQ into trying to hurt Bedelia, then manipulated Bedelia into killing ZQ, then manipulated her into asking Hannibal for help covering it up. So much manipulation.
Dimmond, meanwhile, has realized that Hannibal has done something unsavory to the real Dr. Fell and taken over his life. Rather than be appalled, Dimmond seems pleased, and offers friendship in murder (and possibly sex, since that final conversation is full of “I’m here to help you untwist to our mutual benefit” innuendo). How Hannibal keeps attracting these serial killers who want to be his best friend everywhere he goes astounds me.
Hannibal takes Dimmond home and, naturally, bashes his head in with a statue. Bedelia, who had finally made up her mind to leave Hannibal before he walked through the door, is stuck watching in mute horror. “Observe or participate?” asks Hannibal. When Bedelia stutters out “observe,” Hannibal points out that Bedelia knew that this would happen and let it happen anyways, which makes her an accomplice to murder. Now she has to stay.
The episode ends with Hannibal on a train, musing on his time with Gideon again in black-and-white.
Gideon: “I’m just fascinated to know how you will feel when all this happens to you.”