Hannibal: “Antipasto” Season 3 Premiere Review

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The swan song of the great network drama as we know it is finally back. “Antipasto” answered very few of our remaining questions from the bloodbath that was the season two finale, but it did, in true Hannibal form, artfully show us that everything we thought isn’t what it seems.

With Gillian Anderson bumped up to a series regular for the show’s third year, the premiere fittingly put a lot of its focus on Bedilia. The gaps have been filled in to make the season two timeline make a lot more sense, considering she suddenly appears to be in cahoots with Hannibal in the closing moments of the season. But things are naturally a lot more complicated than that.

For anyone hoping to find out if Will, Alana, Jack, or Abigail made it out alive, “Antipasto” was not your episode. We catch up with Hannibal and Bedilia in Paris, where they live a life of class, but also a life on the run. It’s not long before they relocate to Florence. As you can imagine, the crew makes the most of their visits to these beautiful cities. The gorgeous cinematography you’ve come to expect is as present as ever in the premiere, ensuring that even when Hannibal isn’t making any sense (intentionally), it’s mesmerizing.

But instead of the typical hallucinations Will has throughout each episode, we’re treated to two sets of flashbacks to compliment what is essentially a place-setter for Hannibal and Bedilia. The most prominent and interesting are the scenes that show us Bedilia’s road to getting on that plane. Anderson isn’t messing around now that she’s a regular, giving her most versatile performance yet on the series. Ultimately, “Antipasto” shows Bedilia’s slow handing over of control of her life to Hannibal. It’s not intentional, of course, but her free will is waining as her husband gets hungrier.

The other set of flashbacks showed more of Gideon’s final meal with Hannibal, which featured a ton of fun dialogue for Mads Mikklesen and Eddie Izzard to chew on. But Gideon is calling for Hannibal’s fall, anticipating some future mistake that will reverse his situation. Coming back to the present, there’s fear in Hannibal’s eyes. The kind of fear that could lead to such a mistake.

The episode ends with Hannibal bringing home “dinner” just as Bedilia tries to make her escape. He hits his new victim in the head with a Plato bust and asks his wife, “Are you an observer or a participant.” She says the former, but Hannibal tells her she has no choice but the latter. Then, the body is left maimed in public, a calling card for whoever remains and is up for the chase.

I have to say, when they sailed off into the sunset at the end of last season, I didn’t expect things to be so complicated so quickly. But Bryan Fuller continues to demonstrate just how much of a handle he has on his characters. Bedilia’s journey over the episode was fascinating to the point where I wasn’t wondering so much about the fate of Will and the others. It’s a daringly vague premiere that sets season three off with a subdued bang. It’s good to have this show back. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Stuff on the Menu:

– Antipasto is essentially Italian for appetizers, which is fitting considering the episode was much more of a prologue than what a typical Hannibal episode looks like.

– Speaking of, the first half of the season’s episodes will be named after Italian cuisines, following the French and Japanese titles of the past two seasons. Starting with episode eight, however, it’ll go into the names of the Red Dragon paintings, in reference of course to one of the books the series is based on. High-brow cannibalism folks, get with it.

– In continuing with the tradition of delicious looking food, watching Hannibal prepare that oyster dish made my mouth water.

– Hannibal literally hits his victim in the head with a tiny statue of Plato, the philosopher. This show may rival Breaking Bad in its brilliant dark humor.

– How stunning were all of Gillian Anderson’s costumes throughout? The blue hat and coat was a showstopper.

 

By Matt Dougherty

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