A slight jump back in time brings us face-to-face once again with Dr Frederick Chilton, and it appears he’s not the only one thirsty for revenge. Aperitivo unites those left beaten and battered by Hannibal Lecter’s rampage of terror in Mizumono (aptly dubbed by some fans as the ‘revenge squad’), paying close attention to the new-found friendship forming between Mason Verger and Dr Bloom.
For many fans the decision to hold back the focus on seemingly secondary characters was beginning to grow tedious. With the first two seasons of the show primarily centring on the tantalisingly tumultuous relationship at play between Will and Hannibal, it felt about time for us to sink our teeth into the characters with which air time was quite restricted. Aperitivo delivers exactly what we want and more. The theme of the first episodes of the third season was abundantly clear- despite the hardships and terror of Hannibal’s wrath felt by Will, they are innately inseparable. Whether plotting to run away together in a move that could’ve turned ‘Hannibal the Cannibal’ into ‘Hannibal the Family Man’, or recruiting pawns in their game of cat and mouse that can only end badly for everyone involved, Will Graham will never be Will Graham without Hannibal Lecter, and vice versa. They are, in essence, two sides of the same coin. Not even continental divides can keep them apart.
“A mutually unspoken pact to ignore the worst in each other to continue to enjoy the best.”
With Aperitivo comes a refreshing take on the revenge arc; everyone has their own individual experiences and, consequently, their own individual scars, but what really brings this episode to life is how these experiences have manifested themselves. Chilton is a highly selfish character renowned for his drive to be the best at whatever cost, but it is this desire that can cloud his vision. He would cut off his nose to spite his face (sorry, Mason) if it meant he would come out on top. So when Chilton arrives by Will’s bedside with a bouquet of flowers, alarm bells immediately begin to ring. Then there’s Mason Verger- the man, the myth, the legend. Following Michael Pitt’s departure from the role after the end of the second season, the anticipation to see if Joe Anderson could fill those incredibly big shoes was rife. Thankfully, he exceeds expectations. Similarly to Chilton, Mason is a character that has always been cold and calculating, like a scab that persistently begs to be picked. Hannibal picked at Mason Verger, antagonised him until he couldn’t be ignored. Hannibal did little to change the innate nature of these two complex characters- rather, he acted as a catalyst that pushed forth their journey towards its end point: the death of Hannibal Lecter.
Alana Bloom’s journey on this show has not been an easy one. Despite Fuller’s best efforts to create a more diverse cast than in the original canon, many fans have been left disappointed with the lack of female presence on the show (most notably the uproar surrounding the death of Beverly Katz last season). This doesn’t come from a malicious place, however. With subject material so iconic in not just the horror genre but cinema in itself, it can be difficult for any character to stand up against the titular Hannibal Lecter. Thankfully, Aperitivo is a huge turning point for Dr. Bloom. Compared to Chilton and Mason, the physical scars left behind by Hannibal are minimal. Broken bones are one thing, but it appears as if the character we once knew has been broken too. The once mild-mannered Alana is gone and has been replaced by a feisty persona dead-set on revenge. Professional curiosity has gone out the window for Alana (is it too soon for window puns?) and she won’t rest until Hannibal is either captured or better: dead. Rather than being involved in a romantic relationship to further the plot of male characters and lead to her ultimate downfall, Alana is emerging as a promising figure who will stop at nothing to bring Lecter’s rule to an end.
“I don’t need religion to believe in Old Testament revenge.”
Gina Torres returns as the ailing Bella Crawford, tearing hearts apart with her devotion to her husband up until the very end. The relationship at play between Jack and Bella is at times subdued but always mesmerising, and her absence on the show will be felt by all. Her death is handled delicately and beautifully, but is by no means in vain. Bella’s dying wish is for to Jack to see his wish to hunt down Hannibal Lecter through to the very end. When her physical presence may no longer be felt, her determination and love will never fade.
Words by Sophie Mace.