Despite last week’s hotly anticipated premiere giving us a refreshing look at the power relationship at play between Hannibal and Bedelia, it’s Primavera that really feels like the premiere episode. For most fans, the most tedious part of the gap between seasons was waiting to find out the fate of Will, Jack, Alana, and Abigail, thus making the second instalment all the more captivating.
A recap of the horrendous attack on Will and their pseudo-daughter Abigail perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the episode- it’s less about the bloody violence and more about the torturous emotion playing out between our protagonists. Hannibal led Will into his life, created a path for him where there was, at the very least, the potential for them to be happy together. All Will did was lead Hannibal up the garden path- or so the doctor believes. As we know from this show, no stone is left unturned when it comes to cinematography; a beautiful shot of Will tumbling into the void of bloody darkness perfectly resembles his helplessness against the tide of terror enveloping him.
Rather than abruptly awaking from his coma, Will seems to fade out of it with little more than a gasp. He may be free from the grips of death, but he will never be free from his memories. In perhaps the most shocking appearance of the show’s three season arc, his first guest is the ever solemn Abigail. She explains that Hannibal knew precisely where to cut her to keep her alive, and it all seems too good to be true- because it is. After all, there’s only so much Abigail can be put through in her life before it all grows to be too much.
In a move that comes as a surprise to precisely no-one, their first tactic is to hop on a plane and track down the man who nearly brought them to their demise. Exploring the gorgeous architecture of the Norman Chapel in Palermo, the two openly discuss their emotions towards Hannibal and their current position. They both have very different approaches, and it is here that the cracks in Abigail’s projection begin to appear. She represents everything that Will wishes he could have with Hannibal; she wants to be near him, with him, to live the dream life that they once believed was attainable. After everything he did to them, her heart still swells for the good in him. Will takes a more level-headed approach; he knows that Hannibal is the devil incarnate, and that the chance of them ever truly reconciling their differences is very slim. As the ceiling in the chapel crumbles before them, it becomes abhorrently clear that Abigail’s dreams, like her own survival, were destined for doom.
Away from the mind games playing out surrounding Abigail, there’s an intriguing storyline developing surrounding Hannibal and his relatively untouched (in this adaptation) past. Inspector Ronaldo Pazzi, someone who knows all too well the dangers of being empathic, tracks down Will and presents him with a story from his past that he can no longer escape. We learn of Il Mostro, a young Lithuanian man who would use bodies to recreate Botticelli’s masterpieces in a terrifyingly gorgeous display of creativity and respect. After all that the two of them have been through together, it’s somewhat shocking to discover that Hannibal Lecter, the most archetypal icon of horror, had a past before Will Graham was around. There are blatant similarities between Will and Pazzi; their empathy allowed them to grow dangerously close to Il Mostro, but it also prevented them from stopping him in his tracks. Together, their experience could finally lead to the capture and institutionalisation of Hannibal Lecter. But in the words of Will Graham himself, how do we know whose side he’s on?
Words by Sophie Mace.