Will, meanwhile, is camping out in the desolate Lithuanian countryside, so it's gonna be a bit of a hike for Jack to catch up to him. This is probably the best time to tell you about The Snail/Firefly Question. munin_and_hugin asked me to come up with a question to ask the gang at SDCC, and I'm terrible at coming up with things like that--my first-but-joking impulse was, "So... snails, what's up with that?" I mean, yes, we already went through a number of ideas in "Antipasto"--sexual innuendo, snail cannibalism, etc.--but from a writer's perspective, it just feels like you put in imagery this strong, this frequently, because you're leading up to something with it. ("Is it a snail who gets to arrest Hannibal or something?") I mean, example: the Ravenstag is obviously great in and of himself, but that repeated visual also paid off with the reveal of the Wendigo at the end of the first season. And yet, we got through the first seven episodes, and it didn't come up again after maybe 3x05--although, yes, some of the metaphor is explicitly stated in dialogue there.
Then, on the morning of the SDCC signing, I saw Vincenzo Natali post a firefly-inspired design that they ended up not using for the "dinner" scene in "Dolce," which had aired a few days previous. And I immediately wondered if that's the final moment that all the symbolism was leading up to, and we just didn't get that climactic image. So I thought, okay, let's ask about snails and the [Spoiler Firefly Design] and what-all.
@munin_and_hugin: @neoprod [Martha De Laurentiis] said look close at the Cochlear Garden because there's imagery easy to miss. Important references!
@munin_and_hugin: @neoprod also said that the snails thing was for transformation in Europe. It ends with the move back stateside.
Now that we've seen the entire story arc, I think this must mean the snail/firefly symbolism did, in fact, come to a head (I'm sorry) in "Dolce," because there's a hallucinatory jump midscene from a table in Florence back to the U.S. So it seems like [Spoiler Firefly Design] was, in fact, Where They Were Going With That.
And then munin_and_hugin sent me this from the signing:
@angelinaburnett: I've been obsessed with fireflies since I was a kid. Though I called them lightening bugs back then.
@angelinaburnett: I think they're one of the most magical gifts life has to give.
@angelinaburnett: ...ever since I was a kid, seeing them made me feel like I was living in fairy tale.
@angelinaburnett: How perfect that snails are their favorite food.
@BryanFuller: FIREFLY LARVAE FEED ON SNAILS TO FUEL THEIR TRANSFORMATIONS [video]
Right, let's tackle firefly symbolism, which goes deeper than I had expected:
1) The "cold light" of fireflies' bioluminescence is caused when "the enzyme luciferase" (I about fell out of my chair at this point) "acts on the luciferin, in the presence of magnesiumions, ATP, and oxygen to produce light." (saaaataaaan)
2) "Your Branch or Mine?:" Fireflies flash in specific patterns to attract mates as a form of courtship--a word Alana specifically used regarding Hannibal and Will in 2x11.
3) "Female Photuris fireflies are known for mimicking the mating flashes of other 'lightning bugs' for the sole purpose of predation. Target males are attracted to what appears to be a suitable mate, and are then eaten. For this reason, sometimes, Photuris species are referred to as 'femme fatale fireflies.'" The "femme fatale" tweet from producer Loretta Ramos, who also dropped the movie title "don't look now" in a tweet last episode, is now getting an enterprising side-eye from my general direction. That said, I feel like the idea of "luring a mate but then eating them instead" refers to Hannibal, not Bedelia.
4) So firefly larvae eat snails--which often cannibalize their siblings when young, as previously discussed. And adult fireflies who don't go for nectar or pollen eat each other.
5) ONLY SLIGHTLY RELATED BUT INDULGE ME: "The Roman goddess Diana is sometimes known as Diana Lucifera, thanks to her association with the light of the full moon." I swear to you I was sitting there thinking Chiyoh was more like the solitary hunter goddess Artemis/Diana than a Rapunzel.
6) Hey, since Chiyoh's here, what do fireflies symbolize in Japanese culture?
--A) "They have been a metaphor for passionate love in poetry since Man'you-shu (the 8th century anthology)."
--B) It seems that the poem in question uses the word hitodama, a phenomenon that could be fireflies or phosphorus from graves reacting wth rain water. The japanese.about.com page does claim specifically that "[fireflies'] eerie lights are also thought to be the altered form of the souls of soldiers who have died in war." In conclusion: solid argument for "souls of the dead."
--C) Also from about.com: "Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies)" is the Japanese animated film (1988) which is based on autobiographical novel by Akiyuki Nosaka. It follows the struggles of two orphans during the American firebombing at the end of World War II." I hear it's one of the most depressing movies ever made, by the way.
7) Speaking of orphans and WWII, here's a scene from Hannibal's adolescence in Hannibal Rising: "He stood before the draped easel and raised the cloth. The count [his uncle] was painting Lady Murasaki nude on the chaise. The picture came into Hannibal’s wide eyes, points of light danced in his pupils, fireflies glowed in his night." Another association with desire?
8) The fireflies could suggest Hannibal generally, if we consider fire to be his element--but a "cold light," light without heat, memory without presence.
9) General dream-logic symbolism because the internets said so: "bright ideas coming out of your subconscious"; "ingenuity"; imagination; and guidance. Visually, fireflies connect to the symbolism of illumination/enlightment that we saw in the chapel catacombs--the many candles lighting Will's journey through the maze of his subconscious.
So we dissolve from Jack in the Norman Chapel to Will chilling, literally, in the cold damp Lithuanian woods. Except that he is... not alone.
Blink and you'll miss the foregrounded antlers and the outline of Wendigo--Castle Lecter must also be its "birthplace," i.e., the first place Hannibal ate people. There's low rumbling tones on the soundtrack and "[suspect noise nearby]," so Will
There's spooky moaning sounds in the music, a tambourine (?) rattling like a snake (a Visconti snake?), and the anxious percussion agrees with me: LEAAAAVE. But there's also a clear shot of a lone firefly flashing its mating signal, because of course there is; Will finds himself surrounded by fireflies, which are accompanied by "magical" musical tones:
He then follows them into a long-overgrown, maybe-walled garden with a large, disused fountain.
@aMoTPodcast: Did Will just get led to a new location by, like, faerie fire?
And guess where the fireflies have led Will?
@nickantosca: The snails! The cochlear garden! 🐌🐌🐌🐌🐌🐌🐌
@queenofthedorks: Wait. Hannibal said he had a garden as a child right?
He did indeed: "I've kept cochlear gardens since I was a young man, fattening snails on herbs and vine leaves," he told a killer on whose arm he was fattening those snails so the snails could eat the killer and the killer could eat the snails. In conclusion: murder snails. The "garden" here is a dry fountain--marked with a disturbingly reddish child's handprint. And there are fireflies eating snails, and snails snailing snailfully, and snails...
@cleolindajones: What are those snails...are they... ?
Keith Staskiewicz at Entertainment Weekly:
Snails might not seem like a particularly romantic creature (unless served in butter at some mood-lit bistro in Paris), but in reality they’re nature’s Cupids. Certain snails reproduce using a "love dart," a chitinous harpoon shot into the flesh of a potential mate as an act of courtship.... Snail foreplay takes awhile, as you can imagine--up to six hours, according to the Wikipedia page for snail sex that I now have logged in my browser history--and Hannibal and Will too have been circling each other at a similar pace. Hannibal’s love dart took the form of a linoleum knife, but it marked Will as his just the same.And all of this snail eroticism, to which Will has been drawn by a courtship signal, is topped off with a watchful angel-Mischa:
It's just a big ol' fount of symbolism, is what it is, with chimes and fluttering wing sounds and a mournful violin. Also, extreme closeups of snail eyestalks slowly emerging and extending, in case you hadn't quite gotten the phallic metaphor yet.
Back at the castle, Chiyoh lights a candle, chops pheasants, and takes them somewhere yet to be revealed, leaving afterwards with lantern in hand. (Both candle and lantern: "Hannibal's metaphorical presence" fire symbolism?) Speaking of the castle--as iconic as the design of Coppola's Castle Dracula is, I didn't include it earlier because it's more vertically oriented than the others, but this shot when Chiyoh leaves Lecter Castle, the way the darkened architecture looms over her, does remind me of it a little:
Simmer down there, Grahamula.
So once Chiyoh's gone, Will delves into the gothic depths of Castle Lecter (*IMPLIED THUNDERCLAP*):
This is practically a demo reel for a fresh adaptation of Dracula (and it's not the first time I've thought Hugh Dancy would make a good Jonathan Harker, either); there's a whiff of Keanu Reeves exploring the castle in the Coppola version, but the angle on the stairs is more reminiscent of the vast 1931 sets.
So what do we find down here in the basement of Castle Lecter?
snails snailing on snails
snails on I don't know what the fuck this is
is it like one of those eggs in Van Helsing?
oh wait I think it's Will's flashlight through a giant glass wine... thing
is it supposed to represent a giant firefly?
help I've got the symbolism bends
baby snails riding on big brother snails?
(is something eating something?)
(something's probably eating something)
see, there's a big round glass wine thing in the lower right corner, that's what it was
that's what you put your snails on
or literally everything, also that
empty snails, underfoot crunch
wait why are they empty, what's eating them
there's... chewed up bones...?
WILL DUDE YOU GOTTA GET OUT OF THERE
YOU GOTTA GO, MAN
@BryanFuller: CHIYOH’S CAPTIVE MADE CREEPY DOLLS FROM PHEASANT BONES TO KEEP HIM COMPANY
@lorettaramos: BTS #Hannibal cage set and those creepy creepy dolls.
@helenshang: Ragged Man should start his own Etsy shoppe with his little pheasant figurines. "These are MY designs!"
The prisoner starts pleading with Will, the first outsider he's seen in a very, very long time. Now, Lithuanian is not my lane, linguistically speaking, but I pulled up Google Translate and tried to reverse-engineer from things he might logically say, then translate them from English to Lithuanian and listen for anything similar. All I was able to conjure was "I'm innocent"--I'm pretty sure I hear mane nekaltas, which is "Me, innocent"--and possibly prašom ("please"). If you know what he's saying, you'll have to tell us. Right now, though, his keeper is displeased:
"You're upsetting him."
As we cut to a break, this is as good a time as any to point out another Dracula homage: the Candlemania aesthetic from 1979 and 1992, particularly noticeable in the triangular arrangements and the "candles literally everywhere we could cram them in, how has this place not burned down yet" effect:
After the break: "You're trespassing," Chiyoh says calmly. "I'm a friend of Hannibal's," says Will, somewhat creepily blasé about being held at riflepoint in a castle dungeon. To be fair: this man has been through some shit. (The prisoner is just cowering with his head in his hands like oh noooooo.) I love Chiyoh's microexpressive perplexity: "He sent you?"
@cleolindajones: "lol Hannibal doesn't have friends"
She may also be wondering, though, if Hannibal has sent Will to her, maybe with a message? God, did he at least write her some letters over the years? That jackass. "My name is Will Graham. I'm unarmed. May I lower my arms?" says Will. NO, and she doesn't want you fraternizing with the prisoner, either: "He wants you to look at him, speak to him, but you're not going to." (I think I can hear kalbėk, "speak," in there.) "Ah, you've cast aside the social graces normally afforded to human beings," says Will, but Chiyoh insists, "He's cast them aside. All he's allowed is the sound of water. [Significant that water is Will's element?] It's what the unborn hear. It's their last memory of peace." "You're keeping him like an animal." "I wouldn't do this to an animal." So of course, Will asks the logical question: "What did he do?"
"He ate her," says Chiyoh.
"Mischa," says Will, startled.
@cleolindajones: welp, here we go
Kyle Anderson at Nerdist: "Because, as Will and Bedelia figured out, Hannibal had the man locked up in place of himself. He couldn't live with the idea that he killed and ate his sister so he concocted a whole story about this man in order to feel better."
Whoa up there now:
"Castle Lecter is where his sister died and got killed brutally by someone." ["Who?"] "It's a man. It's a random person who was around the farm. I catch him in the act." ["Molesting her or killing her?"] "Both. And it's too late, she's dead."
So: 1) Who really killed her? 2) Who really ate her? Hannibal will give us an answer to the first question in episode 3x07, "Digestivo." And while Hannibal could be lying again, I tend to believe that Mads Mikkelsen states it was the prisoner because he either read it in the script or was told by the writers--if he says so, I'm willing to accept it as definitive. And getting an answer made me truly glad that I had fallen so far behind on the recaps, because it saved me probably a thousand words of "MISCHA WTF IDK?"
The second question will be thoroughly answered in a minute, so hold on for that.
"How long has he been your prisoner?" asks Will. "We have been each other's prisoner," says Chiyoh, "for a very long time." Will wonders how she ended up in this situation; Chiyoh says, "That question applies to both of us." "And the answer's probably the same." She tells him her name then; Behind the Name says "Chiyoh" is "千 (chi) 'thousand' combined with 代 (yo) 'generations' or 世 (yo) 'world.'" I find it interesting that Chiyo[h] is the name of a young murderer--and the name of the main character of Memoirs of a Geisha, considering that Book Chiyoh is sent to attend Lady Murasaki as a sort of finishing school before she's supposed to marry a diplomat. (Not a geisha per se, but perhaps needing to acquire a similar elite polish.) However, it's also the name of a poet of the Edo period; considering that Lady Murasaki is explicitly named after a poet, Fukuda Chiyo-ni ("widely regarded as one of the greatest female haiku poets") was probably the inspiration for our Chiyoh.
Out on the castle steps, she asks Will (still at gunpoint), "How do you know Hannibal?" "One could argue, intimately." Everybody all together now: LOL WILL.
"Nakama? It's a Japanese word for very close friends," says Chiyoh. Surprisingly, this doesn't seem to be a euphemism; the words that kept coming up in my searches were "comrade" and "companion." (At most, you might translate it as "bedfellow," but in the non-literal sense--"strange bedfellows," etc.) Also, someone on staff must be an anime fan, because One Piece came up a lot. The connotation I'm gathering is the sort of closeness--trust and dependence--you have with someone you've been through a lot with.
"Yes, we are nakama," says Will. "Last time I saw him, he, uh... he left me with a smile."
By "smile" he means "a giant abdominal scar," a display of which shocks Chiyoh into sympathy. "All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story," she says quietly. "Tell me a story."
@cleolindajones: A fairy tale?
@angelinaburnett: Reminds me of a refrain from Jeanette Winterson's The Passion. "Trust me, I'm telling you stories."
Meanwhile, over at the Palazzo Du Maurier-Lecter, Hannibal is serving a guest that he served a guest to--would that be considered chain-cooking?
@BryanFuller: #HANNIBAL PLAYS MENDELLSOHN’S "SYMPHONY NO.3 IN A MINOR SCOTTISH - INTRO ALLEGRO UN POCO AGIATATO" AS HE COOKS FOR THE ALBIZZIS
The House of Albizzi, by the way, was a rival of the Medici family. Hannibal the Magnificent is cooking at the table itself--"dinner and a show"--while lecturing on the division of meat among the Roman classes: "Each carcass was divided--prime cuts went to nobility, second to the clergy, third to the bourgeoisie and fourth to the army. The quinto quarto--the offal-- went to the poor." It's a play on words, he explains--not a "fifth" quarter of the actual meat, but a quarter of the animal's weight. "Il quinto quarto evolved from necessity to become high tradition!" enthuses Mr. Albizzi. Meanwhile, Bedelia is just barely managing to tolerate any of this:
She glances over at the "characteristic whistle" of the lungs Hannibal's searing; he explains, "Sibilo caratteristico. When the lungs whistle, the dish is done."
@BryanFuller: “WHEN THE LUNGS WHISTLE, THE DISH IS DONE” @FeedingHannibal’s AMAZING ILLUSTRATION FOR SKEWERED LUNG
Janice: "Lungs a-fryin' and whistling a 'sibilo caratteristico.' Or not. We fried and fried those things and no whistle. Maybe they have to be from Italy. Or maybe they were lungs only dogs can hear." I don't know, have you checked Wolf Trap lately? Whistling done, "Coratella con carciofi," announces Hannibal. "Purple artichokes served with spring lamb's liver, lungs and heart."
(I will say, one of the side effects of this show is that you may start pretentiously announcing everything you cook for yourself. "Deck-grilled chicken breast and purple onion marinated in an olive oil vinaigrette, served on a bed of" [*checks salad bag*] "spring radicchio and laitues bébés aux croutons.")
@lorettaramos: Gorgeous carciofi by @FeedingHannibal
Honestly, at this point I've just started looking things up for the hell of it. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
The Italians get the credit for developing the fine varieties of artichoke - carciofo in their language - that captured the courts of Renaissance Europe. They still have the largest repertoire of artichoke dishes.... Italians, historically, have attributed all sorts of magical and curative properties to artichokes: 'They are good for your liver,' and 'they make other foods taste better.' The phrase la politica del carciofo means a policy of dealing with opponents one at a time, in the way you would pick off each artichoke leaf.... Perhaps danger is part of the irresistible appeal of the artichoke. The sharp thorns can prick the unwary, especially in the large Green Globe variety."Professor Sogliato doesn't know what he's missing," says Mrs. Albizzi (cut to: an empty place setting). "So rude of him to ignore your invitation." "He sends his regrets," Bedelia says coolly. Then Mrs. Albizzi gushes that the coratella smells divine-- "It is!" says Hannibal. "I say that without ego. I don't require conventional reinforcement." "You would agree, Signora Fell?" Who replies, "My husband's ego is not measured by conventional means." LOL BEDELIA. By the way, she is persisting in her meatless diet:
@DeLaurentiisCo: Even knowing Hannibal's intention, Bedelia continues to eat oysters. Hmm.
TVLINE: We saw that Hannibal is feeding her oysters, acorns, and marsala, and then there’s a conversation about how that’s the diet the ancient Romans used to improve animal flavor. Is that part of the excitement, that she could wind up on a plate at any minute?And then, Hannibal says, "I first prepared this dish in honor of my sister when I was very young."
ANDERSON: I think it is. I mean, you have two reactions to that [dietary revelation]. You either run for the hills, which says one thing about you, or you stick around, which she does, and that says something else. So either she’s got a really damn good plan up her sleeve, and she’s willing to risk her days or her hours that her plan will be able to be set in motion and she won’t meet her end sooner than later--or she doesn’t care, and she likes the fact that [death] could literally be around the corner and that maybe he is flavoring her, and being with other characters is not necessarily a deterrent.
Eating her is honoring her. Otherwise, it's just... MURDER.
OH MY GOD
"I'm sure you've perfected the recipe over the years," says Bedelia.
@BryanFuller: #HANNIBAL IS PLAYING "TORNAMI A DIR CHE M'AMI" BY GAETANO DONIZETTI AS THE ALBIZZIS EAT THE MISSING DINNER GUEST
@cleolindajones: Gahhhhh, the way he always watches people eat his cooking
And all Bedelia can do is sit there with her oysters as the Albizzis go into raptures over their professore con carciofi.
"The meaaaat!" moans Mrs. Albizzi (I caaaan't). "You have a very good butcher!" exclaims Mr. Albizzi, who just serves the ball for Hannibal to spike: "I do indeed. The lamb must be newly slaughtered, the organs cooked the same day. I always oversee this process personally."
Hannibal staring straight into the camera like he's on The fucking Office then dissolves into Chiyoh's reflection in her teacup:
@BryanFuller: CHECKING OUT CHIYOH’S HUNTING CABIN ON THE GROUNDS OF CASTLE LECTER WITH @SteveLightfoot5
@Vincenzo_Natali: Production Designer #MatthewDavies's concept for Chiyoh's hunting cabin interior for #Hannibal #Secondo.
She and Will are drinking tea Japanese-style in the lodge, where I'm guessing she actually lives. (Let it be noted that Book Mischa was also eaten in the family hunting lodge.) "We construct fairy tales and we accept them. Our minds concoct all sorts of fantasies when we don't want to believe something," says Will, who has apparently filled Chiyoh in on the entire saga of Empath & Cannibal, because she replies, "I accept what Hannibal has done. I understand why he has done it." But Will disagrees: "Mischa doesn't explain Hannibal. She doesn't... quantify what he does." Pro tip: Don't try to quantify Hannibal at all, ever. Chiyoh counters that "[Hannibal] does what was done to her," but Will asks exactly how she knows the prisoner killed Mischa.
"Hannibal told me so."
@cleolindajones: Will just like "oh so he TOLD you okay"
And then Chiyoh says, a bit warily, "Hannibal took someone from you. Are you here to take someone from him?" Ain't nobody here but Chiyoh, so... but no. "If I were like Hannibal," Will says slowly, "I would've killed you already. Cooked you... ate you... and fed what was left of you to him. That's what he would do."
@cleolindajones: "seriously, the opening credits wouldn't have even run yet"
"You've given that some thought," Chiyoh observes (she pretty much sees right through Will at all times). When Will asks if she knows where Hannibal is, she counters, "Why are you looking for him after he left you with a smile?"
Hesitantly, Will says, "I've never... known myself as well as I... know myself when I'm with him." Oh, Will, honey. Also, he's smiling really weird again. Chiyoh tells him--not answering whether she actually knows where Hannibal is--that Will won't find him on the Lecter estate: "There are places on these grounds he cannot safely go. Bad memories." "What do these grounds hold for you?" asks Will. She replies, "Hannibal wanted to kill that man for what he did to Mischa. I wouldn't let him take his life, so Hannibal left his life with me." "He was... curious..." (drink!) "if you would kill," says Will. "I imagine he still is."
@cleolindajones: So Chiyoh is currently the reigning champion of not giving into #Hannibal's influence?
Speaking of whom, look at this perfect ridiculous hair-washing man:
Nanny had Mischa’s copper bathtub in a corner of the hearth
There was no food, and then there was food, Kolnas and Milko carrying Mischa’s bathtub to the stove lidded with a plank, which scorched where it overhung the tub
so... now this is weird
I want to be clear that I'm not saying there was an incestuous dynamic with Hannibal and actual child Mischa. I don't think that. (In the book he's eight and she's two, for God's sake.) (He might legit eat Bedelia, though.) What I do think happened is that the Hannibal we're looking at now never entirely moved on from her loss (YOU DON'T SAY), and so he imposes a brother/father/guardian mindset onto many of his adult relationships, where it's not appropriate. I'm not imagining this, either. For starters, go back and look at that book passage about him checking out Clarice in the middle of trying to convince her to become his "sister." And then Mads Mikkelsen, re: Hannibal and Bedelia: "Let's put it this way: It's not a healthy relationship. It's distant but also intimate in a way. It's a brother-sister relationship that is not healthy." I'll go ahead and tell you that it's revealed two episodes from now that they're sleeping together ("post coital"), but we're never told how or when that started up; as of this scene, they might already be. And... here's Hannibal, slipping into "big brother washing the baby's hair" mode.
More tellingly, when Bryan Fuller says Hannibal's relationship with Will is "brotherly," well--with Hannibal, maybe that's a loaded word. Brother, father, guardian: remember the time Will got called up to
And Mischa is exactly what Bedelia, who can't just sit back and enjoy her shampoo massage, would like to talk about today.
@cleolindajones: I thought usually the patient was the one lying down for therapy.
"What were you like as a young man?" "I was rooting for Mephistopheles and contemptuous of Faust," he says, straight from the Hannibal Rising book. (Which ends with lines from Goethe's telling: "I’d yield me to the Devil instantly, / Did it not happen that myself am he!" So, after Lucifer and Baal/Beelzebub, that's a third demon figure Hannibal's been associated with.)
@aMoTPodcast: Of course you were. Satan.
Most pretentious teenage cannibal ever. "Would you like to talk about your first spring lamb?" asks Bedelia. Hannibal, a bit ominously: "Would you?" "Why can't you go home, Hannibal?" she presses. "What happened to you there?" "Nothing happened to me. I happened."
@cleolindajones: HE SAID THE THING!!!!
And then Bedelia looks up at him mid-shampoo and asks,
"How did your sister taste?"
@cleolindajones: LITERALLY SCREAMED OUT LOUD, DOES SHE *WANT* TO DIE
@LadyFabulous: My new move is going to be sinking into the bath after making salty quips
All the way under, too: I'll see myself out.
("BEDELIA NO." "BEDELIA YES.")
Gillian Anderson plays Bedelia as so outwardly reserved that it can be really, really hard to figure out wtf Bedelia's deal is, so I always enjoy interviews where she gives us some insight:
TVLINE: The episode ends with Bedelia soaking in the bathtub, neck over the side, incredibly vulnerable--while Hannibal washes her hair. And suddenly, she’s really pushing some major buttons. "Would you like to talk about your first spring lamb?" "How did your sister taste?" It’s so creepy. She’s literally poking the bear! What did you think when you read that scene?@angelinaburnett: Sexiest scene in the history of network TV?
ANDERSON: It’s great. I mean, by that point it's like balls to the wind. She’s playing constantly with what the boundaries are. So regardless of how much of a net she may or may not have set up for herself, that net does not exist within the walls of their apartment. Anything can happen there, and so any time she pushes those buttons, she is literally teasing the devil… she’s playing with fire, and she knows that, and she gets off on it.
@angelinaburnett: And I don't think the fact that it ends with a question about the culinary success of his cooked sister diminishes that factor.
Earlier in the same interview: "You don’t want to be revealing too much, but she knows what he can take, and she potentially is also playing with his… not with his breaking points, but she knows that he likes the fact that she is courageous and brassy as him. I'll let that sit there." But I don't know that Hannibal's enjoying this particular therapy session at all. He doesn't even give her the He Mad face--it's almost like he's too hurt to even change his expression, while somehow simultaneously revealing deep sadness. ACTING.
In the footnote earlier, I went through two different Death and the Maiden inspirations, since that was named as one of the movies the show would reference this season; one was a modern play/film about a woman confronting a man with his crimes, and this is the scene, I think, that (however vaguely) connects to that. The larger, more likely inspiration seems to be the medieval motif--the young girl who encounters Death too soon: an eroticized evolution of the Dance of Death/danse macabre theme. Here's the text of Schubert's German lied "Der Tod und das Mädchen" ("Death and the Maiden") that I mentioned:
Pass me by! Oh, pass me by!
Go, fierce man of bones!
I am still young! Go, rather,
And do not touch me.
And do not touch me.
Give me your hand, you beautiful and tender form!
I am a friend, and come not to punish.
Be of good cheer! I am not fierce,
Softly shall you sleep in my arms!
"Fierce man of bones" is a pretty good description for the pheasant-eating prisoner, actually (maybe with some Cronus thrown in). So I wonder if Hannibal "honored" Mischa as a way of recasting himself as a gentler Death to cope with what happened--"otherwise, it's just murder." On the other hand...
@angelinaburnett: A delightful doodle from @jvlamingwriter. If memory serves this was early in the process...
@helenshang: Look at Mischa's wee little sad face! One of my favorite Jeff Vlaming doodles.
OH MY GOD
Back in the Lecter cellar-dungeon, the prisoner is nomming snails to supplement his daily pheasant. ("I had made a dozen marzipan snails so Chiyo's 'Caged man' could eat the whole snail, shell and all as called for in the script," writes Janice. "But snails are slow--so slow, they got stuck in traffic and didn’t make it to the sound stage in time for the shot.") Heroically, Will bursts in, smashes the lock on the cage, and throws some ragged trousers to the prisoner. And then he shoos him off into the woods. But the prisoner cowers in the beam of Will's car headlights and... doesn't want to go. One of the production sketches says "He has been locked up for 25 years" (and damn if I know how Tao Okamoto being thirty years old fits into that timeline). Where do you even go after twenty-five years? Do you even remember how to function outside a tiny cell? I don't know what the prisoner's saying to Will, but Will finally shouts "GO," chasing him off like an unwanted stray dog (and that has got to go against every instinct Doghoarder General's got, too).
Over in Palermo, we get a dreamy, kaleidoscopic scene where Jack lights a candle for Bella--an act of remembrance. (We'll see her final moments in the next episode, which is constructed entirely of flashbacks--come on now, he wasn't going to leave her deathbed to go chase after Murder Husbands.) Pazzi's with him in front of the votive candles in their red glass holders; if fire is Hannibal's element, they're surrounded by it, in closeups that feel sacred and hellish and intimate all at once, like this conversation takes place in some emotional interior rather than the mundane world.
@LJmysticowl: So we're back to my Pazzi is Virgil metaphor. Guiding Will and now Jack to the underworld (literally)
Where the "Eye of God" closeups were last year's visual refrain, I'm starting to think the prism/kaleidoscope effect may be this year's: the idea of a psychologically multifaceted blurring, and of being unable to face yourself straight on in the mirror, as it were. It even makes sense for these two men to blur--Pazzi is, after all, Jack's analogue in the Questura, doggedly tracking a killer through the years. And we even see a pronounced scar on Jack's neck, where Hannibal stabbed him with a shard of glass. Taken all together, it's a visual motif that will continue into the Red Dragon episodes as well.
(Shit, are there psychedelic umbrella shapes on purpose? Fuck it, we're googling. "The umbrella usually symbolizes the canopy of the heavens, shelter, and protection.... It is often an emblem of power and dignity." You keep praying, Pazzi.)
"Are you a believer, Signor Crawford?" he asks. Jack replies, "Aren't we all? Belief comes with imagination. We also imagine the possibility that we all... live on after death. Will Graham died. Lui era morto. Io ero morto. He was dead. I was dead. We didn't imagine that." (Which Pazzi himself told Will: "You are already dead, aren't you?")
"What does Will Graham imagine now?" asks Pazzi. Referring back to the very first episode, Jack says, "I borrowed his imagination... and I broke it. I don't know how he managed to piece it back together again." "People come here to be closer to their God. Isn't that what Will Graham was doing?" says Pazzi, who also saw right through Will. "Maybe," says Jack. "Will Graham understands Hannibal. He accepts him. Now, who among us doesn't want understanding and acceptance?"
This scene seems to be all about discussing Will... but I wonder if it's actually underlining the idea that Pazzi doesn't feel accepted, which has terrible consequences two episodes from now.
Back at Castle Lecter: snails.
@LJmysticowl: Is that a swallow tattoo on the prisoner's arm?
"Done your bird, done your time"?
It's Pheasant Time again, and... the prisoner is back in his cage? Except that it's no longer locked--he bursts out, jumps Chiyoh, and starts strangling her; a bottle smashes on the floor in a flood of blood-red wine, as the snails on the Glass Thing You Keep Your Snails On watch. "I'm sorry," she gasps, with an ostensible Death Nod and Hand Flop. The show breaks for commercial; things don't look too good for her. Except that when we come back, we see what happened next in slo-mo reverse: Snails snail backwards into the pool of wine. Drops of blood float up from Chiyoh's face. Blood jets out of the prisoner's neck through a hollow pheasant bone. Chiyoh jams the bone into his neck, she picks it up from the floor, she sees it lying there; now forward again: she stabs him, they struggle, he bleeds out, dying on the floor. And she stares at it all in shock.
(Kate Kulzick: "Speaking of Chiyoh, her immediate reaction to being manipulated into killing is very different from Bedelia's in 'Antipasto,' though her conversation with Will is not dissimilar to Bedelia and Hannibal's. Her anger and horror is reflected in the distorted electric guitar scoring, a very different sound than that used for Will or Hannibal’s kills, or most of the other deaths shown over the course of the series.")
There's a ton of symbolism in this scene--particularly murder as analogous to sex: the seduction either of convincing someone to commit it or luring the victim near; the penetration of stabbing; the orgasmic gush of blood afterwards--a three-act crescendo, with killing, rather than dying, as "the little death," la petite mort. The show has very few scenes of traditional sex or romance (and the ones it does have are all totally crazypants); it's all sublimated into the violence, which for these characters seems to acquire the allure of an unhealthy release. (The sickening thrill you get from looking over the edge of a cliff endangers you, but it's a thrill nonetheless--and maybe a more potent one for it.) And of course vampirism has always symbolically mingled sex, violence, and death; Hannibal goes around infecting others with the urge of violence, who then spread it even further. And we see the snails again, cementing them as a symbol of murder and influence on which the firefly, the higher predator, feeds. So Chiyoh, I think, has been bitten by the Grahampire and lost her murder virginity--she has "penetrated" someone. To death. But unlike all Hannibal's other "patients," she seems to feel only horror, not empowerment, temptation, or understanding.
@lorettaramos: “You want me to strangle her *just so*? [set picture]
@MrAaronAbrams: Fun Fact: I once worked with the amazing @JulianRichings aka #Hannibal's cage-hobo. He ate no snails. That I know of.
@lorettaramos: How they store the wine in the creepy basement at Castle Lecter.
@lorettaramos: The Lecter Dvaras coat of arms. Even better when it's on a wine bottle.
@NBCHannibal: Wine(d) us up and watch us go.
@cleolindajones: So... did Will know the guy would come back?
"[woman's scream from afar]"
When he returns to the cellar, Chiyoh is sitting on the floor, arms around her knees, traumatized and shaking as the candles (illumination, enlightenment, fire: Hannibal) flicker in the background, not unlike fireflies. "You did this. You set him free," she says. "It was you I wanted to set free," says Will. The writers have talked about a fairy tale motif for this season, and the character Steve Lightfoot mentioned for Chiyoh was Rapunzel--in the sense that she's "trapped" in the castle by Hannibal, already identified in "Antipasto" as the "witch" in his gingerbread cottage. So Will has apparently decided he needs to be the prince and "rescue" her. (Interestingly, Tao Okamoto's short hair looks like that of a a different Disney princess--Snow White.) I would like to remind Will, though, that the original prince got shoved out a window for his trouble. Also, you realize that you could have just killed the guy for her, right?
"You said Hannibal was curious if I would kill. You were curious too." I'm saying, y'all. Will protests, "I didn't want this--" "Yes you did. You were doing what he does. He'd be proud of you, his nakama," Chiyoh says bitterly.
Will crouches down, eye to eye: "Did you know? At some level... you knew." (It's a little like Hannibal insisting Bedelia was partly responsible for Dimmond's death.) Then the Grahampire opens a bottle of blood-red wine for her, repeating what she had said to him. "He created a story out of events that only he experienced. 'All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story.'"
So at this point, it seems that both Will and Chiyoh believe that Hannibal killed and ate his sister--and tricked Chiyoh into imprisoning an innocent man. She picks up her rifle: "For Mischa. I'll help you find him. I have no reason to stay here. Not anymore. You saw to that."
And now Will creates his first solo tableau, with no direction from Hannibal, yet full of his symbols: the prisoner's body bound up with wings made of broken glass (the prismatic therapy session) from the Lecter wine bottles (spilled blood and old history) and pheasant feathers (innocent prey? a sensual urge to kill?), artistically dotted with snails (influence to kill, eroticism), with candles standing before it in the dark cellar (illumination in the subconscious), and it all adds up to a giant firefly--desire, imagination, guidance, predation--like a psychic beacon, a mating signal Hannibal can't see but Will feels compelled to send out anyway. And apparently he used his boating skills to rig it up, because he hauls it upright as if hoisting a sail.
@angelinaburnett: An early sketch on the board of the winged man by multi talented @jvlamingwriter...
@lorettaramos: Early concept sketch of the Pheasantman.
@Vincenzo_Natali: Rough sketches for the Firefly Man from #Hannibal #Secondo.
@Vincenzo_Natali: Concept painting for the Firefly Man by the #Hannibal Art Department for #Secondo.
@BryanFuller: FRANCOIS DAGENAIS AND THE FINE FOLKS AT @mindwarp_fx PREPARE TO HANG THE FIREFLY MAN
@DeLaurentiisCo: Our favorite image from the episode. The imago.
And that's a word we hear in "Mizumono," when Hannibal gives Will a chance to confess that he doesn't take:
"Do you know what an imago is, Will?"
"It's a flying insect."
"It's the last stage of a transformation."
"When you become who you will be?"
"It's also a term from the dead religion of psychoanalysis. An imago is an image of a loved one, buried in the unconscious, carried with us all our lives. The concept of an ideal... I have a concept of you, just as you have a concept of me."
"Neither of us ideal."
"Both of us are too curious about too many things for any ideals."
And then Hannibal suggests that they just leave that night, rather than kill Jack the next, trying to give Will a compromise, maybe ready to forgive Will if he'll just run away with him now.
"Then this would be our last supper," says Will.
And now, deep down in Hannibal's ancestral home, he's constructed a literal imago.
Over at the Palazzo Du Maurier-Lecter, Hannibal is aggressively playing a cheerful waltz on his piano ("perhaps not the most mature response").
@BryanFuller: #HANNIBAL IS PLAYING “FANTASIE VALSE” BY ERIK SATIE AS HE DISCUSSES BETRAYAL WITH BEDELIA
@cleolindajones: I'M NOT TALKING TO YOU RIGHT NOW BEDELIA
@lorettaramos: BTS director @Vincenzo_Natali and piano man Mads.
"What your sister made you feel was beyond your conscious ability to control or predict," says Bedelia. "Or negotiate," he says, not looking up. Bedelia: "I would suggest what Will Graham makes you feel is not dissimilar. A force of mind and circumstance." "Love," says Hannibal, with a little smile: "He pays you a visit or he doesn't." "Same with forgiveness. And I would argue, the same with betrayal." "The god Betrayal," says Hannibal, "who presupposes the god Forgiveness." And he's already decided that both of those presuppose love. Bedelia, foreshadowingly: "We can all betray. Sometimes we have no other choice."
"Mischa didn't betray me. She influenced me to betray myself, but I forgave her that influence," says Hannibal, whatever the hell that means. (Unless she was some kind of precocious murder baby influencing him the way he does others, he must mean this in a sort of wry, figurative way--his love for her "influenced" him to eat her, thus "betraying" his humanity?)
"If past behavior is an indicator of future behavior, there is only one way you will forgive Will Graham," says Bedelia.
"I have to eat him."
@lorettaramos: Cue the Dramatic Squirrel!
So yes, a predator who cannibalizes the young and courts a mate, only to betray and eat him: the "Dolce" [Spoiler Firefly Design] was ultimately Where They Were Going With That, I think. Among a dozen other symbolic things, probably.
But did Bedelia lead him to that conclusion, or would he have reached it anyway? And if she did--why? Who is she trying to screw over--Will, the "mistress," or Hannibal, the sinking ship she's trying not to go down with? Or, much the way Hannibal considers Murder Therapy to be truly helpful for his patients, does she genuinely think that this is where his catharsis lies?
("What would be the perfect way to kill Will?" "Have you seen those cute ears? They gotta be smoked.")
As for the rest of it, I have four long, very involved attempts at a timeline of Show Hannibal's life, and I give up on all of them. I'm starting to think his past was purposely made mathematically unsolvable to make the point that It Cannot Be Known.
@cleolindajones: I seriously have like twice as many questions as I did before.
@cleolindajones: On one hand, I'm a little frustrated we didn't get more details. "Well, at least it's not Nazis." Show, you have a point.
@MrAaronAbrams: Remember when the snail covered corpse was dressed up like a giant bug and you thought it looked pretty hey have a great evening.
NEXT TIME: Hey, what has everyone else been doing?