The word “secondo” refers to the main course of an Italian meal. After this week’s episode of Hannibal, it seems that meal might be Will Graham.
The episode opens with a pensive Hannibal, as Bedelia questions him about his meet-cute with Will in the Catacombe dei Cappuccini, when Will declared, “I forgive you.” Bedelia, ever the psychiatrist, remarks, “betrayal and forgiveness are best seen as something akin to falling in love.” Then she sips her wine and we all picture Kermit the Frog: “But that’s none of my business.”
Hannibal doesn’t argue: “You cannot control with respect to whom you fall in love.” He admits that he can’t go home, which is the one place Will Graham will be looking for him next. Fade from Hannibal’s face into Will’s in the first of many comparisons between the two characters in this episode.
After crossing over a giant puddle of blood, Will finds himself at Lecter Dvaras (the Lithuanian word for “manor”), which looks remarkably like Skyfall but with more trees. An unkempt cemetery houses Mischa Lecter’s headstone.
Will is then discussing Hannibal’s memory palace with him. “It’s stored at the center of my mind,” smirks Hannibal, “And here you are feeling for the latch.” (Presumably not fumbling like a freshman pulling at a panty girdle.) This seems to have been a conversation that actually did take place, as the location shifts to Hannibal’s study, albeit viewed through the fractured visuals of beveled glass and Will’s own memory palace. The glass shatters and Will hears two gunshots.
A Japanese woman is holding a rifle and through Will’s binoculars it looks like she’s pointing it directly at him. She kills a pheasant and then carries it away through dead shrubbery. The woman prepares the bird’s carcass and as she cuts off its feet, the camera cuts to Hannibal chopping up a human arm. Only on Hannibal would we be impressed by such gruesome editing. He massages the flesh with salt and prepares it for his dinner guest, the somewhat subdued Professor Sogliatio.
Hannibal, wearing a dandy striped dinner jacket that men of lesser cheekbones would never dare to attempt, is also serving Punch Romaine. This shaved-ice palate cleanser, he elucidates, was served to the passengers of the Titanic at their last dinner. This is more than pedantry; Hannibal is rearranging the deck chairs on the ship of Sogliato’s life.
Sogliato is still a bit snarky, and Hannibal notes that contrary to the Professor’s claim, “I pay lots of attention, but not in the wide-eyed indiscriminate way.” Just then, Hannibal’s arm strikes like a cobra, stabbing Sogliato with an icepick in the right temple. In an act of mercy, Bedelia pulls the pick from Sogliato’s head as Hannibal finishes his palate cleanser, appetite intact as always. He notes that technically Bedelia killed Sogliato. Technically. She asks if he’s “drawing them” to him, but she probably doesn’t expect an answer.
Cut to the Capella Palatina and a shadowy male silhouette wearing a hat. It’s Jack Crawford, now bearded, solemn, and sporting an ugly scar on his neck. He’s looking at crime scene photos of Hannibal’s bloody valentine as Inspector Pazzi sits next to him. “He will strike,” Jack observes of Hannibal, “but his needs don’t force him to strike often.”
Snakes are a recurring theme of this episode; besides Hannibal’s ice pick strike, earlier we saw the Lecter family crest of snakes on the gates of the entrance and heard Hannibal describe his study to Will as a place of “great snakes wrestling and heaving in the dark,” which sounds like a particularly eloquent Grindr profile. Pazzi wants Jack to return with him to Florence so they can catch Il Mostro together and “regain” their reputations. But Jack insists it’s not his house and not his fire: he’s there for Will Graham.
Will Graham is building a fire of his own on the grounds of Lecter Manor when he senses rather than sees antlers behind him. He wanders into a large swarm of fireflies. These bio-luminescent creatures emit what is known as “cold light,” containing no infrared or ultraviolet frequencies, similar to the cold light that Hannibal himself emits. These fireflies lead Will to an overgrown fountain, in the center of which resides the statue of a young girl. The fountain is teeming with snails – no surprise since firefly larvae feed on them. There’s also a red handprint and Will gathers that this is a kind of shrine to Mischa Lecter.
When the Japanese woman ventures outside with her lantern and her rifle, Will takes the opportunity to prowl around the building’s cellar and steps on a bone, one of many littering the floor. This isn’t Leatherface’s house, it’s Hannibal’s, but we aren’t exactly surprised when we see an iron gate and an unkempt, barely clothed man with wild eyes and disheveled hair behind it.
Two clicks of a gun let Will know that the woman is behind him and she lets him know the reason the man is being kept there: “He ate her.” “Mischa,” Will responds, not exactly questioning, but sort of questioning. She doesn’t confirm or deny. He introduces himself as Will Graham; she gives her name as Chiyo, in another nod to the Thomas Harris novels (Hannibal Rising).
“How do you know Hannibal?” she wonders. “One could argue intimately,” Will responds (biblically?). She notes they must be nakama, the Japanese word for “very close friends.” One anime fan site explains the use of the word in the One Piece series:
Unlike tomodachi, nakama don’t necessarily like each other or want to hang out with each other. For nakama, the friendship that binds them comes from having common goals and values rather than enjoying each other’s company.
“He left me with a smile,” Will says, revealing his scarred stomach, and only then does Chiyoh lower her gun. Meanwhile, at Hannibal’s, he describes the ancient Roman origins of Il Quinto quarto while he serves Signor and Signora Albizzi. “When the lungs whistle, the dish is done,” Hannibal smiles while translating the “sibilo caratteristico” of Lamb’s Pluck. Bedelia informs them that Professor Sogliato sends his regrets for not attending. (How rude!)
The scene then transitions from a traditional Easter meal to Will and Chiyo having traditional Japanese tea. “He does what was done to her,” Chiyo offers, as an explanation of Hannibal’s namesake, but Will is unconvinced. “It doesn’t quantify what he does.” She muses that Will is an awful lot like Hannibal but he disagrees: “If I were like Hannibal, I would’ve killed you already.”
“Why are you looking for him?” she queries. “I’ve never known myself as well as I know myself when I’m with him.” (That’s it; that’s the show.) Hannibal wanted to kill that prisoner, but Chiyo wouldn’t let him so she became both his jailer and his prisoner. “He was curious if you would kill,” ponders Will. “I imagine he still is.”
Some short scenes follow: Hannibal gives Bedelia a scalp massage (shampoo, not salt) while she lounges in the bath and dryly asks him “how did your sister taste?” Will frees the prisoner. Jack tells Pazzi that Hannibal both understands and accepts Hannibal (duh). Chiyo brings food for the prisoner, who, strangely, is back in his cell. He lunges at her and tries to strangle her, but she snatches one of the many bones on the ground and stabs him fatally in the neck, uttering “I’m sorry” right before.
Will discovers a shaken Chiyo and when she blames him for what just happened he insists that he was only trying to set her free. “You were curious, too” she states. “You were doing what he does.” In a subtle but powerful reveal, Will admits, “Did you know? On some level you knew.” Hannibal has made Bedelia a technical killer and that’s just what Will has done to Chiyo. She agrees to help Will find Hannibal because she has nothing keeping her at Lecter Manor any longer.
Then Will comes very close to going full Hannibal. (Never go full Hannibal.) Maybe he didn’t kill the prisoner (technically), but he is going to enjoy the hell out of presenting his murdered corpse in a display that would probably give Hannibal a giant murder boner. He constructs a firefly from the dead prisoner, with wings made of shards of wine bottles and pheasant feathers and covered in hungry snails, the whole thing strung up like one of Elliott Buddish’s death angels. If Jack Crawford could see you now, Will.
As Hannibal plays a jaunty tune on the piano, Bedelia makes some conjectures about Hannibal’s feelings for Mischa and suggests that “what Will Graham makes you feel is not dissimilar . . . a force of mind and circumstance.” It’s a four-letter word and it’s… “love.” Hannibal says the word and smiles, explaining that he forgave Mischa for influencing him to “betray” himself. “There’s only one way you will forgive Will Graham,” Bedelia surmises. “I have to eat him,” realizes Hannibal.
If “Primavera” was like an especially thought-provoking movie that improves the more you think about it, “Secondo” is a “what the fuck?” kind of affair. It’s proof that even when Hannibal moves at a literal snail’s pace (or backwards like a few of the scenes in this episode), it’s still the most shocking and thought-provoking show on television.