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Two of the storylines within “Secondo” worked well, presenting complex and layered counterpoints to one another. The third storyline within the episode just didn’t fit. At all. But, even with this disparity between the episode’s arcs, it was still a compelling hour of Hannibal.
First, let’s touch on the element of the episode that just didn’t do much within the grand scheme of things. I understand that Jack Crawford is, for all intents and purposes, the third lead of the series (or, depending on how you want to slice things, the first supporting cast member). After all, should the show move beyond the Red Dragon arcs at some point in the future, Jack is a character we know is present for all of Hannibal’s future adventures. So, bringing him back into the fold of the story is necessary, and I was glad to see that Will has another ally- even if he might not know it yet. But, wow, did the scenes between Crawford and Pazzi drag. We know that Jack has unfinished business with Hannibal (even though he claims his trip to Italy is to protect Will and assuage his guilt), we don’t need to spend precious time hearing it again. Having a scene where we simply see Jack arrive in Italy, and in the church, would have been enough.
Outside of the Jack Crawford detour, the episode was a beautiful and delicate dance between Hannibal and Will, even if they were separated by several countries. The series is in an interesting place at the moment. We, as an audience, have always known that Hannibal will get captured. Silence of the Lambs is such a part of the collective pop culture understanding that I doubt there is anyone watching this series who hasn’t seen an image of Hannibal Lecter standing in his cell. We have known his destiny since day one. And, to top it off, Bryan Fuller has been extremely open in telling everyone that Hannibal will be captured this season- even going so far as to explain the season structure (which I won’t get into here, in case there are readers who might not want to know how many episodes Hannibal has left to eat freely in Italy).
With that knowledge, each interaction between Bedelia and Hannibal becomes even more fraught with tension. Does Bedelia really have a plan to avoid prosecution or any repercussions of her journey with Hannibal? I think at the beginning of the episode she certainly believes she does. We saw her establishing a routine, and making sure there was a record of her being in Italy, most likely as a “paper trail” of sorts should she push Hannibal a step too far. And I think she still believed she was beyond prosecution for Hannibal’s crimes were he to be caught. But she is playing with fire, and Hannibal finally began burning her for her insolence. On one hand, it was nice to see that Bedelia did not want to see a man suffer. But pulling out the knife was the killing action. And Hannibal played her like a violin. Observation or participation. Leave the knife in and observe a death by inaction. Stop the suffering and become a participant in the violence. Unlike Will, there isn’t an innate darkness to her. She isn’t someone who can truly go toe-to-toe with Hannibal and come out the other side relatively unscathed. We can see the cracks already forming. She is slowly being pulled into Hannibal’s web, unwillingly so, and either doesn’t realize that he’s several steps ahead of her or doesn’t care anymore. As more of Hannibal’s victims begin to arrive on the scene, her chances of survival lessen- once Hannibal has Will in his sights, his need for Bedelia will wane, and she will be in extreme danger.
On the other side of the coin, Will is, either voluntarily or involuntarily, beginning to lose some of his outward definition as well. I will be the first to admit being a tad puzzled by Will’s actions within “Secondo.” But I suspect that was the reaction Fuller and company were hoping for. So much of Hannibal is built on smokescreens, with the goal of the piece to expose the truth behind the web of lies and misdirection slowly. Asking whether or not Will has continued his evolution into something akin to Hannibal (albeit without the cannibalistic tendencies) is a valid question. The way in which Will manipulates Chiyoh is classic Hannibal (and, if Chiyoh is a failed Hannibal experiment- as the show suggests- I’m surprised she fell for it hook, line, and sinker).
Mirroring is a technique the series has used incredibly effectively throughout its run, and it is on excellent display in “Secondo.” Watching Hannibal expertly manipulate Bedelia (until she throws out her Hail Mary: “How did your sister taste?”) and seeing Will accomplish the same thing with Chiyoh drove home the similarity between the pair and how truly interconnected they have become over the course of the series. That is why the episode’s final line was so fitting. Hannibal may have created a masterpiece within Will Graham, but there can, ultimately, only be on master. In order to complete his work, he must eat Will.
— The dragonfly tableau created by Will was gorgeous (as one would expect). But I’m uncertain the purpose. Yes, should it be found, it can easily be traced back to Hannibal (although one might wonder why he would be that careless). But it also suggests that Will is even farther gone than we have seen. Simply being able to put together a Hannibalesque tableau means that Will is deep within the same head space as Hannibal and the line between the two is nearly gone.
— I will admit to gasping out loud and staring with my mouth wide open with Hannibal stabbed the guy in the head. Did not see that coming. And I don’t believe for a second Hannibal was being impulsive. He was manipulating the hell out of Bedelia. And she fell right into it. That troubles me.
— Hannibal is a master at molding his environment to suit his needs. As he has admitted he knows the noose is tightening, it will be interesting to watch him craft his capture to fit his own desires as well. But, considering that Will is the one person he cannot control as he wishes, it will be even more interesting to see how Hannibal’s best laid plans are disrupted.