Though fans hope Hannibal finds a home beyond its NBC cancellation, the contracts of its two biggest stars have expired. Ain’t looking good, in other words. So let’s savor the flavor of what remains. “Contorno” being a great example of the kind of TV that Future Us is going to be missing, hardcore.
After last week’s time-jumping study of Dr. Chilton’s largely futile quest for a revenge partner (sorry, guy, but nobody likes ya), we’re back in Europe, as Will and Chiyoh ride a train, presumably the hell away from Lithuania. (They’re en route to Florence, of course ... “the belly of the beast,” like Lecter’s snails.) She explains how she came to know Hannibal—she was hired as an attendant for his aunt—and Will recognizes the type of relationship she ended up sharing with the not-so-good doctor. “He comes in the guise of a mentor, but it’s distress that excites him,” Will says. He wonders if Chiyoh is haunted by her first act of killing. She claims not to be.
In Florence, a shirtless Hannibal and a bathrobed Bedelia are eating snails and talking about fireflies ... and Will, who “agonizes about inevitable change,” according to Hannibal. “Almost anything can be trained to resist its instinct,” Bedelia says. But even the sheepdog wants to kill the sheep it guards, Hannibal points out. They both know that Will is on Hannibal’s trail—and we all heard Hannibal say, a few weeks back, that he’s planning to eat Will eventually. “Reciprocity,” Bedelia says.
Alone in Florence, Crawford (thanks to last week’s episode, we know his wife succumbed to cancer before he left Baltimore) strolls the town at sunset. “Ciao, Bella,” he murmurs as he scatters her ashes into the Arno...and heaves his wedding ring in after. In the next scene, he’s with Pazzi and his new wife, who offers a toast to Bella’s memory. But the purpose of this dinner party is more to discuss business, even if that business is “outside the law,” as Crawford puts it: tracking down Lecter. Crawford encourages the obsessed Pazzi not to play that game, because “I played that game, and I lost.”
Back in America, unlikely amigos Verger and Bloom are studying up on Hannibal via some of his most-treasured, most-creatively-used possessions left behind: his tableware. “You gotta hand it to the man,” Verger sniffs. “He has the most marrrvelous taste.” Bloom is more focused; she’s been studying the pattern of Hannibal’s purchases. Specifically, all those identical wine purchases made over the last three months in Florence by “a blonde woman.” Guess who?
The “pairs” of this episode thus firmly established, we return to Will and Chiyoh on their train. As they lie in their bunks, they engage in some slumber-party chatter. After living alone for so long, aside from her prisoner, she’s not used to hearing voices beyond the ones in her head. “I hear voices from all directions,” Will admits. Chiyoh doesn’t think she’s changed since Hannibal left her behind. Her moment of violence was in self-defense, and it hasn’t altered who she is inside. She’s stayed the same: “I’m not as malleable as you are.” And when she points out that “If you don’t kill him, you’re afraid you’re going to become him” ... Will has to admit she’s right.
Pazzi pays Hannibal—ehrm, “Dr. Fell”—a visit at his job. Pazzi knows he’s Hannibal Lecter, and Hannibal knows that Pazzi knows. But they go through the motions; Pazzi questions him about the two men who’ve gone missing from the Palazzo since Dr. Fell’s been in town. And Hannibal/Fell displays an impressive knowledge of the Pazzi family’s long history. As Hannibal watches the inspector leave, the shot dissolves into the wanted poster of “Il Mostro.” Of course, the faces are identical. Your move, Pazzi ... but you better tread mighty carefully.
He steps to a pay phone to inquire about the reward being offered to whoever tracks dow Dr. Lecter, but the voice on the other line insists he’d better secure an attorney before asking about “bounties.” Money, it seems, is motivating him even more than the need for revenge or justice.
Hannibal tells Bedelia about his reunion with Pazzi. In his youth, he recalls, he met him in the Uffizi Gallery, because they shared an interest in a certain Botticelli painting: crime-scene inspiration La Primavera. “Does he know ... what you are?” Bedelia asks. Of course he knows, Hannibal says. But Hannibal knows how police operate (“It’s too soon to flush his quarry”), and he also knows it’s “better to sell me” (and collect the bounty) than to capture him. Still, he’s also in no hurry to add Pazzi to his list of recent Italian victims. Bedelia looks quietly terrified at this turn of events—kind of her go-to reaction at this point.
Back on the train, Will and Chiyoh share another melancholy moment. They both enjoy the night, the time when “life is most like a dream.” She’s still a mystery to Will. “I’m not searching for Hannibal. I know exactly where he is,” she tells him, reminding him that there are means of influence other than violence. They kiss. “But violence ... is what you understand,” she adds.
Then, she shoves him off the back of the train. Whaaaaaaat! Damn, Will. He soars in slo-mo to the tracks. A snout leans over and gives him a good sniff before herky-jerky walking away, as only Will’s dreaded stag can do.
Next, Pazzi’s Skyping with the man who’s offering the handsome bounty on Lecter: Verger, of course. The going rate is three million dollars if Hannibal is taken alive ... no questions asked, discretion guaranteed. He’ll get a $100,000 advance if he can provide a fingerprint belonging to Hannibal. A fresh fingerprint. Bloom makes sure that Pazzi knows he’d be selling Dr. Lecter straight into “torture and death.” Pazzi knows. Oh, he knows. But he’d prefer Hannibal not be in Florence when said torture and death goes down. Verger assures him he won’t be, before signing off. “Toodle-oo.” Once the call’s over, Bloom turns. “Hannibal’s going to kill him, you know.” Oh, he knows.
Pazzi needs a fingerprint, so he brings an object to Hannibal for his close examination. (It’s a Pazzi family relic, an antique face mask that more than slightly resembles a primitive version of the signature Silence of the Lambs headgear. Nice touch.) “A scold’s bridle,” Hannibal says. “A wonderful heirloom.” He has a surprise of his own, a sculpture of another historical Pazzi who was gutted for being led astray for 30 pieces of silver. Oh-oh. Ohhhh shit!!
Pazzi! He warned you to your face. Why you gonna turn your back on him?? Hannibal grabs him and subdues him with ease. When we see him next, Pazzi is strapped onto a vertical gurney, much like the one we’re familiar with from Lambs. “If you tell me what I need to know,” Hannibal says, he might forego the meal he’s planning. The terrified man’s cell phone rings, so Hannibal reaches into his pocket. On the other end: Bloom. “Nice to hear your voice,” Lecter tells her, before returning to the business at hand. “Bowls in, or bowls out?” he wonders ... and Pazzi and his insides are soon gruesomely separated. Yep, that’s the Hannibal we know and love.
But an even better showdown beckons, as Crawford emerges from the shadows. In the darkened museum, he proceeds to deliver a beatdown that sends Hannibal ricocheting between the assembled antiques, window panes, etc. As the end seems inevitable, Hannibal asks, “How will you feel when I’m gone?” With delight, Crawford answers: “Alive!”
But Hannibal...just...won’t die. Grabbing onto Pazzi’s hanging body, he survives his Bloom-eque window plunge, and stumbles off as Crawford gawks after him from above. Remember, Will’s still stranded in the forest somewhere. And this? This ain’t over yet.