“Repeat after me: Nothing. Nothing.”
After getting his ass kicked by Jack Crawford, a maimed Hannibal limps through the sun-splashed streets of Florence, his face and clothes in tatters, back home to Bedelia, who sutures him up. She raises a pair of gleaming shears, captured in close-up like giant chrome swords, while her wedding ring (lifted from the late Mrs. Fell — the real Mrs. Fell) fills the opposite side of the frame. Bedelia snips, and the hanged body of Rinaldo Pazzi appears on screen, being cut down from his extension-cord noose.
Will and Jack sit and talk about Hannibal and how they both “had him.” But neither really ever “had” Hannibal, not really. “Knowing he’s in danger,” Will says, “won’t rattle him any more than killing.”
They’re operating outside the law now. Will confesses that part of him will always relate to, and want to be with, Hannibal, as he leans against a glass case, his reflection undulating beside him like a confused memory. Hannibal, meanwhile, prepares to leave Florence. “Memories are all I have,” he tells Bedelia, a line lifted from Silence of the Lambs, but used in a very different context here. Bedelia knows what Hannibal means.
“This is where I leave you,” she says. “Or, more accurately, where you leave me. I knew you planned on eating me … I knew you had no intention of eating me hastily.”
“It would be a shame not to savor you,” he retorts. Bedelia knows that her husband will, inevitably, one day, eat her — marinate her, she says, and eat her. “But not today.”
Throughout the entirety of “Dolce,” director Vincenzo Natali, working off of an immensely quotable script by Bryan Fuller and Don Mancini (the man who created Chucky the killer doll and has penned every entry in the increasingly self-aware Child’s Play series), uses his impeccable sense of mise-en-scène to keep characters pinned to certain corners of the screen, framing them through the cracks and holes and contours of furniture, architecture, other people. They’re framed like butterflies in a case.
At Muskrat Farm, Dr. Cordell serves his half-faced master delicacies such as fingers, and shares a Buddhist koan. Buddhists don’t eat meat, Mason says. “This isn’t meat,” Cordell responds. “It’s man.”
Cordell, a discredited doctor now serving pedophiliac millionaires, shares some of Hannibal’s cultured affinities — most of which go unappreciated by Mason (who in the last episode opined that Lecter has great taste) — but is, in both aesthetic and status, an inferior version, despite his obvious intelligence. I hope they explore this weird little parallel a bit more.
Margot (underused so far this season, after her devastating season two arc ended in a spectacular Dead Ringers homage), Alana, Cordell, and Mason continue to conspire, though they’ve yet to construct a great plan. They’re basically just waiting around for a plot device to help them.
At the Fell house, Bedelia retrieves her medicine from a hidden alcove in the wall: a syringe and several vials full of varicolored liquids. Natali, that crafty devil, manages to make even the trope of a slow-motion needle injection seem fresh, as the viscous materials mingle and the syringe plunger becomes her dilated eye. Chiyoh appears behind her, wielding a shotgun.
“Excuse me, but who the hell are you?” Bedelia asks. She then fields the question herself: “I’m Hannibal’s psychiatrist.”
Jack and Will show up at her door. They question Bedelia’s motivations, as so many viewers (myself included) have done. She says, her woozy voice slipping past her lips like blood leaking out of a wound, “I’m Lydia Fell … I’m confused.”
Will says, “I don’t believe you.”
Bedelia, Will intones, lost herself in the hot dryness of Hannibal’s mind. She’s been living in a fog. As he knows, becoming privy to the labyrinthine thoughts of Dr. Lecter is as addictive as any drug, and letting him inside you, reaching around with those assured fingers and scrapping the cobwebs off spots long untouched, is just as exhilarating — and damaging — as the deepest, darkest high. For this, there is no inoculation.
The episode has been, thus far, dialogue-heavy, but in the best possible way, riddled with vitriolic lines passed back and forth like sips from the same poisoned drink. Mason had to chew on some awful lines the past two episodes (though “If I had lips, I would smile,” almost made up for his constant quips about Alana’s taste). Mason tells Margot that they should have a family, and Margot reminds him that last time she conceived life, he cut out her uterus. Mason and Margot have a toxic yet intoxicating chemistry (whereas Mason’s barbs aimed at Alana Bloom, still the least interesting character on the show, feel like middle-school insults shouted in a cafeteria), and here Mason finally gets something to say that’s as wickedly clever as it is purely wicked: “You shouldn’t have been waving it around like a loaded pistol.”
Now things come to a halt, the shattered teacup put back together: Hannibal sits in an art museum, drawing Bedelia when Will walks up behind him. He takes a seat, and Hannibal and Will share the frame again, their faces mangled, the camera slowly pushing forward.
“I wanted to understand you before I laid eyes on you again,” Will says.
An odd tranquility is draped over the scene. They speak calmly. Will names the women Hannibal has used for his manipulative mind games: Abigail, Misha, Chiyoh (“Oh, how is Chiyoh?”). Upon hearing the names whispered in succession, Hannibal looks as if he’s traipsing through his memory palace, visiting halcyon days.
Will tells Hannibal that they’ve become symbiotic, that he now feels the same pleasures and pain that Hannibal feels — every murder suffuses him with guilt, the way a shared needle spreads a disease. Will doesn’t know if they can survive separation: “You and I have begun to blur.”
They walk outside, the pair sharing sunlight for the first time in what feels like forever. Will slowly pulls a knife out from behind his back as the black orifice of Chiyoh’s sniper’s barrel, harkening back to the syringe plunger and drug-addled eye, pans over Hannibal, veers toward Will, and puts one single shot through Will’s right shoulder.
Eastern-tinged trip-hop plays as Margot and Alana spill onto the screen, coalescing like one of those Windows 95 screensavers by way of Stan Brakhage. There’s really no way of describing the psychedelic sensuality of this completely random (but totally enthralling) follie a deux, so I won’t bother.
“Chiyoh has always been protective of me,” Hannibal says as he tends to Will. He holds up the knife with which Will planned on enacting his revenge: “You dropped your forgiveness.” He uses the knife to carve the bullet out of Will’s shoulder.
“I would have liked to show you Florence,” Hannibal says, feeding Will soup. “Let that circulate.”
Will is now strapped to a chair, and notices an empty dinner plate set at the opposite side of the table.
Jack shows up at the front door, as does Chiyoh. Which one will sit at the table, and which one will be served?
Jack walks into the dining room, where Will warns him, too late, that Hannibal is under the table. Hannibal cuts Jack’s Achilles tendon.
Bedelia, eyes glazed with tears, tells Pazzi’s replacement that she is Lydia Fell. She is Lydia Fell.
Jack sits at the table opposite Will. At the end of “Mizumono,” the three of them were supposed to sit down, old friends, and finish their business. Now here they are, reunited, and Jack, for the first time, looks scared. Hannibal presents an ornate box. He opens the box, slowly removing an oblong apparatus, to which he attaches a circular blade. It’s a bone saw. He approaches Will as Jack begs him not to. Hannibal raises the saw and carefully pushes it into Will’s skull, as blood sprays into the air and…
…Will is hanging upside down, one deep gash in his still-attached skull. Hannibal hangs beside him. Mason approaches them, his half-face almost smiling.
“Welcome to Muskrat Farm.”
Correction: A previous version of this post misnamed the women Hannibal has murdered.