This is what makes Hannibal a great show to watch. Although the content is deeply disturbing and simultaneously stunning and gory to watch, everyone on the show knows it’s over the top and play off it well. It’s not “ironic”, not really, but it is self aware and Bryan Fuller seems to be testing just how much he can get away with.
Episode 2 tones down the gore (slightly) and gives us more needed answers. This time we follow Will Graham. Yes, he survived. He does have plot armour on his side but the extent of his wounds could have potentially been devastating. We begin the episode by recapping the last scene of the previous season. It is exactly the same sequence up until the bloodbath becomes literal.
We then learn of Will’s fate. He awakens in a hospital gurney and is immediately visited by Abigail (Kacey Rohl). These two have been broken, patched up and manipulated by Hannibal so it’s no wonder this is the only thing on their mind. Despite almost being killed (again), Abigail admits she still wants to go to Hannibal. He’s become her only family. And though he won’t admit it, Will clearly feels the same.
After some beautifully shot slow-mo hallucination (where Will recalls a conversation with Hannibal about modelling his memory palace off Norman Palace in Palermo), Will and Abigail find themselves in Italy. Last episode we saw Hannibal leave the remains of Anthony Dimmond, body broken and distorted into the shape of a heart impaled by three swords, before the altar at Norman Palace. Will is once again playing Hannibal’s game, though it’s unclear whether he likes that or not.
Will meets Italian investigator named Pazzi who reveals 20 years earlier he met a killer whose murder (replicating a Botticelli painting) was nothing short of art. This “Monster of Florence” was, of course, a young Hannibal whom Pazzi met at one stage. Without enough evidence, the Monster got away and has haunted the detective ever since.
While at the cathedral, Abigail and Will have a a great conversation about how much Hannibal has infiltrated their entire being. As much as Will tried to save Abigail from Hannibal, he just couldn’t. Abigail belongs to Hannibal. Although it’s not entirely a plot twist since you can see it coming, the revelation that Abigail is in fact dead still hurts. Will seems likely to carry her death with him, reliving it and punishing himself for it.
The best part of this episode has to be the montage where we see the opposite outcomes for Will and Abigail. In true Fuller fashion, their stories are meticulously captured and juxtaposed (and it fills the pretentious 80s art film quota that is usually taken up by the food porn). While Will is rushed to the hospital, Abigail is taken to the morgue. Each action is mirrored between the two–clothes being cut away, surgical cuts, images of bloodied clothes–but their meaning are polar opposites. One of being given a chance to live, the other is being prepared for the grave.
The episode’s main focus is on getting Hannibal and Will back together (not in a Hannigram sort of way, but also not not in a Hannigram sort of way). In the catacombs of the cathedral there’s almost a cat and mouse game happening with Will and Pazzi trying to find Hannibal. No luck there, of course, but it does allow Will to say something Hannibal’s been wanting to hear: “I forgive you”. The full meaning of this forgiveness is yet to be seen.
By the end of the episode we are left wondering the fate of Jack Crawford and Alana Bloom since they have yet to make an appearance in either the present or a flashback. We are also left with this “valentine written on a broken man”, which of course is nothing short of nightmare inducing