“Aperitivo” is a gaping wound of an episode, one festering with the corrupt, merciless feelings left in the wake of Hannibal’s slaying of Jack, Alana, Will, and Abigail. Beyond that, the episode toys with the psychological augmentation that Hannibal fostered in some not-so-sly ways, and director Marc Jobst matched the mood with a lot of sickly blues and greens, like fluorescent light or the tint of light through formaldehyde. Though the episode lacked for major action sequences or big exchanges, the episode reiterated the show’s fanatical dedication to following cause and effect, detailing the tremors of Hannibal’s last spate of brutal murders before getting on a plane to Italy.
For Jack, his brush with death has clearly made him more comfortable with death, more closely acquainted with its sudden and unrelenting power. The episode edited the entire passing of Bella (Gina Torres) into a engulfing swirl of regret, sadness, and loneliness, and Fishburne – Torres’ real-life husband – has a great, imposing melancholy and beleaguered physicality to him throughout. Elsewhere, Alana joined forces with the extensively mutilated Mason Verger (Joe Anderson), who begins the opening movements of his plan to have Hannibal eaten alive. Alana wears the scars she got from letting Hannibal get close, an amateur move that she also clearly blames herself for entirely. Dressed in a blood-red coat and sporting a cane, Alana looks the villain part, having seemingly bought into Hannibal’s assertion that “aesthetics become ethics.”
The other major revelation of the episode was the return of Dr. Chiltin (Raúl Esparza), who matches woud stories with Verger in the opening sequence. Chiltin wants Hannibal to boost his career, planning on publishing a best-selling case study of a high-society gentleman-cannibal who murdered and ate the rude by the dozens. It’s why he tries to recruit everyone, including Will, to hunt down Hannibal but, as expected, he doesn’t get too much attention. The episode reconfirmed that the only man that matter in Hannibal’s world right now is Will, and “Aperitivo” hinged on a somber sense of these two volatile men circling one another but also missing one another terribly. The ending suggests that Will is ready for a showdown and is tired of waiting for the bell to ring, and in hindsight, “Aperitivo” did feel like a sobering pallet cleanser, a settling of business before bedlam cuts loose.
★★★★ Very good — Damn fine television