If last week’s episode of Hannibal Season 3 was a funereal contemplation of loss and unresolved anger, “Contorno” features what will surely be only the first bloody torrent of vengeance in the wake of Hannibal’s trip to Florence. As Will and Chiyo make their way from Lithuania to Italy, Inspector Pazzi (Fortunato Cerlino) began to set a trap for his would-be prey, one ultimately done at the behest of Mason Verger (Joe Anderson). Rather than simply call his colleagues and take in the “monster of Florence,” Pazzi looks to cash-in on Hannibal’s capture, and “Contorno” felt distinctly aware of the dangers of ignoring one’s past or, conversely, allowing it to slow you down. When Pazzi and his monster meet again, their conversation about the history of the inspector’s family, their depictions in art and myth, slyly telegraphs his brutal end.
Of course, Pazzi wasn’t the only one considering his past. Jack’s return to Italy is to fulfill a promise to his late wife, Bella, spreading her ashes on the bridge where they met, and the tossing of his wedding ring signaled a settling of his past and the emergence of a new man. Even before the astonishing final sequence, Laurence Fishburne‘s performance hinted at a revitalized persona in Jack, enjoying a home cooked meal at Pazzi’s home and not sugarcoating his recent tragedy whatsoever in conversation. As he pours out the ashes of his beloved, director Guillermo Navarro slows down the image to make the ashes look like gold dust, as if Jack were pouring out his warmth, contrasted with the cold blue water that his ring submerges into.
On the train to Lithuania, Hannibal’s most starred pupils elusively seemed to be sizing one another up. At one point, Chiyo suggests that the person you are at night is different from the person you are in the day, and Navarro once again gives a magnificent sense of the dreamy, dark world that Will is currently living in. His mistake is in believing his past, and his becoming, are similar to Chiyo, which seems unlikely around the time she tosses him off the train in the middle of nowhere. Her intentions aren’t entirely clear, but its worth noting that Will’s belief that he can set Chiyo free in a similar way that Hannibal set him free is false, and draws a distinct line between Will and his “mentor.” In other words, he’s still turning into who he ultimately will be, even if his actions in Hannibal’s Lithuanian home suggested that he was now on par with Hannibal.
Of course, Jack looked to be picking up quite a lot of notes from his former friend and colleague in the last sequence, an extended, forceful fight scene where Jack very nearly murders the man who nearly killed him in Baltimore. Whereas Hannibal has often used bodies and appendages as physical elements of art, a way of dragging the historical arts he loves so much into the realm of the horrific and real, Jack here uses elements of history and craftsmanship as a way of dismantling and hindering his opponent, using an old wooden wheel to break his arm and putting what looks like a centuries-old hook through his leg. Jack’s transformation doesn’t come soon enough to stop Hannibal from gutting and hanging Pazzi out of the window of his office, but it suggests that he’s on Hannibal’s level at last, though his willingness to let him escape would point towards a softness for Will and his need for catharsis. For poor Pazzi, the yearning for an easy, new life away from his old one causes history to repeat itself, and as revitalized as Jack may be, history plagues him and causes him to give his nemesis the upper hand once again.
★★★★ Very good — Damn fine television