Viewing posts tagged proverbs of hell

The Proverbs of Hell 31/39: Contorno

CONTORNO: A side dish, typically served with the secondo. This episode is a last chance to do small stuff before the major fireworks of the first arc of the season go off, but more to the point, as we will see, is in a meaningful sense focused on a side character. 

CHIYOH: On still evenings, when the air was damp after a rain, we played a game. Hannibal would burn all kinds of barks and incense for me to identify by scent alone. He was charming the way a cub is charming, a small cub that grows up to be like one of the big cats.

WILL GRAHAM: One you can't play with later.

The game is more or less a direct quote from Hannibal Rising, and the nominal origin of Hannibal’s supernatural sense of smell. Although it is notable that the game is played with burnt objects, so that what is identified is not the smell of the thing, but the smell of its destruction.  In her analogy for his charm, meanwhile, we have something that’s almost diametrically opposite from Will’s “pathetic wretch that failed to die” assessment, suggesting an early and seemingly innate grandeur to ...

The Proverbs of Hell 30/39: Aperitivo

Check back tomorrow for the annual Eruditorum Press ebook sale, and Wednesday (probably later in the day) for my Twice Upon a Time review.

APERITIVO: The Italian equivalent of the apéritif, i.e. a before dinner drink. Eagle-eyed readers may note that this is the fourth episode of the season. The joke (and it’s a solid one) is that we’ve finally flashed back to answering what actually happened in the wake of “Mizumono,” and so this is the chronological first episode of the season. Hannibal - for all your highbrow narrative/Italian menu structure gags.

MASON VERGER: Are you wearing makeup? How long does it take you to put on your face in the morning?

DR. CHILTON: Now that I've got the routine down, no time at all.

MASON VERGER: Tell you what. You show me yours and I'll show you mine.

There is something trolling about revealing Chilton’s fate from “Yakimono” before getting to Alana. Unfortunately, taken in the context of the general problems Alana has as a character, it feels vaguely mean-spirited, with Alanna being treated as an object of peril in a way that Will, Jack, and Abigail were not. Still, reintroducing Chilton opposite Mason ...

The Proverbs of Hell 29/36: Secondo

SECONDO: The heavier of the two main courses, typically meat-based. This is in no way a heavier or more substantive episode than “Primavera,” so do what you want with that.

BEDELIA DU MAURIER: Forgiveness is too great and difficult for one person. It requires two: betrayer and betrayed. Which one are you?

HANNIBAL: I’m vague on those details.

BEDELIA DU MAURIER: Betrayal and forgiveness are best seen as something more akin to falling in love.

HANNIBAL: You cannot control with respect to whom you fall in love.

Bedelia is recapitulating Bella with her account of forgiveness. Hannibal does not notice this, which speaks to his overall state: Hannibal is sullen, withdrawn, and even pouty here - his “I’m vague on those details” feels like an admission of weakness unlike anything we’ve really seen from him before. It is not quite an admission of regret for “Mizumono,” but there is a clear sense that Hannibal feels as though his response was in some way disproportionate or rash.

BEDELIA DU MAURIER: You're going to get caught. It's already been set into motion.

Bedelia glimpses the Aristotlean unities underpinning Hannibal’s reality.

Every season of Hannibal has an early episode that ...

The Proverbs of Hell 28/39: Primavera

PRIMAVERA: Hoo boy. OK, so the course of an Italian menu between antipasto and secondo is supposed to be “primo.” This is often a pasta course, but can also be a risotto, a soup, or some similar hot course. One such dish certainly could be pasta primavera, which is a pasta and vegetable dish that takes its name from the Italian word for spring, which is “primavera.” This dish, however, is not actually Italian - it’s an American dish dating to the 1970s and likely first prepared in Nova Scotia. And more to the point, “primavera” on its own is not actually a food word at all. In fact this episode belongs more to the titling scheme of the second half of the season, as we’ll see in a bit.

HANNIBAL: I let you know me. See me. A rare gift I've given you. But you didn't want it. 

WILL GRAHAM: Didn't I? 

HANNIBAL: You would deny me my life. 

WILL GRAHAM: Not your life. 

HANNIBAL My freedom, then. You'd take that from me. Confine me to a prison cell. Do you believe you could change me the way I've ...

The Proverbs of Hell 27/39: Antipasto

ANTIPASTO: And so we move to Italian cuisine for seven episodes. Antipasto is the starter course, distinct from the amuse bouche or sakizuki in that it is a heavier dish, often with cold meats, as befits this unusually dense premiere.

BEDELIA DU MAURIER: You no longer have ethical concerns, Hannibal. You have aesthetical ones.
HANNIBAL: Ethics become aesthetics.

I have suggested in the past that my interest in Hannibal is that Hannibal presents a vision of the perfected man. This exchange is central to that contention. I had made an assertion along the same lines as Bedelia’s assessment many times prior to “Antipasto” airing (although its relevance was improved in shooting, where the line changed from “ethical problems”), routinely making the claim that I had abandoned ethics in favor of aesthetics. That said, Hannibal’s retort here is, to my mind, flatly incorrect, suggesting that aesthetics are a degraded (or ascended) version of ethics.

My contention, on the other hand, is that aesthetics are in fact the base form of philosophy from which all other forms follow. Our sense of aesthetic pleasure is fundamental knowledge from which our wider understanding of the world is structured. Even epistemology extends from aesthetics - what ...

The Proverbs of Hell 26/39: Mizumono

MIZUMONO: Dessert. Unlike savoureux, mizumono is in fact sweet, suggesting that the show has allied itself with Hannibal’s perspective as opposed to Will’s.

The shooting script called for a flash forward of Will screaming in pain from the end. Instead the episode begins with a moment of quiet ritual, with Hannibal writing out, in exquisite calligraphy, an invitation to Jack, setting their eventual confrontation as a piece of theater - a staged event the shape of which is defined by formal considerations of etiquette.

The opening sequence, which cuts between both Hannibal and Jack talking to Will and enjoining him to their side in the coming face-off. This is in some regards an odd framing for the episode, in that Will is never really given the chance to take a side, arriving on the scene after Jack and Alanna have already been dispatched. But it’s such a weird and uncanny visual that one is inclined to lay the blame on the denouement for not paying off its setup than on the setup. (Even more uncanny is the reaction shot to this, a split-screen Will.)

The otherwise unmotivated reappearance of Garret Jacob Hobbs - who seems at this point slightly dated in the ...

The Proverbs of Hell 25/39: Tome-Wan

TOME-WAN: A miso or vegetable soup with rice. This signifies nothing more than the approaching end of the meal.

WILL GRAHAM: Can you explain my actions? Posit my intentions? What would be your theory of my mind?

HANNIBAL: I have an understanding of your state of mind. You understand mine. We're just alike. This gives you the capacity to deceive me, and be deceived by me.

WILL GRAHAM: I’m not deceiving you, Dr. Lecter. I'm just pointing out the snare around your neck. What you do about it is entirely up to you.

HANNIBAL: You put the snare around my neck.

This is going appreciably differently from Will and Hannibal’s previous efforts to get people to murder the other for them. Hannibal’s first line is the closest thing to an explanation - at this point they are so enmeshed in one another’s psyches that trying to kill each other is, as Steven Moffat would put it, their flirting. Will, however, misses the real takeaway, which is Hannibal’s note that he has the capacity to deceive him. Spoilers: this is going to go badly for Will. (Admittedly that spoiler is basically just always true.)

HANNIBAL: Why did you tell Mason ...

The Proverbs of Hell 24/39: Kō No Mono

KŌ NO MONO: An assortment of pickled vegetables. Janice Poon suggests that this signals the approaching denouement, and also makes a nice metaphor about the vegetables sharpening the senses, which is what Alanna needs. The reality is that the second season is not so much going off the rails as plummeting down the gorge, watching mournfully as the rails disappear into the sky.

The script calls this the Wildigo, which is the best part of the entire conceit. That a silly portmanteau is the best part speaks to the intense and pointless violence being done to the show’s narrative principles here. “Kō No Mono” is primarily structured around a cheap and theatrical bit of audience deception, maintaining the illusion that Will killed Freddie. This is already cheap - a way to manufacture drama out of structure when you obviously don’t have it in your actual character work. This is a common way for formally inventive storytelling to run aground - when the formal complexity becomes a way of making a story work in the first place instead of working better. Mostly Hannibal avoids it, not least because it’s got the core of the Harris books, which clearly and demonstrably do work dramatically ...

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