“Blame has a habit of not sticking to Hannibal Lecter…” – Will Graham
Primavera, or “la primavera,” means the season spring in many Romance languages. It is also the title of a painting by Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli. Though the painting initially did not have a name, art historians have come to refer to the piece as “Primavera” or “Allegory of Spring.” Set in an orange grove, this painting depicts six female figures and two male, along with a blindfolded putto. Academics have dubbed it “one of the most popular paintings in Western art” as well as “one of the most written about, and most controversial paintings in the world.” Though the origin of the painting is somewhat hazy, it was overall inspired by Ovid’s description of Spring’s arrival.
Where last week’s episode focused on the classic Dante’s Inferno, this episode finds its inspiration in Botticelli’s famous painting Primavera. Thus, Hannibal is pulling away from food parallels, established in previous seasons, and moving into classical studies and the arts. This episode certainly brings art to life, with one of the premiere murders recreating Primavera in the flesh. Apparently, Hannibal had been in Italy twenty years prior, with his “work” making him known as “The Monster of Florence.” Now that his “broken heart” has been found the investigator who worked on the “Primavera” case looks to Will Graham for help catching Hannibal.
But what exactly has Will Graham been doing in the eight months since the “Red Dinner”? Well, after being rescued from the clutches of death, he finds himself in the hospital holding audience with Abigail. Yes, that Abigail. The one whose ear was found in Will Graham’s stomach, who was presumed dead, who was brought back for all of two minutes in last season’s finale, only to have her throat slit by Hannibal in front of Will Graham. Which means that there is likelihood that Frederick Chilton, who was shot in the face, may be making a comeback later this season.
After recovering, the two decide to visit Italy, an area Hannibal had mentioned to Will prior to the “Red Dinner.” For quite awhile Will and Abigail frequent the area, until one day they come in to find the “broken heart” Hannibal left for them to find. Abigail interprets it as a sign that Hannibal misses them, and wishes they could have had their life together. She even expresses the remaining desire to follow Hannibal. But where do Will’s loyalties fall?
Well, it all comes back to the “Nightmare Stag.” Last season the stag was killed, with the connection between Hannibal and Will severed. Yet upon seeing the “broken heart” the stag is born anew, appearing through the flesh of Hannibal’s valentine and crawling towards Will. In addition to being this season’s first real source of nightmare fuel, the rebirth of the stag shows the connection between Will and Hannibal is forming anew. Last season Will was pulled between his moral duties to the FBI and the world Hannibal presented to him. During the season finale Will decided not to follow Hannibal, but will he make the same decision again?
The defining moment of this episode when Will stares into the dark catacombs beneath a church, where he knows Hannibal is hiding just out of sight. In that moment will calls out to his former friend and whispers, “Hannibal… I forgive you.”
Going into this season I was certain it was going to be a full cat-and-mouse game between Will and Hannibal across Europe, both seeking revenge for past wrongs. The thought had never come to my mind that Will would actually forgive Hannibal, or at least not this early in the season. So where does the story go from here? Now that Will has established forgiveness, will he and Abigail accept their place in Hannibal’s world?
Well… Not exactly.
Will may, but Abigail certainly will not. Because, as it turns out, she truly did die last season. A beautiful cinematic parallel is made between her in Will, with the operation to save his life contrasting with her autopsy. The Abigail Will was speaking to was nothing more than a figment of his imagination. Similar to how he recreates crime scenes to understand the killer’s motives, Will was trying to establish why Abigail went along with Hannibal’s plans and why Hannibal murdered her. Well, as it turns out, there was a place for Will in Hannibal’s world, but there was really never a place for Abigail.
Coming out of this second episode we have established what happened to four of the six characters that took part in the “Red Dinner.” Hannibal and Bedelia have been touring Italy, Will appears to be slowly losing his mind, and Abigail is dead. But where are Jack and Alana? How has they been coping with the trauma? And will they actually be alive and not a figment of Will’s imagination?