Written by Matthew Taylor
Last week, the promos for the next episode of Hannibal promised that things would “get crazy.” Tonight, they delivered on that promise. “Dolce” was a wild ride, embracing the series’ warped tone and rewarding fans for their patience over these past five weeks. This was the best episode of the season.
This week, Hannibal’s many hunters started zeroing in on the cannibal, while Bedelia put the escape plan she teased two weeks ago into action. But, as should be expected with this show, nothing went according to plan. Surprising alliances were formed, fates were left up in the air, and the characters shifted back and forth between being the hunter and the hunted.
While her subplot was actually one of the least interesting aspects of the episode, “Dolce” proved to be a showcase for Gillian Anderson, as she reminded us of just how great an actress she really is. At the start of the episode, she bid Hannibal goodbye, finally giving viewers a taste of the palpable sexual tension between them. The scene reminded me of when Bedelia visited Will in his cell last year (another beautifully acted moment), and proved to be one of Anderson’s strongest scenes in the show. But this week, Bedelia tried to convince all those around her that she was one of Lecter’s victims, not a bystander to his many crimes, using drugs to alter her personality and movements to help sell the act. These scenes let Anderson loosen up her typically stiff and calculating character, even providing some darkly comedic moments. The other subplots were far more suspenseful, but I didn’t mind Bedelia’s scenes because watching Anderson act is just so damn entertaining.
Elsewhere in the hour, we got more insight into the twisted Verger sibling bond, as Mason started to organize his twisted plan to eat Hannibal. While I’m not a fan of how little screen time Margot has been given this season, the scene the two shared was intensely creepy, especially since the show addressed their incestuous and abusive relationship in a surprisingly explicit way. A particular development regarding Mason’s hunt for Hannibal goes unexplained in the hour, and probably happened a bit too suddenly, but I like the way all the subplots are starting to converge, and I really like the way the Verger siblings have helped make Alana a more fascinating character.
Speaking of Hannibal’s former love interest, Caroline Dhavernas continues to impress as the darker, edgier version of Alana that the show desperately needed. While we learned tonight that Alana hasn’t become as sinister as we’ve been lead to believe, and that she’s actually planning on turning Mason in once Hannibal is captured, this particular development only raises the stakes, especially once the episode comes to a close. If Hannibal has proved anything, it’s that it’s willing to break rules, so Dhavernas’ status as a series regular really doesn’t mean anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if Alana (or any of the leads, really) meet their end by next week. And if she does, at least she’ll go out on a high note.
Also worth noting: I didn’t just imagine the sexual tension between Margot and Alana. While their relationship could use some further explanation, the two share one of the most visually stunning, artsiest sex scenes I’ve ever seen on any television show. The scene goes on for a bit too long, but it’s an incredibly well directed moment and a reminder that the amount of creative control Bryan Fuller has is unprecedented for network television. If anything, I hope Hannibal finds life on another network just to see what he’ll do with even more power.
But, of course, the real highlight of the episode was that Will and Hannibal finally came face-to-face after weeks of anticipation. Their meeting did not disappoint. While the show has reminded audiences of the growing similarities between the two leads far too much this season, their scenes together were suspenseful, well written, and, unsurprisingly, showcased some phenomenal acting. Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen are good actors on their own but, as a pair, they make one of the most compelling platonic (?) couples on television.
“Dolce” reminds the audience that Bryan Fuller has taken an already popular franchise and elevated to a different level. In one of the final moments, a scene from the poorly received (and abhorrent) 2001 film Hannibal, starring Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore, is recreated. In that film, the moment was ridiculous and the final nail in its coffin. In Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal, it’s terrifying, a huge surprise, and a perfect way to conclude the best episode of the season so far. I was starting to worry that this series had hits its peak last year. Now, I’m starting to think Fuller is just getting started.
Is it next Thursday yet?
Dolce Rating: 10 out of 10