'Hannibal' Recap: An Asskicking to Remember

That guy from the Rihanna video keeps getting beaten up.

The latest episode of Hannibal, “Contorno,” brought its share of bloodshed, organshed, and tearshed, but the plotiness of the beginning (someone threw Will from a train!) gave way to perhaps the best scene the show has produced thus far. After Inspector Pazzi’s attempt to capture Lecter — otherwise known as that dude from the Rihanna video — in exchange for Mason Verger’s millions, Lecter does pretty much exactly what you’d think: Disembowel the sonofabitch and throw him off the balcony of a room full of medieval torture implements. The gentleman’s intestines land at the feet of the mourning Jack Crawford, who chases his foe upstairs and beats the ever-living shit out of him.

The fight scene isn’t really a fight scene in any traditional sense. Jack is a big dude and he gets the upper hand early. What follows is relentless, pitiless, and beautiful. As something delicate from the public domain plays in the background — Jack puts on classical for the sake of atmospherics and because this is Hannibal — the disgraced agent punches the murderer through glass displays, breaks his arm, puts a meat hook in his calf, and throws him out a window. And it’s all so beautifully choreographed that it could be mistaken for a murderous bit of Merce Cunningham.

This is the show bearing its hideous black soul. Hannibal is about the efficient beauty of violence and, well, the director has a point. That said, guns exist for a reason. If Jack Crawford actually wanted to kill Lecter, as he says he does, he could just shoot him (preferably from behind).

The reason Crawford doesn’t pull a handgun is that you can’t simply kill a legend. A legend must be vanquished. This is presumably why everyone who wants to kill the guy, who really is just a guy, has such elaborate plans. In order to justify their own fear and the profound feeling of impotence Lecter inspires, righteous avengers must believe he’s more than a man — that he can’t be killed by traditional means.

So Jack beats the crap out of him and it’s gorgeous. The scene works, but the method does not. Lecter limps of into the Florentine gloaming. Presumably, he’ll be spending some time licking his wounds. At least he likes that taste.