Hannibal and Will Graham are at a stalemate; both know about the other’s game, and they’re attempting to find their way towards each other. Hannibal understands Will in a way that no one else has before, and he uses that to his advantage when drawing him to Italy, killing members of his own university. And Will, knowing Hannibal personally and being able to get into the psyche of a killer, explores ways that he can affect Hannibal on a psychological level. “Secondo” takes Will Graham on a journey of Hannibal’s past life, and it also sets up what could be a major relationship between Will and Hannibal’s maid Chiyoh – who has the ability to surprise and affect Hannibal in a way not much else can.
Part of that stems from Hannibal’s reluctance to go home to Lithuania, a place that shaped him into the person/monster he is. Hannibal sort of bypasses all of that backstory into Hannibal’s life, forcing the audience to accept that it might not be explicitly told to them; in “Secondo,” the show hints at his past, introducing Chiyoh and her relationship to the Lecter family, her allegiance to Hannibal’s sister Mischa, and why she’s still stuck living at the dilapidated Lecter residence housing a prisoner.
The episode effectively structures both Hannibal and Will’s adventures; moreso than previous seasons, the way season three has decided to focus on both characters as they plot their attacks against each other creates an effective tension. It was there in season two, but the increased audience involvement with Hannibal is crafting an even more nuanced look at his personality, and there are cracks starting to appear in his normally level-headed surface. His inability to go home is one of them; the other is his somewhat random murder of one of his peers with a quick ice pick to the temple. Normally, Hannibal’s movements are calculated with a long endgame, but in “Secondo” he begins to lose his cool. Maybe it’s due to his attempts to manipulate Bedelia (“Technically, you killed him”), but it also seems to indicate a frailty Will can use against him.
And as Will peruses Hannibal’s mind palace (in his own mind, with a vision of both of them sitting outside in armchairs discussing it) and his actual birth place, the place where he happened during his childhood, there’s a definite advancement of Will’s involvement in manipulation as well. Chiyoh holds a prisoner and also is held prisoner; she is unable to leave the house for fear of Hannibal’s hope that she will become a murderer and kill that prisoner. So far, she’s been able to stave off that need by keeping the man alive in a cell, but Will recognizes Chiyoh’s power in Hannibal’s life.
So he manipulates her, just as Hannibal forces Bedelia to kill indirectly. By allowing Chiyoh’s prisoner to escape, he knows that eventually the prisoner will in turn attempt to take vengeance on Chiyoh for his many years of captivity. And, because of that, she will be forced to kill, something that Hannibal would be surprised to know. It’s a very dark moment for Will, who has changed so much since the show first introduced him, and those similarities to Hannibal are expertly handled in “Secondo.”
And Jack Crawford is back as well! Turns out he didn’t die in Hannibal’s attack, and now he’s been drawn to Italy just like Will. “Secondo” doesn’t give him a lot to do besides have a conversation with Inspector Pazzi, but it looks like we’ll be seeing more of him and his interactions with Will, especially now that’s technically not on the police force and he can continue more direct attacks on Hannibal. But will he like what Will’s been forced to become?
“Secondo” is another great episode of Hannibal, actually better than last week’s surreal reintroduction to Will. Here, we see how similar to Hannibal Will has become; likewise, both Hannibal and Will now have people that are basically indebted to them. There are two armies forming, and despite Hannibal‘s cancellation, it looks like we’re going to be getting an explosive conclusion.