In many ways, Primavera is a companion piece to this season's first episode, "Antipasto". The first episode provides insight into Hannibal and Bedelia's flight across Europe and how they've been living since the massacre that concluded season two. This second episode does nearly the exact same thing but shifts its focus toward Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and the thought-to-be deceased Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl). We learn of the medical magic woven to keep Will alive but even though we're privy to the surgeon's workings, we get no further understanding of what really happens after season two's finale and have no idea of the fate's of either Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) or Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas). Once again though, Hannibal quickly reminds the audience that this series really doesn't care what the viewers want to know. In a show that's so heavily focused on murder investigations, it never gives in to the audience's desire for more information. It's a genius form of forcing the viewer into Will Graham's mind. This season only benefits by adopting the attitude of not caring one bit who it hurts.
Tonally the episode is a mirror image of the premiere but presentation-wise it's anything but. Where "Antipasto" is elegant, clean, and arousing, "Primavera" is confused (in a good way), messy, and very distressing. The entire episode is handled as if through Will's own fractured psyche and it makes for some truly insane viewing. Will's visions take up enormous portions of the episode. One particular vision involves a shattering tea cup and I truly thought it was going to blow out my sound system. Sound design is often overlooked on television and Hannibal is a series that never underestimates the true power of using music and sound to jolt the viewer out of the comfort of their living room.
The similarities continue in pairing a female figure alongside the male protagonist. The pairing in both cases is an odd one. Bedelia is Hannibal's hostage. So is Abigail, though not by Will's hand. Will and Abigail find themselves constantly bound together but where her exposure to Will keeps landing her in lethal situations Will needs her to be his muse. Since the series' first episode Abigail has always been the force driving Will forward. Being responsible for killing her father, Will sidesteps the fact that Garrett Jacob Hobbes was a psychopath and instead views his tie to Abigail as a life debt. Unfortunately Will's patronage has wound up getting Abigail's throat slit on two separate occasions now.
Another great mirror in this episode is the introduction of Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (played by Fortunato Cerlino, who I'm always happy to see after first meeting him in the Italian mob film, Gomorrah). Will meeting Pazzi is important and not just to forward the plot. Pazzi is a man obsessed, just like Will. They've both had significant brushes with Hannibal and both have allowed those brushes to consume their lives. Pazzi met Hannibal years and years ago as the hunch suspect to a murder as artfully composed as any in the series. Hannibal's youth was spent murdering and then arranging his victims into art pieces. The episode takes its title from Botticelli's Primavera and Hannibal arranges two people into the poses of Chloris and Zephyrus (close up here). This visual gives a great echo of a line from the premiere that I quoted in my last article. "You no longer have ethical concerns, Hannibal. Only aesthetical ones." It's appropriate that at this point in the series this is the earliest of Hannibal's deeds brought to light. Botticelli's painting represents the birth of spring so why not having Hannibal's first chronological murder be so tied to the birth of something? Even if that birth is that of a monster. Inspector Pazzi also allows for another tie to the first episode of this season. Pazzi is a constant reminder that Will must find Hannibal to achieve any kind of completeness in his life. When Hannibal and Bedelia met Dimmond (Tom Wisdom) in the premiere the same thing became true for our villain. Dimmond and Will bear VERY similar features and though Dimmond had never met Will, his face alone is a constant reminder that he needs Will just the same as Will needs Hannibal. The two of them will wander the cosmos forever, killing with intent or accidentally, until they find one another.