Do you think that Hannibal was in love with Bedelia? I mean, not on the same level as Will but... on some level nevertheless?
When it comes to Hannibal, the concept of “in love” is a little weird, I think. I remember Bryan (I think it was Bryan) saying at one point that if there was anyone on the show that Hannibal was in love with, it was Bella Crawford. Obviously that opinion changed, but it does suggest something about what being “in love” means to Hannibal. And I think by that definition, Hannibal is–to some extent–in love with anyone who living a life that he finds beautiful. He is a romantic at heart
, which is why he’s so damn Extra™.
Bella Crawford’s life was so poignant to Hannibal because it was about to come to an end, and she was handling it with such grace and dignity. Jack, too–who had given his life to death, and whom death had followed home–was similarly beautiful. Alana, with her intense opinions; her passionate, blood-pumping vigor; and her response to death and grief, was also someone he could love.
And of these other characters, Bedelia was probably the closest to his heart. I think the time that he knew her–which was longer than he knew any other regular on the show–and the intimacy that he entrusted her with (albeit behind a human veil) are both the strongest evidence of this. If you look at the little things, his regard for her is unlike any that he has for anyone else: he never found her wanting as his psychiatrist (which is huge praise, coming from him), he had no particular interest in killing her in spite of the short life expectancy of most people who knew him intimately (until she pushed back, that is), he was hurt when she ended their doctor-patient relationship, he carried that hurt through the end of the second season when he saw her again, and his desire to “savor” her when he eats her kept him from pursuing that action when he had the best opportunity. He felt protective of her and wanted to have a “friendly” relationship with her that was more than just doctor-patient (at least once she “treated” Neal Frank). It was just prevented by the fact that he could never be truly honest with her and had to be behind his human veil, as she established by insisting that she was attacked even when she wasn’t, and they both knew it. She kept him behind a veil, and he kept her there as well, but she’s a person he truly appreciates and enjoys.
Moreover, I think Bedelia is symbolic of many of the things that Hannibal values most in life: exquisite taste, beauty, intellect, an unparalleled understanding of human nature, a capacity for cruelty and even violence. She’s controlled and thoughtful and measured. Thus, I think she’s symbolic to him of the person that he was before Will changed him, which is why he was willing to set aside her abandonment and take her to Florence with him. He wanted to deny the change that Will wrought in him and reconstruct that person who was once in control. Who better to do it than the person who had been there as he had crafted and polished the person that he once was, who had, in her role as his psychiatrist, even helped him craft it? He couldn’t take anything else with him from Baltimore and his life there to help him rediscover who he was, but he could take her, and maybe she could help him be who he once was.
As it turned out, the change Will evoked in Hannibal was irrevocable. But that doesn’t mean that the sentiment–the regard, the emotion–wasn’t present in Hannibal with regard to Bedelia. So yes, I think that in his way, in some capacity, he was in love with her.