Here we are, fannibalizing together a last time, much like Hannibal and Will in the blood-soaked (probably) series finale “The Wrath of the Lamb.” There was some returning to the inspiration of the source material for this episode, and oddly enough, because of times when the show departed, those twists didn't work as well as they might've.
Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley) was kidnapped by Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage), taken to his house for threats, then arson, then to witness, but in her sensorially limited way, his suicide by shotgun to the head. Clever, except that we're pretty used to people not really being dead in this show now. The Great Red Dragon, who's now living as kind of a subsidiary entity at the core of the ascendant Dolarhyde, isn't any deader than his host, who will soon make it known to a limited audience. I was glad we got to see Reba explain to Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) that she knows there's nothing wrong with her, other than wanting to back a strong horse and to be seen as one. As very not okay as the whole situation is, she'll go on to be as okay as she can.
But too soon and only metaphorically, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) kisses off Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), asserting his rejection of the monster and his intent, post-TGRD, to head back to the cabin and the dogs and Molly and Walter. Ah, but then Dolarhyde attacks Will, who's apparently abandoned the good hideaway from his picture with Chilton for a motel with a cool neon sign and lousy security. Will's chance to save himself is to set up Hannibal, and maybe that's a good idea, because Will taking on Hannibal alone seems way overmatched.
Dr. Frederick Chilton (Raul Esparza) hasn't been well since this event, and he's had enough time in his hyperbaric chamber awaiting skin grafts to realize that Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) was not enough of a fool, her very word, to taunt TGRD theraputically. Chilton blames her, but she doesn't seem all that dented by his recrimination. Sorry for him, perhaps, but not sorry enough to change places.
We got to say goodbye to Brian Zeller (Aaron Abrams) and Jimmy Price (Scott Thompson) as they stepped all over each other revealing the fake Dolarhyde corpse. Even Jack's departed protegee Miriam Lass got a shout-out in this episode, so I really wish they'd given us one for tech Beverly, too, who was a bigger character for longer and whose personality was a welcome leavening. But in any case, au revoir, geeks! Now is also my last chance to say that Dr. Abel Gideon (Eddie Izzard) was easily my favorite victim of the whole show. Forced to dine on himself, thus fortifying the remaining parts of himself he had yet to be served, trapped in a hideously cyclical Escher-meal, he was nonetheless cheeky to the end.
Back to tonight's action, as Will manuevers Alana and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) into faking an escape for Hannibal in order to draw out Dolarhyde, Will seems as confident as he's ever been. He has a plan, and he seems happy with it, even cocky. Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) is horrified at his turn toward self-assurance (bad therapist!) and her own vulnerability, but Will seems resolved that live or die, in salvation or damnation, Hannibal will be loosed.
Alana negotiates this gambit with the monster in exchange for institutional goodies, but she fears it as well. She's still on Hannibal's menu, a fact of which he takes pains to remind her as he threatens everyone who has since become the recovered woman's family after The Worst Dinner Party Ever in Season 2's finale.
From his still bookless, toiletless, transparent cage, Hannibal also negoatiates to have Will implore him for help with Dolarhyde, especially after his pretty break-up speech. He wants a walk back from Will's “mic drop,” as the cannibal phrased it in what, for me, was an unconvincing wedging-in of contemporary lingo when I'd have preferred Hannibal reprise (see what I did there) an artistic, musical, or poetic reference for this last visit.
Jack Crawford really has lost a lot off of his fast ball after Bella's death, because this prisoner transport was about as poorly arranged as could be imagined. He needs to be shunted from active duty. He looks grim, but not appalled, as he steps over the dead Baltimore police officers and FBI agents. I guess cannon fodder is cannon fodder. Since Will really DID bring on this one, and it really IS his plan and his fault—unlike the casually associated blame that's always splashed around with the blood—he's no longer redeemable. He's been present at massacres. He's tried, in the past, to save lives. But he helped orchestrate this slaughter, and when Hannibal drags out the shot-up driver of a patrol car then shoves out the partner to clear the passenger seat for Will, the former profiler's descent is complete.
There are never helicopters, fail-safes, snipers, roadblocks, GPS tracking, or any other sort of official hindrance to a mass murder of LEOs with two escaped serial killers at large. And I know that because, without any apparent hitch, Hannibal and Will arrive at Hannibal's retreat on cliffs overlooking the Atlantic. He probably appreciates the state hospital's plexiwall more than I'd assume, because this place is moderne, with glass walls facing into water like the prow of a ship. The pair muse upon the various prisoners Hannibal held captive here, and some thoughts on the bluff's erosion, before heading inside for clean clothes and wine. Hannibal knows Will was setting him up to be the victim of TGRD, but he isn't mad, isn't even mad the showdown is still inevitable.
And here comes Dolarhyde through the window, following the trail of his silenced bullet through Hannibal's gut, and more regrettably, through a perfectly lovely vintage from the cellar. Dolarhyde is preparing to film himself killing Hannibal with an extremely old-school camera, until the worst FBI agent tries to pull his gun from his waistband, the spot from which he could've retrieved it to shoot Hannibal at the site of the roadside massacre, I'd guess, but couldn't be bothered…
As Will tries to get his gun, Dolarhyde flips open a knife and stabs him in the face, in the hollow of his right cheek. Will pulls out the knife to stab Dolarhyde with it, and the fight spills out to the patio. Gut-shot Hannibal manages to rise to attack Dolarhyde and the two more-experienced killers trade blows while the apprentice watches and waits his turn. But when Hannibal's hand finds the ax in the woodpile and starts nicking the tendons of TGRD's legs, it's only a matter of time. In a bit of intimate bonding, he and Will triangulate upon Dolarhyde, the real third wheel having been decided, and bring him down.
Like some other commenters I've seen, I also would've appreciated a return to some of the trippy leitmotifs of earlier seasons. I would like to have him ever have discussed the art project he made of the dead Caged Man with Hannibal. And what about Chiyoh? She slinks away, her guard duty done, to go onto what? But this is how it was. As Will sees himself covered in a few people's blood, all black under the moonlight, and expresses how beautiful it is to him, he accepts his monster-hood. It's less the righteous wrath of the lamb than a new creature's “becoming,” as Will told Bedelia earlier. Hannibal is blissful in the culmination of his ambitions for Will, in the depth of their sharing.
Then, to the atmospheric tune of “Love Crime,” a song recorded for the purpose, Will drags them both over the cliff.
I think it's totally cool that Siouxsie Sioux came out of retirement to do the closing tune, but again, I probably would've preferred to close the loop on some of the classical danse macabre from earlier seasons and earlier in this one.
We do not see broken bodies on the cliffs below, only the foaming waves. We know that both of these men have remarkable recuperative powers. We also know, that at some undetermined time, Bedelia will wait, in a plunging blue dress, hiding a fork under her napkin as her own garnished leg steams on a platter on the table. Who is coming?
We may never know, unless plans to take the plot of Season 4 to the big screen pan out. At this point, another television pickup seems unlikely. This finale was not my favorite episode, but it wasn't my least, and at last, they finally made Will act like the Hannibal-twinned monster of bloodlust I kept being told he was.
Hannibal has been a relentlessly strange, visually innovative show with unique design, cool winks and references, not to mention the benefit of an incredible franchse to draw from. It hit incredible heights from which it sometimes foundered, but who among us is perfect? Hannibal never expected that. If anything, his advice was always to be more self-accepting of one's shadow side, even fond of it. Now that he's gone, at least for the forseeable future, what villain could be clever and persuasive enough to enable the evil in your heart?
Clare Toohey is a daytripper through genre gutters and appreciator of evocative post-punk emo. Aside from editing The M.O. and site wrangling here, she freelances as an editor, writes short, surreal crime fiction, blogs at Women of Mystery, and tweets @clare2e.