In the final episode of Hannibal, Will Graham devises a way to take down Dolarhyde and Hannibal at the same time. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Hannibal.
Trigger Warning: For blood/gore, suicide.
There really hasn’t been a show on network television quite like Hannibal.
During the brutal fight at the end of “The Wrath of the Lamb,” there’s a moment where I note that it feels like NBC just told Fuller and company to do whatever they wanted, as if some executive said, “Oh, we’ll totally air an episode where so much blood pours out of three bodies that it looks like a swimming pool.” The amount of gore and violence that made it to the screen felt unreal to me at times over these three seasons; while Hannibal wasn’t alone in that, no one filmed violence like this show did. No one else made it look viscerally real or fantastically magical quite like Hannibal either. And on a more general note, no other show looked like this one period. Nothing. No show had the production values or the commitment to surrealist imagery or the color palettes or the crisp HD sheen or ANY OF THIS.
Hannibal was unique, and thus, as it went out, it was unique, too.
Before this show jettisons off a cliff LITERALLY, the script for “The Wrath of the Lamb” covers Red Dragon closely. Not exactly, and I appreciate that the writers find ways to resolve stories and keep them in line with this show’s canon. That being said, I’m so glad that Reba got spared and that the show stuck with the fire being a ruse. I think this story is cruel enough as it is; adding death to that would have just been salt on the wound, as well as ridiculously unnecessary. We knew Dolarhyde was dangerous. Reba exist within the narrative as a foil to him, though in this case, she’s pure. She’s unconditional goodness. And the terrible part is that in the end, she’s still put through this terrible experience out of… what? Pity? Did Dolarhyde pity her or respect her? And as any of that comforting? No, I don’t imagine it is.
Look, Reba has the same function in all three versions of her story. The resolution of her narrative relies on her kindness being the thing that made Dolarhyde want to change, but in the end, she can’t. And why should she? She is not responsible for him. Their paths crossed for a brief moment, and she was the sole light in his life. At the end, she has to move on. Her final monologue is touching in that sense; she briefly relates her own past before assuring Will that this is just another thing she’ll have to deal with. So life goes on for Reba. It’s not the best ending possible, but I’m glad she gets the only fate in this show that’s so bloodless.
The Set Up
It’s clearer than ever that this season was a quiet metaphor for Will Graham’s own change. He got away with what happened to Chilton, but the show never has him portrayed as being completely like Hannibal Lecter. There’s always a struggle here, and even if Will was coming to realize how much he had changed since meeting Hannibal Lecter, I think the truly interesting thing about this season and this episode specifically is how Will designs a way to get Hannibal in the end. Maybe he doesn’t make a decision until the final scene, and I accept that reading of this. But when I think back on the plan he sets up with Dolarhyde, I see calculation. He realizes he has the means to free Hannibal and get Dolarhyde at the same time. I mean, that scene where he “casually” suggests Lecter as bait felt so obvious to me, but Jack fell for it completely. (My evidence? The betrayal on his face when he was examining the crime scene.)
Did Hannibal? No, not at all. He knew what he was a part of. I suspect that once he asked Alana if the trap was Will’s idea, that was all he needed. He knew he could try to manipulate Will. But maybe he also knew that he had pushed Will into his Becoming, and this was his sign that Will was ready. Either way, IT WAS ELECTRIFYING TO WATCH.
You know which character helped me to feel that way? BEDELIA DU MAURIER. I have adored that Gillian Anderson has chosen to play Bedelia with a muted intensity over the course of this show. Here, she lets go, and the terror on Bedelia’s face is fucked up. We may have seen a glimpse of this in the beginning of this season, but her fear of Hannibal Lecter unfolds dramatically on screen. For the past three years, she has managed to exist in relative comfort because there were – to borrow Alana’s phrase – five doors between her and Hannibal.
I’m curious if any of you were confused by the aftermath of Dolarhyde’s attack. It took me until Hannibal’s secret brainwashing house for me to get that this was all part of the plan. At least, I think that was the plan. It meant that Dolarhyde could follow Hannibal and Will to whatever remote location Hannibal led them to, and that meant Dolarhyde would have a better chance of killing Hannibal.
At the same time, I can see an entirely different interpretation here. What if Will had no idea? What if things were supposed to happen differently, but Dolarhyde caught them by surprise instead? What if Will saw how Hannibal suffered from the gunshot and decided he didn’t want him to die, so he WENT AND GOT STABBED IN THE FACE WHILE TRYING TO STOP DOLARHYDE? Jesus, how can this show continue to escalate the fights??? WHO CHOREOGRAPHS THESE THINGS?
To say that the big confrontation between Dolarhyde, Will, and Hannibal is brutal isn’t even fair. It’s stylistically vicious, so much so that it made me grimace and look away AND appreciate the strange beauty of it all. What really sells it, though, is the almost animalistic nature that passes over Will. I think that the show wanted to finally give Will a chance to experience what Hannibal always wanted. This is the reality Hannibal desired at the end of season two, the real rejection that set him in motion. Will turns on Francis and teams up with Hannibal to take him down. It felt like we were watching a ritual, you know? This wasn’t a fight for survival; it was a rite of passage. And after Will slit Dolarhyde open and watched him bleed out, what did he tell Hannibal?
That blood really looks black in the moonlight. That the entire experience was beautiful.
Will’s Becoming was complete, and I’m going to argue that this is precisely why he pulled Hannibal into a hug. That affection was real, and that affection was also terrifying. My interpretation of this is that Will finally realized that in pursuing Dolarhyde, he’d completed his transformation into the man he never wanted to be. He most likely enjoyed killing Dolarhyde. Hannibal’s dream had come true.
So Will threw himself and Hannibal off that cliff.
I can see now how this might lead into a fourth season if one were ever to exist. At the same time, it’s a disturbing and unsettling end, but one that allows us to believe that Will Graham escaped Hannibal’s clutches in the end. I appreciated that Alana more or less escaped, too. Jack’s story is left in the lurch, but with no more episodes remaining, I’m guessing that a fourth season was planned. It’s too bad, of course. I had a blast watching this show, and season three was a whole lot of fun. Thank you, Fannibals, for your patience as I worked my way through this series very quickly at first and then INCREDIBLY SLOWLY. It’s been a goddamn treat.
And now, we move on to Series 9 of Doctor Who!!!!
The video for “The Wrath of the Lamb” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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