There’s never a shortage of gross misconduct on a show that details the finer points of secular and succulent torture. The penultimate episode of Hannibal takes a chance at rewriting history and settles for a unique perspective on how to possibly end the story of Hannibal, Will, and the Great Red Dragon. With a new trap set in motion, Will attempts to lure out the dragon but Francis has other plans and exacts a bit of revenge on an unsuspecting victim. Hannibal receives a small reward for his efforts and events are put in motion for the final act to begin.
I appreciate that this episode changed up a few elements that naturally occur in the original storyline. Most of the time I tend to keep waiting for the scene to play out how I envisioned and most often I’m surprised by the changes they make. In this case it’s Chilton instead of Freddie being the victim, though death is not necessarily the result, which is also surprising. As long as someone named Fred(ie) was under the threat of Francis then truly the course wasn’t altered that much.
After Will speaks to Bedelia discussing Hannibal and potentially their endgame mindsets, Jack visits Hannibal and proclaims that he’s still the one masterminding the entire act. Jack and Will use Freddie Lounds to post a bogus article detailing a subjective summary on the Toothfairy while using Chilton to accentuate it in a hope to lure the dragon out of hiding. Instead, Francis kidnaps Chilton and tortures him by biting his lips off and setting him on fire. Hannibal receives Chilton’s lips in the mail and devours one of them. Later, Francis kidnaps Reba and reveals that he’s the dragon.
The deviation with the dragon’s main victim was a smart move. By placing Chilton in that role it centered the plot around the right characters and gave Hannibal a chance to savor Chilton’s torture after being ridiculed by Hannibal’s refute of Chilton’s documented events of the past. If this had been Freddie, it wouldn’t have resonated as well and to be fair she’s barely made any impact on this third season. She keeps to playing a minor role and doesn’t suffer for it. As for Chilton. I am a bit shocked they’re keeping him alive in his condition. I can’t imagine he’ll ever be the future character that Silence of the Lambs needs him to be, and in a way, Hannibal got a taste of “having an old friend for dinner” a bit early. I’d like to think that was a nice homage to that old sentiment.
The gory depictions of Chilton’s demise were absolutely well done. Even I had to grab my own lips to make sure they were still there. The close-up of Chilton’s burning face was somewhat comical because it looked so outlandish and abhorrent. I really wasn’t expecting him to pull through that much mutilation. Hannibal’s quick shot with slurping the lip in his mouth made me laugh and I do believe that was the point. Though, with the checking on the envelope, I would have thought they would have confiscated the contents and never let it anywhere near Hannibal, but then we wouldn’t have gotten that scene so I’ll leave that nitpick alone.
After this episode, I’ve made up my mind that Bedelia truly wants to be eaten by Hannibal. She all but said it and it’s eerily creepy that she revels in the thought. Her philosophical duel with Will is equally fascinating because she opposes him and his relationship with Hannibal. True, they accept that under the right circumstances, Hannibal would eat them both, but somehow I get the impression that Bedelia would be annoyed if he ate Will first. In this instance, Will is still seeking to understand his feelings toward Hannibal and it’s great that Bedelia is trying to reel them out of him.
I also believe that while Chilton and Bedelia both believe that Will subconsciously wanted Chilton to be the victim based on his hand placement in the photo used to lure out the dragon, that this is as close as we’re going to get to Will’s descent into murderous madness. It was a prime focus in the books and movies that Will suffers from that stability in becoming a killer himself after all his mind-dippings. Here, they treat it as though Will orchestrated the event to happen just as it did. I don’t mind that Will tries to understand the situation, but I also think we’re a bit past Will’s descent. He’s not going to join the darkside because it’s what he’s meant for, he’ll always pull for doing the right thing, but here it’s at the expense of a man who isn’t a very descent character aside from wanting publicity and fame. Will is set to enact the creature’s downfall and he’ll never stray from that primal focus.
The scene with the letter and subsequent lip devouring. It’s lighthearted in it’s own distasteful way but provided us with a candid reason on why we like the show so much. Hannibal revels in irony and situational opportunity. He’s already living in an empty cell and he still has to get his kicks somewhere. I just wonder if this keeps up he’ll be all about one-liners and that could get strange.
Francis and Chilton really sold their scenes together so I’ll give it to them as a tie. Chilton remained a sniveling scared construct of his own fear while saying anything to save his own life, pretending to understand but never saying the words that could have helped. Although it was always Francis’s intention to do what he did and his creepy crawl over the couch with the dragon’s fangs (as they basically were) and just bit into Chilton with raw power. It was the bliss of torture and they both played their parts well.
LONG TERM THOUGHTS
The moment could have been set even further in hilarity if Hannibal mentioned what kind of recipe called for the lip of Chilton. Maybe pair it with a fine red wine.
Even though I know where the scene is going, I didn’t feel the ending of this episode had enough gusto on it to truly launch us into the final episode. Him revealing to Reba who he is has monumental structure but it wouldn’t have been my first choice as the final scene.
I somewhat struggle to understand the significance of Will seeing Bloom as a victim with mirror shards in her eyes. Is it pertaining to him believing she’s a victim herself or that he’s still seeing through the eyes of the dragon leading to a possibility that he’ll in fact harm her? Or is it just that he’s stressed out and is still losing focus like when he sees Hannibal as the antler creature and that effect never really goes away?
8 out of 10. Pacing, structure, dialogue, and gore factor were well done. Plans never go off without a hitch and in this case everything went wrong on the surface until people started identifying that Will subconsciously wanted Chilton to be the real bait in this scenario. Bedelia added her own flair for what I want to call a “reverse eating disorder” but it’s good to see her show relevance especially with deconstructing Will while Hannibal is left making the most out of his situation. How will it all end? If the story holds true, Hannibal will have little to play in the grand finale, but this show is and always has been about him. He’ll play a deeper role and since this is in fact the end of the show, I don’t think they’re going to set up a Silence continuation. It’ll have some kind of end and Will and Hannibal’s relationship will be the crux of it. Thanks for reading.
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