The Number of the Beast is 666…
Will seeks guidance with Bedelia when he can’t stop imagining the death of his wife and finally asks the question we’ve all been asking: Is Hannibal in love with him? Bedelia says yes, but asks the question that Will must be avoiding himself: Is Will in love with Hannibal? Meanwhile, Jack, Will, and Alana brainstorm a way to lure Dolarhyde into a trap. They decide to publish a salacious interview with the help of Freddie Lounds in which Will and Chilton say demeaning and antagonizing things to spur Dolarhyde to come after Will. While Will is prepared for the potential attack, Dolarhyde comes after Chilton instead. He kidnaps him, brings him to his house, tries to make him understand his becoming, and has him record a video message before biting off his lips. He sends them to Hannibal as a gift (one of which he happily eats), then burns Chilton alive in a rolling wheelchair – Freddie Lounds style. Chilton inexplicably survives to tell the tale. Dolarhyde kidnaps Reba and tells her that he’s the Red Dragon.
Will is clearly having a relapse of conscience, becoming a tool of Hannibal’s will. When Will and Chilton give the interview to Freddie, Will puts his hand on Chilton’s shoulder in the photo taken for the article. Will admits to Bedelia that he was curious what would happen, unconsciously setting Chilton up to incur the Dragon’s wrath, unsurprised and guiltily unfeeling about the results. And actually, everyone was kind of in on it – including Alana and Jack – happily putting Chilton at risk and secretly hoping it would pay off. Will and Bedelia clearly have a bond through their relationship with Hannibal, each slightly jealous of the other for that relationship but able to find clarity through each other. Second to last episode of the series and Will finally has enough clarity to realize that Hannibal is in love with him – and Bedelia confirms it immediately. What he may not be able to come to terms with yet is that Hannibal’s love is likely reciprocated. And despite Will’s limited contact with Hannibal, he clearly continues to have an influence on him. Will is back to being that dark and morally ambiguous character from the beginning of the season, all traces of the joyful family man gone.
Hannibal is definitely having his fun this episode. He managed to upstage and enrage Chilton at the same time as orchestrating his ironic “demise”. He even got to eat one of his lips before they were confiscated from his mail. It seems that Hannibal has plenty of independent agency outside of his tiny cell and plenty of influence. What might he be able to orchestrate for the end of the season? And given Will’s revelations regarding Hannibal’s feelings, there’s bound to be some kind of closure between them coming up soon – perhaps a farewell kiss? Seeing as how Hannibal sees Will as the Lamb of God and the last episode is called “The Wrath of the Lamb”, it very likely has something to do with Will distributing justice, whatever that might mean to him these days.
Chilton saw Reba while captive in Dolarhyde’s home and came back to report what he saw. Will now has an idea of another person to look for and an eye witness who might be able to help. That means that Dolarhyde’s time is running out, as his kidnapping and confession to Reba proves. He’s getting desperate and making rash decisions. Where can his choice to kidnap Reba lead him but to his ruin? And how will Hannibal participate in his ending? Will he perhaps give him as a gift to Will – as a bloody valentine?