The Wrath of the Lamb
Dolarhyde fakes his death by pretending that he intends to burn himself and Reba alive rather than let the Dragon have her. Making sure that Reba knows he’s wearing the house key around his neck, he shoots another guy in the head and puts the house key around his neck so that Reba can confirm his death as she escapes the burning building. Will goes to gloat to Hannibal about Dolarhyde’s death and leaves him behind with a triumphant goodbye. Unfortunately, Dolarhyde is still alive and ambushes Will in his hotel room. Will convinces Dolarhyde that Hannibal is the one who betrayed him and the two scheme to give Dolarhyde access to Hannibal. Meanwhile, Jack discovers that Dolarhyde faked his death after the autopsy and Will – keeping his meeting with Dolarhyde secret – convinces Jack that the best bait for Dolarhyde is to fake Hannibal’s escape. However, Will has no intention of faking the escape. As Hannibal is en route to his fake escape, Dolarhyde ambushes the convoy, killing everyone except Will and Hannibal, allowing his actual escape. Hannibal and Will take a police car and drive to Hannibal’s cliffside cabin to await Dolarhyde, sharing wine and each other’s company in the meantime. Dolarhyde shoots Hannibal and comes crashing through the window, and before Will can make his move against Dolarhyde, he turns and attacks Will as well. Will and Hannibal team up to take down Dolarhyde, killing him together and finally consummating the relationship that Hannibal always meant them to have as they commit their first murder as a team. Will and Hannibal embrace on the cliffside and Will sends them both tumbling over the side into the crashing ocean below. An unspecified time later, Bedelia sits at an elaborate dinner table (set for four?) adorned with a steaming plate of meat. As the camera pans down, the dinner is revealed to be her own missing leg, implying that Hannibal survived his fall.
Hannibal and Will
This is an incredibly cathartic episode when it comes to Will and Hannibal’s complicated relationship. While they’ve done some terrible things to each other, there’s an unspeakable closeness between them that they can’t escape. While Hannibal is in love with Will and has always wanted him as a partner in crime, Will experiences more of a compulsive, involuntary love for Hannibal despite the essential humanity that Hannibal constantly undermines. Will fights it until the end, but knows that he can neither live with himself as Hannibal’s accomplice nor live without Hannibal – as Bedelia says, “Can’t live with him, can’t live without him”. So Will commits the ultimate crime and teams up with Dolarhyde to break Hannibal out of the institution, fully intending to kill both Dolarhyde and Hannibal, one way or another. What happens, of course, is this amazing tandem dance of violence and blood as Hannibal and Will elegantly kill Dolarhyde together – in Hannibal’s eyes the consummation of their relationship. Hannibal tells Will that its what he’s always wanted for them, and Will tells Hannibal that its beautiful. They share a passionate, desperate, and joyful embrace before Will takes them both over the cliff. The more I think about that final scene, the bigger the dark, uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach becomes as the beautiful and tragic implications of their final moments become more clear. It took me a while to realize what I was feeling deep down was something approaching ecstasy at the thrilling mix of rapturous passion, resigned peace, and bottomless sadness.
The fact that Hannibal is implied to have survived in the end leaves a lot of questions about what happened between his fall and Bedelia’s dinner – not the least of all what happened to Will. The fact that Bedelia’s dinner table appears to be set for four is intriguing. It might just be for aesthetics, but all the water glasses are filled and that would just be a waste if Hannibal weren’t expecting company. Bryan Fuller is coy about his plans for season four, should that ever come into being, but said that he saw that final scene as the real beginning of Will’s story. And as we all know, no one ever really dies on Hannibal, they’re just physically or emotionally maimed.
Will kindly warns Bedelia of his intentions when planning to free Hannibal and it is perhaps the most emotional and alarmed she’s ever looked. Up until that moment, she always had a certain calm confidence, knowing she was outside Hannibal’s reach. She knows she’s on his menu and is almost shivering with restrained rage and fear at Will’s recklessness. She flees, of course, as does Alana and her family, when she learns that Hannibal has escaped in earnest. That doesn’t save her, however, as the final scene shows her awaiting a dinner prepared from her own leg, Abel Gideon style. But really, who’s going to be sitting at those other two place settings?
While Dolarhyde’s storyline was somewhat tedious at times, especially given how closely it often adhered to the book and movies, his end afforded a much more complicated and dynamic storyline between Will and Hannibal, allowing the two to come together closer than they’ve ever been. And Richard Armitage certainly played Dolarhyde much stranger and more menacing than his previous incarnations, so I think we deeply benefited from seeing his performance despite the tired storyline.
This was probably my favorite show on television since I can’t remember when. It might just be my favorite show, period. Its always so strange, creative, beautiful, thoughtful, smart, twisted, funny, and poignant – and it is damn hard to find all those things in one place. And there’s very likely never been as complicated and dynamic a relationship portrayed on screen as that between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter, and I’ve never wanted to explore that relationship more than I did after they took their fall off that cliff. While I desperately want a fourth season, this series finale will have to do for the foreseeable future. If this is truly the end, I think they really nailed it.
God dammit, but who are the other two place settings for?!?