We’re up to the penultimate episode of Hannibal and it’s time to bait the Dragon.
Let’s bitch it out…
As Hannibal heads into its twilight (at least as a TV series), I’ve noticed a repetitive trend in these last few episodes. I’m specifically referring to the scenes involving Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen), Jack (Laurence Fishburne), and Alana (Caroline Dhavernas). Some of it is due to the nature of their respective interactions, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that the novelty of watching Hannibal comment about their hypocrisy each week is losing its novelty.
Last week Hannibal, Jack and Alana all pointed fingers at each other in an effort to disavow responsibility for the nearly fatal attack on Will’s (Hugh Dancy) family. Sitting in the objective seat in my living room, it seems pretty clear that Jack and Alana are more responsible for the recent spate of violent attacks by Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage). While Hannibal clearly enables – and sometimes facilitates – the details that allow the Red Dragon to commit his atrocities, it is Jack and Alana who repeatedly use both Hannibal and Will as pawns to draw the killer out. The fact that Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza) is put on the chopping block immediately after Molly was nearly killed last episode confirms that Jack and Alana are either desperate or they have become incredibly callous when it comes to putting innocent (well…kinda innocent) lives in danger.
This is an interesting murky grey zone that offers a lot of drama and conflict, but with only a single episode left, I’m kinda done with all of the prison chats. The thought of Mikkelsen taking over the venerable role of Lecter in prison was attractive in its infancy, but after only a few hours the reality hasn’t really paid off in a compelling way. It’s tolerable for one final episode, but were the series to continue, it’s clear to me that Hannibal would require a twist on the Silence of the Lambs mythos in order to keep things feeling fresh.
As it stands, the best aspects of ”The Number of the Beast is 666′ are those involving the unfortunate Chilton. Knowing that their best shot at capturing the Red Dragon lies in luring him out before he kills again, Will, Jack, and Alana hatch a plan. A fake Tattler story is proposed that makes light of the killer’s vanity and to make the ruse look credible the team employs the services of a shark – Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) – and a fool – Frederick Chilton. The moment that Will takes control of the interview, filling Lounds’ puff piece with inflammatory quotes and then putting his arm around Chilton in the picture, the writing is on the wall for the entitled doctor.
What’s surprising is not that Chilton ends up abducted, but how much time the episode dedicates to his torture (both physical and psychological). While Jack advises Will on the all the ways to appear harmless in order to draw the Dragon out, Chilton falls prey to Dolarhyde, who glues him to a wheelchair and psychologically beats on him for the entire middle section of the episode. As a reader of the source material, I knew Chilton’s fate the moment that I saw the chair. Still being set ablaze and pushed down the street is a nice homage to the book and a good callback to the fictitious death of Lounds from S2. The fact that Chilton survives the encounter, albeit in a crispy state, allows him to blame Will and Jack, offering yet more evidence of the show’s complicated morals. Everyone agrees that capturing the Dragon is paramount, but the depths to which they’re sinking to do so is making them accomplices in terrible acts. What toll will all this take and who will survive to walk away in the end?
- Bedelia’s (Gillian Anderson) sessions with Will continue to reinforce the darkness inside of him. Will describes how the Dragon’s crimes have overtaken his vision early in the hour (we see this represented visually when he sees Alana with her eyes gouged out and replaced with mirrors). Bedelia, as a fellow victim/perpetrator, refuses to let him off the hook, confronting him about his complacency in terrible actions. While I singled out Jack and Alana above, it is just as clear that Will remains an active participant in Hannibal’s games. Bedelia is absolutely correct that Will is the provider for Hannibal’s agency and desires in the outside world. Will’s actions with Chilton in the photo are tantamount to a death sentence and Will knows it, but in the moment he rationalizes that it is worth it if the Dragon is caught as a result.
- If we’re being honest, the fact that Will was mistreated by Chilton during his S2 imprisonment probably didn’t hurt his willingness to put the doctor in harm’s way, either.
- Grossest scene of the night: seeing Dolarhyde – and his prosthetic teeth – literally tear the lips off Chilton. It was obvious that the doctor wasn’t leaving the premises in one piece, but I expected the flaming wheelchair, not bloody disfigurement.
- Close runner-up: watching Hannibal slurp up half of Chilton’s face in front of a horrified/disgusted Alana.
- Finally, Reba (Rutina Wesley) is unfortunate enough to stumble into the thick of things when she misguidedly shows up at Francis’ house. The scene that follows is full of tension as we wait to see whether Chilton will sound her doom by speaking or if she notices his presence. What little I know about blind people suggests that her subtle head turning is evidence that she knows someone else is in the room, though there is no confirmation. Regardless, it’s no big surprise when we see her tied up at episode’s end.
- Alana (when Will asks if she’s volunteering to be the bait): “No. I’d have to be a fool.” Cut to Chilton.
- Will (chastising Freddie): “You sell t-shirts that say ‘The Tooth Fairy’ is a one night stand.”
- Hannibal: “I’m sorry Jack, the tragedy of what has happened to Dr. Chilton has put me in an excellent disposition.”
- Hannibal (suggesting Alana could have been mutilated rather than Chilton): “That would have been your lips I’d be tasting…again.”
- Bedelia (throwing Will’s words back in his face): “Contrast you play, you pay.”
Your turn: do you feel that Hannibal behind bars has lost its novelty? Do you blame Jack and Alana for most of the horror that’s passed these last few episodes? Is Bedelia’s assessment of Will spot-on? Did you feel bad for Chilton, despite how awful he’s been throughout the series? Will everything come down to Reba’s rescue in the finale? Sound off below.
Hannibal airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on CityTV in Canada and Saturdays at 10pm EST on NBC in the US