It’s almost over, Fannibals. There’s only one more episode left of NBC’s groundbreaking Hannibal, a show that managed to do so much for the continually growing realm of cinematic television in just a short time. The story this season has come a long way from where it first started, with each episode being just as captivating and compelling as the last. Lately the show has been more reliant on telling conversations and badly laid plans than action, although there are still punctuating scenes of violence in each episode, this one included.
Getting involved with Hannibal again has slowly been taking its toll on Will Graham, and in the beginning of this episode, “The Number of the Beast is 666,” he is shown in a therapy session with Bedelia Du Maurier. It does seem strange that he would seek help or advice from Bedelia considering her past, practically criminal, involvement with him, but it also makes the most sense. They are the two who are closest to Hannibal, who both fear and love him at the same time, and who are still emotional wrecks because of him even though he is behind bars. Will even asks Bedelia in this scene if Hannibal is in love with him, as Hannibal’s actions are very much like a jealous lover. If he can’t have him, then no one else can, and he is destroying Will’s life for leaving him. While Will is wondering just how far Hannibal can will go to take away all the important things in his life, Bedelia still believes that Hannibal will find a way to kill and eat her. She actually seems both fearful and accepting of this, as if it is something she deserves. Will even indicates to her that she perhaps brought down this possible fate on herself when he says, “If you play, you pay”–something that turns out to have a greater meaning for Will by the end of the episode.
Another conversation before the opening credits takes place between Hannibal and Jack Crawford where they compare the players in this world to Biblical figures–Jack is God, Hannibal is the Devil, and Will is the sacrificial lamb. The Red Dragon is in a realm of his own. But after tonight’s events, things along these lines get blurred as some characters usurp others’ roles and bestow their own roles on another. Jack, Alana Bloom, and Will are getting more and more desperate and frustrated in terms of catching The Red Dragon, which leads them to concoct the worst plan ever, with horrifying results. They bring in their old “friend” Freddie Lounds to write an article in TattleCrime about the Dragon to bait him into some kind of action. They revert back to calling him the name he hates, The Tooth Fairy, and make salacious statements about his sexual life. I’m sure that will go over swimmingly with the crazy, insecure guy who thinks he’s a dragon.
The surprising turn of events in this episode is when Frederick Chilton becomes the sacrificial lamb–Will’s role–in Jack, Alana, and Will’s Worst Plan Ever. Poor Chilton has already been through so much on this show, having been nearly eviscerated in one season and shot in the face in the next. He always came back with his original character intact, that power-hungry, arrogant blowhard, but he has never really been one of the truly evil people on the show. He is just a liar, and terribly insecure underneath his confident façade. Chilton’s first scene in this episode is him getting all whiny and pissy at Hannibal because Hannibal wrote a psychiatric article that refuted Chilton’s analysis of him in his book. And maybe it is because Chilton needs to regain his power that makes him go along with the plan against the Dragon. Freddie attributes all the horrible things that Will is saying about the Dragon to Chilton in the article. The Dragon kidnaps Chilton. He wakes up naked and super-glued to a wheelchair, and Francis–the Dragon–forces him to make a video telling the truth about what was said in the article, and threatening Will. In a gory and graphic scene, Francis still punishes Chilton by biting his lips off and, as we see later, setting him on fire in that wheelchair, calling back Freddie Lounds’ fake death (and the real death of Lounds in the source material).
Though it’s slightly amusing to watch the always cocky Chilton immediately start weeping and bargaining for his life the minute he wakes up, he doesn’t deserve this at all. Will and Bedelia’s conversation from the beginning of the episode ends their part of the story for the night when she makes him admit that he knew that he was putting Chilton’s life in danger, and probably wanted it to happen. This goes back to what he said earlier about “If you play, you pay”: He tried to play with the Red Dragon and ended up paying with his conscience and his psyche. One could almost blame Will’s new powers of manipulation on Hannibal’s teachings, but Hannibal is not the one who set Chilton up, Will did. And Chilton knows it, too. He may not be alive for too much longer but at least at the end of this episode, despite having no lips and being burned beyond recognition, he still manages to express to Will that he knows exactly what he did. This probably won’t end up being good for Will, who has slowly been slipping back to the troubled man he was when the show first started, having random hallucinations in relation to the Red Dragon case. Hannibal actually doesn’t have much to do with this storyline, other than to show amusement at the trainwreck that the others have caused. He does get a quick gross moment when he is seen eating one of Chilton’s lips that the Dragon sends him in the mail. Ew.
While Francis has Chilton held hostage, Reba makes an unexpected visit. They broke up last episode, but Reba misses Francis–I love the way she calls him “D”–and tries to make up with him in her own sweet way. It’s an awkward and interesting scene to watch play out between them while Chilton is sitting right there glued to the wheelchair, obviously very confused at first. Reba seems to sense another presence in the room but doesn’t say anything. She’s definitely smarter and more attune than she sometimes makes herself out to be, which is why I think Francis does what he does at the end of the episode. After getting rid of Chilton, Francis kidnaps Reba as well and brings her back to his place. She’s scared, but tries to play it off like this was something Francis did to show he cared for some reason. He finally ends up telling her the truth that he is the Red Dragon that people are talking about on the news. This is scary because of what it might mean for her character, as she is someone we have definitely come to love and respect. The episode ends with Francis picturing giant dragon wings unfolding from his back.
Can the whole series really be wrapped up in just one more hour of television? It always seems hard to believe with any show that is ending, but Hannibal has never failed to both deliver on its promises to the audience and surprise them at the same time, so hopefully this will also be true for the finale.