Put your forks down, Fannibals–it’s all over. After only three short years on the air, the highly intelligent and inventive NBC drama Hannibal has come to an end. The show was often lauded by critics and fans alike who tuned in every week, but the numbers apparently didn’t work out as expected, and low viewership caused the show’s cancellation back in June. And still, Hannibal fans faithfully watched each new episode of Bryan Fuller’s beautiful brainchild, as the second half of this final season entered the exciting territory of the chase for The Great Red Dragon, Will Graham’s return to the FBI to help catch him, and the reunion of Will and Hannibal Lecter. Like many series finales, the show leaves the viewer satisfied to a point with how it all ends, but yet still wanting more and knowing that creators probably had much more in mind with what they wanted to do.
The series finale is titled “The Wrath of the Lamb,” and begins with a continuation of the last scene from the penultimate episode. Francis Dolarhyde has revealed to his girlfriend Reba that he is the Red Dragon, and finds a way to free her from himself and what he fears the Dragon might do to her. He sets fire to the house and makes her believe that he has committed suicide, giving her the chance to escape. It’s a terrible situation to put a blind woman in the middle of a burning house, but Francis never seemed to have any intention of hurting her and knows that she is smart enough and strong enough to save herself. When Will visits Reba in the hospital later, she laments about her stupidity in getting involved with a “freak.” Will puts her mind at ease by telling her that she fell in love with the man, not the freak. She might not have been able to save Francis from himself, but her impact on him was important, and she should not feel at all guilty or stupid about her role in his life.As we learned from last week’s episode, the titular lamb in this story is Will, and his wrath has to do with how he ends both the Red Dragon’s story and his own story with Hannibal. Playing both sides of the fence, he concocts a plan with both the Dragon, and with Jack, Alana, and Hannibal to bring him down. It’s another one of those Worst Plans Ever because it has deadly results for several innocents, but it does bring Will, Hannibal, and Francis together for a stunning and beautiful climax. Will suggests faking Hannibal’s escape while he is being transported in police custody, both so that Hannibal can kill the Dragon, and so that Will can finally have his moment with Hannibal. Bedelia Du Maurier is not forgotten in this scenario, and she is understandably terrified when Will tells her about it and says that she should flee. Alana, Margot Verger, and their son are also seen heading off to safety after Hannibal makes threats against them, calling back the promise Hannibal made when Alana asked him to save Will’s life after their escape from Muskrat Farm. The religious aspects of the episode also come about in how the two conversations between Will, the sacrificial lamb, and Hannibal, the Devil, start off as taking place in a church, rather than in Hannibal’s psychiatrist office like in previous episodes.
The series ends with Hannibal taking Will to a secret hideaway of his, where he reveals that this is where he kept both Abigail Hobbs and Miriam Lass. The Red Dragon makes his presence known by shooting Hannibal, and from there on, the three engage in a brutal and bloody fight. Hannibal and Will work together to take down the Dragon–Will stabs him several times and Hannibal takes a vicious bite out of his neck. As Francis lays dead on the ground, the blood pooling out of his body takes on the shape of dragon wings. At the end of the fight, Will and Hannibal are both fatally wounded, and they embrace each other at the edge of a steep bluff by the house. Hannibal has brought out what he has always seen was inside Will, saying that this moment was all he ever wanted to happen for the two of them. Their relationship, as Bedelia says earlier in the episode, has always been one of “can’t live with him, can’t live without him.” Will fulfills this pulling both himself and Hannibal over the bluff to the water and rocks below, possibly ending their tragic storyline. This scene is also highlighted by the lyrical song playing underneath it, one of the only times I remember the show using anything other than an original score. A post-credits scene with Bedelia indicates that it is possibly not over for Will and Hannibal (Fuller sent out a tweet reminding viewers that there were three place settings at that dinner table), but I guess now we’ll never know for sure.
Hannibal may have boasted some of the most grotesque storylines and imagery ever seen on network television, but at its core, this show has always been about these two men–how connected they are in their need of one another, and their understanding of each other. Nothing in their relationship was ever particularly good, but there was a truth to it on both sides, about who they are and the world in which they live. Before Will ever met Hannibal, his adeptness at criminal profiling was almost making him become somebody like Hannibal. Hannibal clutched onto this, pulling him further to the other side until they are finally killing someone together. Will knows what is happening, and even calls it a “beautiful thing.” But that moral side of him is still there, and that’s what literally sends him over the edge to end it right there for both of them.
As a finale, “The Wrath of the Lamb” is both satisfying and slightly infuriating. The show was cut off before its time, and though the last episode works as the final arc in the tragic love story of Hannibal and Will, Fuller and his team could no doubt have brought even more richness and depth to this world if given the chance. Hannibal never faltered in its cinematic quality, or in the fantastic and fascinating dialogue that was written for all the main characters. I will certainly miss deconstructing all the meaningful conversations and dissecting the metaphorical imagery that was present in each and every episode. I hope Fuller doesn’t give up on any possible opportunities to continue the story he has created with such love and beauty.