Holy fuckballs, kiddos, this episode was fast-paced, intense, and downright difficult to watch in places. The final pieces of the Red Dragon story are falling into place, and with only one more episode of the show to go (c’mon, internet streaming websites, there’s still time to rescue it), I’m still on the edge of my seat wondering what’s going to happen next.
Like I said, though, this ep was really hard to watch: trigger warning for cannibalism, gruesome violence, body horror, and general awfulness (and spoilers) after the jump.
The episode is bracketed with a psychiatry session: Will spilling his guts (thankfully non-literally) to Bedelia about the rest of the events of this episode. While, on one hand, she’s probably the only licensed psychiatrist who can understand exactly what he’s going through, the flashback to her treatment of Zachary Quinto’s character makes me wonder if her ‘help’ is all that helpful to him. Will brings up the story of Bluebeard’s wife, and Bedelia suggests that they’ve both been in that role, but that Will managed to be the final wife, the one that escapes. He then puts together the two-and-two that fannibals have been on about since Season 1: “Is Hannibal… in love with me?” Bedelia somewhat gleefully confirms, and asks Will if he feels the same way. (It cuts away, and I wonder if this question will be answered in the finale.)
Within the framed story, Will, Alana, and Jack are concocting a trap by which to draw out the Dragon. They get in touch with Freddie Lounds and Frederick Chilton, and Will and Chilton create a wildly libelous story about how fucked up and freakish the Tooth Fairy (by which moniker they call him throughout, since they know it pisses Dolarhyde off) is. Freddie then publishes it, along with a picture of the two of them with the Capitol building and some other landmarks in the background so that Dolarhyde can find them. Both of them are protected by armed guards, but it’s Will they’re really worried about protecting, and Chilton who ends up getting snatched up.
Chilton comes to in the lair of the Dragon, glued to a wheeled chair, and… uh oh, I know what’s coming next. Or, at least I thought I did when I first saw him, but it was actually a lot more awful to watch than expected. Dolarhyde torments a viscerally terrified Chilton for an excruciating scene before they’re interrupted by Reba. On pain of Reba’s death, Chilton is forced to stay silent while D converses with and accepts a tupperware full of soup from Reba (who believes that he’s been out of office with the flu, not because he’s been busy kidnapping and torturing folk). Once he gets her out of the house again, he gets down to business: forcing Chilton to record a video singing his praises and condemning Will Graham for his blasphemies against the Dragon. Dolarhyde then approaches him on all fours (and God damn, is Richard Armitage just terrifying and animalistic, holy shit) and bites Chilton’s fucking lips off. It’s super gory and terrible and they zoom in on Chilton’s mutilated face before cutting away to a mysterious package arriving at Hannibal’s cell. Three guesses what’s inside? Yep, it’s the lips—a gift from one person those lips pissed off to another Chilton-hater—and Hannibal manages to scarf one down before Alana alerts the guards and gets him tied up. Meanwhile, Dolarhyde douses Chilton in gasoline and lights him up, sending him rolling down a D.C. street in a screaming conflagration.
Chilton manages to survive his ordeal, but he has a bone to pick with Will. Will knew that the Dragon went for the weakest parts of the family first—pets, then children, then the parents—when he committed his murders. When Will and Frederick posed for Freddie’s picture, Will placed his hand on Chilton’s shoulder, suggesting via body language that Will was the more powerful of the two, and Chilton thinks Will did so intentionally to set the Dragon on his trail rather than Will’s. Will does not confirm or deny this, but the silence is pretty damning.
Finally, we cut back to Dolarhyde. He’s kidnapped Reba, and while she tries in a panic to joke and then cajole her way out of the situation, she is horrified when he reveals to her that he’s the murderer behind the ‘transfigurations’ of the Leeds and Jacoby families. Bad things appear to be in store for her, and I hope she makes it through next week as unscathed as any character on this show can possibly be.
There’s a lot of religious imagery going on in this episode, at least in their conversations. It’s suggested that in the apocalyptic vision the Dragon has conjured up, Will is the Lamb of God. And while a lamb is typically a symbol of meekness and a victim for sacrifice, the Lamb in Revelation plays a powerful and complicated role. Although he seems at first to have been slain, he is raised up by the forces of heaven, and he is the one who breaks the seals that release the four horsemen of the apocalypse, among other cataclysms. This leaves me wondering what the finale truly has in store for Will. While Revelation’s Lamb is an ultimately righteous figure, a metaphor for Christ, adding the actions of the Lamb into the context of Hannibal suggests something more sinister. Will’s given the role of Christ, but he’s a deeply flawed human being, and he shouldn’t have the responsibility it comes with. The story is twisting Revelation so that it’s no longer about the triumph of good over evil, but rather the victory of bad over worse. Will’s already acting with a conscious power over the lives of others—using Freddie’s picture to suggest Chilton as the weaker victim seemed intentional, at least—and being inside the Dragon’s head is fucking with him: he can’t look at the women in his life without picturing them dead and mirror-mutilated Dragon-style.
This leaves me to wonder: what seals is Will going to break in the next episode? What pale horseman is forthcoming? Tied together with Bedelia’s unanswered question to Will in the beginning of the episode about his feelings for Hannibal, I am honestly wondering if the show is going to keep Will as a good guy or give him a Clarice-esque “run away to Buenos Aires with Hannibal as murder husbands” final scene. I guess we’ll see what happens in a week. Til then, fellow fannibals.
Dogs, injured or otherwise: zero
Wildly irresponsible uses of superglue: one
Times Will really says the phrase: “Is Hannibal… in love with me?” aloud on real TV: one