It’s been a truly wild ride, fellow fannibals, and let me be the first to say I’m glad to be with you all, here at the end of all things. There was no end to my speculation last week regarding how the finale would turn out, but I’m not sure if anyone could have predicted this particular ending.
Spoilers after the jump, and a trigger warning for suicide, gore, heavily implied auto-cannibalism, and other Hannibal-typical content.
We begin with Reba and Dolarhyde. The Dragon taunts her with the key to the house, which is around his neck, and threatens her with a shotgun; but in a burst of apparent compassion, he shoots himself instead, and Reba manages to retrieve the key from amongst the gore of his not-there-anymore face and escape. Or at least that’s what she thinks happened, and Will doesn’t suspect otherwise until the Dragon swoops in and overcomes him in his motel room. Unlike Chilton, however, Will successfully manipulates him, suggesting that he go after Hannibal, and escapes unscathed.
When Team Science show up to riff on the crime scene, they inform us that the body that was shot was not Dolarhyde’s. He took advantage of Reba’s blindness to shoot a different person he’d kidnapped in the face, knowing that to escape she’d have to touch the corpse to get the key.
With the Dragon now un-deceased, Jack wants Will to suggest a new way to capture him. Will, true to my predictions of last week, suggests they break the seal on their very own pale horseman—stage a fake escape for Hannibal, since the Dragon is more obsessed with him than anyone, and draw Dolarhyde in that way.
Unsurprisingly, Bedelia is Not Happy with this plan. She rightly realizes that Will has ulterior motives in wanting Hannibal loose, and it’s clear she believes she’ll be the first course as soon as the cell door clicks open. Will does nothing to dissuade her of this idea—in fact, he confides that he has no intention of letting Hannibal be imprisoned a second time, and warns her to run, because “meat’s back on the menu”.
Bedelia’s not the only one who’s at risk from Will’s plan—Hannibal threatens to come after Alana even as she’s explaining his part in it to him. Jack believes that it’ll be a two-birds-with-one-stone dealio, in which Will can kill first the Dragon and then Hannibal, and get them both out of his hair, and Will appears to agree that that’s what will happen. Alana doesn’t feel like fucking around trusting that this will work, though, and she, Margot, and their son are swept off into protective custody as the plan sweeps into action.
Dolarhyde easily overcomes Will and Hannibal’s police escort, leaving the two of them the only survivors before driving off. Hannibal cheerfully climbs out of the police van, dumps the dead officers out of a cruiser, and flirts Will into the shotgun seat before driving off to a more private place to face off against the Dragon. This place turns out to be a tiny cliffside manor, where they drink wine, listen to classical music, and talk about the inconvenience of their feelings for each other until Dolarhyde arrives.
And arrive he does, in style, through a wall of bay windows, and attacks both of them brutally, but now that they’re mentally in sync, even the power of the Great Red Dragon is no match for them. Despite being stabbed and shot multiple times between the two of them, they bring him down in perfect harmony. Will remarks on how envigorating it was, how beautiful, and the two deeply wounded men embrace on the cliffside briefly. There’s a beat, and then Will pulls Hannibal closer and shifts his weight so that both of them topple over into the sea.
It’s not quite the end of the episode, though; after the credits, we see Bedelia. Unaware that she’s now safe from Hannibal, she has opted not to run from him again. Rather, she waits at her dining room table, having sacrificed one of her legs for a grand welcome home meal that he will never partake of. As the screen fades to black, she resolutely grips her fork.
The title of this episode, “The Wrath of the Lamb”, is interesting, not only because it makes the finale explicitly about Will, the Lamb of God in Dolarhyde’s twisted Revelation metaphor. Will’s still no perfect Christ figure—he’s too flawed and too selfish, and it’s hard to unpack how many of his actions were motivated by his own desires and how many were spurred by altruism. How much of wanting to be alone with Hannibal was for the plan? How much of his desire to kill the Dragon and his decision to die with Hannibal were motivated by him giving in to the darkness Hannibal had cultivated in his soul, and how much was it a desire to rid the world of those evils? But, in the end, he does ostensibly sacrifice himself for the good of all humanity, pulling evil personified down into death with him. It’s pretty damn final, but the part of me that’s beartrapped itself onto hope for a Season 4 wants to point out that Christ figures will hopefully get resurrection narratives.
Will and Hannibal’s interactions throughout the episode are so thickly emotionally charged you could cut them into slices and bake a really really queer cake out of them. When Will first reports to Hannibal that the Dragon has killed himself, they have a conversation about Will going back to his family in which Will suggests that he knew Hannibal would turn himself in if Will rejected his advances. The implication is that Will didn’t want to reject him—he only did so because it would give him some semblance of control over Hannibal’s appearances in his life. And it only gets queerer from there. The conversation with Bedelia is of a pair with last week’s; this week, no longer shaken from the realization of Hannibal’s feelings, he basically tells her that he’s giving up on his struggle with morality and going over to Hannibal’s side.
When Will returns to Hannibal to begin the trap plan, Hannibal needles him regarding his statement about rejection during the previous visit, but instead of being flustered or denying anything, he simply states, “I need you, Hannibal.” (Note the return to the more intimate first name status as well; three weeks ago he was still addressing him stiffly as “Dr. Lecter”. He even throws a “please” in there.) They relax at Hannibal’s cliffside house for so long that the day turns to night, and while I’m not suggesting something could have happened in that interval, I’m certainly not not saying that. I will point out that both of them are dressed differently when Dolarhyde attacks than they were when they got there.
Their talk of feelings provides a hearty filling for my super queer cake, as Hannibal laments how inconvenient his compassion toward Will is, and Will says that he doesn’t want to be saved from Hannibal any more. And while their final embrace doesn’t involve kissing… it’s about as far from a no-homo bro hug as is humanly possible. It’s intimate to the point of making the viewer feel like a voyeur, and their dialogue doesn’t do anything to mollify it. Finally, even the damn musical accompaniment ships it—the sultry Siouxie Sioux song that plays as Hannibal and Will murder the Dragon, embrace in the moonlight, and die together? It’s titled “Love Crime”.
All in all, while this season started out kind of slowly, and I had my concerns about a number of issues going into it, Fuller delivered a finale that totally blew me away. I didn’t feel like anything was unsatisfactorily concluded. On my first watch-through I simply sat there with my mouth open for a minute before turning to the nearest person to flip out, and it took me a second viewing to dilute my thoughts down from [shrieks into the void] to coherency. While I would very much be interested in watching further seasons, I think the Hannibal team did a great job in concluding the story such that it doesn’t really need them.
And… that’s about it. Farewell, fannibals—it’s been fun. Maybe we’ll do this again someday.