Hannibal “The Number of the Beast Is 666” Review (3×12)

22 Aug

HANNIBAL -- "The Number of the Beast is 666" Episode 312 -- Pictured: (l-r) Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford, Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter, Caroline Dhavernas as Alana Bloom -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

“If you play, you pay.”

In the third season premiere, the main question the show revolved around was “Observe or participate?” It was a question posed by Hannibal to Bedelia–and by extension, to the audience itself–and it returns in full force in “666”. This time, it’s Bedelia bringing it up with Will Graham after Dr. Chilton is set ablaze, and she says the following to the lamb sitting across from her: “You may as well have struck the match. That’s participation. Hannibal Lecter does have agency in the world. He has you.” The point here is that these characters don’t necessarily have to wield a weapon in order to facilitate a kill. After all, just look at Hannibal, someone who has essentially been calling the shots from inside a glass box these past several episodes. He’s been happily pitting Will and the Red Dragon against each other while presumably thinking happy thoughts about Will’s beautiful face, and his design is now unfolding before his very eyes.

First of all, we have a Will who’s becoming more like Hannibal with each passing second, a Will who finally acknowledges what we’ve all been thinking since the beginning of time: “Is Hannibal in love with me?” Bedelia suggests that Will “wanted to put Dr. Chilton at risk” when he put his hand on him for the Tattle Crime photo, a Hannibal-esque move motivated by curiosity, by a desire to observe and participate simultaneously. Will is being consumed by the influence of Hannibal Lecter, and he’s a lamb turning into a lion that’s about to have a major showdown with a dragon. Hannibal must have been so proud watching these transformations take place, as difficult as they might have been; he’s like a parent watching his kids go through puberty.


So, speaking of transformations, it’s clear that the battle between Francis Dolarhyde and the Red Dragon has been won by the latter. We see that front and center during his scene with Chilton, a truly terrifying sequence that features Richard Armitage and Raul Esparza at their absolute best. It’s a scene filled with humiliation–through panty liner, an important detail here with regards to the gender dynamics of the show–religious imagery, Extreme Lip Biting, and pure, chilling fear. That fear ties into the religious elements:

Dolarhyde: Do you think God is in attendance here? Are you praying to him now?

Chilton: We pray to God mostly when we are scared.

Dolarhyde: Does God help you?

Chilton: I don’t know! I don’t know! I do not know. I don’t think about it after. I ought to.

Earlier in the episode, Chilton attempts to threaten Hannibal by telling him that no one will be afraid of him anymore, but it ends up being Chilton himself who fears Hannibal (the Devil, creator of the Red Dragon). As Alana and Hannibal make clear, the idea that you are in control is a “delusion” because “fate has a habit of not letting us choose our own endings”. These people are “not pilgrims”; they are Dante’s pets “making [their] way through the inferno”. They are all paying in a way because they played in some way, and divine punishment is being dished out onto these pets.

“All Gods demand sacrifices,” Hannibal tells Jack early on. This week, we know that that sacrifice is Frederick Chilton, but we don’t know who will go down in flames next. The wrath of the lamb is upon them all.



-Man, this is an even worse fate than death for Chilton. It’s like a cruel joke at this point that things like this keep happening. Plus, this was supposed to happen to Freddie.

– “This is quantifiably bitchy!”

– “Touch gives the world an emotional context. The touch of others makes us who we are. It builds trust.” This statement by Bedelia can also be applied to Frederick and Reba; after all, the latter is blind, and a lot of their scenes together have been centered on the power of touch (e.g. that tiger scene).

– “That makes you God, Jack.” Very interesting idea here. You think of the show as Hannibal vs. Will, but it’s also very much Hannibal vs. Jack.



-Well, we only have one episode left of this brilliant show. I’m still holding out hope that one day, Bryan Fuller gets to somehow satisfy his original plan for the series, but for now, I remain disappointed about and excited for next week’s series finale. I can’t wait to see what we’re left with as we arrive at the end.

Photo credit: NBC, Hannibal

One Response to “Hannibal “The Number of the Beast Is 666” Review (3×12)”

  1. Justin August 22, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

    The Dragon biting off Chilton’s lips was a tough scene to watch. One of the most nauseating moments on television, right up there with Noah being torn apart by zombies on The Walking Dead. Chilton was a smarmy bastard but even he didn’t deserve to go through that and being set on fire only to survive as a wrecked, burnt shell of a person.

    I think being farther away from his family because of the Dragon’s attack last episode has made Will more receptive to Hannibal’s influence which he initially thought he could handle or prevent from taking too much of a hold on him. Now, it seems to be changing Will from the inside, slowly turning him into the wrathful lamb Hannibal has been pushing for in Will for some time. And, since the season finale is titled The Wrath of the Lamb, Will’s transformation will be coming to a head. I fear what that will be like for Will and everyone else involved. Hannibal, no doubt, will be sitting back like a proud papa.

    Next episode is the last of Hannibal, at least until a movie or miniseries is made down the line to finish the rest of Fuller’s story. I’ve been trying to emotionally prepare myself for the end. All I can think is about the loss I’ll feel when it’s gone. It served as a post-Breaking Bad fix for me. There aren’t many shows capable of that.

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