“This is all I ever wanted for you, Will. For both of us.”
For three seasons and thirty nine episodes, Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter have crafted an incredibly twisted, violent, and beautiful love story. They’ve followed a more unique version of the Base System, however, with making out/feeling each other up/having hot sex being replaced with fun actions such as cannibalism, bloody hugging, and brutal murders. This is the only show on television where someone getting stabbed can potentially make you go “Oh, that’s adorable!”, and I love Bryan Fuller and co. all the more for it. In “The Wrath of the Lamb”, he writes the show out in style, both giving us closure to the central relationship and leaving us with a sense of ambiguity. It’s a fittingly poetic masterpiece of a series finale, and I’m glad I got to experience it.
Midway through the episode, Hannibal tells Alana that “any rational society” would either kill him or give him his books, and therein we find the essence of this show. Hannibal has always operated on a heightened plane, in a society where decisions wouldn’t be considered “rational” by normal standards (for example, Jack Crawford would not be with the FBI anymore in a rational society). Much of the show is contained in a fantasy-like haze, one that’s visually represented through the beautiful cinematography and directing throughout. Pure emotion drives the series more so than logic does, and the formulaic nature of much of season one gradually drifts away as we delve deeper into the show’s universe. It’s a transformation of sorts, and it’s also one that we see play out in our characters this season.
For Dolarhyde, the transformation is obviously the one from man to dragon, although he does tell Will that he’s “stronger than the dragon now”, that he “chose not to change” Reba. This is an episode about the deep connections that have been forged between people and the decisions made to keep others alive (whether we’re talking about Reba or Will’s family). It’s also an episode about sharing and trust and empathy, three ideas that are intertwined as deeply as the characters are. “I wanted to trust you,” Francis tells Reba early on, and later, there’s a back and forth between Alana and Hannibal: “You trust Will with my well being, Alana?” “As much as I trust you with his.” “Do you trust me with yours?” I’d like to draw attention to how similar in style this is to the Chilton-Alana conversation in this episode, which ultimately involves Chilton–whom Hannibal hopes “won’t be very ugly”–stating the following to Alana: “What Hannibal is capable of, Will Graham is capable of, what you are capable of.” The point is that these characters have all shared with each other to some extent. They all understand each other on some level. After all, “extreme acts of cruelty require a high degree of empathy.”
But of course, Hannibal and Will understand each other on the deepest level. The show has been all about the development of that strong understanding, about how each gradually reveals his true self to the other as they spend more time together (and apart). It all culminates in a masterful sequence set to Siouxsie Sioux’s “Love Crime”, one that features Dolarhyde essentially becoming a sacrifice as Hannibal and Will finally get to kill together. It’s without a doubt sexually charged, and this is them fully embracing each other, falling off the cliff as empathy reigns supreme; Will decides to become a sacrifice himself. The scene ties Will’s extreme empathy to his relationship with Hannibal to the beauty the show finds in violence, and it’s perhaps the most romantic moment this show has produced. And as Will says while he’s hugging his one true love, his murder husband ’till the end: “It’s beautiful.”
He could very well be talking about the show itself. He would be right.
SEASON GRADE: A-
SERIES GRADE: A-
-That final scene! I really, really love the Bedelia character arc that was written. This is someone who played and paid, who was nowhere near as innocent as we were led to believe at first. And of course, the ambiguity of the final shot is fantastic: are those empty seats there because Will and Hannibal are going to eat with her? Or, is this the ultimate blow to her character?
-HANNIBAL SAID “DROPPED THE MIC”.
-Yay, one more Zeller/Price appearance!
– “You didn’t draw a freak. You drew a man with a freak on his back.”
-The “borrowed time” speech Hannibal gives to Alana is so damn chilling, and it’s brilliantly delivered by Mads Mikkelsen. And speaking of Alana, I’d like to give one last shout-out to Caroline Dhavernas, who is an extremely talented (and gorgeous) actress. Even during her character’s iffy moments in season two, she was great.
– “You turned yourself in so I would always know where you were. You’d only do that if I rejected you.” Ouch. However…
– “When life becomes maddeningly polite, think about me. Think about me, Will. Don’t worry about me.” True love, ladies and gents.
– “I wanted to share with Lecter…and Lecter betrayed me.” “You shared with Reba, but you didn’t change her. Hannibal Lecter is who you need to change.” Pretty important exchange with regards to the themes mentioned above.
-Well, that’s it! I hate NBC for canceling the show, but at the same time, I also have to appreciate the network for taking on the series in the first place and renewing it for three seasons. The cast and crew have all moved on to new projects, so we most likely won’t be seeing a season 4 any time soon; here’s to hoping that Fuller can get the Silence of the Lambs rights some day and that the show can return in some form in the future. And finally, thank you to the entire cast and crew for one of the most incredible television runs I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. I leave you with my top five episodes, in order of airing:
Roti, Savoureux, Takiawase, Mizumono, and The Wrath of the Lamb, with honorable mentions going out to Sorbet, Futamono, and Digestivo.
Photo credit: NBC, Hannibal