It is fitting that the season finale of Hannibal is a blood drenched and painful looking spectacle. The shocking end of the Lector/Graham love affair has the two working together to kill The Great Red Dragon. The scene, at the end is almost balletic and is horrifically beautiful. Hannibal and Will make a good team. Too good, apparently, hence Graham’s fatal decision at the end. The finale starts where last week’s episode ended.
Last week in Hannibal we saw Dolarhyde had taken Reba and brought her to his home. This week, in The Wrath of the Lamb, she is in the house. Francis “tests” his former lover by giving her the key to the front door. He tells her to lock the door and when she opts to open it and run, Francis is on the outside. He takes Reba back upstairs and forces her to put the key around his neck and feel his shotgun.
After splashing petrol (gasoline) everywhere, he sets it alight and saying that he cannot bear to watch Reba burn to death “shoots” himself. In essence the shotgun blast blows a huge hole in his head, one that Reba can feel as she takes the key from Francis’ neck. She wraps a blanket around herself and crawls out of the house as the fire spreads.
The beauty of this scene is both overwhelming and surreal. The disjointed and distorted piano notes caressing the set piece along with the fire caressing the ceiling and walls, is fluid and sweeping. As with all of the scenes in Hannibal the crowning glory is the jarring gore; that piece of Francis’ flesh stuck to Reba’s forehead. The tissue that landed there when she put the key around her neck.
*Sidenote* Rutina Wesley, kills it in the first of this season finale. Her performance as the blind Reba has been memorable from day one and her own “finale” was just perfect.
After the opening credits, Reba speaks with Will Graham as she recovers from her harrowing ordeal. McClane may be scarred “He shot himself in the face, I put my hand in it,” she says, not once but twice, this is clearly something Reba will never forget. Graham tells her that in the end, Dolarhyde could not kill her, nor could he stand to see her die.
Later, we learn that this is not true. Francis never intended for Reba to die, she was meant to escape and verify his death, leaving him free to exact his revenge on Will Graham and Hannibal Lector.
She points out, to Will, that she drew a freak. He corrects her and says she drew a man with a freak on his back.
Will: “There is nothing wrong with you.”
Reba: “I know there’s nothing wrong with me. In making friends, I try to be wary of people who foster dependency and feed on it. I’ve been with a few. The blind attract them.”
Will: (He knows. He has attracted his own.) “Not just the blind.”
Graham goes to see Hannibal and tells him “Ding, dong the dragon’s dead.” Lector asks if congratulations are in order and Will tells him that he did not kill Dolarhyde. “I was rooting for you Will,” says Hannibal. He then taunts Graham over Chilton’s punishment and congratulates him for the job he did on the doctor.
Will tells Hannibal that he will go home now that Dolarhyde is gone and Lector tells him it will never be the same. Graham reveals to Hannibal that he knows why he turned himself in. “Will,” Hannibal asks, “was it good to see me.” “No,” Will replies.
After their exchange Will returns to his motel. At his room, Francis Dolarhyde incapacitates Graham, attacking him from behind. The Great Red Dragon is not dead after all. After knocking Will out, Dolarhyde wakes him up and Will says, “You didn’t break my back.” The two talk and Francis reveals that he believes that Lector betrayed him. Graham tells The Dragon that he needs to change Hannibal Lector.
Later, the Coroner double-act reveal to Jack Crawford that the headless and burnt body was not that of Dolarhyde but the man he kidnapped earlier, Arnold Lang. Afterward, Will sells Jack on letting Lector be the bait for Dolarhyde. “Allow” Hannibal to escape drawing the Dragon to him so he can be destroyed.
Will tells Bedelia of the plan and she is furious and terrified. Du Maurier believes that Hannibal will be after her to kill and eat her. “Who holds the Devil, let him hold him well,” says Bedelia. She warns Will, “He will hardly be caught a second time.” “I don’t intend Hannibal to be caught a second time,” Will responds.
“Can’t live with him, can’t live without him,” Bedelia taunts Will, “Is that what this is?”
“I guess,” Will replies.
After a little more conversation, Will gets up and tells Bedelia, “I’d pack my bags if I were you. Meat’s back on the menu.” Du Maurier gets her claws out, “You righteous, reckless, twitchy little man. He might as well cut all our throats and be done with it.” Will gets the last word, “Ready or not,” Will says, “Here he comes.”
Alana visits the burnt and scarred Frederick. Chilton reveals that he blames Bloom as well for his disfigurement. He tells Alana that he would like to have Hannibal’s skin. “You were never comfortable in your own skin,” she tells Frederick, “you would not be comfortable in Hannibal’s.”
“Are you,” asks Chilton.
Dr. Bloom tells Hannibal of the deal, he gets all privileges restored for playing along. Lector requests that Will ask him personally, and he wants Graham to say “Please.” Hannibal also threaten’s Bloom. (Later, after the “escape” Alana, Margo and their baby flee their mansion in case Hannibal comes calling.)
The plan is to release Lector into police custody and “let him escape” allowing Francis an opportunity to contact Hannibal. The real plan is to kill Dolarhyde and Lector, according to Crawford. Will goes to see Lector and after a short “reprimand” from Hannibal “Now you have to pick the mic back up,” Graham does indeed say “Please.”
After delivering Hannibal to the federal authorities, he and Will are transported via a small motorcade. A police car comes up and, lights flashing, pulls up to the lead car. Dolarhyde is driving and he shoots the cop driving the lead vehicle causing it to crash. The domino effect of the first car crash takes out the entire convoy of vehicles. The van crashes and Will smacks his head into a window, he is semi-conscious when Dolarhyde arrives.
Dolarhyde releases Hannibal from his cage in the back of the van and drives away.
Hannibal climbs out of the van and takes off his straightjacket. Going to the closest police car, he drags the dead cop out of the driver’s seat while Will gets out of the van. Driving the car around, Lector pushes the other dead policeman out of the passenger seat, “Going my way,” he asks Will. Afterward, Jack Crawford surveys the carnage and we see Alana leave Mansion Verger with her little family.
Will and Hannibal are at the cliff-top house and Lector points out that the bluff is still eroding. He tells Will, “You and I are suspended over the roiling Atlantic. Soon all of this will be lost to the sea.”
Back in the house, Hannibal has wine and two glasses, he pours Will a glass and tells him “My passion for you is inconvenient.” Will responds, “If you’re partial to beef products, it is inconvenient to be compassionate toward a cow.” After a little more conversation Graham tells Hannibal, “He is watching us now.”
“I know,” Hannibal replies just before a silenced bullet passes through his torso and smashes the wine bottle. Thus begins the long, protracted battle between the two men and the Great Red Dragon. It is brutal, dark, bloody and akin to a slow motion ballet. Blood spurts in fountains of black as the battle goes outside the house and into the moonlight and the two men, who are two sides of the same coin, orchestrate Dolarhyde’s death.
Disturbingly, yet not surprisingly, the men work as an effective team. Both suffer dearly from the wounds dealt by Francis as the Dragon. (One shot has Will seeing the Dragon approach Hannibal, wings extended, as it reaches for his intended victim.)
At the end of the battle, the Great Red Dragon is bloodily and violently banished. Will looks at his claret covered hands:
Will: “It really does look black in the moonlight.”
Hannibal: “See. This is all I ever wanted for you, Will. For both of us.”
Will: (laughing softly) “It’s beautiful.”
The two survivors embrace on the edge of the Atlantic clifftop and Will leans out over the edge, toppling the two out into space and down to the ocean below. After the end credits, we see Bedelia Du Maurier sitting at a large table groaning with food. In the middle is a rolled “long pig” (slang for human meat) and she is clearly waiting for Hannibal to arrive.
This episode, while a bit final (surely no one can survive that long drop to the rocks and ocean below) was a satisfactory ending to the series. NBC may have opted to end the story of Hannibal Lector and Will Graham but they have, at least, left us with a brilliant legacy of dark beauty and horrible visions.
Surreal and sublime, the show offered feast as orgasmic delight, all the more so if the meal was of “long pig” dressed with sauces and side dishes to “die for.”
Kudos to both Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen for their double act and the fitting finale. Director Michael Rymer never let us forget that these two actors made their character’s so alike that they became the mirror image of one another.
Despite the disappointment of having both main characters apparently expire, this was clearly the right ending for the series. Graham was never going to be comfortable with his transformation (his Becoming) to Hannibal, even if it was necessary in order to kill Dolarhyde.
This show will be sorely missed. Its dark beauty and horrible specters will have to haunt via reruns now. RIP Lector and Graham.