The past several weeks of Hannibal have been a mixed bag. After two seasons of anticipating Francis Dolarhyde aka the Great Red Dragon, when he finally arrived, it was to the series’ detriment. With this masterful cable-should-have-been, Bryan Fuller created one of television’s best antagonistic pairs; his stroke of genius was in the newly imagined relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham (as well as nabbing Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy to play them). Running in between and through the first year’s killer-of-the week, and the second’s fully developed
secondary characters side dishes, Graham and Lecter provided the skeletal bones to the oft-carved meat and gristle. Amid the stunningly beautiful (and horrifying) murder tableaus, stood this marvelously inventive exploration of melding and expanding minds. Hannibal and Will studied each other, manipulated each other, changed each other, admired each other and observed their respective evolutionary becomings. Whatever Hannibal set out to be, we were witness to its becoming, and it manipulated and changed us as well. We became —despite our fears and our aversion to gore on network television — twisted fans of these extraordinary gentlemen.
It is no real slight against Richard Armitage to note that his Red Dragon rarely worked. Despite throwing himself admirably and entirely into a damaged psyche, the husky-voiced picture of a perfect cinematic monster, it was hard to find Dolarhyde fearsome. In the company of Mikkelsen’s carefully composed, morally manipulative killer, Dolarhyde remained an ameteur, his big, bad Dragonly “Boo!” a childlike prank to Hannibal’s terrifying and silent attacks. While Dolarhyde tried to intimidate with words and threats, a Hannibal attack often harkened back to something forgotten — the surprise neck snap or throat slash a quiet crescendo to the concerto composed in his own head — somehow left ringing in the back of our own victimized minds. While both Armitage, and Rutina Wesley’s surprisingly wonderful Reba had their moments, set against Will and Hannibal’s backdrop they had little chance to own the stage. As I previously noted, Prison Walls Killed the Hannibal Star, and the minute Hannibal was “transferred” out of his glass cage, the show came right back to life.
Every scene, every minute Hannibal and Will had together led us and them to “The Wrath of the Lamb” finale; it all made perfect, twisted sense. Just as Graham had become increasingly aware that he couldn’t stop — didn’t entirely want to stop — his own becoming, Hannibal happily found Will had gone above and beyond expectations, using Lecter’s own emotions against himself just as Hannibal had (many times) done to Will. “That is what I believe they call a mic drop.” Fuller drops his own mic twice with the double-whammy, (apparent) murder-suicide, followed by Bedelia’s own startling sacrifice. Whatever came in the scenes before the last quarter-hour barely mattered, save the amusing back and forth between Hannibal and Will when Graham is easily coerced into a flirty “Please,” and Lecter can barely hide his delight.
The finale fight was as we’ve come to expect from Fuller and Co.; a flash of a knife (or tooth) here, gushing blood and surprise reprises there. That the not-so-Great Red Dragon’s life would be snuffed was never in question, but their fate after Will and Hannibal’s Sherlock-and-Moriarty-inspired-tumble is. In Fuller’s mind, a fourth season plan was still in effect, and in reality, hopes for a Silence feature film remain. For Hannibal fans, all that really mattered were Lecter and Graham’s last words and actions. Will, unable to stand by for an uncertain outcome, knows the only way to take out all the monsters is to embrace who he is himself; Hannibal and Will’s concerted attack on Dolarhyde felt almost pornographic. Hannibal: “This is all I ever wanted for you, Will, for both of us.” Will: “It’s beautiful.” Their final love crime performed in and with love, Graham and Lecter embrace and
ride off into the sunset fall off a moonlit cliff — ‘twas the most deliciously warped love letter ever written by a horrifically, beautiful mind.
Hannibal’s nonchalance as he watches the chaos around him when Dolarhyde attacks the police caravan and he’s set free. Tossing bodies from the car he needs, driving over to pick up Will; “Going my way?”
Best entendre: “The bluff is eroding.” (Hannibal)
Great lines: “He’s guilty of incisor trading.” (Will)
“Will I shoot you? Won’t I shoot you? I don’t know.” “I can’t stand to see you burn, boo hoo!” (Zeller and Price)
Will continuing to drink his wine after Dolarhyde shoots Hannibal through the window and busts in, all stupid threats, setting up his video camera. (Hearing Will’s silent scoffing “Amateur” in my own head.)
Siouxie Sioux’s gorgeous, perfectly fitting collaboration with Brian Reitzell, Love Crimes took that final scene to the next level.
Bedelia’s unrestrainable jealousy was impossible to hide during her sessions with Will, but clearly we hadn’t realized the depth of her devotion. That unfathomable epilogue would warm the cockles of Hannibal’s heart, and there’s no doubt in my mind Lecter wouldn’t have been at all surprised by his “bride.” (Three place settings at her table — so I guess she didn’t despise Will.) But, did she cut off her own leg? Fuller says, maybe not:
“Either Hannibal survived his fall, or Hannibal’s Uncle Robertus is taking up his nephew’s old habits. If I’d known we were doing a fourth season it would’ve been great to reveal, like, David Bowie sitting on the other side of that table and have a ball with that. That was one of the things we were kicking around—if there was a fourth season—to reveal who was at that dinner table. The most obvious choice is Hannibal, but wouldn’t it be fun to subvert that and make it somebody else?”
In other great news, Fuller wants to get several Hannibal actors on American Gods:
“What’s great about is there are so many characters in American Gods, and so many gods to explore, that yeah, I’m hoping that we get to get all sorts of folks in there. Caroline [Dhavernas], we’d love to get Mads [Mikkelsen] and Hugh [Dancy] in there, I’d love to get Gillian [Anderson] and Richard [Armitage]. I’m going to try to get everybody in there one way or another.”
I like this idea far better than going forward with plans for a feature film. What we learned from this final Hannibal season is that this particular version of Lecter is much more fun outside his cell. If you love somebody, set him free…
Thank you to Bryan Fuller for this glorious show, and to all of you who’ve read and GIFfed the hell out of it.