Hannibal: S03E13 “The Wrath of the Lamb”

This is where it ends. Will confronts everything in this episode – Hannibal, the Red Dragon, himself. There is an incredible amount of uncertainty around his endgame. But when the episode ends, and the camera looks over the cliff to see nothing but the ocean, everything is what we knew it to be.

The episode opens where the previous one left off – Reba in the Dragon’s lair. Thankfully, this abduction ends better for her than Frederick Chilton’s did for him, but it’s still a frightening scene. Gone is D’s voice. Only the Dragon remains. Reba is given a key and made to lock herself in. She bears witness as Francis refuses to let the Dragon take her, but he sets fire to the house and takes his own life.

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Reba survives. Will is there, in her hospital room. They speak about sympathy, about how Reba helped Francis. Will tells her that nothing here is her fault. She speaks about how being blind attracts dependency. Will may physically have his sight, but what Reba says is entirely pertinent to both of them.

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With the Dragon gone, Will heads to Hannibal’s memory palace, intending to say goodbye. (Hannibal looks great in a three-piece cream suit. Would we expect anything less?) No, this is a classic case of wanting to look good in front of one’s ex. When we return to reality, all civility is left behind with the great suit. Hannibal is petty and pointed, upset that the reunion was short-lived and dutiful. Even the compliments are backhanded and accusatory.
“I was rooting for you, Will. It’s a shame. Came all this way and you didn’t get to kill anybody. Only consolation is Dr. Chilton. Congratulations for the job you did on him. I admired it enormously. What a cunning boy you are.”

This scene ends with Hannibal asking Will, “Was it good to see me?” Will responds: “Good? No.” and walks out. The Dragon is dead, and so Will leaves.

3-13 will goodbye

Reports of the Dragon’s demise prove to be exaggerated. He overpowers Will in the hotel and we fade to black.

Will awakes to find the Dragon armed and watching. “Your face…is closed to me.” “If I can see you…you can see me.” There is a commonality here. A shared rejection by Hannibal. And in that shared rejection, there is opportunity.

The FBI has realized that the Dragon is still out there, without Will disclosing his meeting at the hotel. The Dragon’s use of the key, the false teeth, and Reba is a clever bit of misdirection but not too clever for Team Sassy Science. (One last moment of Jimmy and Z being catty nerds is completely welcome.)

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A plan is made to use Hannibal as bait. This plan seems to take place at an intersection of poor judgment and plot convenience, and thankfully, Bedelia calls it out. For a moment, she nearly displays an emotion! Her need for a drink says enough, but she does find some choice words for Will and his open disregard for her well-being:

“What you’re becoming is pathological.”
“You’ve just found religion. Nothing more dangerous than that.”
“You righteous, reckless, twitchy little man.”

Alana visits Frederick, and as if proof of her newfound resolve, does not flinch. This is a difficult conversation, and Alana pulls no punches. This is not a cordial reunion; Frederick is understandably bitter. But there is a point to it. This is a reminder of what Hannibal is capable of, a reminder of the monster being taken out into the world.

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Alana visits Hannibal next, and he is nothing if not vengeful. There is a deal for him, and promises of privileges restored. But Hannibal has his own promises, recalling Alana’s defenestration and openly threatening her family. There is a phenomenal threat made here:

“You died in my kitchen, Alana, when you chose to be brave. Every moment since is borrowed. Your wife, your child – they belong to me. You made a bargain for Will’s life and then I spun you gold.”

The sly devil in good tailoring is gone. Hannibal has interest in the deal, but on his terms – namely, Will has to ask for his help. And, despite being made to grovel, Will does. So the trap is set, and there is an ambush. (This is where I feel comfortable openly questioning the security tactics.) Will and Hannibal escape, but only because they are allowed to escape – they will not be killed in broad daylight when the night promises a full moon.

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The final destination is Hannibal’s safe house, a fine piece of architecture on an eroding cliff. There is history here for Hannibal, ghosts of murder past, and discussion of impermanence. There is wine, but also a question of Will’s loyalty. This question is not immediately answered when the wine bottle shatters and Hannibal falls from the gunshot. The Dragon is here, and he intends to film Hannibal’s death. But Will has other plans.

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What happens next is savage romance. The Dragon – fully Become – spreads his wings in the moonlight as he tears into Will. But Hannibal protects Will. Siouxsie sings “Love Crime” as the two men tear the Dragon apart, with knife, axe, and teeth. The fight ends with Hannibal’s jaws tearing the Dragon’s throat and Will gutting the Dragon with his own knife. The full moon shows them what the Dragon sought in changing the families. Black blood in the moonlight. The Dragon bleeds out on the stone tiles.

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Somehow, there is no kiss. Honestly, there doesn’t need to be. “Every murder is a kiss”, someone once said, and this is the purest distillation of the show’s central relationship. This murder is more than a kiss – this is consummation of a predatory courtship. The two blood-covered men embrace, Will finally being able to empathize with Hannibal.

“This is all I ever wanted for you, Will. For both of us.”
“It’s beautiful.”

hannibal cliff

And then, they disappear, over the cliff.

The epilogue is an anxious, beautifully dressed Bedelia, no neckline in sight, sitting at a table for three. And everything she feared is coming to pass.

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Much as I’d love to see the show come back, this is an effective finale. It needs to address two things – Will/Hannibal and the Red Dragon – and it definitely does that. I wrote too many words here and I still feel like I only half covered everything. It’s a struggle to qualify my own feelings here, but I think the uncertainty of Will’s intentions is handled very well, and I think the ending feels like culmination of everything the show led towards. Goodbye, you beautiful, twisted show.

Stray Thoughts:

  • I’m giving this one four Husserls, mainly for Chilton and a little for the last fight. Poor Frederick.
  • Suits! Alana has a good if understated suit here. The star is clearly Hannibal’s three-piece cream suit in the memory palace, but his dark suit at the Murder Timeshare is solid.
  • I like Armitage in this one – I feel like he really completes the transition from insecure loner to legitimate monster. He covered a lot of ground with his character, and absolutely stood up against the rest of the cast.
  • “I’m gonna film your death” is genuinely disturbing.
  • Likewise, Hannibal’s threats to Alana are very Silence of the Lambs Hannibal. No guile whatsoever. And his insults to Will are delicious shade.
  • The open-ended epilogue scene is perfect.

Thanks for reading! I plan to have a wrap-up article sometime before New Year’s.