The dreaded moment has arrived: Hannibal as we know it is no more. At its heart, the show’s always been about the complex (to put it mildly) relationship between Will and Hannibal; necessarily, the finale digs deep into TV’s most fraught twosome ... along with serving up buckets of stomach-roiling gore.
“The Wrath of the Lamb” begins exactly where we left off last week: with Francis “Tooth Fairy/Great Red Dragon/D” Dolarhyde revealing to a terrified Reba that he’s a family-slaughtering maniac. Reba, by now very much regretting taking an interest in her odd co-worker, is forced to stumble through Dolarhyde’s mansion lair and lock herself in; when she tries to flee, he guides her back to the bedroom, makes her grope his big-ass shotgun, and sadly tells her that it’s better she leaves this world with him (meaning Francis) than with HIM (meaning you-kn0w-which orally fixated killer).
Reba may be blind, but she knows when someone’s flinging gasoline all around her and then lighting a match. “Oh Reba, I can’t stand to watch you burn,” he tells the screaming woman, and turns the gun on himself (or does he?) BLAM! Good-bye, Great Red Dragon (or is it?) And because Hannibal loves us so, we get a delicious shot of Reba’s shrieking face framed by the gaping hole where his (?) head used to be.
As Casa Dragon burns, Reba collects herself enough to lurch over to the fallen body, grab the front-door key from the corpse’s stump of a neck, and crawl toward the front door.
Safely in the hospital, but still in an understandable amount of shock, Reba recounts her ordeal to Will Graham: “He shot himself ... I put my hand in it!” Will tries to reassure her, telling her, “You didn’t draw a freak. You drew a man with a freak on his back.” But these two have something in common other than their ties to Francis Dolarhyde; when Reba tells Will she’s used to fending off people who “foster dependency and feed on it,” he tells her that’s not just a problem that blind people have. And we all know what that means, and who he’s referring to.
“Ding-dong, the dragon’s dead,” Will tells Hannibal. Of course they’re in the hospital, with Hannibal in his completely stripped-bare cell, but for just a moment they’re back in their shared “memory palace,” and Hannibal is looking suave as ever. (In real life, he manages to make even prison whites look good ... but not quite dapper-plaid-suit good.)
Hannibal offers his condolences that Will didn’t get to, uh, slay the Dragon, but he congratulates him on the number he pulled on Dr. Chilton. “What a cunning boy you are!” And he taunts Will with what Will already knows, that going back to post-Dragon farm life with Molly will never be the same as it once was. “When life becomes maddeningly polite, think about me, Will,” he suggests, and they part ways.
When Will arrives at his motel room, he soon realizes he’s not alone. Heeeeerrrreee’s Francis!! The Dragon has risen from the ashes!! Ok, we knew he wouldn’t go down that easily, but hooray for Hannibal for not drawing out that “mystery” for more than a few scenes. These dudes have some serious unfinished business, but they also have some common ground. “I wanted to share with Lecter,” Dolarhyde says. “And Lecter betrayed me.” Join the club, bro. Will suggests that Lecter is the only one that Dolarhyde needs to “change,” and Dolarhyde asks how he can meet him. Ooooh yes. Let’s arrange that face-to-face, please!
Before that can happen, we’re in the FBI crime lab, where we learn that the only teeth in the skull found in Dolarhyde’s torched manse were “grandma’s dentures.” Side note: in a perfect world, not only would Hannibal be going on for multiple more seasons, but we’d also be getting a spin-off show featuring Price and Zeller.
So Jack Crawford now knows what Will already found out (and, let’s face it, Hannibal likely already intuited): Dolarhyde is still alive. He’s still out there. The camera pans to Jack’s right and we see Will is also in the room, having survived his nighttime visit with Dolarhyde but NOT HAVING TOLD JACK ABOUT IT. “The Great Dragon lives,” he remarks. Moments later, he suggests to Jack that Hannibal would be the best bait to lure Dolarhyde out of hiding. Jack’s skeptical, but he trusts Will’s instincts (yet again), and the plan is set: take Hannibal into federal custody, and fake an escape.
Bedelia is, of course, horrified by this turn of events, reminding Will that no matter how he thinks he’ll manipulate the situation to his advantage, he will fail, because it’s always Advantage: Hannibal. Always. But “it’s all degrees of disadvantage,” he tells her. And by the way, he doesn’t intend for Hannibal to be re-captured. He intends for Hannibal to die. She pauses, then offers an accurate sum-up: “Can’t live with him ... can’t live without him.” They do not part on good terms (she calls him a “twitchy little man”), but the gears are in motion. It’s hunting season! Will Bedelia be on the menu?
In a glass chamber, no doubt in constant agony yet too stubborn to die, the charred fritter that is Dr. Chilton takes a meeting with fellow shrink Alana Bloom, evoking their early-season meeting where the roles were reversed. (Admittedly, she came away from her own Hannibal-engineered injuries looking quite a bit more intact.)
Chilton, fully aware that he was made a pawn in the last unsuccessful attempt to grab the Red Dragon, is nonetheless delighted to hear that Hannibal is on the bait hook. Alana’s next stop is to tell Hannibal about “Jack’s” plan to “fake your escape.” Is there any doubt that Hannibal knows who’s really behind this scheme? No, there is not. He immediately knows it’s Will’s doing, and Alana admits it. She also tells him he’ll get his books and drawings (and toilet) back as thanks for helping catch Dolarhyde. He agrees, tentatively, but he also reminds her that she’s been living on borrowed time. Like Bedelia, she’s on his “people to kill/eat” list.
Like everyone on this show, he’s not to be trusted.
Jack, Alana, and Will meet to solidify the plan. They’ll kill Dolarhyde ... and then they’ll kill Hannibal. “To the Devil his due,” Will says. But to get Hannibal onboard, he’ll need to be asked by Will. He’ll need to hear him say please. Hannibal, who uses the phrase “mic drop” (!!!!!) to describe Will’s last kiss-off (in which he supposed Hannibal wouldn’t have turned himself in if Will hadn’t rejected him ... he’s right, of course), takes the meeting strapped into the mobile straightjacket device that became so iconic decades ago in The Silence of the Lambs. Moments later, they’re in a police van, and he’s wearing the face mask, too.
Ohhhh boy, and then it’s ON! No fake escape necessary, because here comes a hell-bent Dolarhyde in a police car, sirens wailing, pulling up beside the caravan with gun drawn. Every cop and FBI agent gets wasted ... except for Will and, of course, Hannibal. They step out of the van onto the road as Dolarhyde peels out. Hannibal quickly removes his restraints, and surmises that Dolarhyde isn’t going to kill them on the open road. He’ll need more ... privacy, ya see.
Hannibal, seasoned escapee, is all business as he yanks a dead cop out of the nearest driver’s seat and slides behind the wheel. “You know, Will, you worry too much,” he says. He shoves another cop corpse out of the passenger’s side, and asks, “Going my way?” They speed off together; it’s very Thelma and Louise. Hours later, Jack Crawford surveys the carnage Dolarhyde left on the roadside, with Will and Hannibal long gone. The look on his face is that of a man who knows he’s been played ... again.
Hannibal and Will end up in the cliffside dwelling where, Hannibal remarks the bluff is eroding since he visited it last: “There was more land when I was here with Abigail ... more still when I was here with Miriam Lass.” Soon, he tells Will, “all of this will be lost to the sea.” They settle into an uneasy yet oddly familiar dynamic, Hannibal popping the wine cork, as they wait for Dolarhyde’s inevitable arrival. “Save yourself, kill them all?” Hannibal says to Will, echoing his earlier advice to Dolarhyde ... but also crystallizing Will’s presumed plan for this threesome-to-come.
And come it does, because SMASH! Dolarhyde makes his entrance after making short work of a window with a bullet that comes to rest in Hannibal’s midsection. Crumpled on the ground, Hannibal greets his back-from-the-dead de facto new patient, who addresses him as “Dr. Lecter,” as well he should. “You were seized by a fantasy world with the brilliance and freshness and immediacy of childhood,” Hannibal says. “It took you a step beyond alone.”
But Dolarhyde is driven with a single purpose. Or is it a dual purpose? “I’m going to film your death,” he tells Hannibal. Will, standing by with his wine glass as if at the world’s most twisted cocktail party, is taken by surprise when Dolarhyde lurches forth and scrapes a knife across his throat. They grapple, but just as Dolarhyde is about to deliver the coup de grace, Hannibal grabs him. But Hannibal is weakened from his wound, and Dolarhyde ... dude’s got dragon powers.
Just kidding. Like Team W & H 4Ever wasn’t going to pull this one off? Working together, they manage to subdue Dolarhyde by slicing across his chest (Will) and biting out his throat (Hannibal). The music swells, and Siouxsie Sioux’s voice warbling about LOVE CRIMES cuts through the bloodshed to guide us through the end. “This is all I ever wanted for you, Will,” Hannibal says as they heave and breathe on each other. “It’s beautiful,” Will murmers. They clasp in an embrace and plunge together over that crumbling, tumbling bluff.
But that’s not the last thing we see. No, the final moment is given over to Bedelia, expectantly awaiting Hannibal’s arrival, a human leg gorgeously prepared as dinner on the candlelit table. The camera pans down to reveal a bandaged stump beneath her sexy evening gown.
It’s HER leg!
Of course it is!
One last gruesome shock to take with us. One last amazing Hannibal image.