Sob. We’re down to Hannibal’s final episodes, and the latest William Blake-titled ep, “The Number of the Beast is 666...”, only hammers in the cold, hard truth that TV is sure gonna be a lot more boring when this creepy, juicy show exits the airwaves.
We open as Will Graham is having a therapy session with Hannibal’s former shrink-turned-accomplice, Bedelia. Her office is as sleek and minimal as Hannibal’s was ornate and lavish, and she’s matter-of-fact with Will, who’s struggling too process some pretty disturbing feelings in the wake of the Tooth Fairy’s attack on his family: “Hannibal gave you three years to build a family, confident that he would find a way to take them from you,” she says, masking a bit of a smirk as she says it. “And he has,” they agree.
But as Will reminds Bedelia, who’s confident that she’s safe from Hannibal’s wrath as long as he’s behind bars (because he only wants her dead if he can do the killin,’ and subsequent eatin’), “If you play, you pay.” He’s played and paid, and he’s slowly realizing why: Hannibal is in love with him, in Hannibal’s own particular way, and Will returns the feelings: “Do you ache for him?” Bedelia asks. The look of horror on Will’s face affirms that it’s true.
Meanwhile, a running-lower-on-patience-than-ever-before Jack Crawford visits Hannibal in prison to have it out over Hannibal’s twisted mentorship of Francis Dolarhyde. But things get all Bible-metaphorical, fast, and Hannibal advises Jack that the inevitable climactic showdown will come courtesy not of God, the Devil, or the Great Red Dragon, but by the Lamb of God. Nope, not Jesus in this context ... but our own Will Graham.
But before Will gets to take center stage, as he presumably will next week, there’s still a serial killer on the loose, and Jack, Will, and Alana Bloom strategize a plan to catch him. Will will be the bait and Freddie Lounds’ trashy TattleCrime, which we already know Dolarhyde reads on the regular, will be the vehicle. (Fun detail: the rag has a side business hawking T-shirts that read “The Tooth Fairy is a One-Night Stand.”) Key to this twist on the familiar Red Dragon plot is Dr. Chilton, still seething over being one-upped professionally by his most famous patient. Chilton tries to threaten Lecter, but his ego won’t let him see what Alana reminded Jack and Will just one scene ago: nobody, but nobody, is in charge here ... only Lecter.
Still, the plan comes together: Will and Chilton will stage an interview for Freddie, making claims that’ll piss Dolarhyde enough for him to strike outside of his usual pattern (full moon, whole families, etc.) Stuff like, “The Tooth Fairy is insane, ugly, and impotent. He’s a vicious, perverted, sexual failure. An animal.” Fighting words! They snap a photo in Will’s “Washington hideaway” that suggests its location, and the trap is set. Will Dolarhyde bite again, as his hated nickname suggests?
Oh hell yes he will, but it’s not Will he goes after. It’s Chilton. (Major credit to actor Raul Esparza for making Chilton, whose worst crime of late is being a smarmy liar, easily the most loathsome character on a show that features multiple brutal murderers.) Chilton’s snatched easily after his two bodyguards are popped, and awakens glued to a wheelchair in Dolarhyde’s lair. Just when he’s about to get a most-unwanted look at the Tooth Fairy’s face, the doorbell rings. It’s Reba, checking on “D,” whom she believes to be ill with the flu rather than a hardcore case of Red Dragon-itis. What timing! While she’s talking about her feelings and blah blah blah, Chilton squirms, unseen, in the background, wisely following Dolarhyde’s orders not to make a peep.
But she’s away with an “Enjoy the soup!”, and Chilton and Dolarhyde continue their tete-a-tete, which now has a visual aid in the form of a slide show that mashes up William Blake images with photos of the Tooth Fairy’s crime-scene handiwork. Then, Dolarhyde makes Chilton tape his own video message, which we don’t get to see just yet. And Chilton dares to hope he’ll be allowed to escape having lost just the skin that’s adhered to the chair, but once Dolarhyde pops his special dentures in, we know Chilton ain’t leaving without giving up a souvenir: his lips. Aaaaaghhhhhhhhhhhhh! Blood and tissue and viscera and screaming all over the place, with the camera lingering just an extra beat long enough to make the whole thing even more repulsive! (And that, Hannibal, is just one reason why we love you so very much.)
And, natch, Chilton’s lips are carefully wrapped and mailed to Hannibal, who (it’s implied) gobbles one and hands the other over to Jack and co. Our favorite cannibal is, naturally, absolutely chuffed by this turn of events: “I’m sorry, Jack. The tragedy of what’s happened to Frederick has put me in an excellent humor.” Away from Hannibal, Alana, Jack, and Will view the video of Dr. Chilton, moments before his disfigurement. “All that I said was lies from Will Graham,” he insists, before delivering a warning to Will: “There is much for you to dread.” Oh indeed.
Back in Bedelia’s office, Will mulls over what’s happened. Bedelia ask if this what he was expecting the Red Dragon to do, and he admits he’s not surprised Dr. Chilton was victimized. In fact, he may have subconsciously helped Hannibal engineer the attack by posing with his hand on Dr. Chilton’s shoulder on the TattleCrime cover. He participated whether he knew it or not, Bedelia purrs, and might as well have lit the match himself.
Literally, as it turns out, since Chilton’s set aflame while still stuck to the wheelchair ... a torture method that’s all to familiar to Will, of course, since he was once accused of doing the same to Freddie. But Chilton is still alive, barely, and Will pays a visit to his charred husk in the hospital. Chilton may be 90 percent buffoon, but he knows that Will set him up. However, that doesn’t prevent him from dropping a huge nugget of info on Will and Jack: while he was being held captive, he saw a blind woman visit Dolarhyde. Reba!
...Who “D” has apparently kidnapped, tossed into his van, and carried into his house, where he informs the terrified woman she’s about to learn the most important thing she’ll ever hear. But first, pop quiz: has she followed the news about the families who were “transformed” by a certain magical being (a.k.a. slaughtered in their homes by a psychotic killer)? Why yes, she has! She starts to say “Tooth Fairy,” but he stops her, and thank goodness she remembers the other, much-preferred name. And it ain’t “D,” either. Dolarhyde puffs up with pride. “I AM THE DRAGON!”
Next week, it all ends with “The Wrath of the Lamb.” You’re up, Will Graham! Better make it count!