It was inevitable, really, that Hannibal would finally have to take decisive action. He’s been pushing his pieces around the board since the series began, curious to see how Will Graham, Jack Crawford and Abigail Hobbs would react. At the end of this penultimate episode he’s finally started his end game. Will is a suspect, Jack is allowing himself to believe the worst, and Abigail Hobbs knows too much to live.
It’s the violent death of the tragic Georgia Madchen, burned alive in an oxygen chamber, that allows Will to finally realise what we’ve known all along: that each of the copycat killings are connected. He hasn’t linked it to Hannibal yet, but he’s aware that it’s personal. Hannibal, of course, can’t allow Will to get any closer, and finally leaks the information that Will has become delusional. Meanwhile, Freddie Lounds is already convinced that Will is a psychopath, and is more than happy to tell Jack exactly how much time he’s been spending with Abigail Hobbs.
When Jack goes to see Bedelia Du Maurier (and it’s a real relief to see that the character isn’t a figment of Hannibal’s imagination), we finally get see the character interact with someone else, and it’s very easy to see why Hannibal has chosen her as his psychiatrist. Bedelia is a politely antagonistic steel trap, who lets slip one piece of information that will ring a bell with fans of the novels. When Jack pushes her for more information on the patient who attacked her, she confirms that Hannibal referred the patient to her and that “He swallowed his tongue while he was attacking me. That’s the only thing that saved my life.”
But this look into Hannibal’s background is leading back to Will Graham. Jack’s belief that Abigail was more involved in her father’s crimes than she let on was right all along. One of the less noticeable but really quite important things that Hannibal does extremely well is that it creates a believably good investigative team. While the police in shows like Dexter are comically incompetent, the deductions of Crawford and his team have always been plausible as the FBI’s finest. ‘Relevés’ gave Jimmy Price (The Kids In The Hall‘s Scott Thompson) and Brian Zeller (Aaron Abrams) a lot more to do than usual, as they work with Crawford to determine how Will’s theory fits in with the fact that Abigail acted as “the lure” to her father’s victims.
That discussion of the difference between hunting and fishing was obviously key to this episode, as Hannibal, who has been such a still presence for much of the series, finally took a shot. ‘Relevés’ is very much a setup to the season finale, however, as the real revelations are just out of reach. Will is racing so frantically towards the truth that he still can’t see what’s right in front of him. His conversation with Georgia at the start of the episode is both a reminder of how kind and gentle the character is at heart, and an acknowledgement that he’s more comfortable talking to someone like her than his colleages. It’s a tender scene that’s very well-acted by Dancy and Ellen Muth, and it makes her violent death all the more traumatic. Finally, the discovery that Abigail isn’t the broken innocent he wanted her to be pushes Will even further. He loses time and is scared that he might have hurt her, but all he’s done is allow her to escape to Hannibal.
Hannibal, of course, realises that Abigail is compromised. Now that Jack knows what she’s done, she’s a liability and needs to be disposed of. That final scene in which he explains why he called her house on that day and told her father that the police were coming is both chilling and moving. Abigail has done terrible things, but like everyone else in the show she has been manipulated and shaped. Hannibal is just as responsible for this transformation as her father was but, while her father did it out of a need, Hannibal tells Abigail that he was “curious.” Everything that he’s done is due to that sense of curiosity. He wants to see what happens. Sadly for Abigail, her part in Hannibal’s game is over.