“Hello, Dr Lecter.”
So, the first season of Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal has drawn to a close. We’ve seen Hannibal Lecter push Will Graham right up to the edge and finally over it. Throughout this final episode we’re desperately hoping that someone will finally figure out what’s going on. We have to watch Alana Bloom moot the encephalitis we know that Will definitely has as a potential cause of his episodes. We have to listen to Jack stand behind Hannibal and assert that Will is not behaving like an innocent man. But we finally get to see that moment of realisation cross Will’s face as the last piece of the puzzle falls into place.
Will wakes up at home with no idea of what has happened to Abigail Hobbs, but with the terrible feeling that he has done something to her. When he vomits up her ear in the sink, that terrible feeling becomes certainty. Will is arrested, and it’s revealed that the fishing lures in his house contain tissue from each of the copycat victims. As Alana looks for reasons why Jack is wrong to believe Will’s guilt, he escapes from custody and reaches out to Hannibal for help.
If last week’s episode was Hannibal manouvering his pieces into checkmate, this week’s finale is the character reaching out and knocking the opponent’s king over with a single touch. He has made himself trustworthy to Jack, Will and Alana. He’s convinced Will that his fevers are due to dementia rather than any physical illness. So when he sits with Jack and Alana and tells them that Will is probably their man, they have no reason to suspect him of not telling the truth.
Alana’s return to the show after last week’s absence allows Will a well-deserved scene of self-pity as he tells her she dodged a bullet by declining his romantic overtures, which is nicely counterbalanced by a scolding from Beverly Katz. She tell him that if he was at all in doubt about his mental state then he had no business being in the field. She’s exactly right.
But for all Will’s willingness to martyr himself to help the helpless (the shot of the dog staring dolefully at its master as he’s driven away is pretty heartbreaking), he’s not going to believe the impossible. Hannibal’s attempts to frame him for all of the copycat murders and not just Abigail’s sets him on the path to realisation, and the two men travel to the Hobbs house to figure it out once and for all.
The scene is marvellously tense as Will slowly puts the pieces together, because we know Hannibal could stop this at any time. He could have called Jack for help or killed Will. But he doesn’t because, as we learned last week, Hannibal is curious. He won’t take decisive action unless he absolutely has to because he wants to see how far things will go. He wants to know what will happen if Will figures it out. “Are you a killer, Will?” he asks, because he wants to know. Jack arrives in time to shoot Will before Hannibal can respond to his accusations, but not before the penny drops.
Will ends up bleeding on the floor in the exact same position as Garret Jacob Hobbs, pleading for Jack Crawford to see what he can see: Hannibal’s true form. A monster. Is he the only person who knows what Hannibal is? A warning to the good doctor from Bedelia Du Maurier towards the very end of the episode suggests very strongly that she knows exactly what her patient gets up to, as does her obvious reluctance to eat the ‘veal’ (Hannibal points out that people get squeamish about the age of the cow when they’re actually older than many pigs, as Bedelia takes a bite).
This is an extremely strong end to a fantastic series that has explored the nature of monstrosity and the fragility of human connections in a beautiful Gothic horror setting. In adapting and updating Thomas Harris’ characters, Bryan Fuller took the cliché of the man gazing into the abyss and posed the question of what happens if someone simply pushes him in. It’s Will who ends up behind bars in the Baltimore State Hospital. As Hannibal arrives to visit, we see that he finally sees his friend clearly.
“Hello, Dr Lecter.”