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Hannibal – “The Wrath of the Lamb” Review

"A Spectacular End to a Wonderful Journey"

Well, that was some finale. In edition to serving as a rather fitting end to the series, it was, by far, the most fun episode of the season. Really. Despite the darkness and the overwhelming sense of dread several characters experienced throughout (mostly through the knowledge that they were about to be thrust into dire straits), as soon as Will and Hannibal teamed up in the way the show has been driving toward for three years, it was fun. And funny. And strangely light. I suppose knowing one’s death is potentially approaching does allow one to simply let go of the past and dive in. It was almost like Bryan Fuller, Steve Lightfoot, and Nick Antosca (the episode’s writers) knew this would be the last ride of these wonderfully complex and damaged characters and wanted to give them a chance to be free from their demons, if only for a moment.

But I fear I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here. Was this the perfect finale for a series as superb as Hannibal? I wouldn’t say perfect, but it was pretty darn excellent. My one major quibble with the episode (and this entire Red Dragon arc) remains the same: we didn’t get enough time with Francis Dolarhyde or Reba McClane for their characters to really hit home. And yes, those two were never going to resonate with the audience as much as those characters we have spent three years with. But I can’t help but wish, in retrospect, that we had one or two fewer episodes in Italy and a few more back in Maryland. And nowhere was this disconnect with our new characters more apparent than in this episode. Reba was disposed of, from a story perspective, incredibly quickly, indicating that perhaps she was as inconsequential to the writers as she was to all of us. As for Dolarhyde, well, aside from the most excellent battle royale between him and Hannibal and Will, he too was rather unimportant. His sole role, in this adaptation, was to reunite Hannibal and Will- something that could have been accomplished with any other mass murdered with psychosis, really. Rather, the bulk of the episode was rightly spent revisiting old friends one final time and giving us all what we have wanted- a final resolution to the epic will-they-or-won’t-they relationship between Will and Hannibal. The death of the Red Dragon was simply the backdrop for the consummation of a dark and twisted entanglement between our two protagonists.

And really, at that end of the day, that’s what had to happen in the final episode of this series. Sure, if reports are to be believed, this was simply going to be the jumping off point for a season spent delving further down this new dark road for Will (before Hannibal would be, presumably, recaptured so that the events of “The Silence of the Lambs” story could take place). But it’s a completely fitting, if darkly disturbing, ending. If the fabled Hannibal film(s) never come to pass, I am completely contented with this being the final chapter in the story of Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham, as told by Bryan Fuller.

HANNIBAL -- "The Wrath of the Lamb" Episode 313 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter, Hugh Dancy as Will Graham -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)
HANNIBAL — “The Wrath of the Lamb” Episode 313 — Pictured: (l-r) Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter, Hugh Dancy as Will Graham — (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Will may have been set-up as our “hero,” but I absolutely love that he has, if that end of episode tag is to be believe, fallen prey to Hannibal’s machinations (or, as Hannibal would tell it, finally achieved his destiny). Spending three years watching Will batted around by both Jack and Hannibal, used for a variety of purposes, but almost always sent to be the sacrificial lamb (both physically and mentally), there’s something quite satisfying at seeing him finally choose his own destiny. That he chose to abandon his family and move on with Hannibal (again, assuming they are the onesĀ  about to sit down in those two empty chairs at that dinner table) makes sense. He spent the better part of a decade with Hannibal in his head. He has known for a long time that within him, there is great potential for evil just as there is for compassion. And Bedelia wasn’t lying when she pointed out that Will can’t live with Hannibal and can’t live without him. They are a pair, deeply connected through and through. Hannibal tested Will greatly over the time they knew each other and Will always managed to resist just enough to escape with his life- due in great part to Hannibal seeing something unbreakable and wondrous within him. As Hannibal likes to remind Alana, so many others who have come into his life have been tested and judged unworthy. Will is the shining beacon in Hannibal’s world. And, after six years, he finally has his prize.

Now, of course, there is the darker reading of the finale, that Hannibal has entranced Will and broken him permanently, much in the way Hannibal does to Clarice Starling at the close of the “Hannibal” novel. And, considering that Fuller has drawn extensively from that novel this season, perhaps that was what he was implying with the state of Will at the episode’s close. I’m certain that in the coming weeks Fuller will discuss these ambiguities a bit more and perhaps lay out what was in store for a fourth season of the series. But until then, we can all speculate away at what fate befell Will, Bedelia, and Alana.

This show, at its heart, was about the relationship between Will and Hannibal. Everyone else served as forces to bring the pair together and tear them apart. It was a love story- platonic or romantic, that distinction was always left up to the viewer to determine, as there is certainly a case for both- a dark and twisted love, but love nonetheless. The show never lost sight of that throughout its three seasons. It was never stronger than when Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen were working together to bring Will and Hannibal to life. It was a show steeped in horror, but an artistic and beautiful horror. It was unlike anything else on television and it will be sorely missed.

HANNIBAL -- "The Wrath of the Lamb" Episode 313 -- Pictured: Hugh Dancy as Will Graham -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)
HANNIBAL — “The Wrath of the Lamb” Episode 313 — Pictured: Hugh Dancy as Will Graham — (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Final Thoughts:

— The episode’s most chilling moment was Hannibal’s complete verbal take down (and threatening) of Alana. It is so rare for Hannibal to simply lay out his plans and why he is doing something, that seeing that complete and utter honesty was jarring. Considering Alana has the Verger fortune at her disposal, I like to think she (and her family) will make it out of this alive, but man, she is certainly a marked woman.

— Looks like Chilton may live to fight another day. I do hope, as Hannibal said, that he won’t be very ugly.

— That fight sequence at the end of the episode was something, wasn’t it? Wonderfully shot, and those blood wings were amazing.

— It’s truly fitting that Hannibal and Will are serving up Bedelia as Hannibal served Gideon. The parallels between the two are striking, and both were people Hannibal thought could become his equals, but who sorely disappointed him in the end. At least there will be some stunning dinner conversation before the end for Bedelia.

 

Rating
9.5
Pros
  • Strong performances
  • Great cliffhanger
Cons
  • Really, only that it won't be back next year

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About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeaniusIsMe on Twitter.

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