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Up until this episode, I have been operating under the assumption that Bryan Fuller and his team are using Thomas Harris’ novels as guides for the overall story. That they are expanding on a small piece of the novel “Red Dragon,” but that characters within the series who also appear in the novels would have stories that generally followed their novel counterparts. It certainly appears I made an error in this belief- much in the same way Will, Chilton, and Jack all underestimated Hannibal’s own ability to execute a long con.
This is the first episode in several weeks wherein we see more Will than Hannibal, an interesting change of pace after spending time occupying the mental space of a sociopathic killer. We now see Hannibal solely through the eyes of those around him- Will, who remains convinced of Hannibal’s guilt, Chilton, who is terrified of becoming Hannibal’s next victim, Alana, who has fallen for Hannibal’s considerable charm (he is a sociopath, after all, not merely a psychopath), and poor Jack, who doesn’t know what to think. Hannibal is truly a mystery, as well as a brilliant and ingenious killer.
For all the time we spend with Chilton worrying that he will become Hannibal’s next victim, I never once thought he would become Hannibal’s next patsy instead. It was only as Jack learned of the various clues subtly pointing to Chilton that it dawned on me that Hannibal has played not only the characters around him, but the audience as well. That being said, Chilton’s apparent demise at the episode’s end is by far the biggest shock of the series to date.
Anyone who has read Thomas Harris’ novels or seen any of the film adaptations knows that Dr. Chilton plays a particularly large role throughout the series- particularly with “Silence of the Lambs.” The less than friendly relationship between Hannibal and Chilton within the source material could easily be linked to the recent developments within the television series, with the ultimate reveal that Chilton had a hand (however small) in capturing Hannibal. Seeing Miriam Lass (who we now know was brainwashed over the course of two years into thinking that Chilton was the man responsible for her captivity and dismembering) put a bullet into Chilton’s head is a huge jump away from the source material- even larger than the death of Beverly Katz (who I incorrectly indicated was an original character last week- she does appear in the novel/film “Red Dragon”). Part of me cannot believe Fuller would kill Chilton. But, another part of me is very intrigued at the thought of the show moving further from the source material and trying to make their own way through the major elements of Hannibal’s story.
Speaking of Hannibal, this is also the first time I’m not completely certain as to what exactly he is trying to accomplish. Letting Jack find Miriam, along with well-placed indications that this is the Ripper’s hideout, indicates that he wants the chase to ratchet up a few notches. However, as Will aptly points out, the Ripper will place clues that will lead the FBI away from him. In this case, there are two clues- the partial print that links Hannibal to the scene (and, we are told, won’t hold up in court), and the various chemicals that indicate Chilton is to blame. Setting up Chilton so clearly (with Gideon’s body and the posed FBI agents) practically gift wraps the Ripper. But so far no one at the FBI has asked how a man with a clear limp and cane could have maneuvered Gideon down a flight of stairs, or lifted an FBI agent onto the kitchen counter. It doesn’t add up, and I can’t see Hannibal making a mistake like this.
The final element I want to touch on is the episode’s closing scene: Will and Hannibal once again sitting in Hannibal’s office, about to embark on another attempt at therapy. But this time Will is convinced that he can beat Hannibal at his own game, and Hannibal is the one unsure of Will’s true motivations. Will now has far more power than he’s ever had within their relationship. I, for one, am eager to see how this new power balance plays out- and leads to Hannibal’s ultimate demise.
— I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to applaud Anna Chlumsky’s excellent work as Miriam Lass. Chlumsky has really grown into an incredibly talented actress, and her range (Chlumsky also plays one of the leads on the HBO comedy Veep) is amazing.
— Will and Alana’s tense reunion was inevitable, but well written. I’m happy to see Will has resigned himself to the idea that Alana cannot be helped if she doesn’t want to be helped, and that there is nothing he can do save warn her. It’s hard to see Alana become almost a villain through association, particularly since she’s still our least fleshed out main character.
— If this is the end of Chilton, kudos to Raul Esparza for his excellent work as the smarmy doctor. Esparza is a prolific theatre actor who desperately deserves more film and television roles, so I certainly hope big things are in his future.