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Well, that happened. As I have written in previous weeks, I haven’t been all that sure where Bryan Fuller was heading with the Verger storyline. These are two characters who don’t actually appear in the Thomas Harris series of novels until “Hannibal,” the third of the group, meaning that a lot has taken place with Hannibal, Jack, Will, and (the heretofore unseen on the television series) Clarice Starling prior to Mason and Margot showing up.
Up until the end of this episode, I still wasn’t sold that the entire arc was serving as an origin story of sorts for Mason, who will become a worthy adversary for Hannibal and Clarice down the line (at the rate the show is going, perhaps season 8). But, as it turns out, this is exactly what Fuller was planning. The Verger arc, in the end, served two purposes within the show. First, it allowed Will the chance to watch how Hannibal manipulated patients other than himself- to see that he wasn’t as special as he once thought he was. This gave Will the chance to begin his manipulations on a larger scale, working with Mason to try and ensnare Hannibal into the web Will was weaving (more on this in a bit).
The second purpose was to show us a Hannibal beyond the cannibalism and killing. This Hannibal doesn’t like to get his hands dirty, and would much rather use his own manipulations to direct his victims where he wishes them to be. Hence we get Mason Verger, with his face half gone, eating his own nose. More importantly, we also have Mason refusing to name Hannibal as the reason behind his deformity and paralyzation, choosing instead to vow revenge on Hannibal- revenge that you can see for yourself should you read “Hannibal” or watch the (sadly inferior) film of the same name (you’ll also get a performance from Gary Oldman as Mason that is a bit more nuanced than Michael Pitt’s).
“Tome-Wan” presents us with little action on the part of either Will or Hannibal. Both stay relatively on the sidelines, despite appearing in nearly every scene. The episode is more focused on letting us know what other characters know. We find out officially that Jack and Will have been working together the whole time, which, in a way, cheapens some of what Will has been up to in the past few weeks. Jack knows about the kill Will made, as well as the tableau he presented. The past insinuation that Will might side with Hannibal is all but gone now (despite how the preview for next week makes it seem as if Will is still contemplating helping Hannibal over Jack). We know where everyone stands going into the finale (which we also know will feature the major fight between Hannibal and Jack).
We also know a bit more about Hannibal’s psyche, thanks to the lovely guest starring turn from Gillian Anderson, reprising her (much missed) role as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier. Raise your hand if you were surprised to hear that it was Bedelia, not Hannibal, who killed the patient who was “attacking” her? I certainly was. It also puts their relationship in a new light. Hannibal, according to Bedelia, manipulated her into the act of killing, couching it as self-defense (a claim that Bedelia now believes isn’t as completely accurate as she once believed it to be). Their relationship on the series also had an air of mystery to it, with her clearly not 100% on Team Hannibal, and now we know why. Her warnings to Will and Jack, that Hannibal is always in control- especially when it doesn’t seem to be, is one I don’t think either man is listening to. Certainly not Will, who also brushes off Bedelia’s warning that Hannibal can and will manipulate him to kill, and when he does it will be someone he loves. Will is still convinced that he holds the cards and is the one manipulating Hannibal- a glaring mistake, and a sign of his own hubris in the situation.
While the warning from Bedelia is a bit like getting hit over the head with a two by four, I don’t doubt for a second that Alana will most likely be that casualty. Perhaps Hannibal will set up the classic “choose which one will die” scenario. Or maybe it will be something even more sinister. But whatever form the finale takes, I’m still excited to see where we end the season. Will Hannibal take Will’s place behind bars?
— Jack is still putting out the story that Freddie is dead. He heightens it a bit this week, telling Hannibal that Alana is convinced that Will is the killer. Hannibal doesn’t look entirely convinced of the story, even when Will confirms it.
— Hannibal tells Will that Jack is his friend. Something big must happen to make Hannibal and his “friend” fight.
— I’m thrilled that Gillian Anderson could find time in her schedule to pop back in for this quick guest appearance. Now with the awful Crisis canceled, perhaps Bedelia might be able to show up again during Hannibal’s inevitable trial?
— Just a reminder: Next week is the season finale of Hannibal.