Jeff Vlaming, Angela Lamanna, Bryan Fuller, Steve Lightfoot
Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, Raúl Esparza, Caroline Dhavernas, Nina Arianda, Rutina Wesley, Richard Armitage
NOTE: REVIEW CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS
Before anything else, I’d just like to say one thing: Poor Dr. Chilton! Throughout the second arc, Francis Dolarhyde has been getting closer and closer to harming the main cast. First, he tangled with Will Graham at the Brooklyn Museum and then he almost murdered Will’s family. Now, in the penultimate episode, blood has finally been shed. If that gradual trend is any indication, the series finale should be a battle of epic proportions!
Will, Dr. Chilton, and Freddie Lounds collaborate on a magazine article insulting Francis Dolarhyde. They hope to provoke him into coming after Will so they can arrest him. Things take an unexpected turn when he captures Dr. Chilton instead! After tormenting Chilton, Dolarhyde bites his lips off and sets him ablaze. Miraculously, though, Chilton manages to survive. He is able to tell Jack and Will about Reba McClane, who came over to Dolarhyde’s house while he was being held prisoner. Subsequently, we see that Dolarhyde has kidnapped Reba, and he finally reveals to her that he is The Great Red Dragon.
I’m starting to get the impression the writers don’t like Dr. Chilton; especially since it was Freddie Lounds who got immolated in the original story. This is the only baffling change so far. It feels redundant—and frankly a little absurd—since Chilton already been disemboweled and shot in the face! Perhaps, they thought it wouldn’t have as much emotional resonance if Dolarhyde got ahold of Lounds since she’s not nearly as likeable. Other than that, I’m not sure what their reasoning could have been for the rewrite.
Early in the episode, Hannibal compares Will Graham to the Lamb—a.k.a. Jesus Christ—who wars against the Red Dragon. However, Jack thinks Hannibal is the true Red Dragon, not Dolarhyde, and I’m inclined to agree. To this Hannibal responds: “Then that makes you God, Jack.” These biblical comparisons make perfect sense. Jack/God sent out Will/Jesus to save everyone, and Hannibal/Satan is always working against them. However, in a reversal of Christian theology, the most powerful being in the show is devilish Hannibal. Instead of “men make plans while God laughs,” it’s “Jack and Will make plans while Hannibal laughs!”
Alana tries to remind them of their past mistakes: “You once fooled yourselves into believing you were in control of what was happening. Are you still under that delusion?” she inquires. Apparently that is the case because Jack and Will’s self-confidence made them overlook the fact that Dr. Chilton was also a serious target.
Of course, it wasn’t fate alone conspiring against them. By placing his hand on Dr. Chilton’s shoulder in the magazine picture, Will shifted the blame over to the disfigured psychologist and marked him for Dolarhyde. It’s ambiguous whether this was a conscious or unconscious decision. Either way, Bedelia tells him “That’s participation,” hinting at the equally nebulous nature of her own relationship with the sly cannibal. Dr. Lecter embeds himself in the mind of everyone he encounters, causing them to act like him and indirectly do his bidding. That is how “Hannibal has agency in the world,” as Will puts it. The good doctor is in always in control, no matter what.
Hannibal is similar to a Cormac McCarthy novel in some ways. McCarthy’s work has often been described as nihilistic. There is usually one unbeatable, unredeemable villain who consumes everyone and everything in his path. (That certainly describes Hannibal Lecter!) I suppose the point is that evil is an eternal force in the world, not matter how much we try to fight against it. That said, there is a glimmer of hope in Hannibal as even the eponymous character thinks that Will might truly be the strongest of them all! “The Lamb’s wrath touches everyone who errs. His retribution is even more deadly that the Dragon’s… the Lamb is becoming a lion.”
OUT OF 5
“The Number of the Beast Is 666…” may contain some questionable adaptation choices, but it outperforms most full-length horror movies and sets up the impending finale with panache.
+ Raul Esparza
+ Proactive characters
+ Powerful metaphors
– Replacing Lounds with Chilton