Bryan Fuller, Steve Lightfoot, Nick Antosca
Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, Raúl Esparza, Caroline Dhavernas, Nina Arianda, Rutina Wesley, Richard Armitage
NOTE: REVIEW CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS
“Ding dong, The Dragon is dead.”
It doesn’t happen very often, but throughout our lives there are movies, books, shows, etc. that seem to be made for us. They speak to our inner-self on some unquantifiable level. When Hannibal‘s pilot first aired April 4th, 2013, it ticked all of my boxes. Dark and gory? Check. Eloquent dialogue? Check. Engaging, cerebral characters? Checkarooni. Now, three years later, the show has completed its run and I feel like I’ve said goodbye to an old friend.
While I’m upset that NBC cancelled the show, I’m also grateful they were willing to give such a high-concept premise a chance. Many shows don’t even get a second season let alone three—even fewer maintain such a consistent level of quality! Doing this weekly review series was an excellent way to say goodbye. I think it helped me appreciate Hannibal much more than if I had simply watched the episodes and nothing else. I hope that you benefited from my opinions as well. “The Wrath of the Lamb” may have left a few things unanswered, but one thing is obvious. Hannibal did not go gently into that good night! This is a finale that fans will be discussing for years to come.
After last week’s attempt to capture Dolarhyde ended with disaster, Jack and Will change tactics. Will suggests using Hannibal to draw out their quarry. Jack and Alana decide to use this opportunity to take out both serial killers in one fell swoop. However, they never get the chance. Dolarhyde ambushes the police convoy transporting Hannibal but decides to spare our main leads for the time being. The good doctor takes Will to one of his hideouts beside a seaside cliff. That night, Dolarhyde comes to finish the job. Will and Hannibal are both wounded, but they manage to overpower the mighty Red Dragon and slay him. Then, as they share an embrace, Will pushes Hannibal, and they both topple over the cliff to an uncertain fate. In the final shot of the series, Bedelia Du Maurier sits at a candle-lit table, her left leg served up as the main dish.
When I found out that Hannibal would be adapting the Red Dragon storyline, one of the first things I thought was: “I wonder if they’re going to change the ending.” I had a feeling they would and sure enough, that’s what happened… and I’m not complaining. After Dolarhyde fakes his death in the opening, everyone assumes that the nightmare is over. In the book, when Dolarhyde comes after Will several days later, there’s a surprising turn of events—Molly ends up being the one who saves the day! She shoots Dolarhyde repeatedly until he’s dead.
While that ending works just fine in the book, I didn’t think it would work as well for the TV show. Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon is a dyed-in-the-wool crime thriller. Although Will is technically the main character, he is not the main focus. Red Dragon is more concerned with the overall investigation that any one character in particular. As I’ve stated before, Hannibal is about the eponymous character and his relationship with Will Graham. It began with them, and it ended with them. That’s exactly what needed to happen. The entire series has now come full circle. Making Molly the “hero” would have felt random and out of place.
Hannibal’s fondest wish was to see Will become a killer. By having them work together to dispatch Dolarhyde, Hannibal gets his wish, but at the same time Will doesn’t lose his humanity because it was a “righteous kill.” He murdered The Great Red Dragon in order to save innocent lives. It’s the perfect compromise to give this particular plot thread closure. “See? This is all I ever wanted for you, Will. For both of us,” Hannibal says as they stand amongst the moonlit carnage. “It’s beautiful,” Will replies. And it is! Will and Hannibal’s fight with Dolarhyde is brilliantly shot and executed. It’s like watching a depraved ballet, an almost literal dance with the devil. The image of Dolarhyde bleeding out on the ground to form a crimson pair of wings is especially striking.
Part of Will has always wanted to embrace his darker tendencies and be with the devious cannibal. As mentioned before, Hannibal is a love story, just not in the traditional sense. Their connection is “anatomical and metaphysical,” states the haunting ending song Love Crime. In other words, it was forged through the crucible of physical violence and a deep, almost spiritual understanding. They are soulmates like night and day: polar opposites that overlap and need each other to exist. It’s a truly fascinating concept; one that I’m not sure I fully understand, even at the end and perhaps that’s the point. Perhaps we are not meant to understand.
Will goes over the cliff with Hannibal because, as Bedelia pointed out, he “can’t live with him, can’t live without him.” Therefore, the only solution to that problem was to die with him. Of course, their fate is not one-hundred percent certain. Common sense says that they probably drowned, but that is not necessarily the case. People survive terrible accidents all the time. While it would be nice to know what became of them and the other characters, I’m still satisfied with how things turned out. Hannibal ended the only way it possibly could: ambiguous, thrilling, and bloody.
OUT OF 5
Arrivederci Hannibal! Thank you for the meal, it was to die for!
+ Phenomenal characters
+ Satisfying plot twists
+ Superb ending
– No more Hannibal