We’re up to our final post as Hannibal comes to an end. Will the series finale find a spot in the top three episodes of the season?
Let’s bitch it out…
Despite renewing the series for a third season, NBC is noticeably squeamish about offering up primetime space for it on its Winter schedule. Rather than debut the Bryan Fuller series in its usual timeslot in February, NBC holds off on Hannibal and co.’s return until June, shuffling the series off to the doldrums of summer. When new episodes debut, they’re far more surreal and artsy than previous seasons. The season is once again divided in two: the first half concerns the tracking of Hannibal and Bedelia in Florence while the second half jumps ahead three years to introduce British actor Richard Armitage as venerable serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, aka the Tooth Fairy / Red Dragon. Just over halfway through its run, NBC reveals that it will not renew the show for a fourth season (despite lucrative international investment that severely cuts its costs). A search for a new home follows, but no one bites, effectively cancelling the series as NBC shuffles it off to Saturday nights (the show continues to air on Thursdays in Canada). The series finale airs Saturday, August 29, 2015.
Best of S3
Poor Dr. Chilton (Raúl Esparza). In yesterday’s post, we discussed how his comeuppance in 2×07 was amusing because the character was so desperate to be famous. It’s a completely different story in the third season when (after being shot in the face in S2), Chilton has his lips bitten off by the Red Dragon (Richard Armitage), is doused in gasoline and lit on fire.
Chilton’s torture is the centerpiece of ‘The Number Of The Beast Is 666′ and it confirms that Jack, Will and Alana are very different figures than when we knew them in the first and second seasons. They’re more ruthless, more determined to win, and more willing to sacrifice pawns in order to get what they want. Chilton’s suffering is because our three “protagonists” are willing to put him on the line – using Freddie Lounds’ (Lara Jean Chorostecki) connections, of course. In this case, Chilton’s hubris is anything but funny because it’s so blatantly obvious how high the stakes are, even if he seems strangely oblivious to the danger.
The fact that Will is willing to hang the doctor out to dry by putting his arm around him for Freddie’s picture is confirmation of everything that Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) accuses Will of. He’s not quite ready to “become”, but Will has certainly trespassed to a place where he’s ready and willing to do bad things to people and enjoy it. Leading into the finale, ‘The Number Of The Beast Is 666’ achieves both its narrative function of getting all of the pieces into the right places; it also confirms that there is only one person who truly understands Will, no matter how much he may resist or fight it. Clearly he and Hannibal are meant to be together.
STAG WALK. If you remember nothing else from Will’s mostly solo sojourn to Florence with ghostly traveling companion Abigail (Kacey Rohl), you likely remember the moment that Hannibal’s gift – the torso of a victim reshaped into a giant heart, left on display in a church – unfolds itself into a stag and stalks Will. It is an absolutely beautiful, grotesque image – the stuff of nightmares – and, for me, perfectly encapsulates the visual aesthetic that director Vincenzo Natali brought to his four S3 episodes. No offense to director David Slade who basically wrote the book for Hannibal’s aesthetic code, but Natali and the series are a marriage made in heaven.
‘Primavera’ is a very early episode in a series of disjointed episodes that comprise the early part of S3. At this point we don’t know if Jack (Laurence Fishburne) or Alana (Caroline Dhavernas) have survived their encounter with Hannibal in the S2 finale, and ‘Primavera’ is maddening in that aspect because it remains staunchly focused on Will. His recovery process and the presence of Abigail suggests that Will is not completely out of the woods; his journey to Florence is less of an investigation than a search for meaning in the aftermath of a near-death experience. Natali shoots the entire episode like an evocative, surreal dream. In fact, it is often unclear if Will is actually experiencing the world, or simply hallucinating.
The finale, as Will descends into the catacombs of the church in search of his old friend, feels like quintessential Hannibal. It’s a deadly cat and mouse, but it is also a game of hide and seek. Hannibal isn’t simply eluding Will; he’s testing him. At this point in the season, Hannibal is still recovering from Will’s betrayal (he and Bedelia have frequent conversations about how Hannibal must eat Will in order to move on). In reality, this is the start of Will and Hannibal’s reunion as the pair slowly begin to circle each other’s orbit once again. While the remaining Florence episodes start to feel stuck and aimless, in ‘Primavera’ the promise of a reunion – bloody or loving – holds such great promise that it is impossible not to hope that the adversaries/lovers come face to face in those catacombs.
I’ll admit that going into the finale, I didn’t know where it would place. It’s been a little cliche to put the season finale for each season at the top of the pile, but I think that not doing so here would be doing the finale a disservice because it so perfectly captures all of the series’ quintessential components.
One of my favourite aspects of ‘The Wrath Of The Lamb’ is that it provides everyone a nice little send-off. If this is, in fact, the last time we ever see these actors in these roles, it’s good to get one last memorable scene with them (especially the brief, but meaty conversations between Alana, Chilton and Hannibal). Jack admittedly gets the short shrift, though he does provide a nice little “fuck yeah” moment when he backs Will’s (completely insane) plan to kill both Dolarhyde and Hannibal.
It is, however, the final moments of the episode that truly make it the apex of the season/series. Everything has been building to the moment that Will and Hannibal come face to face again, out in the open, without the glass to separate them, and the finale doesn’t disappoint. Will and Hannibal air their grievances, Abigail and Miriam are both name dropped and the men come together as a single fighting force to brutally take down Dolarhyde.
The final moment by the cliffside, as both men stand mortally wounded, culminates in a resigned hug before Will delivers them both to the sea below as the sweet, mournful tune Siouxsie Sioux plays on the soundtrack. It’s a little bit gothic, heavily atmospheric and very emotionally cathartic – the perfect finish for the series. Plus, with the excellent little amuse-bouche of a coda as the distraught (and obviously crazy) Bedelia prepares to eat her own leg is the most appropriate final scene.
Hannibal always did love its food porn and its morbid sense of humour.
Worst of S3
Also known as: Chiyoh (the worst character in S3) waxes philosophically with Will for an hour, kisses him and then tosses him off the back of a train. Also: Jack knocks Hannibal out a window directly onto a hanging body – improbable and seemingly designed solely to elongate the Florence section of the series, which by this time is far too talky and dragged out.
Most Memorable moments/scenes from S3:
- 3×13 ‘The Wrath Of The Lamb’: Will and Hannibal hug it out, then die
- 3×02 ‘Primavera’: Stag walk
- 3×12 ‘The Number Of The Beast Is 666’: Dolarhyde bites off Chilton’s lips
- 3×11 ‘…And The Beast From The Sea’: Dolarhyde attacks the Graham household in the middle of the night
- 3×06 ‘Dolce’: Alana and Margot’s kaleidoscope sex scene
- 3×07 ‘Digestivo’: Hannibal drills into Will’s head
Your turn: what were your favourite moments from the third season? How did it stack up to the other seasons? Was the finale your favourite episode? Sound off below and thanks for reading