'Hannibal' Mood Map: A Killer Sheds his Skin

There’s something to be said for the fact that Hannibal still has the very real power to shock with a season finale. Yes, “Mizumono” left almost our entire cast, including one very surprising return player, bleeding out on the floor, so we have every right to be surprised. 

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There’s something to be said for the fact that Hannibal still has the very real power to shock with a season finale. Yes, “Mizumono” left almost our entire cast, including one very surprising return player, bleeding out on the floor, so we have every right to be surprised. But this is a show supposedly leading into the plot of a series and books and films that are widely known, especially to this audience. Who is Bryan Fuller to think he can shock me with the tale of Hannibal Lecter’s betrayal of Will Graham? Moreover, how is it he actually had me upset when this relationship ended in such sad bloodshed?

“Mizumono” was a lot of tease and anticipation leading up to an intense, horrifyingly bloody 20-minute conclusion, played out in the show’s usual operatic style but still with enough idiosyncrasies to seem singular. The score, so jarring and staccato throughout the season, has become more and more melodic and reliant on the piano, building to a rebirth, or shedding of skin, for Hannibal as he steps out into the rain after massacring his FBI foes and marches off into the sunset (and life as a fugitive) with Bedelia du Maurier of all people. Does this mean more Gillian Anderson in season three? Please, more Gillian Anderson in season three!

Current mood: Quixotic

So what happened in this finale? Will and Jack move toward their final endgame with Hannibal, with Will all the while letting on to Hannibal that Jack is planning something. We know, from the first episode of the season, that Hannibal and Jack will have some grand confrontation, but we don’t know Will’s part in it. While Will continues to play his role with Hannibal, and is perhaps really tempted by it, Hannibal figures out that Will is lying by smelling the living Freddy Lounds on him. So he turns on everyone, mortally stabbing Will and Jack, and revealing a shocking captive, Abigail Hobbs, who tosses Alana Bloom out a window before getting her throat slashed.

Season three, it seems, will see Hannibal on the run—he told The A.V. Club it would be some hybrid of Harris’ novel Hannibal, set in Italy, and his origin story Hannibal Rising, although thankfully they will have an entirely different take on Lecter’s beginnings. Sounds good to me. The question is: who is going after him? Will, I assume, will survive. Killing off Jack would contravene the novels, but not extremely, and since Laurence Fishburne is in Black-Ish on ABC next year, he may be done with the show. Alana’s at this point become somewhat superfluous and Abigail’s throat wound looked pretty severe, so really only Will seems safe at this point. His wound, to the stomach with a linoleum knife, reflects the one he is recovering from in Red Dragon.

Current mood: Distressed

The showdown is as horrifying and visceral as it needs to be, but succeeds in that it represents a final and definitive break in Hannibal and Will’s relationship. Lecter really saw Will as a protégé, as sick as it sounds, and is genuinely hurt, in his weird, thin-skinned sort of way, at Will’s betrayal, finding his notions of revenge or locking him in a cell just so base and rudimentary. To Hannibal, he was offering Will a much grander existence, one where he holds human life in his hands and toys with it, and he doesn’t understand why Will wouldn’t want that.

At the same time, a dying Will insists to Hannibal that he’s changed him, too. Whether that’s true, I suppose, remains to be seen, since Hannibal seems remarkably in control of the whole situation from start to finish, as Bedelia warned Jack in the previous episode. Still, Hannibal has been notably more emotional and involved with all of the ensemble this year. Whether that is simply because we’ve gone deeper with his character, or if it’s Will’s influence, will be further understood next year, one imagines.

Current mood: Melancholy

The best, best, best thing about this show is that it is constantly reinventing itself. The promise of the third season is so great, and the places the show can go are so appealing, that it’s criminal to think that we could have watched this episode and not known whether Hannibal would come back for another year. Thank you, NBC, for renewing this fine piece of work, whatever form it may take in 2015. It is glorious to know we shall not be teased through another year of the same; this show is the most ambitious on network TV, and it has so many plans to surprise us.

Current mood: Impressed

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.