[Review] - Hannibal, Season 3 Episode 12, "The Number Of The Beast Is 666"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television
Here I was, thinking that there would not be lips and fire, and that the writers would have to find a way around that plot point from Red Dragon, since they had used it already. But as the old wheelchair was rocketing towards the fountain, I remembered an interview with Fuller from last year, when the same fate apparently claimed Freddie Lounds. And that he said certain events would inform future ones. That just because they had used the visual once did not mean it would not be used again. And that on the second time, it would only serve as a reminder of the depth of actions that the character have taken to get them to that place, to see it happen again.

Last week, Hannibal sent his dog after Will's family. This week, Will's depth of action raced after him, wheels blazing. As the series winds down, the devil is in the details.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that will not be having an old friend for dinner.

Poor Chilton. I feel as though Bryan Fuller doesn't like him that much, as a person. Each season, at about this time or slightly earlier, some horrible fate befalls him, that certifies his death, only to have him irk out a survival. In season one, it was the removal of his guts by Able Gideon (his scars fully visible here, as a nice nod to continuity). In season two, it was getting shot in the head by Miriam Lass. And now it is having his lips torn off and set on fire by Dolerhyde. Perhaps it is for the best that the series has been cancelled, because there are few ways left for the writers to torture poor Fredrick before needing to kill him explicitly, short of hacking off all his limbs and leaving him a destitute torso. That they have purposefully kept him alive so as to have a character to inflict all of this upon is perhaps the cruelest thing this show is guilty of. Certainly, for all its gore over the years, the lingering shot of Chilton screaming immediately after having his lips bitten off was the most disgusting, most horrifying thing the show has shown us. Even his immolated self was not as hard to look at.

It was hard to believe, watching this episode, that there is only one left. The show gives us no indication of it's immediate conclusion (and demise). That is the steadfast focus of the writers (four of which were credited for this episode), that the story of the episode comes first and foremost, and that no time will be lost on sentimentality. I have no doubt in my mind that, despite the series proving it's excellency in finales in the past, that next week, the story and the show will simply end, with little pageantry. Or at least, as little pageantry as a show that is entirely pageantry can get away with. This episode. I feel, is a good indicator of the benign attitude the show will take towards its own suffocation. This episode felt no more like it was building towards something than any other. Events progressed, but without knowing that there is only one episode left, you'd have no idea if they were nearer the end than the beginning.

Like I said last week, Hannibal acts only when Hannibal knows the course of cause and effect. In Hannibal's universe, there is no chaos theory, because Hannibal is the one directing all actions. And so it was that this episode suggested that Hannibal continues to have agency in the world, despite his imprisonment, because of his manipulations, chiefly of Will, but also of Jack and Fredrick and Dolarhyde. They are puppets, dancing for his amusements, and only as he pulls their strings. A season ago, the show presented the idea that everyone acts only according to their inherent nature. That Will's decent into Hannibal's murder husband, was only the revealing of his true self. That has been a theme of this season too, the refrain of "becoming" something greater than you currently are. But these last few episodes have pretty much countered that argument with the stronger: you are as Hannibal makes you. If you act, it is because Hannibal wants you to act in such a way. And if Hannibal wants to watch you burn for his amusement, then you will burn. His passive acceptance of Alana taking his books was only because he doesn't need them; he still has his toys.

We also got something of a conclusive answer to the question posed in the premiere, only twelve weeks ago but seeming like a lifetime: is Bedelia acting of her own free will, or is she being coerced. And despite what I've just said, about Hannibal being the master of all, it seems now that Bedelia really was acting on her own. She loved him, in a way. She loved the certainty of him, even if the only certain was that one day she would be his meal. She was less terrified of her own doom than she was that the certainties of her life would be taken from her. Her confession to Will, her complete juxtaposed counterpart, was essentially the fairy tale princess admitting to the shining knight that she volunteered to be eaten by the dragon. And again I find myself wishing that the show had more time, so that we could get to know Bedelia more. There was more to be had with Zachery Quinto, I know that for certain, and to unravel a mind that would think of Hannibal as a comfort would have been a pleasure, especially because we know what Anderson has been able to bring to the role. The best we will ever get though, is what we have, and it leaves more questions unanswered. Which is its own kind of fine.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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