hannibal episode 12 analysis

The Number of the Beast is 666: Analyzing Hannibal’s penultimate serving of season 3

Will Graham and company resort to taking extreme measures in order to bring down the Red Dragon in season three’s penultimate episode. Not wanting to continue risking the lives of those closest to him, Will devises a plan to lure the creature out from the darkness — with pretty exciting results.

WARNING: This analysis contains some spoilers for episode 12 of Hannibal. Scroll down to “final thoughts” for a brief summation.

This episode begins with Will once again questioning his moral interior after recent events. He confides in Bedelia, telling her he imagines killing his own family in the same way the Dragon typically does. I really don’t get why Will goes and sees this woman. He knows she’s done messed up stuff, and she never seems to help him in any sort of way. There’s an occasional taunting between the two, and Will usually promises that she’ll get her own comeuppance. He also reveals surprisingly deep information to her, and she usually reminds Will how obsessed he and Hannibal are with each other. This time, she goes as far to claim that the two are in love. It would make sense, but that seems like kind of a weak reason for Hannibal of all people to do the things he’s done. He seems above that sort of thing. Bedelia has just been bugging me for some time now. She talks painfully slow, and it makes these fairly useless scenes drag along.

There’s actually a lot of taunting in this episode. Chilton spars with Hannibal in regards to Lecter’s recently published article that aims to refute everything Chilton wrote in his book. I’m not sure why any remotely credible scholarly journal would ever continue to do so given they were penned by a people-eating madman, but I guess that is besides the point. Chilton promises that once he’s in charge Hannibal’s life is going to miserable. Hannibal is dodgy, and does his subtle Hannibal threats. Hannibal also verbally spars with Jack Crawford when they are discussing where they fit in all of this. Crawford mentions that Dolarhyde isn’t the Red Dragon, but Hannibal is. You get the idea. Crawford thinks Lecter is the devil. Lecter promises that Will’s wrath could be even more dangerous than Dolarhyde’s. Lots of back and forth.

In the hopes of drawing the Red Dragon out of seclusion, Will hatches a scheme where he and Dr. Chilton use Freddie Lounds to tarnish Dolarhyde’s name in the media. They use a bevy of insults that take stabs at Francis’ appearance, challenges his sexuality, and claims him to be insane. This does draw him out, but not in the way Will anticipated. Instead of going after Graham himself, Dolarhyde instead abducts Dr. Chilton. I was sort of let down by this, as I knew what was going to happen. I was hoping the show would stay a little more faithful to the original, and the Red Dragon would abduct Lounds instead. For most of the show, Freddie has been a thorn in everyone’s side. A sadistic part of me really wanted to see her suffer. It’s media twisters like her that befuddles public perception. She’s little more than a trash slinger.

Still, Chilton proves hard to kill. The guy did take a bullet last season, after all. During his abduction, Chilton actually witnesses Reba in Dolarhyde’s home, which could prove useful later. Chilton spends a great deal of time at Francis’ residence, as the Red Dragon spouts off a bunch of crazy mumbo jumbo. If you’ve seen him in action, you probably get the gist by now. He’s all about ascension to a higher being and what not. He reveals himself to Chilton, and forces him to leave a personal message for Will Graham. He then generously let’s Chilton go. Wait, I mistyped. I meant to say, he bit his lips off and sent him rolling down a hill on fire! Graciously, Dolarhyde sends the lips back to Hannibal Lecter as a gift, one of which Lecter merrily munched down. Some gross stuff.

It looks like Dr. Chilton is out of the picture now. Miraculously, he winds up surviving the ordeal, and can even communicate with Will and the authorities. That’s when Chilton puts two and two together and realizes Will had sort of planned on Frederick getting abducted instead of him, which Will more or less confirms. I’m not really a fan of how this went down. Will would rather enact his own twisted curiosities than ensure the protection of his family? I’m not really into it. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed most of the show a great deal more than the movies and book, but this was one of those questionable choices that did little favors to the plot. Given that the finale is less than a week away, I suppose I’ll reserve some judgment until I see all of the events unfold, but this week left me a little bit unsatisfied.

What is even more abrupt is Francis’ sudden change towards Reba. One second he’s thanking the woman for some soup, and in the next scene he has inexplicably kidnapped her. I know the dude’s crazy, but the director may have shown this play out better — if only to alleviate some of the spontaneity. The episode ends with him revealing his true form to his old flame.

Final thoughts…
Despite a few interesting turn of events, not a whole lot happened in this episode. This show sometimes suffers by spending too much time showing the characters looking morose and talking about how troubling everything is. It’s season two of True Detective all over again. It’s got some good moments, but a lot of the back and forth conjecture could have been cut down in lieu of something more interesting.

What’s Good: The Red Dragon’s merciless brutality made his scenes very intense
What’s Not-so-good: Too many long-winded, philosophical conversations

Are you excited for Hannibal’s series finale? Do you still believe it deserves to be picked up on a non-network streaming service? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Check out our series finale analysis here!

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