Hannibal season three finale review

The Wrath of the Lamb: Analyzing Hannibal’s Series Finale

Check out our analysis of last week’s episode!

Many apologies for the delayed post. I’ve been surprisingly busy lately, and am doing my best trying to keep up with it all. Thank you for your patience!

Well, there you have it. Hannibal is over with little evidence of future seasons. The Red Dragon story arc is brought to a close, with the show providing us with more unanswered questions. It wasn’t the greatest series finale I’ve ever seen, but allow me to elaborate on why I felt it effectively suited a show like Hannibal.

WARNING: This analysis contains spoilers for the series finale of Hannibal. Scroll down to “final thoughts” for a brief summation.

Things began much like they did in previous iterations of Thomas Harris’ book series. Frances Dolarhyde was conflicted with the emotions that come along with Reba’s new found knowledge of who he really is. He fights internally against the dragon inside him, who would rather just get rid of her to avoid future liability. Ultimately, he manages to tame the dragon temporarily and shoots himself in the face with a shotgun instead.


With Reba’s handicap, she perceives the events differently than how they actually occurred. Dolarhyde instead chose to stage his suicide — not only to avoid the police, but for Reba’s sake as well. Better her think he is a monster that will no longer torment her than leave her to her fate. In any event, everyone gets a brief reprieve as the mostly headless corpse is examined for verification. Everyone pretty much assumes that the Tooth Fairy is no more, so they begin to say their farewells. Will meets face to face with Hannibal one last time (or so he thinks) and the feelings the two have or had for each other is even more prevalent than before. Hannibal asks Will if he enjoyed seeing him again, and Will bitterly replied with a resounding “no.” It’s always hard to tell if Hannibal is emotionally affected by anything, but that had to sting a little bit at least.

As I mentioned, Dolarhyde elected to feign suicide as to avoid the authorities. Imagine Will’s surprise when he is choked out by the Red Dragon himself. If Frances were smart, he would have killed Graham there, but he was not prepared for Will’s ability to scheme and manipulate. He convinces Dolarhyde that his rage should be redirected toward Hannibal himself, as they were both betrayed by him. There is obviously truth in this, as Lecter had indeed said similar things to both of these men, manipulating them into becoming something “greater” than themselves. Frances is hurt by the fact that Lecter wasn’t as understanding of his vision as he’d hoped, and Will is hoping the monsters will just take each other out.

Once again, Will has yet another meeting with Bedelia — as she cautions Will about trying to manipulate his own game with Dr. Lecter as one of the pawns. She says a really cool line from Faust as a warning: “Who holds the Devil let him hold him well, he hardly will be caught a second time.” Will doesn’t intend Hannibal to be caught a second time, however. He aims to end everything once and for all, no matter the cost. Bedelia doesn’t necessarily know this. For all she knows, Will wishes only to free the monster, and to allow him to go on his merry way. Will emphasizes this as he leaves, reminding her that meat is back on the menu. It was a very cool way to put a bookend on their relationship. Will obviously holds no love for Dr. Du Maurier.

Alana and Chilton have a brief exchange, where he places her up on a podium of guilt to rival Will and Hannibal’s involvement with his maiming. He’s not wrong, but it’s clear Dr. Chilton has become a maddened vessel of what he was before; consumed with rage and feelings of betrayal. It’s a brief scene — one that makes me regrettable that this show will not be continuing.

Hannibal and Alana have one last heart to heart, and Hannibal intensifies his threats. He reminds her that she owes him his life and he intends to live up to his promises tenfold. It seems like Bryan Fuller wanted to plant some seeds for a potential continuation of this universe by leaving a few plot points unresolved. Which is admittedly a bit of a shame. Hannibal’s revival is not a guarantee, and it would have been nice to see Fuller tie up some loose ends and end on a strong note. Personally, I was really hoping for Lecter to take Alana out at some point, as her character has consistently been one of my biggest gripes with the show.

What’s interesting is how on board Crawford is with the plan. They don’t intend to bring these men back into custody. They have every intention of killing both of them. Kind of a gangster move, but I guess they’re willing to let that slide, I suppose.

With that, the trap is set in the form of a staged escape. The Red Dragon is already waiting for them, though. He sets up his own ambush, killing all of the guards and driving off. Will and Hannibal make their getaway as well, each of them chancing a small bit of excitement.

The tail end of the episode sort of mimics echoes of the end of the Hannibal book. I wasn’t a fan of the Hannibal book. Clarice Starling always seemed like a strong and intelligent character. Imagine my surprise when she ends up falling in love with Hannibal Lecter and hooking up with him at the end. I know Hannibal is deveilishly manipulative, but come on! HE EATS PEOPLE.

Hannibal and Will head back to Lecter’s hidey hole where he had previously stashed Miriam Lass and poor young Abigail. They calmly indulge in some wine and discuss events that led them to where they are now, both of them with the knowledge of what is about to happen. The Red Dragon rears his ugly head and makes his move. He arrives with the intent to kill Hannibal, but is taken off guard when it turns into two-on-one brawl. The fight gets pretty intense. Hannibal gets shot, Will gets literally stabbed in the face and lifted up by his stabbed face and thrown around like a ragdoll. That doesn’t stop the hunters from taking down their prey. The ensuing battle is fraught with intensity, as everyone exchanges their fair share of stabs, and chops and punches. Blood dances dark in the moonlight. It is actually Will that provides the killing blow, fulfilling everything Hannibal Lecter ever wanted. Together, they finally embrace, allowing a small moment to acknowledge their feelings for each other.

Then Will leaps off the edge of the cliff, with his partner in blood grasped firmly in his arms.

During the credit roll, we see a tease of Bedelia, alone at her dining room table, with her own cooked leg severed and set up as the main course for a great feast. Two other places are set up at the table, but whose places those are is left up in the air. This was a clever way of adding finality to the show, while still leaving things open for a potential continuation of the story.

It was a satisfying enough conclusion, but not ultimately what I personally would’ve hoped for. Against the show’s frequent nods to the contrary, I was hoping that this version of Will Graham wasn’t actually under Hannibal’s spell. Some small hope that Will would shun the dark feelings he has deep within himself and do the right thing. In a way he indeed does the right thing, I suppose. Ensuring they all die ultimately saves the most lives, but he had done his best to move on and start a family. I just felt like this admiration for this man felt unwarranted. You never see their “relationship” really develop that much on the show. Hannibal was manipulating Will from the start, and Will even became aware of his manipulations. Dude must have some wicked pheromones or something.

This is one episode that I feel could’ve benefitted from more than a 42 minute run-time. Everything felt just a tad bit rushed, leaving some of the likable side characters in the dust. It was all a bit abrupt, but it did fulfill Fuller’s ultimate vision for the show.

This season started pretty strong, but ultimately ended up meandering for quite some time. I was waiting with excitement for the eventual Red Dragon arc, but all of the Italy stuff left little time for developing Dolarhyde into as important of a character as he could’ve been. He was just suddenly a killer for no visible reason, with little care given to the past that helped shape him. It would have been interesting to see more of that, as opposed to Hannibal living it up in Italy. This wasn’t the best season of the show, but it did at least end on a pretty strong note, doing it’s best to make itself stand out from Hannibal’s prior appearances in popular culture. It’s all a matter of personal preference, I suppose.

Final thoughts…
The Wrath of the Lamb was a strong episode to finish out the series. Writing series finales are often difficult, with the end result usually suffering a little bit or failing to meet expectations. As far as finales are concerned, Hannibal ended with an elegant style, worthy of the good doctor’s name. Weaker plot points throughout the season slowed the show down and left little room for substantial character development, but the team did a great job of sending off most of the cast in a respectable way.

What’s Good: That super visceral fight scene, the potential promise of further iterations of the series
What’s Not-so-good: This episode rushed a little trying to finish off key storylines, and could have benefited with more air time, the possibility that this truly is the end

What did you think of the final season of Hannibal? Do you think we’ll see Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen reprise their roles some time down the line? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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