Hannibal 3×13 ‘The Wrath of the Lamb’: Eternally intertwined

Hannibal 3x13 Cover

Hannibal has always been a show about relationships and identity.  It’s about how a relationship with another person can warp your identity into something unrecognizable, can unleash a part of you that you never knew existed.  And while that part is foreign and terrifying, maybe it’s beautiful at the same time.  Maybe you feel a little more like you in the end.  But, within the context of relationships and changing identity, the real terror comes from the fear that one person is using the other for their own ends, manipulating them and amputating part of them in order to drain something away for themselves.  Other people can help us grow new parts of ourselves, but what happens if that new part is malignant, infecting the rest of us with something that we don’t want and is actively poisonous?

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Source: NBC

In the end, it was always about Will and Hannibal, about how they could never escape each other because of the change that they’ve inflicted upon one another.  Throughout the series, Hannibal has manipulated Will into exploring the darker part of his psyche, the twisted and malicious part that actively wants to inflict harm and change lives in a different capacity than his role as an FBI agent.  But Hannibal sees his manipulation in a different light, where it’s an attempt to allow Will to explore himself fully, to consume life in a way that enlightens him, broadening his palate.  And Will sees this all from his perspective, where he just wants a normal life, and Hannibal’s, where he wants this dark part of him to grow.  And this has been the center of Season 3, Will’s attempt to push away Hannibal’s influence, only to realize that it will never leave him, that he’s irreparably changed.

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Source: NBC

Will going after Dolarhyde was what pushed him over the edge, but it seems inevitable that he would be driven to that point anyhow.  With everybody using Will in order to have a tool against Dolarhyde, he was reduced to a shell void of agency, his empathic devices simply a way to help catch the toughest killers.  Even his faux-family was shattered when his agency was taken from him, his wife and step-son caught in the crossfire, pushing him to kill Dolarhyde in order to keep them safe.  And the more that Will was told what to do, the more his darker impulses kicked in to restore his sense of agency.  Hannibal was his savior and his downfall, all in one, even if he didn’t realize it.  In the manipulation games that Will and Hannibal hatched against one another, they worked as each other’s savior and downfall.  Only, when Dolarhyde was added to the mix, he grew in ferocity to the point that he had to be put down by both of them.  The Red Dragon was an entity beyond the manipulation of Will and Hannibal, a beast that fed off of it in ways unlike how Will and Hannibal feed off of each other.

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Source: NBC

Ultimately, everybody was beyond help.  Dolarhyde realized his Becoming to the point that he operated outside of Will and Hannibal’s control, which meant that he had to be put down.  Hannibal wanted complete control of Will, which meant ignoring the impact Will has had on him.  And Will wanted to push aside the darkest part of himself, but nobody would let him.  Neither Will nor Hannibal would have been able to take down Dolarhyde alone, as they were both severely maimed in the fight, but their bond was enough to defeat the Red Dragon.  Just as their bond saved both of them in “Digestivo”, it did the same here, showing how even a manipulative relationship such as theirs has enough power and enough emotion to overcome something as oppressive and vicious as the Red Dragon.

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Source: NBC

The ending can be interpreted in a couple different ways, but the lack of closure seems to mostly add up to an attempt to leave the series open to more story.  With only this ending to go off of, it makes sense that Will, in pulling both himself and Hannibal off of the cliff, sacrificed himself so that Hannibal would be put down forever.  Hannibal’s impact was clearly evident on all around him throughout this episode, from Jack and Alana’s coldness to Chilton’s physical disfiguration.  Will understands the gravity of Hannibal’s manipulation and the internal forces pulling him in half.  He can’t live with Hannibal fostering his darker impulses, but he can’t live without Hannibal validating those same impulses.  So, he ends it all, killing them both in a final moment of bliss, a happiness that they’ve both been waiting so long for.  Hannibal is really a love story between these two, in that it shows how they’re forever linked, and how that link is the downfall of both of them.  It says a lot about the dual nature of love, how it can be the most beautiful thing in the world and the most ugly at the same time.  The ending scene with Bedelia’s leg, where it sits on the table, prepared to be eaten, is the most ambiguous part of the ending, but it could very well be of her own doing.  If she believes that Hannibal is still out there, she could have lost her own mind and prepared it for him, an offering or a way to bait him.  This interpretation resonated with me, simply because it shows Bedelia as deteriorating from her bond with Hannibal.  Their connection fractured her just as it fractured Will.

Hannibal was a brilliant show, offering up some of the most potent imagery on television today, managing to juxtapose art and murder in a way that feels meaningful instead of ridiculous.  While some of the plot sagged early in Season 3, and Season 1 struggled a little in its structure of self-contained episodes, its run was still a great success and never sagged enough to be overly noticeable.  I’m still hoping that Fuller manages to bring it back for a fourth season or a miniseries or even a movie, but if it only runs for these three seasons, it’s still been a great success and a fantastic meditation on relationships and identity.

I just want to thank everybody for reading these reviews.  It saddens me greatly that the series is over, but I am so thankful for three full seasons of what was probably the greatest horror TV show I have ever seen.  Hopefully, Fuller will find a way to revive it at some point.  But for now, it’s been great.

So what did you think of the series finale?  Was the ending satisfying enough for you?  Let me know in the comments!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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  • Showwatcher1124

    im gonna miss your reviews of this show. what was your favorite episode and least favorite of this show if you don’t mind my asking? also, what shows other than fear the walking dead are you gonna review?

    • Michael St. Charles

      Thanks! I’m definitely going to miss reviewing this show. I was heartbroken when I heard that NBC finally cancelled it.

      As for my favorite and least favorite episodes…”Mizumono” (Season 2’s finale) is easily my favorite episode. The scene between Will, Hannibal and Abigail is horrendously sad, and it just gets me every time. The music in that scene is beautiful too. My least favorite episode is “Roti” from Season 1. Season 1 had kind of a shaky start up until “Coquilles”, and even though “Roti” did a great job weaving the theme of family through Will, Hannibal, and Abigail’s stories, it was really a disappointing “case of the week” story.

      Aside from Fear the Walking Dead, I’ll be reviewing The Walking Dead starting October 11th, The Leftovers starting October 4th, and probably Fargo, Transparent, and The Americans (though those aren’t set in stone). Definitely check them out if you’re into those shows!