Jamie Harsip Content Editor
Now, before I get started on my recap of the season finale of Hannibal, I have to explain a few things. First of all, if you never got around to reading my piece on why Bryan Fuller is so amazing, you should do that. In it, I discussed Fuller’s penchant for amazingly jam-packed live tweet sessions during each episode, and the one he did for the finale was actually incredibly helpful to understanding the season as a whole. I think next season when I write my recaps I’ll do a subsequent transcript of these live tweets; what do you think? Would you, my loyal readers, be into that? I know I’m getting ahead of myself, but after this finale I just can’t wait for season 2 to begin (whenever that may be)! So without further ado, here’s my recap of NBC’s Hannibal finale, “Savoureaux”:
Will is having a nightmare; who is surprised? He is in the woods, hunting, at night. He sees a stag (of course) and shoots at it. Following it down as it eludes him Will looks ahead and sees that the stag is actually more anthropomorphic than it had seemed – its all black body, antlers and all, is people-shaped. Super creepy. In a blink, however, it’s gone. It leaves behind blood, which Will touches. As he turns away from the tree he’s been examining – holy crap, there’s the stag-man-thing! Right there! SHIT!
That’s when Will wakes up, coated in his usual flop sweat. This man is not well, people. Even his dogs know that. Will unsteadily gets to his feet and walks over to the kitchen to get a drink and take some aspirin. It doesn’t stay down for too long, though, and up with it comes…an ear. A legit human ear.
Will is huddled on his front porch when Hannibal arrives. He tells Hannibal about how he went to Minnesota with Abigail but didn’t come back with her. Evidently, he’s already told Hannibal about the ear, though, because Hannibal asks to see it. Will tries to explain how he woke up with his feet muddy and his hands covered in blood, but all Hannibal wants to know is when was the last time Will saw Abigail. Will says it was the previous day when they were at her father’s cabin. He tells Hannibal that Abigail ran away from him when he hallucinated killing her. Hannibal looks anxious, but it’s really hard to tell if he’s emoting (or, like, pretending he’s emoting). Yeah, I think he’s pretending. Hannibal says that Will has to call Jack; pretending it didn’t happen will only make things worse.
So Jack shows up, FBI crew in tow, and as usual I find myself screaming internally that someone needs to help Will Graham! He’s loaded into a police vehicle while his adorable little Winston looks on. Those poor dogs! I think this is the saddest I’ve ever been about Hannibal. I’m honestly more upset about the dogs than I am about Will being taken in by the FBI for processing.
Will is now at the FBI being processed (wow, yet again we have a reason to see Hugh Dancy in boxers and I’m not complaining). Bev is scraping under Will’s nails and she’s just not having it anymore. She wants Will to tell her what he gathers as fact from the evidence. Poor Will. Now everyone is acting like it’s his fault for not quitting when he started to become ill, just laying on the guilt trip. He’s dissociating, people – the guy doesn’t even know who he is half the time!
Jack is now explaining everything to Alana, and apparently the ear Will hacked up belonged to Abigail Hobbes. Apparently Will is also sporting defensive wounds on his arms, like Abigail fought back. Alana tells Jack to shut up and stop talking, as her eyes fill up with tears. She reminds Jack that he promised Will wouldn’t get too close, that he would be okay. Jack still insists on defending his actions, saying that Will was saving lives. But Alana isn’t going for it anymore. After all, she says, he didn’t save Abigail Hobbes’ life. She gets up to leave when Jack decides to counter with, “And you mean to tell me that you couldn’t see he was breaking?” Ohh, bad move, Jack. Dumb, too. The fact is, as Alana yells at him, she had been telling Jack from day one not to put Will out there. Jack defends himself by saying that every action he took with Will was done with the advice of Dr. Lecter in mind. Of course, just like everyone else, Jack and Alana give Hannibal the benefit of the doubt.
Alana goes to visit Will in jail, and he’s now sporting a snazzy new orange jumpsuit. Conversation is surprisingly normal. Will says Alana dodged a bullet with him, but that joke does not land. She says she feels wounded. But she’s so nice; Alana tells Will that she’s contacted Animal Services and will be taking care of his dogs until Will gets out. Alright, alright, now I can focus on Will’s predicament. The dogs are okay. Anyway, Will tells Alana about how Hannibal made him draw clock faces and she’s immediately concerned. Why would he do that? Will draws one for her and, yup, it’s all messed up. At least now someone knows Will is not just a psycho murderer now, right?
Hannibal is with Dr. Du Maurier and – wait, are those actual tears falling from his eyes? Is Hannibal…crying? Wow, he’s good. Evidently, he’s crying over Abigail’s death. The thing about this, in all serious, is that there may actually be some form of genuine emotion behind it. Hannibal genuinely didn’t want to kill Abigail, or he probably would have as soon as he realized she had an inkling of who and what he really is. So I think he believed he had to kill Abigail, and that he’s truly upset (in his own weird way) about it.
The lures that we saw Hannibal so meticulously crafting a few episodes ago are now being just as meticulously unraveled in the FBI lab. Evidently, they’re Will’s, and it becomes abundantly clear that Hannibal has been planning on framing Will for quite some time. Each lure is made with the remains of one of the copycat killer’s victims – Cassie Boyle, Marissa Schurr, Dr. Sutcliffe, and Georgia Madchen.
Poor Will (jeez, how many times have I felt the need to say that so far?) is stuck in his interrogation room. He sort of daydreams that he sees a transparent apparition of the stag-man in the glass of the two-way mirror to his right. He comes back to himself when Jack bluntly says, “You’re sick.” Well, tell Will something he doesn’t know, why don’t you? Oh and he does. He tells Will about the remains found in his fishing lures, and Will is horrified. He insists that Jack need not be afraid that Will knew what he was doing when he “killed” those people, but he should be afraid of whoever is framing him. Jack is less than impressed with Will’s suspicions. He officially arrests Will for murder. In the police transport vehicle, though, Will escapes.
Jack says that these are not the actions of an innocent man. Alana insists they are acts of a man who is impaired. She brings out the clock she had Will draw, and Hannibal admits it is extreme. Then he brings out one that Will drew a few weeks ago (hint: it’s a fake) that’s normal. The conversation turns to the very beginning, when the copycat killer called Garrett Jacob Hobbes. Hannibal says that it’s entirely possible that Will made the call. Oy. Seriously? You suck, Hannibal.
In his office that night, Hannibal spots a jumpsuit-clad Will perched on the second floor (seriously, what a swanked out office). He tells Hannibal that he would have believed he did it if it were only Abigail, but that he knows he couldn’t have killed the others. Although he does mention that he knows there’s someone else who did murder them and is making sure no one believes him. Oh, Will, why would you say that? This is just so frustrating. Then something interesting happens. Hannibal has Will go over each of the murders he is accused of; he says that if Will wants to prove he didn’t do them he should understand why it looks like he did. They then go through the victims, one by one. As they do, Will imagines the blacked-out tableaux of Cassie Boyle. Then the same for Marissa Schurr. Then Dr. Sutcliffe (whose jaw is, thankfully, shut). There’s no Georgia, although I would imagine the tableaux would look exactly the same, given the way she died. In the middle of the analysis, Will looks over and sees the black stag-man looking at him. Something tells me we’re about to figure out the stag motif that has been running through the whole season. Hannibal tells Will that he tries to help by getting into the killers’ heads, but he also lets them into his own, and that he, Hannibal, is trying to help. Hmm, let’s see, what killer do we know who Will lets into his head on a routine basis? This may explain the sudden appearance of the stag-man, who looks like Hannibal, behind where Hannibal is seated. Will tells Hannibal to take him to Minnesota; he needs to see where Abigail died.
Will takes an adorable (and much-needed) nap while Hannibal drives him to Abigail’s house. Meanwhile Jack shows up at Dr. Du Maurier’s house. He tells her that he believes Will has taken Hannibal to Minnesota, and she doesn’t disagree. She thinks he’s probably still trying to help Will. I can’t tell if Bedelia Du Maurier is a bit touched in the head, just as blind as the rest of them, or a fellow eater of human flesh. But there’s something off about her.
Hannibal and Will pull up to the house. Will goes to walk in and walks in on…well, that very first scene in the kitchen. The phone rings, Abigail picks it up, she hands it to her father. But Will is Garrett Jacob Hobbes in the scenario, and maybe Will is having another nightmare here. He says hello and Hannibal’s voice says, “Will.” It looks like it may be coming from the phone, but Hannibal is actually waking Will up from his car nap. It seems that now they have actually arrived.
Will steps inside the living room and recalls a moment from one of the first times he had been in that living room: the time Abigail asked if they were going to re-enact the crime. It looks like Will is starting to put two and two together, what with the focus on Abigail’s face when she suggested that Hannibal be the man on the phone. Poor Will (again). They go into the kitchen, where Abigail’s blood is all over the very spot where she had her neck sliced by her father. Will analyzes it, yadda yadda. Hannibal suggests that perhaps Will didn’t come back to this house to find a killer, so much as to find himself. Hannibal says that where other men would fear their isolation, Will has begun to understand his own. He says Will is alone because he is unique. Yes, Hannibal; we know you’re utterly fascinated by Will’s uniqueness. Then Will finally says it: “I know who I am…. I’m not so sure I know who you are anymore. But I am certain one of us killed Abigail.” BAM. Hannibal says that whichever of them it was killed the others as well. Will says he is who he has always been, but now he can see Hannibal. Hannibal would like to know what Will sees. He says Hannibal called there that morning, and that Abigail knew. Hannibal queries, what reason would he have to be a murderer? But that’s just it, Will says. It was so hard for him to see Hannibal for what he was because there’s no motive, yet it isn’t random. And then he hits the nail on the head when he says that Hannibal had just wanted to see what someone like him would do. Will knows he has been Hannibal’s puppet, used to quell a small curiosity he had. In the moment of truth Jack enters the room, and just as Will goes to shoot Hannibal, Jack shoot him. He lands in the exact spot where Garrett Jacob Hobbes did when he was shot by Will. This time, luckily, it’s not fatal. Will says, “See? You see?” Hannibal, standing behind Jack, turns into the stag-man that has been haunting Will for so long.
The stag, as it turns out, was not an arbitrary choice for a motif. Nor did it singularly represent Hobbes’ murder tableaux. The antlers are a common feature of a creature called a wendigo. The wendigo, a feature of Algonquin legend, is by nature a cannibal. There are various legends about wendigos, including one variation wherein if a human resorts to cannibalism to survive, it becomes (or is possessed by the spirit of) the wendigo. These spirits (or corporeal beings) are characterized by a ravenous and insatiable hunger for human flesh. I’m kicking myself for not having seen this connection before, but I blame Supernatural; when they did their episode on a wendigo theirs didn’t have the antlers. I truly would not have even made the connection had I not been keeping up with Bryan Fuller’s live tweet of the episode, wherein he named the anthropomorphic antlered thing as a wendigo. Suddenly everything makes so. Much. Sense. I wish I had caught on earlier. Antlers. Wendigo. Cannibal. Again, I totally blame Supernatural for not including antlers on their wendigo.
Will is in the hospital, hooked up to an oxygen tank. And oh, surprise surprise, the doctors found that the right hemisphere of his brain was totally inflamed. They had to put him in a freaking coma to heal. Hannibal says to Jack, “I believe I’ve failed to satisfy my obligations to Will.” WELL, YEAH. ACCURATE. Jack says that Will is not Hannibal’s victim, and this time it’s a “poor Jack” moment. The guy literally hasn’t got a clue. And now he feels totally guilty that Will broke, even though it’s Hannibal’s fault.
Hannibal shows up at Dr. Du Maurier’s home with food. Veal, he says. Somehow I’m more inclined to believe it’s actually teenage girl. Hannibal says that he is going to visit Will the next day, as a kind of farewell. Dr. Du Maurier changes the subject by saying that veal is a very controversial dish. Hannibal replies by saying that most people who denounce it do so because of the cows’ young ages, even though most pigs are slaughtered earlier than that. Oh, the metaphors here. I’ve come to the conclusion that “pig” is always a double entendre when it comes out of Hannibal’s mouth. Pigs are always people. And I think Abigail is the cow here. Dr. Du Maurier changes the subject again and says that Hannibal needs to be careful because they’re starting to see his pattern: He forms close relationships with violent patients. She says that, under close scrutiny, Jack’s beliefs about Hannibal may begin to unravel. Again, I’m pretty sure there’s something weird about Dr. Du Maurier but I cannot put my finger on it, for the life of me.
The next morning at the Baltimore State Hospital, Hannibal seems to be paying someone a visit. Some light opera music follows him into a familiar-looking dark hallway, to a familiar-looking cell. Familiar not from the show, but rather from Silence of the Lambs. Only the roles here are reversed. Hannibal is on the outside of the cell, looking in. And it seems that Hannibal is finally looking upon Will as himself. There’s no “person suit”. This is the guy we were used to seeing before NBC’s Hannibal. This is an Anthony Hopkins-esque controlled level of crazy. This is Hannibal Lecter as Hannibal Lecter. And he is pleased with how his curiosities played out. His plaything, Will, was just as smart as he predicted, and everything played out exactly as he planned for it to. And he smiles.
See you next season, folks.