Â Â Â Abel Gideon was half-eaten in my guest room. I have corpses on my property. You just threw up an ear! — Dr. Chilton to Will
This quote was a very faint attempt at humor in last night’s shocking episode of Hannibal, in what turned out to be nothing but funny. While Beverly Katz’s murder, and the horrific way in which she was killed, were emotionally distressing, it really wasn’t surprising in the end. She was starting to believe Will (Hugh Dancy) and suspect Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen), and anyone who comes that close usually doesn’t last that long. Even Miriam Lass (Anna Chlumsky) being alive wasn’t too surprising because her body was never found, and the Chesepeake Ripper always makes grand displays of his victims. But, the twist involving Dr. Chilton (Raul Esparza) was the shocker of the century. Even the best of us could hardly have seen that one coming.
As we suspected, Miriam being alive was very exciting (and relieving) for Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne), because now there was a glimmer of hope the Ripper could be identified, and this nightmare would finally come to an end. Unfortunately, all she can remember about her captor is a figure standing in the light and the sound of his voice. I think most of the audience could clearly tell the voice was Hannibal’s, but even after hearing Dr. Lecter speak, Miriam is certain Hannibal is not the Ripper.
At first I thought Miriam may be suffering from Stockholm syndrome and was just protecting Hannibal. But, her conversation with Will puts that theory to bed, and she realizes that just like Will Graham, she is another victim of the Ripper’s manipulation.
Â Â Â You and I are part of his design. He wanted you to be free. He wanted me free too — Will to Miriam
Â Â Â Neither of us are really free. He’s not done — Miriam to Will
So, if she’s not protecting Hannibal, why is she still alive? We know the Ripper kills his victims almost immediately, and we know he never makes mistakes (well, almost never. See my comment about that at the end of the review). That means the Ripper held onto Miriam for a specific reason, and whatever plan the Ripper has was set in motion by allowing her to be found.
We don’t know what that plan is yet, but part of it includes Will being exonerated. Finding Miriam and the Ripper’s little house of horrors proved that Will was innocent, and so, he is released and immediately re-instated as a member of Jack’s team. As most of us suspected, Will’s first order of business after his release is to confront the man who tried to frame him. This scene was one of the best of the episode and it was quite telling. We know Will wanted Hannibal dead, and he now had the perfect opportunity. But, what would that solve? After Dr. Katz discovered Hannibal’s torture chamber in his basement, that is probably gone now, along with any physical evidence tying Hannibal to the Ripper murders. So, if Will murdered Dr. Lecter, he’ll go to prison for the rest of his life, and the world would likely view Hannibal as a martyr, an innocent victim by the unstable Will Graham as some sort of payback for his false imprisonment. No, that’s not the answer, and fortunately, Will was able to see that at the end. But, it was a little funny to see Dr. Lecter sweat a little. That little flinch when Will pulled the trigger demonstrated clearly that Hannibal doesn’t have complete control over Will like the rest of his victims.
Up until this point, the episode was very good, and if it ended right here,I still would have given it an “A”. But, just like the last 2 episodes, the real jolt didn’t come until the last ten minutes of the episode. That little hanging chad of Miriam being left alive and what purpose she serves was about to be answered. Will had been exonerated, and so, the blame needed to be shifted to someone else. You know, ever since Dr. Chilton’s character was introduced back in season 1, I had wondered why in the hell does Hannibal not kill this guy. In the novels, Dr. Lecter often killed people he thought were annoying, and then cannibalized them as an act of dominance. Well, Dr. Chilton was the poster child for being annoying, and now, he was starting to believe that Hannibal was the Chesepeake Ripper.
The only problem is in the novels, Dr. Chilton was a pivotal character and never became a target of Dr. Lecter’s. So, in the back of my mind, I thought he was “safe”, which turned out to be a big mistake. I also review The Walking Dead, which is based on a series of comic books, and the one thing I have learned about that show is that the comics is not a script. They’ve killed off characters in the TV show that are still alive in the comics, given characters the deaths that were given to other characters in the comics, and all sorts of other things to mix up the pot. I should have known Dr. Chilton wasn’t going to make it out alive, because the writing was definitely on the wall, but I had this sense of security like I’m sure most of the viewers did.
Even so, I don’t think anyone could have anticipated how Dr. Chilton would go out. Most people probably imagined him being sliced and diced and displayed in whatever freaky way that popped into Hannibal’s mind on that particular day. Nope, not even close. When Dr. Chilton returned home and saw what Hannibal had done, he knew. Able Gideon’s dismembered torso with what remained of one of his arm’s still in a meat slicer, and then, waking up to find two FBI agents slaughtered in his living room. Obviously, Dr. Chilton had replaced Will Graham as Hannibal’s new patzy.
Without a doubt, Raul Esparza was the MVP in this episode, and he did a spectacular job. The facade of this arrogant, all-knowing psychiatrist quickly came down, and we were left with this weak, terrified man. I don’t think a single viewer could not help but feel sorry for the guy, and that means Esparza did his job, and very well. The punchline didn’t come until Dr. Chilton is interrogated. He finally decided to follow Will’s advice and not panic and run, but not before Miriam Lass’ role in Hannibal’s scheme is revealed. She finally is able to see a face in the memories she have of her captivity, and they are not of Hannibal, but of Dr. Chilton. That sealed Dr. Chilton’s fate, because Miriam did what any traumatized victim would do — she killed her abuser, and ironically, with Jack Crawford’s gun.
Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. This episode is definitely one that fans will be talking about for a very long time. Even though the clues were there, there is no way anyone could have seen this bombshell coming. And, in many ways, this entire scheme raises Hannibal Lecter to a whole new level of “intelligent psychopath”. This guy isn’t just “intelligent”, he’s genius. Here is a man who had this thing planned for almost 2 years, well before the series even began. Two freaking years! What Hannibal did is dubbed “theater” in the episode, but I actually see it as some freaky chess game. Hannibal knew exactly what kind of game he wanted to play from the beginning, all he needed to do was place the right chess pieces at the right time. People like Will Graham and Frederick Chilton were just pawns in the grand scheme of things, and Miriam Lass killing Dr. Chilton was his “check and mate”.
But, the game is far from over. I said earlier that Hannibal never makes mistakes, but I do believe he has made one — involving Will Graham. Hannibal couldn’t help himself by engaging Will because unlike the idiots like Dr. Chilton and even Jack Crawford that he encounters every day, Will is a worthy adversary. He likes Will and as much as he is capable of, I do believe he wants to be Will’s friend. And, as we know from the novels, that is what ultimately gets Hannibal caught.
All in all, this was an exceptional episode. It is, by far, the best one of the series thus far, and it could have easily served as the season finale. But, Bryan Fuller and friends aren’t done with us yet. With what happened in this episode, heaven knows that sadistic plan they have for the real season finale.
Hannibal airs on Fridays at 10/9c on NBC.
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