Dr. Chilton is facing accusations of psychic driving from his patient Abel Gideon, who claims that it was Chilton was convinced him that he was the Chesapeake Ripper. In his home, Will has a nightmare in which he’s drowning. Gideon provokes his guards and escapes. Will and Jack are called to the crime scene. Will recreates the scene in his head and realizes that Gideon is heading towards Balitmore. Will and Alana visit Chilton. Chilton is hostile and refuses to take the blame for any of these events and continues to insist that Gideon is the Chesapeake ripper. Chilton ends the conversation by informing Will and Alana that Gideon’s last message was that he intended show people that he is the Chesapeake Ripper. Will has another waking nightmare in which he is imprisoned in mental asylum and Jack accuses him of murder. Jack notices Will’s little episode but does not say anything.
Will discusses these episodes with Hannibal a little later. Will admits that he feels crazy and that he is afraid that he no longer knows who he is and realizes that that is what Gideon feels as well. Will thinks that Gideon is going after his old psychiatrists and realizes that Alana is on that list. Will is assigned to Alana as her protective custody and they flirt a little, before Alana notes that Will seems oddly warm – a reference to the encephalitis from the previous episode, though Will attributes it to stress. They talk about the case and Will thinks that Gideon is looking for the real Chesapeake Ripper but realizes that the real Ripper will kill Gideon as soon as they meet.
Freddie Lounds is contacted by a psychiatrist named Dr. Carruthers who wants to collaborate with Lounds on an article. She visits his office, only to find that Gideon has killed the real Carruthers and was posing as him when he called earlier. Gideon displayed the deceased Carruthers’ body and mentions that he is recreating the Ripper’s murders. The computer in the crime scene is displaying an article detailing the murder and Jack notes that it was published before the blood was put on ice and Will realizes that Gideon has Lounds. At the observatory, Gideon discusses his demands with Lounds – he wants to know who exactly he is. He seems to remember the Ripper’s murders but notes that they are fuzzy in his head. Meanwhile, there have been further murders – two other psychiatrists who interviewed Gideon have been killed in almost the same way. However, while Gideon cut the previous doctor’s tongue out and left the rest of the body alone, these new corpses are missing an arm and Will realizes that Gideon did not kill them, but the Chesapeake Ripper did. Will realizes the missing arm is a sign from the Ripper as to where to look – the missing arm is homage to Miriam Lass’ own severed arm and is a sign leading Jack and Will to the observatory.
Gideon has Chilton and has him strapped to an operating gurney. He intends to disembowel Chilton while Chilton is conscious and watching. Lounds is made to provide him with ventilation to ensure he does not pass out from the shock. He begins the procedure is doggedly keeps Chilton from passing out. A SWAT team assembles outside of the observatory and Jack asks Will to stay inside the car. Will is having another episode however, and he follows behind Jack and the team shortly after. However, he is distracted by a moose in the distance and chases after it. Jack and the team enter the observatory but Gideon is gone but Chilton and Lounds remain. Lounds is unable to leave her position because she is holding the oxygen bag for Chilton, who is unconscious. Meanwhile, Gideon watches Jack’s team evacuate Chilton and Lounds and returns to a vehicle, only to find Will in the backseat, pointing a gun at him. Gideon notes that he was expecting the Ripper and wonder if Will is him.
Will, oddly, brings Gideon to Hannibal, who seems oddly accepting of the situation. Will asks, pointing at Gideon, if Gideon is real. Hannibal asks who he sees and Will says that he sees Garret Jacob Hobbs but Hannibal calmly tells Will that there is no one there and Will has a complete meltdown as he realizes his sanity has finally, utterly, deserted him. Will ends up having a seizure and Hannibal and Gideon speak. Gideon asks if Hannibal is the Ripper and Hannibal does not answer but notes that it is a terrible thing to have one’s identity taken away. He reminds Gideon that Alana was one his psychiatrists and tells him where to find her. When Gideon is gone, Hannibal snaps Will out of his seizure. Hannibal mentions that Gideon is at large and that he is worried about Alana. He tells Will that he is no state to go anywhere but the hospital, but pointedly leaves Will’s gun on the table when he leaves the room. He is unsurprised when he returns into the room to find Will gone. Will arrives, trembling to find Gideon staring at Alana’s home. Instead of shooting him, Will talks to him. Gideon confesses that he does not think that he will ever be able to shake the Ripper’s identity off himself. Will’s mind is a wreck though and he thinks Gideon is Hobbs. Alana hears a gunshot and sees Will crumble to the ground outside her house.
Hannibal and Jack talk about the previous night and Will took down Abel Gideon before collapsing from a very high fever. Jack is confident that the hospital will find what is wrong with Will but Hannibal tells Jack that Will should not be permitted to carry firearms. The episode ends with Hannibal talking about the incident with Dr. Du Maurier who warns him to end his fascination with Will.
That was easily one of the densest episodes of Hannibal that I have ever seen and that’s certainly saying something given how much happens in almost every episode. I guess my feelings about this episode can really be broken down into two categories – my despair at Will’s deceased sanity and my awe at how well this particular plotline seems to be coming together. Of course, it also helps that this episode marked the return of some familiar faces that I had hoped we would see again – Drs Gideon and Chilton. I recall mentioning during the last episode that featured these two fascinating characters that I felt that that episode felt out of place given that the dramatic value of Gideon claiming to be the Ripper was widely diminished by the audience’s knowledge that Hannibal is the most definitely the Ripper. However, the seed that was planted then only bore fruit now and it has done so in spectacular fashion – the conversation between Gideon and Hannibal was a great scene even though nothing particularly exciting seemed to come off it.
I have mentioned before that Will and Hannibal are represented by two elemental opposites and I was strongly reminded of that difference in this episode. Hannibal, as you might recall, is frequently associated with imagery of fire, burning and destruction and the related hues that follow those images (red, orange, yellow – fiery colours, essentially) whereas Will is associated with water and preservation and soothing as those colours (blue, bluish green, etc.). I find it extremely interesting (though I admit I might be reading too much into it) that every time Will has one of his episodes, the visual effect that they choose to use to differentiate his episodes from reality matches that of underwater submersion. The scenes become surreal and blurry, as though seen underwater, though you could just as easily make a case about it actually being seen through a fiery haze (like those desert mirages). By point is really that Hannibal’s fire is beginning to burn away at Will and if that sounds a little too flowery to have any substance behind it, just consider how it is almost singlehandedly Hannibal’s influence that has left Will with a very high fever, losing his sanity in the middle of the woods with a serial killer that Will thinks is another, different serial killer.
Gideon’s crusade to dole out justice to those who have wronged him is as warped as it gets but somehow despite all of that, you can’t help but think that Gideon is, in several ways, a victim of powers that he just does not seem to comprehend at all. He makes all the moves in this episode and yet, once he finally gets his wish and is brought before the Chesapeake Ripper, you get this strong impression that Hannibal can (and seemingly will) snap him like a twig. On the other side, Gideon is also being manipulated (much less competently and thus to a much smaller extent by the slimy Dr. Chilton. Chilton’s punishment was jawdroppingly brutal though somehow my major take-away from that scene was how incredibly badass Freddie Lounds really is. She is a despicable human being in some ways but I feel like it would take an incredible amount of nerve to talk to Gideon (not to mention go through his ‘procedure’) so calmly, under those circumstances.
All these things are far from the main course of this episode – Will’s long dreaded breakdown. There can be no doubt that he’s lost it at this point and it’s not even his fault. The scene where he saw Gideon as Garet Jacob Hobbs and was begging Hannibal to tell him the truth was heart-breaking. It really showcased how Hannibal was, in every way, the exact opposite of Will – Will has pure empathy but Hannibal has no empathy at all. He was able to look a ‘friend’, who was begging him to tell the truth, in the eye and lie without a moment’s hesitation. I expected no less, but damn, that was a cold, cold scene.
The episode ended in a rather odd manner, if you ask me. We still don’t know what Hannibal’s end game regarding Will is. It’s clear he doesn’t want Will dead and events are shaping up such that Will seems to be in a position where Hannibal can frame him for his (Hannibal’s) own crimes. I’m not sure if that would work out that neatly simply because surely there must be people who could act as alibis for Will. Even Jack himself can attest that Will was with him at the time that some of the Ripper’s murders were committed. Despite strongly suspecting what’s going to happen, I can’t wait to see how Hannibal executes it.