Will visits Georgia Madchen in hospital and she mentions that she doesn’t want to remember what she did. She is in an oxygen tank as part of her treatment, and she finds a comb. The sparks from her hair as she combs spark a fire that end up burning her alive. When Will and Jack investigate, Jack is unhappy to learn that Will had met Georgia shortly before she died. Freddie Lounds discusses Abigail’s book with her and they talk about different names for the book. Lounds asks if Abigail blames her father for the deaths of Marissa Schuer and Cassie Boyle. Lounds says that the better question is who killed Nicholas Boyle and Abigail is wracked by guilt. Lounds still thinks that Will is a serial killer and says that she would know – having seen, spoken to and been near them.
Will has a nightmare where he sees Georgia Madchen and follows her out of his house. She asks him if he sees it yet and she is impaled on stag’s antlers and bursts into fire, reborn as a stag herself. Will thinks that whoever killed Dr. Sutcliffe also killed Georgia and he tells Jack this but Jack thinks Will is still suffering from his fever and that he is trying to rationalize these deaths. In the BAU lab, the team finds a piece of plastic. Will asks if it could have been a comb Will realizes that it was the murder ‘weapon’ though no one else thinks it’s a murder. Will argues that Sutcliffe’s murderer was copying Georgia Madchen just like the Hobb’s copycat was copying Hobbs. Jack warily asking Will if he is suggesting that the copycat from the two sprees are the same and Will realizes that Georgia was also killed by the copycat. Will realizes that Georgia was killed because she saw the copycat’s face. Jack asks Hannibal later whether Will could still be suffering from a fever since he is connecting murders that seem unrelated and Hannibal adds “beyond his involvement in them”, prompting Jack to wonder what Will has been up to during his episodes.
Jack visits Dr. Du Maurier a little later, asking about what Hannibal has said about Will. They discuss the patient who attack Dr. Du Maurier and she relates some details about the incident and reveals that she would have died had her attacker not swallowed his own tongue. Jack asks if Hannibal would hide information from the FBI to protect Will. Jack meets the FBI team and asks them to track all of Hobb’s activities in his final months, including who he met and interacted with. He is willing to follow through on Will’s thought process for now. Meanwhile, Will meets Abigail and they talk about Hobbs and the anger Abigail still feels towards her father for ruining her life. Dr. Du Maurier tells Hannibal to stop interacting with Will and that it is not good for either of them. She mentions that Jack knew about the attack and tells Hannibal that she gave Jack only half-truths. She mentions that she left out how, why and who was responsible, implying Hannibal was involved in the attack.
Will meets Hannibal later to discuss his suspicions and Will thinks that copycat has something personal against him. Will intends to recreate the killer’s thinking and plans to take Abigail back to her father’s cabin and try to find a pattern. Hannibal insists that Abigail be left out of it, but Will is insistent. Obviously, Hannibal is unhappy that Will is beginning to uncover his tracks. Meanwhile, in the BAU, the team and Jack come to the conclusion that Abigail was the bait and that she was helping her father choose his victims. Jack incorrectly surmises that Abigail could be the copycat killer. Jack goes to the asylum to find Abigail but finds out that Will has snuck her out. Lounds asks Jack if Abigail killed Nicholas Boyle. Jack goes directly to Hannibal to demand what has been happening between Will and Abigail. Hannibal tells Jack about Will’s episodes and Jack is angry that Hannibal did not mention it to him before. Hannibal defends his work but Jack is more interested in where Will has taken Abigail. Hannibal seemingly reluctantly plays a tape of their sessions for Jack – where Will says that he felt like he killed Marissa. Jack walks through the various murders and realizes that Will was at every crime scene just before the crimes, though Hannibal lies to corroborate the stories. Jack thinks that Will took Abigail to Minnesota to kill her.
Will and Abigail are on a plane to Minnesota. When they reach the cabin, they talk about Will’s need to get into Hobb’s mind. Abigail abruptly asks if Will ever hunted before. Will absently replies that he fishes then a thought occurs to him and he asks Abigail if she fished or hunted the girls for her father. Will realizes that Jack was right about Abigail the whole while but the strain causes another episode and he doesn’t realize what he’s saying. Abigail gets progressively more upset and accuses Will of being the copycat. Will wakes on a plane in Virginia without Abigail in sight. Abigail returns to her home where she finds Hannibal, who says he was worried about her. Abigail tells him that Will knows everything and Hannibal tells her that Jack knows as well. Abigail asks Hannibal why he called her house that afternoon. Hannibal answers because he was curious about what would happen. He admits to killing Marissa and says he did it because he wanted to know what would happen. He tells her that he’s killed many more people than her father. She asks if he’s going to kill her and he apologizes for not being able to protect her.
This might be one of the greatest penultimate episodes to a season ever made and I mean that with as little hyperbole as possible. Everything is perfectly set up for the confrontation between Will, Jack and Hannibal in the season finale and it promises to be explosive. So, Jack thinks that Will did it and honestly, the case against Will is frighteningly overwhelming. The genius of it all was that Will did himself in, first by suggesting that Georgia was murdered instead of just going with the suggestion that she committed suicide. Of course, he knows he didn’t do it so it’s more like he was just trying to actually solve the mystery. He makes matter worse though by suggesting a link between the first antler mounting killer to the copycat killer. This in and of itself is not news to the audience, but this is the first that the characters would know of such a connection and it seems understandably absurd. The more Will begins to accurately connect the dots, the larger the leaps in his logic seemingly become until the only explanation that makes sense is that he did it himself. Of course Hannibal just adds fuel to the fire by providing just the right amount of information that Jack will just go ahead and follow the lead given to him. The finale will probably end up as Will discovering Hannibal since he seems so very close, Jack ‘discovering’ Will’s role in it and Hannibal getting away scot-free since he just took out the only loose thread – Abigail. In fact, Abigail is the only one that I feel really bad about here. She is, as Lounds so astutely puts it, an extremely intelligent girl but she is totally outclassed by literally every one of the main characters who can and do eventually run circles around here. In her panic, she makes the poor, but understandable, decision of running to the stable seeming Hannibal instead of the clearly unstable Will.
There is also the matter of the stag. There stag has been a symbol of something and I’ve struggled to see it for a long time. I think I finally sort of figured it out – the stag is a representation of the Hobbs copycat. Georgia bursting into flame and turning into a stag is a sign that the two are related or the same. Of course, we know that they are the same and bursting into fire seems like another great reference to how Hannibal is ‘fire’ and Will is water. In fact, Will makes another reference to the difference between what he is and what Hannibal is – Will is a fisher (water!) and Hannibal is a hunter (hence the stag, maybe?). Of course, Abigail asks what the difference is, but there is a big difference to me, at least. Hunting implies a very predatory activity whereas fishing seems much less ominous. Will fishing seems almost like he’s using bait to catch something (criminals?) whereas Hannibal’s hunting seems like preying on the innocent. Of course, I could be reading too much into it based on the characters roles as protagonist and antagonist respectively, but I’ll stick with my usual defence and say that the equivalence ‘feels’ right.
I need to give another shoutout to the visual and sound effects in this show – Will’s dream in which he sees Georgia in his home was extremely unnerving especially because of the way her motion would ‘lag’ or stutter and because of the extremely jarring music that accompanied it. The visual effect alone would be comical and the sound effect alone would sound like a bad glitch but together it felt surreal, like a fever dream (which is what it was, technically).
There are some questions that I have and I do hope that the finale answers them, but the most burning of them is this – what exactly happened to Dr. Du Maurier? She was attacked by a patient and it seems like Hannibal wasn’t the patient (since he said that he felt responsible for the incident because he referred the patient to her) but at the same time, she implies that he was involved in the incident beyond just the referral. On top of it all, the attacker swallowed his own tongue which was exactly what happened to a rude prisoner in Hannibal Lector’s first scene in the Silence of the Lambs.