Jack and Will have a conversation about luring Hannibal into the open and using a fishing analogy they discuss their plan to capture Hannibal. Will, Jack and Hannibal have dinner and discuss the events of the season and agree, outwardly at least, to move on from the various accusations thrown and offenses taken. The killer of the week has been sewing his victims into horses to create life from a death. Hannibal has a new patient – Margot Verger who has suffered years of abuse by her insane brother. Hannibal and Alana discuss Hannibal’s new therapy with Will. Alana is strongly against him continuing, believing Hannibal to be in danger, but Hannibal convinces her that it’s a good idea for him to continue.
In the lab, the team discovers that the victim’s throat is packed with soil and that she has a heartbeat despite having no pulse. They open the body up and a bird emerges from within. Will takes a look at the horses and begins assembling how the crimes were conducted. Will deduces that the victim, Sarah, was not murdered, but instead placed instead the animal as a sign of grief. Jack and Will go visit a suspect, Peter, who is a little off due to being kicked in the head by a horse. Will doesn’t think that Peter is the killer though, but that he is a good clue.
Will has a therapy session with Hannibal where he cuts the bullshit and tells Hannibal outright that he still fantasizes about killing him but says that he won’t go through with it. The FBI has found a field full of graves, 16 in all. Fifteen contain the bodies of young women. The 16th was empty; someone dug her up to sew her into that horse. Specifically, Will thinks Peter dug her up. He pays Peter a visit, taking him the bird found in the dead woman’s chest for him to care for. Peter points Will to his social worker, Clark Ingram. The FBI brings Clark in for an interview with Alana. Watching from behind a one-way mirror, Will becomes convinced Clark is a psychopath; but the FBI has nothing to hold him on, so Jack orders the man released.
Peter comes back to his home to find all his cages empty and his animals gone. Someone is sending him a message, and he bets he knows who. Returning to the stable where he used to work, he finds the body of a horse. Clark Ingram stands over it, holding a bloody hammer. It’s the same horse that kicked Peter in the head, and Clark tells him that between this and the 16 dead women, people will say that Peter’s break was a long time coming.
Clark is sewed inside the horse though Peter says that he is not dead. The sides of the dead horse bulge and horse guts come spilling out, followed by a gore-covered Clark Ingram. Will points a gun at Clark, who drops to his knees and says he’s the victim. Hannibal tries to talk Will out of shooting the social worker. Hannibal drops his thumb in between the hammer and the firing pin just as Will pulls the trigger and then he takes the gun away. Hannibal is impressed at Will’s transformation.
Before we get into this episode itself, I think I should say a few things about this second half of the season. As of the last episode, it felt almost as if the series reset – Chilton took the blame for everything and suddenly it felt like everyone was back to square one. Jack and Will were no closer to pinning the murders on Hannibal and Hannibal was basically free do as he pleased given that no one had any legal reason to monitor him any further. More importantly, while I consciously knew that it wasn’t a complete reset so to speak since Will’s character had developed its darker side and Jack was fully back on Will’s side, it nevertheless felt like the steam that the excellent first half of the series had developed had basically run its course and delivered it massive payload with Chilton’s death. This episode does not do much to prove me wrong in that regard – yes, they address the events of the past, but while the past seven episodes felt like a headlong rush towards a conclusion, suddenly in this episode, or rather since the conclusion of the last episode, it feels like we’ve returned to the status quo of killers of the week and a slower, more deliberate plot. Of course, there are new developments, which we will get to below, but essentially I feel this sense of frustration at going back to the old solving cases setup.
Even apart from all of that, this might easily be one of my least favourite episodes of Hannibal. The characters in Hannibal are seldom a likeable lot – regardless of whether they are ‘heroes’ or ‘villains’, there’s nothing particularly loveable about characters like Jack, Will or Hannibal. Don’t get me wrong, they’re fascinating characters and I have enjoyed watching them but even by the show’s standards the newest additions to the cast are extremely unlikable. Let’s start with Clark Ingram, clearly one of more deplorable motherfuckers we’ve seen on this show and let’s be honest, we’ve seen a good deal of shit on this show. Still, it wasn’t that Clark’s brand of evil was too over-the-top for me or crossed some kind of moral boundary on what I would want to watch, but coming back to my point in the previous paragraph, it’s hard for me to summon much of a response beyond, ‘I don’t care about you, or what happens to you, so please just die already’. I don’t think that I’m wrong for having that response, but rather, that there is a problem when the show creates that response. If your villains aren’t engaging, or even worse, are flat out boring, then you’ve failed at the most important part of story-telling – entertainment. To sum it up, I found that nothing truly consequential happened this episode; in fact, if I considered the episode purely in terms of how characters and their relationships have changed in the bigger picture, I could summarize it in a few sentences.
Then we have Margot Verger, a character that seems extremely unpleasant. While that is clearly due to the extensive and thorough abuse that she has suffered at the hands of her brother, who I believe did not appear in this episode, I still can’t imagine myself ever wanting more screen time for Margot though I think I’ll wait till the next episode before deciding on my conclusion. What I find strange is that the show has only five episodes left and I can’t imagine how this random subplot is going help hasten the end-game for the season. At this point though, are some great episodes this season and last, I think that the show runners have earned enough patience from me to wait and see what they have in store before dismissing it entirely. That said, I still have a bad feeling about how the whole Margot thing is going to turn out.
Lastly, we’ll touch a little upon Will’s excellent fishing metaphor regarding Hannibal. I want to believe that his whole emotional response to Clark was what he thought he needed in order to become better bait for the fish he was trying to catch though it seems clear to me at this point that there are only a few ways that this could possibly end:
- Will ‘becomes the mask’ and his murderous instincts this season were real and the darkness is him is strong.
- Will is ‘faking it’ and trying to lure Hannibal closer at which he either succeeds or fails.
- Some combination of the above two.
Regardless of which one it is, it should be interesting to see how Will tries to bring Hannibal in. Something about the whole set up worries me though – I feel like it’s doomed to fail, to begin with. Hannibal has always been at least a few steps ahead of Will and Jack and I don’t think that’s changed.