Will reveals to Hannibal that he has told Mason Verger that Hannibal wants to kill him, telling Hannibal that he was curious what would happen – a reversal of what Hannibal told him earlier in the season. Hannibal warns Will that their mutual understanding of each other’s psyches gives them the ability to deceive and be deceived by each other. Will continues to prod Hannibal to kill Mason but Hannibal notes that Will wants to feed Hannibal to the pigs himself. Mason confronts Hannibal about his ‘counsel’ to Margot and makes veiled threats to Hannibal. He wants to know what plan Hannibal and Will are concocting with regards to Margot. Will and Hannibal meet Margot who is defeated. Without the ability to produce a male heir, Margot is totally reliant on Mason.
Will reports to Jack later but confesses that Hannibal has given Will nothing actionable. Jack is under a great deal of stress since Will has killed someone and made a public spectacle over Freddie Lounds’ ‘death’ but the façade cannot continue indefinitely. Will reveals that Hannibal wants Will to murder Mason Verger and Will is trying to get Hannibal do commit the act himself. Jack warns Will to not let his empathy confuse him with what Will wants and what Hannibal wants. Will plans to arrest Hannibal when he tries to kill Mason Verger and as a result there will be 2 witnesses. Jack reveals that with Du Maurier, there will be 3. Will interviews her and she reveals that she killed a patient who attacked her while under Hannibal’s influence. Her story resonates with Will who committed a similar murder with Randall Tier. Du Maurier warns Will that Hannibal does not coerce but persuades instead and tell him that Hannibal will soon convince Will to murder someone he loves all the while making Will think it is the only option. She tells him the best way to catch him will be due to his complacency.
Will meets Hannibal later and concedes that they are both alone and only have each other. Dr. Du Maurier is less than optimistic that Jack’s trap will work and instead thinks that Hannibal has been orchestrating the entire affair. Mason Verger stops by Will’s house and they drive away while his goons go to Hannibal. Hannibal kills one but the other tazes him and he finds himself in front of Will and Mason being strung up for the pigs. He almost taunts his captor into killing him but Mason stops it before it can happen. Mason doesn’t kill Hannibal himself though – he hands the knife to Will and tells him to cut Hannibal so the pigs will finish him off. Will chooses instead to free Hannibal but passes out as Verger’s goon knocks him out. When Will wakes up, he finds the goon fed to the pigs and Hannibal and Mason gone.
Hannibal has drugged Mason with a series of psychedelics and gets him to cut himself by demonstrating how ‘show the fat on a pig’. Will returns home to find blood on his dogs’ mouths and a heavily butchered Mason Verger in his living room. Mason is cutting his face off and is feeding them to Will’s dogs. Hannibal tells Will that Will was to be fed to the pigs after Hannibal and Mason agrees amiably. Despite this, Will doesn’t intend to kill Mason saying that Mason is Hannibal’s patient. Hannibal breaks Mason’s neck but doesn’t kill him.
Jack meets Mason in his sick-room and asks him about what happened to him. Mason says that he fell into the pig-pen but Jack is obvious sceptical that pigs ate his face off but can’t read Mason’s face since there is nothing to read on the mask. Jack leaves and Margot enters as Mason’s caretaker. Jack and Hannibal reach a new understanding after their homicidal experience. Will encourages Hannibal to give Jack the Chesapeake Ripper, to give him closure. Hannibal is hesitant since he considers Jack a friend but decides that as a friend Jack deserves the truth.
With that, we bid adieu to the Verger subplot. I wasn’t the biggest fan of it in the beginning, but it certainly grew on me and that conclusion was something quite spectacularly gruesome. As always, I have to lament that I can’t just paste entire conversations between the characters because there is a certain subtle beauty to them that a summary just can’t capture. Still, as we head into the end-game in the season finale next week, I think it’s important for us to catch our breaths and see where we are with regards to the big picture and the overall plot.
From a purely plot perspective, I’m a big fan of how the Verger sub-plot was so neatly (or not so neatly, depending on how you look at it) wrapped up. Will saving Hannibal’s life was somewhat questionable to me at first because I was thinking that it might have been worth it just to get rid of Hannibal even if it meant jail time but it didn’t occur to me at the time it would effectively have been suicide since Mason intended to kill Will as well. The action sequences on this show are always short, brutal but incredibly well-done and make me wish that there were more of them. I wouldn’t want the show to become centred on the action by any means, but a little less talking and a little more action really wouldn’t hurt anybody. Well, anybody except the people getting beaten up. In any case, this episode basically explains the scene from the beginning of the season – Hannibal reveals himself to Jack, or at least intends to, but Jack tries to get the drop on him and fails. However, what I don’t understand is why Jack is there alone and why on Earth he would be stupid enough to try to take Hannibal on one-on-one. I like the touch of how Will was finally able to earn Hannibal’s trust not just by saving his life but also by staying true to his own nature and not killing Mason Verger when he had the chance. It humanizes Hannibal in a surprising way, as does the final scene where Hannibal debates revealing who he really is to Jack. The fact that he intends to kill as a means of revealing himself is a little unorthodox, to say the least, but it feels like we’re finally beginning to get a glimpse into Hannibal’s headspace. Yet, at the same time, Will’s headspace is beginning to get further away from us – he is speaking of Hannibal in tones that are in between adoring and awestruck and that cannot be a good sign for the next episode. Yet, it feels like there are a few twists left in the tale – Alana Bloom needs closure, as do Freddie Lounds, Dr. Du Maurier and the main trio.
I should also take some time to praise the amount of effort put into the visuals on this show. I don’t mean the flashy, trashy action type visuals either but rather the thematic coherence between the visuals like the way the cold, clean machinery in the pig house is contrasted with the hot, messy blood of the various victims as well as the silence of the victims compared to the pigs’ shrieks. Hannibal has always been good with symbols and imagery even now they still use the allusions of fire and water to represent Will and Hannibal and it’s a sign of Will’s alignment that he has begun to adopt the fire as well (as seen in the last episode, where he burns Lounds’ corpse). Finally, there is the symbolism of the stag, the antlered man that emerges from the stag. After a great deal of thought, I’ve come to the conclusion (which was probably obvious to most of you from the beginning) that the stag, in fact, represents Will himself. In the previous episode, an antlered form of Will emerges from the stag’s corpse and that’s as clear a sign as you’re ever going to get that Will has changed from the prey (the stag) to the predator (the antlered man) yet it seems hard to really think of Will as the predator. Unlike Hannibal, he seems much more vulnerable and fallible. In any case, from an execution standpoint (heh), this show is basically run by Hugh Dancy who has begun to outshine Mikkelsen’s Hannibal and has long since surpassed Fishbourne’s Jack Crawford. There isn’t a whole lot more to say about the performances themselves except that I think that Mikkelsen hasn’t really been able to deliver some of Hannibal’s more intense scenes quite as well in these recent episodes. Then again, it might just be that I’ve gotten used to his acting and the quality performances he always puts in but I remember when I first began watching this show that I would regularly be impressed by way Mikkelsen’s Hannibal was able to find that balance between amiable and ominous. Now, I find that it’s Dancy who tends to steal the show more often but that might also be because he is more often the focus of these episodes.
That’s about all I have to say about this episode. Next week, the season finale where we finally find out who eats whom (I have to say that I shall be extremely upset if any combination of Hannibal, Will and/Jack end up on each other’s tables).