HANNIBAL: Will Graham is not what you think. He’s not a murderer.
BROWN: He is now. By proxy.
HANNIBAL: He asked you to do this?
In which the game changes.
[N.B. Spoilers for all episodes; blood & gore, strangulation, torture, reference to suicide.]
Hannibal begins “Mukozuke” triumphant. While Jack is in agony over Bella’s attempted suicide, Hannibal cooks “Hangtown Fry”, a dish of bacon and eggs and oysters made famous during the California Gold Rush in the 1850s, created as an extravagant meal to celebrate gold prospectors striking it rich.
Hannibal refused Bella’s gold obol as payment for the “cure” of death; instead, he mined the situation for the more valuable treasure—Jack’s gratitude.
The other cause of his glee is the nightmare he’s crafted for the FBI, in which he again plays God: not the Creator, but the Destroyer. His chosen theatre, the “scene of the crime”, is the observatory where Miriam’s severed arm was found, where Gideon made Freddie an unwilling accomplice in his surgical removal of Chilton’s organs, and where Will’s mind fractured. This is the devil’s workshop, the place where people are unmade.
It’s conspicuously artful: Hannibal’s performing as the Ripper, who favours the elaborate and dramatic. Bryan Fuller compared this tableau to the exhibits of “Body Worlds”; as well as the art of Damien Hirst [e.g. “The Black Sheep with Golden Horns (Divided)” or “Mother and Child (Divided) [x] or “Some Comfort Gained From the Acceptance of the Inherent Lies in Everything” [x], and the horse vivisected by pieces of glass in Tarsem’s THE CELL.
This is the end of a human life, Beverly’s life; but Hannibal’s tableau short-circuits emotional responses. Damien Hirst described his vivisection pieces as addressing the “slaughter” of animals, “an emotional thing which you are dealing with in a very brutal, unemotional way”. There’s something of the slaughterhouse about Hannibal’s destruction of Beverly’s body: strangled, flash-frozen and cut apart using a band-saw.
Hannibal displays her for a cold and clinical eye. Each slice is tightly compressed between plates of plexiglass: a forensic dissection, a series of evidence-slides, mimicking Beverly’s method of dissecting a crime-scene into its layers of evidence.
There’s a strange dissonance within it: the front plate contains Beverly’s full side profile, and she appears whole.
But when Will moves a little to the side, he’s confronted with the deconstructed parts.
The display of her internal organs estranges us from the body—it feels taboo. To Hannibal’s mind, Beverly invaded his home and the private and intimate territory of his basement, and witnessed what was concealed and forbidden. So he violates the integrity of her body, and exposes her insides in precisely the same way.
In the past Will struggled to project himself into Hannibal’s mind and reenact the work of “the Ripper”. He was never able to reconstruct any of the Ripper’s murders in “Sorbet”, when Hannibal left a trail of corpses. But after the moment of recognition in Minnesota, Will is increasingly able to imagine himself as Hannibal.
In the liminal space of his imagination Will puts her body back together, makes her body whole. But to reconstruct the murder, he must imagine it from beginning to end. For the first time, we see Will-as-Hannibal committing murder.
WILL: I strangle Beverly Katz, looking in her eyes. She knows me, and I - know - her. I expertly squeeze the life from her, rendering her unconscious. I freeze her body, preserving shape and form so that I can more cleanly dismantle her. She cuts like stone. I pull her apart, layer by layer, like she would a crimescene.
Will’s mimicry of the unfeeling precision of Beverly’s death, dismantling her body, contrasts with the grief and guilt and seething fury Will himself shows.
WILL: She will be missing organs. He had to take his trophies.
This death is particularly gutting and awful because it presses us close to Hannibal’s monstrousness. Psychopaths objectify and extract from each “victim” the part that they require: a mannerism, a sort of speech, a display of emotion. They consume it, with no concern for the person from which it came, and then dispose of the target. Hannibal’s cannibalism is a metaphor—made concrete and visceral—for psychopathy in its purest form. And now he has consumed and disposed of Beverly.
ZELLER: What you found in that observatory wasn’t all of Beverly. These kidneys… they were placed in her body, after she was killed. I checked them against DNA samples and they, uh, belong to the mural-killer. James Gray.
Hannibal violates the wholeness of his victims. These people are never fully found: they lack certain parts. The flesh Hannibal steals and eats is an emblem of the life he stole and consumed. What remains is a hole, an absence.
Bryan Fuller: You don’t grieve in words. You grieve in emptiness; you don’t grieve in presence. [x]
Will refuses his grief by demanding to see Beverly, to be in the presence of that absence, and to try and reconstruct her from the void she left in the world.
Against that emptiness and the incoherence of grief, Hannibal’s elaborate meal seems particularly jarring. He isn’t grieving a loss, but celebrating a victory. He has lost an enemy, and gained a weapon to use against Will. Hannibal serves Beverly’s kidney to himself as a kidney pie shaped to resemble Will’s mask; when the crust is pushed down, Beverly’s ground kidney is where Will’s brain might be.
Throughout the episode she’s inside Will’s mind, sometimes pushing him to “interpret the evidence”, sometimes a mute witness to the aftermath of her own murder. And her death is, metaphorically, on Will’s head. But he’s muzzled—he can’t speak the truth about her killer, because he won’t be heard.
This theme of the deconstructed body pervades. Visually, the prison-cages dissect the bodies of prisoners into several dislocated parts.
There are camera shots of Will which cut off his body at the shoulders and legs, until he sits down and we see only the shoulders up. This arrangement seems to ask which parts of a character are essential to their identity. And which parts of the human body are “essential” to their humanity?
Hannibal exists in a world where all metaphors move from abstract to concrete and literal—they become embodied. Metaphorical vision and “seeing” become a giant eye stitched from human flesh. Hannibal’s “devil” nature becomes the hell-fire which consumes Georgia’s body and Will’s brain. Will’s house, which he describes as a “boat on the sea”, begins to leak and then flood with water when Will himself begins to break down. The metaphorical conflict of “hunting” and “fishing” maps onto real acts of hunting [Hannibal] and fishing [Will].
The show explores the way in which human minds make the abstract concrete. In earlier medicine and natural philosophy, it was believed that abstract qualities had a “centre” or a “seat” within the body: the heart as the seat of love, the stomach as the source of will and fortitude, the gut as the centre of instinct.
Hannibal himself delights in the play of metaphor shifting from abstract to concrete, and so too do the killers which cross paths with the FBI.
In his exchange of veiled threats over whisky with Chilton, he speaks about the religious notion of “original sin” as being an essential flaw of all men after the Fall.
HANNIBAL: Ah, selfishness. The original sin of man, according to Judeo-Christian morality.
CHILTON: We’re not talking about morality or ethics here, are we, Doctor Lecter? But rather, concealing their absence.
Though they can’t speak freely, there’s a mutual recognition that both of these men are somehow lacking something fundamental to human psychology: conscience, and a sense of right and wrong. It echoes Matthew Brown’s statement to Will that “there’s something we don’t have; or maybe we just evolved not to need it”.
Whether or not this lack can be mapped onto the body, that “organ” or essence of morality seems unnecessary, when justice is absent from this phantasmagoric world teeming with murderers. It’s that absence which enables monstrous men like Chilton and Hannibal to thrive while good and decent people, like Beverly and Will, are destroyed and humiliated.
Instead of moral conviction, Hannibal kills and punishes his victims according to a hideous poetic justice, an artful transformation of the brutal “biblical” ideology which demands “an eye for an eye”. He cuts off Abigail’s ear, the ear which heard his voice on the phone. He cuts off Miriam’s hand, the hand which found his sketch of the “Wound Man”.
His mimic, Gideon, took up this vision with zeal.
CHILTON: You and I are his only surviving psychiatrists. Pulled the tongues out of all the rest.
Gideon removes and mutilates the tongues of all the psychiatrists who subjected him to their “talking cure” and then presumed to diagnose him—to tell his story—to the wider psychiatric community.
HANNIBAL: Gideon disembowelled you, Frederick. Brave of you—or perhaps wise—to keep the evidence of your misdeeds under your own roof.
GIDEON: I’m the last person he wants to see. I give him a visceral chill in the guts. Whatever’s left of them.
And there’s a poetic justice to Gideon’s mutilation of Chilton. Chilton plundered his mind and rearranged its internal “furniture”, so Gideon performed a visceral version of that, removing and rearranging Chilton’s innards while Chilton was still conscious. What’s more, stealing Chilton’s internal organs renders him literally “gutless”; Chilton is a dissembling coward, easily coerced and intimidated by those more powerful or charismatic than he.
CHILTON: I’m trying to set Will on the path to rebuilding his broken brain. Picking up your… pieces, as it were.
Hannibal doesn’t look kindly upon psychiatrists, Chilton least of all. Chilton’s reference to Will’s “broken brain”, as though it were a clockwork machine smashed to pieces, is crude; his use of sodium amytal was little better.
But his conversations with Hannibal touch upon the dominant philosophical conceit of “Mukozuke”: the mind-body problem.
Hannibal confronts this many times. How is it that the human body, a complex machine of organic material, somehow produces the phenomenon of consciousness? How does the wet electrified meat in our skulls give rise to feeling and thought and imagination and memory and the qualia of subjective experience? What is the material cause of the continuous unified “self”, an illusory but inescapable human construct? What is the seat of the “I” which regards itself and declares, “I think, therefore I am”.
The show warns against reductive views of human psychology. Chilton embodies psychiatry at its most crass and simplistic. He refers to his “prized” patients as “the most sinister neurochemistry in the field”, as though speaking not of complex embodied persons but brains in jars. He holds them at a distance—but we see all too well that Chilton possesses similarly “sinister neurochemistry”—notice how many of the criteria for narcissistic personality disorder Chilton meets. The distance between jailer and prisoner is very narrow.
Indeed, Hannibal quietly but radically dismantles the division between “sanity” and “insanity”. Will’s “madness” should have been cured with his encephalitis.
Instead, the hallucinations which began while he was sick remain a potent and evolving part of his consciousness: Hannibal’s image warps into that of the wendigo, and he glimpses the warning symbol of the Ravenstag, both while conscious and lucid. Human beings are too complex and wondrous and confounding to be divided into “sick” minds and “healthy” minds.
Instead, it suggests that the body is the geography of the mind.
BROWN: Now, I’m going to ask you a few questions while you still have enough blood coursing through your brain to answer them.
BROWN: The pupil dilates with specific mental efforts. You dilate, that’s a yes. No dilation equals no.
Changes in psychological phenomena can be mapped onto physiological structures. Consciousness depends on a bare minimum of physical conditions, one of which is adequate bloodflow to the brain. And something as abstract as speaking a lie has a physical symptom. Mind and body are inextricably linked—perhaps they are one and the same.
The symptoms of Will’s “madness” had a physical cause, the inflammation of his brain. Georgia Madchen was subjected to blood-tests and brain-scans, but her doctors were unable to find any physiological reason for her delusions, and could only offer guesses of mental illness or disease.
The question asked by these narratives is, do all forms of psychopathology have a physical cause? And does that physical cause entirely explain the pathology? This dovetails with the show’s theological musings: does a “human being” have a physical cause? And does that physical cause entirely explain a human being? Is a human being merely a human body, or is it somehow more?
More than any other mythology or religious ideology, Hannibal dabbles heavily in Roman Catholic iconography and philosophy, including conceptions of “body” and “mind”. Theologians of that tradition follow Aristotle in distinguishing between an human being, and a human being’s “accidental" appearances, i.e. those properties of an object which isn’t necessary to the essence of the object.
Early theologians argued that the human body is a complex construction of organic chemical compounds and water; but however much that material is mixed and rearranged and structured, it isn’t in itself a human body. It’s merely an arrangement of organic chemicals. If it has never been “alive”, it can’t be a human body. However, when those compounds are participant in the physical form of a living human being, or were participant previously—in the case of a corpse—they are essentially a human body.
When a person consumes food, a similar transformation occurs: the chemical composition of those material compounds remains the same—proteins, minerals, fats, &c.—but their substance has ceased to be “food”; now, they are integral to the physical manifestation of a human being.
By taking human flesh for food, Hannibal distorts and perverts this process: his meat begins as a human body, transforms into food, and then becomes part of his own body.
At the Last Supper, the bread and wine declared by Jesus to be his “body” and “blood” remained, in appearance, bread and wine. Their visible and physical qualities are “accidents” and remain unchanged. But their essential substance was changed into Christ’s flesh and blood.
Thus, when the Eucharist bread and wine are consecrated by the priest, who speaks in persona Christi, they are essentially transformed into Jesus’s body and blood. Furthermore, because Jesus transcended death and returned to life, when the bread and wine are changed into his body and blood, Christ is present for this event as an unviolated physical and spiritual whole.
Hannibal’s act of consuming human flesh and blood is a macabre and unholy inversion of that sacred event, and the sacrament which reenacts it. In his hands, the transformation is reversed: essentially, flesh and blood become Hannibal’s bread and wine.
Instead of imbuing the dead and inert food with the life and spirit of Christ, Hannibal “murders” his victim for a second time, changing their “human” body into food. The show only enhances this dehumanisation through ambiguity: we can never be certain whether the meat Hannibal eats is of human or animal origin.
But it isn’t simply about destruction.
BROWN: How many times have you watched someone cling onto a life that’s not really worth living? Eking out a few extra seconds, wondering why they bother?
HANNIBAL: I know why. Life is precious.
An astonishing statement from a mass-murderer, but not an absurd one. Hannibal’s love for humanity is as profound as it is perverse: he believes in the intrinsic value of human life, which is why those who squander or violate it are such an affront to him. Hannibal salvages misused human lives, and gives them meaning through death and art.
Hannibal’s cannibalism treads the line between endocannibalism, a sign of honour and reverence for humans within the community, and exocannibalism, a sign of dominance and exploitation of humans alien or hostile to the community [x].
In both practices, eating human flesh is a sign of respect for the person being consumed. While savagery and monstrous appetite and his insatiable capitalist-bourgeois desire to consume drive Hannibal’s cannibalism, his practice also taps into the complex cultural history of humans consuming humans.
BROWN: You know, the Iroquois used to eat their enemies to take their strength. Maybe your murders will become my murders. I’ll be the Chesapeake Ripper now.
HANNIBAL: Only if you eat me.
This conversation feeds upon the idea that human beings are, first and foremost, material; that the “essence” of a person resides in their flesh. Hannibal seems to entertain some belief in this; and certainly, he’s grown stronger and more dangerous with every person he’s consumed.
Brown presses one step further, suggesting that a person’s history, the responsibility for their every action, also resides in their flesh. If Brown eats Hannibal, he’ll also ingest Hannibal’s crimes, every instance when Hannibal played at being God, each time Hannibal claimed the mythic status of the Ripper.
It’s a canny reflection on the nature of fandom: we, the audience, consume Hannibal and his “body” of work; and thus absorb him. We are consumed by the flesh we consume. Every kind of food comes at a price; the price is always transformation.
Hannibal’s satisfied smile as he eats the flesh of his newest victim shows nothing but the pleasure of victory. But Hannibal is no god. He doesn’t fully destroy his victim. Material that was once part of a living person will always be “human”; there’s an essential trace of his victims Hannibal can’t erase. When he consumes veal with Bedelia, the audience imaginatively invokes “Abigail”, a whole and living human being, not inert and deconstructed structures of chemical compounds.
Although Hannibal murders and mutilates Beverly and consumes part of her body, he can’t erase her every trace—from the world, from himself. Those scenes of grief—Jack, Brian, Jimmy, Will—are testimony to the parts of Beverly which survive Hannibal Lecter, which transcend death. Will in particular preserves Beverly as a visible presence at the edge of his vision.
And Hannibal doesn’t realise is that this is, symbolically, his Last Supper. This food will prove transformative in ways he doesn’t predict. Eating Beverly might gift Hannibal her strength; but he also absorbs the human weakness he pretends not to be possess. Beverly was brilliant and honest and compassionate. But she was fallible, and through her mistakes Hannibal made her his victim. By the end of the episode Hannibal too is revealed to be both fallible and a victim through his own mistakes.
Beliefs about cannibalism, the sanctions and taboos, reveal the powerful physical and imaginary connection between human bodies. We share this material reality; our bodies are intertwined. When you scrutinise language, it’s clear that we speak in metaphors—we use bodies to make sense of the world. From the “body politic”, the hearts of cities, the “long arm” of the law, the “backbone” of a country, the “voice” of a nation.
We construct institutions which function like bodies, each individual a different “limb” or “organ”. When Hannibal says, “not only is justice blind, it’s mindless and heartless too”, we understand that Hannibal’s mutilation of the judge in Will’s trial was an assault on more than one “body”.
Hannibal joins its characters together in peculiar hybrids of “design” and method, imagination and action, mind and body. Matthew Brown, the hospital orderly, enables Chilton to have eyes and ears in every room except the privacy room; which means that he can strike Chilton “blind” and “deaf” at a moment of his choosing.
Having murdered the bailiff, he sent Will the severed ear: mimicking Will’s alleged mutilation of Abigail, but also a sign that this admirer is listening, that Will’s “design” has been heard, that this new copycat is waiting for an acknowledgement or instruction.
When Will at last comes face-to-face with his “admirer”, there’s a homoeroticism to their interactions. This is a seduction: Will is at his most charming and persuasive. He allows Brown to manipulate his body, but Brown’s reverence and Will’s languid calm makes clear who holds the power in this scene.
He exerts his will over Matthew Brown, just as Hannibal will manipulate Dolarhyde toward killing Will and his family in Red Dragon. This plot pre-emptively transforms that future act of wanton brutality into a calculated, mimicked revenge for this offence. Like the incarcerated Hannibal, Will overcomes his lack of bodily autonomy and freedom by making puppets of others. It’s parasitic: they become his body.
Will made Beverly his sharp eyes and scientist’s hands and analytical brain, telling her to use the methods of her choice, “as long as you’re looking”.
But when Beverly is discovered by Hannibal and dismantled, Will is forced to construct a less sensitive and effective body-proxy.
He seizes Freddie and “tattle-crime.com” to use as his mouth and his (amplified) voice, speaking to his “admirer”. Freddie “tattles”: in person and in print she lies, sensationalises, and distorts. When his admirer is found, Will makes Matthew Brown the eyes and hands of his vengeance. Brown is not a fine-bladed scalpel; he lacks the refinement, care, precision. He lacks artistry.
Under any other circumstances, Will would refuse to “get into bed” with allies as dirty and vicious and rotten as these. But he’s angry and desperate and his adversary is something other than human.
GIDEON: He’s the devil, Mr Graham. He is smoke. You’ll never catch the Ripper. He won’t be caught. If you want him, you’ll have to kill him.
Hannibal is somehow material and transcendent, a man of flesh and a devil of sulphurous vapour. The situation demands a radical change of tactics. And this is a game-changing move on Will’s part.
HANNIBAL: Will Graham is not what you think. He’s not a murderer.
BROWN: He is now. By proxy.
HANNIBAL: He asked you to do this?
The shock and betrayal in Hannibal’s face seems like an honest reaction. He isn’t dismayed that Will would try to kill him; it’s the idea that Will would send an inferior killer to perform his dirty work that stings. Nevertheless, Hannibal knows that a seismic shift in Will has occurred. Attempting to kill Hannibal is not like shooting Garrett Jacob Hobbs.
To the question of murder as “nature” or “nurture”, Hannibal has no definitive answer; but it suggests that there’s no firm borderline between those who kill and those who don’t. It does, however, argue that there’s an essential difference—whether genetic or environmental or a conspiracy of the two—between a “murderer”, someone who relishes the act of murder, and someone who kills because they believe the moment demands such an extreme and desperate act.
Again and again, the metaphor “blood on your hands" becomes literal and visible in Hannibal. Guilt for a crime is displayed as blood from the body of the harmed person, staining the hands of the one who harmed them.
Throughout “Mukosuke" Will hears the dripping of fluid: first, water as Beverly’s frozen body thaws, and then blood—her vivisected body is now a great wound. Will didn’t kill Beverly; but he pushed her toward Hannibal, toward death. Her blood is on his hands.
In Hannibal water represents change, metamorphosis. It’s Will’s symbolic element because Will’s imagination is fluid and reflective and transformative, because Will himself is amorphous and unstable, pouring himself into other minds and assuming their shape and texture.
In season one Will’s deterioration and loss of self was marked by water “spilling” and flooding and drowning him whole; but the image of Will’s head immersed in water-turned-to-blood was a prophecy that seemed to have been averted.
GIDEON: You were quite happy to try and kill me yourself. You have it in you, as they say.
Will killed Garrett Jacob Hobbs to save Abigail. He shot Abel Gideon to save Alana. And yet, despite Hannibal’s abuse and manipulation and vandalism of his mind, Will never became the lethal blood-hungry creature Hannibal wished him to be.
ALANA: Will isn’t the Chesapeake Ripper.
GIDEON: Not yet. All those things that make us who we are… what has to happen, to make those things change? So much has happened to Mr. Graham. He’s a changed man.
In season two, the spilling of blood to appease wrathful or selfish desires is a sign of corruption; and Will has been corrupted.
When Will sends Matthew Brown to kill Hannibal, rather than to capture him, it isn’t to save or defend life; it’s to avenge a life already destroyed. As Gideon says, Will’s wrath is “biblical”: the Old Testament justice of a jealous God and “an eye for an eye”, stretched to its logical extreme.
Will’s imagination manifests his murderous vengeance, and the guilt associated with it, as the image of water, and then blood, running out of the basin into Will’s cell.
That decision, to kill in order to sate a selfish impulse, to kill for wrath and not for reason, is irrevocable. It reveals how much Will has changed; and it, in turn, changes him.
After Will sends his “hands” to kill Hannibal, he imagines his own grotesque physical transformation. Black stag-antlers pierce his flesh and erupt from his back; the Ravenstag, emblem of the violent desires shared by Will & Hannibal. Will’s transformation is inspired by a short film retelling Titian’s Metamorphosis, made for The National Gallery in London [x].
It’s not a moment of glory or triumph or consummation. It’s a transformation forced upon him, not embraced of his own volition. It makes Will wretched, forced down onto hands and knees like a beast. This attempted murder was the desperate and wrathful act of a caged man furious with grief.
And the blood in the water, the blood on Will’s hands, is Hannibal’s.
This is the first time we’ve seen Hannibal stripped down. But what Hannibal wears is only one layer of his “human suit”. Underneath the beautiful and elaborate clothes he’s lean and quick and strong and lethal. When Matthew Brown paces him, we’re watching two apex predators ploughing swiftly and powerfully through the water, like a pair of sharks scenting blood.
In season one, Hannibal watched, fascinated, as Will was “burned alive” by the inflammation of his brain. In “Mukozuke”, Hannibal is immersed in water when Matthew Brown, Will’s murderous hands, attacks him. Hannibal’s decision to swim alone at night—to be “out of his element” in several ways—is a sign of ironclad confidence in his own might and manipulation.
In the early parts of season two we saw Hannibal at the height of his powers, a craven Lucifer declaring himself a god alike in power and vision to the Judeo-Christian God whom he scorns. In the human-mural, Hannibal assumed the metaphysical place of divinity, looking down at his creation. Since then, he’s only grown more ambitious and audacious: torturing Bella with life, and destroying Beverly in death. It seems that no one is safe; no one escapes Hannibal’s wrath.
But in a delicious narrative twist of “be careful what you wish for”, this new copycat takes Hannibal at his word. This is the consequence of the religious rhetoric in the first four episodes. Hannibal proclaimed himself god-made-flesh; and he’s flaunted his “divinity”. But to be human is to suffer. If Hannibal is a messiah-figure, he must be crucified for the sins of mankind.
Hannibal becomes the victim of his own design, albeit one distorted by the imperfect and unsubtle hands performing the work. No symbolic subtlety or ambiguity; there can be no doubt that Hannibal is the tortured “god”, the mortified messiah, in this scene.
What separates the biblical crucifixion from meaningless torture and mortification of the flesh is that the man being crucified is, according to the story, the Son of God. He is divinity made flesh. When his body dies, he returns to life. It isn’t the end of his story; it’s the beginning.
BROWN: Judas had the decency to hang himself in shame at his betrayal. But I thought you needed the help.
Hannibal is no Jesus. He’s a craven pretender and usurper. If Hannibal has a messiah-figure, a figure who is profoundly, unbearably human and yet transcendent and marked by divinity, it’s Will Graham; and Hannibal betrayed him, over and over and over. In the biblical story, Satan possessed Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’s disciples, and drove him to betray Jesus [x].
Hannibal is the Devil: a corrupted, insubordinate angel with designs upon the throne of God, who “possessed” the minds of those around him to engineer his betrayal of Will.
But Hannibal is also human. Death is the end, his end, and Hannibal knows it. For the first time in a long time, Hannibal is made to feel, viscerally, his mortality. The precarious frailty of his material body and the finite span of his human life.
This is the horror, the awful moment of annihilation, Hannibal has visited upon an untold number of victims. Brown tortures Hannibal with life and death just as Hannibal tortured Bella: he can “kick the bucket” or bleed until his heart stops. This tableau, with Hannibal nailed to a wall, struggling and writhing as he bleeds and asphyxiates, feels like justice.
[And the very fact that Hannibal’s torture feels justified shows that we too have been infected with Will’s corruption. We don’t simply want to see Hannibal dead. We want to see him suffer.]
This display of Hannibal’s vulnerability, his human fallibility, his naked fear in the gloating face of death, is quite deliberate. Jack and Alana may look upon this tableau and see an innocent crucified martyr, but to those playing the game this is the turning-point.
This Lucifer, Hannibal Lecter, has already Fallen. All that’s left is to unmask him as the Devil that’s been hiding in plain sight.