Francis Dolarhyde barely appeared in this week’s episode. Sure, Richard Armitage had as much screen time as ever, but it wasn’t as our boy Frank. No, the penultimate episode of Hannibal’s third season, as everything continues to whip up into a blood-red froth, was all about the Great Red Dragon.
While it’s certainly true that Dolarhyde is just a human being — as certain as Will, Jack and Hannibal are also technically just human beings — this show has a way of taking serial killer drama and blowing it up to Biblical proportions, sometimes quite overtly. Jack and Hannibal have a conversation near the beginning of the episode in which they lay out all the major players and what is at stake: Hannibal is evidently the Devil, even if his prisoner number isn’t 666. And much like the Devil, just because he has been cast out of our realm and into the pit doesn’t mean he can’t affect change through the manipulation of others. Jack casts himself as God, telling himself he does so because there’s no one else willing to take up the mantle. Hannibal warns that the seals of Revelation are being opened, but there’s at least one last chess game for them to play before the seventh seal cracks.
Will is the most important piece in that game. He is the Lamb of God. Or perhaps he is just the lamb to slaughter. In either case, both of them end up getting eaten around Easter-time, whether literally or symbolically. Will, meanwhile, is grappling with his role in this whole mess. He’s taken up seeing Dr. Du Maurier for psychiatric advice, which makes about as much sense as going to Dr. Kevorkian for back problems. Bedelia doesn’t do much to assuage his guilt, telling him what he already knew when he decided to visit Hannibal for the first time in three years: you have to pay to play.
The Dragonslayers — that is, Will, Jack, and Alana — come up with a plan to coax their target out of his cave. They enlist Chilton to give a tactically insulting interview about the Tooth Fairy to Freddie Lounds. Chilton, who cares more about his reputation than his safety, agrees to the clearly dangerous gambit and unsurprisingly becomes the Dragon’s next victim. Abducted from a parking garage, he awakes to smelling salts and an uncomfortable prickling of his skin. That’s because he’s be superglued to a wheelchair. Despite his well-honed talent for obsequiousness, Chilton experiences the end that originally befell Lounds in the novel (and the movie adaptations), since the show had already exploited Lounds’ canonical fate last season. But before the Dragon bites off his lying, lying lips and lights him on fire — turning him into Tarman from Return of the Living Dead — he forces him to make a videotaped confession.
The question for Will is “What was his hand in all of this?” Or, more accurately, “Where was his hand in all of this?” His jocular pose with Chilton in the Tattler photo framed him as a pet, something to be disposed of first. But Will’s motives are elusive even to himself, so he sees Bedelia once more for elucidation. She offers him her own hard-learned lesson: ““That’s participation.” Some part of Hannibal—or at least the part of Will that understands and relates to Hannibal — is inside of his head and making his decisions for him.
In the meantime, Reba finally learns the truth about her strong, silent type. She brings over chicken soup for the malingering Dolarhyde right in the middle of his session with Chilton. Unfortunate, there’s not amount of chicken soup that can help ease the Dragon’s soul. Chilton manages to tell Will and Jack that he saw a blind, black woman named Reba at his house — identifiable information that isn’t exactly applicable to a whole lot of American citizens. The Dragon must realize this as well, because he kidnaps Reba, ties her up, and finally reveals to her his true form. Now we just wait for the endgame.