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Didn’t anyone ever tell Mason Verger not to play with his food? Just ask any Bond villain, the best way to succeed in your nefarious activity is to shoot first and make speeches later. Who needs a giant slow-moving laser or a tank full of piranha when a single bullet to the head will do? Form follows function, even when it comes to complicated revenge schemes. Unfortunately for Mason, the best laid schemes of swine and men are no match for Hannibal’s focused entropy.
“It’s dangerous to get exactly what you want,” Hannibal warns Mason. After all, he and his man Friday, Cordwell, have been putting together the menu for months now, hotly anticipating that first morsel of vengeance. You can almost see Mason salivating at the prospect, and not just because he has difficulty controlling his facial functions. And of course that just makes it all the more delicious when the table gets overturned. Hannibal asked Will last week whether he intended to gloat when he killed him. Meanwhile, Mason has turned his gloating into an Olympic sport.
The first half of this season comes to a spectacular close with another bloody climax and yet more dashed dinner plans. Hannibal and Will have been snatched back from their European honeymoon and returned to Maryland, where it all began. Meanwhile, the corrupted Italian police mean to open up Jack Crawford’s head like a can of garbanzo beans and blame the act on Hannibal. Luckily for Jack, Chiyoh gets to a nearby roof soon enough to save him if not to save Hannibal. He trades her information for his freedom and skips out of Italy before the people who want him dead realize he’s not.
Mason would never let Hannibal off the meathook so easily as chopping a little off the top and eating his brains. No, he’s going to treat his prize pig like the Native Americans treated the buffalo, and he’s going to do it while wearing Will’s face. For his part, Hannibal seems almost delighted to be in this situation, the prospect of Mason’s gruesome—if derivative—intentions almost making him giddy. At the very least, as Cordell points out, he’ll be cooked to perfection. No one’s going to make a Happy Meal out of Hannibal. But of course he’s hardly resigned to his fate. As Alana points out, Hannibal is always playing and from the minute he and Will are quartered at the farm, they’re sowing the seeds of their escape, Will with Alana and Hannibal with Margo.
And while they’re sowing seeds, Mason has been seeding sows. (Sorry!) As Margo’s new relationship Blooms, Mason still possesses one last ace up his sleeve: He’s kept one of her eggs alive and well inside the womb of a surrogate, a little Verger incest baby to call their own. Of course, you’d be better off trusting a dingo as a babysitter than anything Mason says and the shock of the reality has less to do with the lengths of her brother’s evil than the unpleasantness of the scenario. It seems that the surrogate was a pig and the baby is dead, so Alana and Margo decide to extract their own vengeance from Mason—along with a few fluid ounces of Verger stock, with the help of Hannibal and a cattle prod. The faceless sadist finally meets his demise, choking to death on his pet eel. “When it swims down your throat/And you’re as dead as a shoat/That’s a moray!”
Meanwhile, after liberating Cordell’s face from his head, Hannibal carries a sedated Will to safety like Frankenstein carrying his bride. Chiyoh aids his escape from the treeline, an act that earns her freedom from her cage. Will too attempts to disentangle himself from the prison he’s been put in by Hannibal, lashing out with a breakup speech that’s as cold as the Maryland winter. “I don’t have your appetite,” he tells Hannibal, and he’d prefer if they didn’t stay friends. You can almost pinpoint the exact moment Hannibal’s heart tears into bits of confetti.
But like a crazy ex, he’s not that easy to get rid of. When Crawford shows up at the Graham estate with a covey of cops, Hannibal steps out of the shadows with his hands above his head. The great beast is finally brought in, but on his own volition. So now we enter the back half of the third season with an entirely new status quo: The hunt is over, the quarry in custody, and Will Graham is safe, kinda. But there won’t be too much time to rest on their laurels. After all, here there be Dragons.