Hannibal: 313 “The Wrath Of The Lamb” Review
Reviewed by Lewis Hurst.
At long last, we’ve come to the end. 3 Seasons, 39 episodes, it’s the end of what has been an exquisite multi-course meal. With the chances of renewal from Netflix, Amazon or even NBC looking incredibly unlikely, The Wrath of the Lamb will be our final instalment in this iteration of Hannibal Lecter. So how did it fare? It had an impossible task as it had to provide a conclusion that had to do three things; it had to end the Red Dragon arc satisfactorily as well as delivering a satisfying end to Season Three and to the show as a whole. And… I’d say it succeeded with flying colours.
The main focus of Hannibal has always been the relationship between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter, so of course this returned to the forefront for the show’s final episode with Will confronting exactly how he feels about Hannibal. Will realised that as long as Hannibal was alive, Will would never be free of him. So he came to the conclusion to remove Hannibal from his life. Permanently. Will confided his plan to Jack, and Jack was on board with it. Letting Hannibal kill Dolarhyde and then the FBI killing Hannibal was a perfect plan in Jack and Will’s mind, with Will happy to remove Hannibal from his life for good. Hannibal meanwhile seemed to relish every moment with Will, pushing Will to give in to his dark side and taunting him with the “maddeningly polite” life he wishes to go back to. Both characters were in the spotlight this week, fittingly, and both of them shone. And I’ll come to the implications of THAT scene in a bit.
Hannibal’s supporting characters all got a chance to shine this week. Minus Will’s wife and stepson that is. Everyone else meanwhile got a nice few moments. Chilton, remarkably still alive, shared an intense and chilling scene with Alana with Chilton’s trademark humour stripped away. Alana shared a brilliant scene with Hannibal. Hannibal’s threat to Alana that she’s living on borrowed time and that he will one day kill her, Margot and their son was incredibly horrifying, quickly reminding us just how dangerous Hannibal is even when he’s captured. Alana quickly proved herself as incredibly smart. As soon as Hannibal escaped, Alana grabbed Margot and her son and fled the Vergot mansion for destinations unknown. Bedelia meanwhile acted stunned at the craziness of Will’s plan and was clearly terrified by the fact that Hannibal could soon be free to come after her. Gillian Anderson portrayed brilliant acting in this scene quickly establishing her as one of the best actresses to grace the show.
Elsewhere, the episode adapted the remaining parts of Red Dragon. Picking up from last week’s cliffhanger and showed Dolarhyde threatening a kidnapped Reba. After a little “test” where Dolarhyde established he had the key to the house around his neck, he set the house on fire and then apparently committed suicide rather than watch Reba die in a last attempt to protect her from “the dragon”. Reba then managed to escape from the house. Will then visited Reba in hospital where she told Will everything. However all was not as it seemed as Dolarhyde quickly revealed that he had faked his death.
In a departure from the novel, Dolarhyde attacks Will at his motel room. In the novel, Dolarhyde reveals he faked his death by attacking Will’s family. However, considering Dolarhyde has already attacked Will’s family I can imagine Fuller didn’t want to repeat himself. Will then apparently makes a deal with Dolarhyde allowing Dolarhyde to meet Hannibal face to face kicking off the main plot of the episode. While this marked a significant departure from the novel Red Dragon I found it added a bit more to the story and allowed Hannibal to be involved with the climax of the novel, which makes sense considering this is the final episode of the show. Dolarhyde portrayed brutal efficiency by dispatching the police transporting Hannibal. In an interesting twist, Dolarhyde apparently overcame his “dragon” persona allowing a newer, darker more brutal “Francis” to take control. And the brutal power of Francis was horrifying, with him almost overpowering both Will and Hannibal in the episode’s final showdown.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Fuller knew in advance this was likely to be the final episode of the show, as the episode did have a strong sense of finality to it. There were nods to previous adaptations with Hannibal donning the mask made famous by Anthony Hopkins as well as references to characters who are no longer around, either by being dead or just being absent such as Miriam and Abigail.
Then we come to the episode’s climax. Will and Hannibal seek shelter at one of Hannibal’s retreats as they wait for Dolarhyde to attack, which he does suddenly by shooting Hannibal. It did show a bit of strategic brilliance on Dolarhyde’s part, Hannibal is clearly the bigger threat so removing him first was wise. Dolarhyde then attacked Will, apparently just to hurt Hannibal, and plunged a knife into Will’s face, disfiguring him (a scene from the novel). Hannibal, enraged, attacked Dolarhyde and the three fought in a rather brilliantly shot fight sequence. Hannibal also managed to tear a chunk out of Dolarhyde’s neck with only his teeth. Will and Hannibal working together to kill Dolarhyde was a brilliant sequence mixing in slow motion to give detail to every horrible injury. And then, finally, Dolarhyde died, fully establishing him as a tragic character. Perhaps if he’d never sought out Hannibal, Dolarhyde could have been saved. If Will survived the night, he’ll almost certainly be beating himself up with guilt for “failing” to save Dolarhyde.
And now to talk about THAT scene: Will embracing Hannibal and then plunging them both off the cliff, seemingly to their certain deaths. It was a beautiful way to end the episode, with the fate of both characters ambiguous. Are they dead? Did one or both of them survive the fall? We’ll perhaps never know. However if the show returns we can guarantee Hannibal survived. He is the title character after all. The scene provided a brilliant closure to both Will’s character arc and the show overall. Will sacrificed himself in a last act of defiance against Hannibal, to show that he wasn’t going to be Hannibal’s “pet”. Will’s last act was one of heroism, sacrificing himself to remove Hannibal from the world for good, despite his strong feelings for Hannibal. It was an incredibly beautiful moment and if this is to be the final episode ever, then in my mind Will and Hannibal both died. If the show will return however, it’ll be interesting to see how Hannibal reacts to this attempt on his life and if Will has indeed turned “dark” and joined Hannibal. Regardless, it was an incredible moment and the best scene of the episode perfectly complimented by Siouxsie Sioux’s song Love Crime.
And now I turn my attention to the episode’s post credits scene. We see Bedelia sitting at a table with her own leg as the main course. What does this scene mean? There’s plenty of implications. The table is set for three. Did Bedelia chop off and cook her own leg in the mistaken belief that Will and Hannibal would come to her? Did Will and Hannibal survive the fall and have now come to eat Bedelia piece by piece similar to how Hannibal ate Gideon piece by piece? The scene could work as a coda to the series or a lead in to Season Four depending on your interpretation. Bedelia has either misinterpreted how important she was to Hannibal or is getting her comeuppance for her betrayal earlier in the season. It’s a great end for the character either way.
As this is the final episode, I would like to say a huge well done to the cast and crew, especially Mads Mikkleson, Hugh Dancy and Bryan Fuller. Hannibal would not have been the huge success it was without the three of them.
Overall The Wrath of the Lamb was a fantastic episode and a magnificent end to the show overall. While it was an open ended climax, it was still satisfying and if Hannibal was to never return, I’d be perfectly happy with this ending to the story. The show has outdone itself once again. This was a perfect conclusion to one of the greatest television shows of all time. The Wrath of the Lamb ranks among the greatest final episodes to a television show ever comfortably joining, if not surpassing, Chosen; the finale to Buffy the Vampire Slayer which, until The Wrath of the Lamb, was my example of the perfect finale to a television show. The Wrath of the Lamb was a perfect piece of television and cements Hannibal’s place as one of the greatest television shows ever made.