Well, if that was the last fans will ever see of "Hannibal," they could not have asked for a much better finale. The Season 3 ending of the canceled NBC series was full of twists and turns as the Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Arbitage) saga came to a close. But, while stopping the Great Red Dragon may have been Will's explicit goal in the episode, viewers were far more curious about how things would end for Will and Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) in "The Wrath of the Lamb." Here's how it all went down:
The episode began in Dolarhyde's hideaway house where he toyed with Reba (Rutina Wesley), forcing her to remove a key from a string around his neck to lock the front door. When she tries to run through the door to escape, Dolarhyde is waiting on the other side of the door to surprise her. He forces her to the bedroom where he says she must "come with him," before setting fire to the room and then (allegedly) blowing out his brains with a shotgun. However, Reba is able to get the key from around the dead Dolarhyde's neck and get out of the house.
Will goes to visit Hannibal to tell him that Dolarhyde killed himself and say his goodbyes to his mentor/nemesis. Before leaving, Will hits Hannibal where it hurts. "You let yourself be captured so I would always know where you were, but you would only do that if I rejected you," Will tells Hannibal.
Watch Will say goodbye to Hannibal in the Season 3 finale below:
In the hospital, Will comforts a traumatized Reba and assures her that she made Dolarhyde want to stop and her kindness likely saved lives. However, Will may not be totally correct in his assumptions. At his motel room that night he is ambushed by a very-much-still-alive Dolarhyde, who evidently had faked his death in the burning house -- the key routine with Reba was designed so that she would erroneously confirm that Dolarhyde had killed himself in front of her, while in reality the dead body was a local gas station attendant.
Will and Dolarhyde actually have a chat in which Will argues that Hannibal, who in a way had betrayed both he and Dolarhyde, was the real enemy. Dolarhyde is convinced and the next fans see of Will he is convincing Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne) that the FBI should fake Hannibal escaping from prison so that they could use the famed killer as bait to capture Dolarhyde.
This is a significant departure from Thomas Harris' "Red Dragon" novel. In the book, after Reba escapes and Dolarhyde is presumed dead, Dolarhyde tracks down Will at his home and stabs him in the face. In the end it is Will’s wife, Molly, played in the series by Nina Arianda, who is forced to shoot and finally kill the Dragon. Meanwhile, Will ends the novel on the outs with Hannibal Lecter, who tries to write a letter to Will that Jack intercepts and destroys.
However, Season 3 of "Hannibal" has been all about the question of if Will has enough of Hannibal in him to be a murderer. Will is guilty of a lot of carnage in Season 3 by proxy, most notably Dolarhyde's mutilation of Fredrick Chilton (Raul Esparza) and in episode 13 he faces the outrage of Bedelia (Gillian Anderson), who fears that Will giving Hannibal the opportunity to free himself could make her his next target. The same fears plague Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), who visits Chilton to get a lecture about her culpability in his tragedy. Hannibal has been subtly steering Will towards murder all season, but in addition to Will engineering Dolarhyde's death, the FBI profiler plots with Jack to kill Hannibal as well.
So, instead of Hannibal being left to write a futile letter, Will goes to visit Lecter one more time. "I believe that's what they call dropping the mic," Hannibal quips upon seeing Will again, referencing Will's jab at the end of their last talk. "You dropped the mic, but now you have to pick it up." Will gets Hannibal to agree to be a part of their scheme, cementing things with a reluctant "please."
The plan does not go so smoothly, Dolarhyde ambushes Hannibal's police escort leaving only Hannibal and Will alive. Hannibal steals a police car and drives Will to the cliff-side house where he had previously stayed with Miriam Lass and Abigail. There they wait for the Dragon who soon shows up via a bullet through the house's glass windows. Dolarhyde declares he will film himself "changing Hannibal," but suddenly he stabs Will's face with a knife -- staying oddly true to the book in a whole new context. A beautifully choreographed fight scene ensues in which both Hannibal and Will work together in unison to slay the Great Red Dragon, their eye contact during the scene implying an almost sexual tension. After Dolarhyde's death, in which Will has become the killer Hannibal had urged him to become, Will and Hannibal embrace.
"This is all I ever wanted for you Will," says Hannibal. "This is all I ever wanted for both of us."
"It's so beautiful," Will remarks.
Then, Will pulls Hannibal off the cliff as they both fall to their apparent deaths, their fates literally and figuratively linked.
In a post-credits scene, Bedelia sits anxiously at a dinner table where it appears her severed leg is on the menu. Fans never see him, but the scene implies Hannibal survives his fall with Will to take revenge on those who wronged him -- watch out Alana! However, if "The Wrath of the Lamb" is the last hour of "Hannibal" viewers ever get to see, then Will and Hannibal falling off that cliff together as one will remain a fitting, poetic end to their complicated relationship and to one of the most experimental series in the history of network television.
What did you think of the finale? Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV.