Twelve episodes — and twelve weeks in show-time — have all been leading to the final confrontation between Jack, Hannibal and Will. It wasn’t quite the cathartic conclusion viewers would have expected from the opening minutes of the season premiere, what with Jack knowing several episodes ago that Hannibal is the Chesapeake Ripper. Yet the last twenty minutes of “Mizumono” were no less devastating or shocking. Or perplexing and even a little frustrating. Fresh off the post-credits coda, I’m feeling a lot of feelings.
It's the tension between Jack's man and Hannibal's pupil that pulls us through the talk-heavy first half of the episode. And I don't say talk-heavy as a bad thing. "Mizumono" felt as weighty, dark, and urgent as any Hannibal finale should. And a lot of this was due to the continuous countdown clock audible in almost every scene, winding down once the circle of time that began in "Kaiseki" closed as Jack walked into Hannibal's kitchen.
But how much does Jack really know about Hannibal? Seeing Gina Torres return as Bella made me think the catalyst for the epic showdown between Jack and Hannibal would have something to do with the former learning about the latter’s hand in his wife’s attempted suicide. And their continuing therapy. Really, Jack never told Bella to stop seeing Hannibal? But that wasn’t the deadly revelation hinted at in the opening scene. The fight was brought on more by Hannibal's nose and FBI investigator Kade Purnell forcing Jack's circumstances, not an emotional reaction. Which feels a bit deflating, after weeks of teasing talk of reckoning.
Bella was there to provide Hannibal with a different perspective on finality and forgiveness, which comes into tragic play later as Hannibal orchestrates a finishing move in his chess game. While Jack’s plan has of course seemed half-baked from the start, Hannibal’s felt much more decisive. And dare I say romantic? Let’s face it, this show is one long slow waltz between Hannibal and Will. If it seemed like Hannibal wanted Jack’s approval before running away with Will, it was intentional. It fit. But Jack cannot approve of Hannibal winning the tug-of-war for Will’s soul and, as Will points out, Jack wants justice and he’s never going to forgive Hannibal for what he’s done. And Jack doesn’t even know a fraction of what Hannibal’s done.
Neither does Will.
That counting clock? It did more than close a narrative time-loop. It was also the sound of Hannibal turning back time to create a new world for a new family, a family Hannibal's been trying to build since the first season. If I loved the callback to Abigail's shattered teacup two weeks ago, here the image really paid off. Hannibal wanted to surprise Will with the resurrection of their daughter, the pieces of a shattered teacup coming back together.
The last act of Hannibal's second season was a bloodbath to rival the Red Wedding. How frightening was it to see the real Hannibal, once the person-suit came off and he was... I wouldn't ever call Hannibal a cornered animal, but his freedom was threatened and he needed to have the upper hand. And if Jack thought he had an ace up his sleeve in Bedilia, well, Hannibal had Bedilia and Abigail. He won. Forgiveness, Hannibal-style.
Will's betrayal hit Hannibal as hard as Hannibal's betrayal hit Will last season. But did Will really change Hannibal, as he claimed? Hannibal, having gutted Will and slit Abigail's throat just like her biological father once did, is still a psychopath. He doesn't seem more human. If anything, Hannibal is more himself than ever. We know what Will got from Hannibal, what he could have had had he chosen to be a true friend, and what he lost of himself in his pursuit. But what did Will give Hannibal really? Besides a broken heart?
That answer, like Will's reckoning and Hannibal himself, eludes him.
- That post-credits coda. Damn, Bedilia! I was expecting her even less than I was expecting Abigail. How much is she in on? And when? And how? Is she accompanying Hannibal by choice? Jack didn't have a tail on her? She didn't seem to be faking that fear of Hannibal. But I must say, I'm stoked to see more of Gillian Anderson next year.
- We saw so many characters tonight except for the two people I was actually expecting to see reappear: Miriam Lass and Dr. Chilton. Hey, Bryan Fuller’s said “Serpico survived a bullet to the face.” I wouldn’t be surprised. Guess we have to save something for next year.
- While I wasn't expecting Abigail, I’m going to be a little obnoxious and say I called Abigail’s resurrection in episode four. That has to be what Beverly Katz saw in Hannibal’s basement before she died. It’s so nice to get a little smug satisfaction. And it was still a big goddamn shock. Of course, I wasn’t as shocked as Alana because Abigail didn't push me out of a damn window.
- Alana’s been a weakly-written character most of the season, but I was just starting to like her a little again tonight. I’m glad we had time for one more Hannibal-style nightmare sequence, with Alana being swallowed by dark water, foreshadowing her final act spent in the rain. “I feel poisoned.” And seeing her finally being on Will’s side again was welcome. Will seems to hold less of a grudge than me and the most jealous Hannibal/Will fanfic writers. And then she shows up at Hannibal’s dinner party to rescue Jack with an unloaded gun. Are you fucking kidding me?! Worst. FBI agent. Ever. Ever. Tragically stupid. That was really the only missed note in the finale… once again Alana was reduced to the helpless girl trapped in a horror movie. It was cheap and I want better writing next season. And Alana didn’t even tell Will there was another homicidal person in Hannibal’s house. She may have whispered “Abigail” and Will didn’t hear, and I can overlook that for the sake of the big dramatic reveal, but still. Useless.
- A logic nitpick: Will took a taxi to Hannibal's place? Did he call Uber to get a pick-up in the woods behind his house? I can barely get a cab from Manhattan to Queens but Will can get one from Wolf Trap, Virgina to Baltimore, Maryland? How can these characters visit each others' houses so much and so quickly? Sometimes I can ignore it, but not when cabs are in the mix.
- I'm guessing that obviously Will survives his wounds; so does Jack. Abigail I think is gone for good and Alana's the wild card.
- My Friday nights are going to seem so empty without new episodes of Hannibal and the active fan community.
- Palate Cleanser of the Season: Getting a third season. Will reuniting with Winston. (tie)