A classic moment from the Lecter legendarium hits the small screen. Theresa deLucci reviews the latest episode.

"We're maintaining our position on the event horizon of chaos." An eloquent assessment from Hannibal and a fitting one for a penultimate episode of the season that played out like a beautiful fever dream.

Hannibal, ever curious and in no small way narcissistic, wants to hear exactly how Will would kill him. It involves man-eating pigs. And why did Will tell Mason about Hannibal's manipulations? "I was curious to see what would happen." Anyone not a psychopath might be offended by such honesty and using one's own words against them, but to Hannibal, it's more proof that they are deeply bonded. But no one is very clear on what that means. Will is definitely telling himself he's playing a long game, ever the excellent fisherman, but like that tangle of fish Hannibal feeds to Jack, no one knows who is chasing whom because it's clear that Hannibal knows more than he's letting on. And he's always up for another meal.

But is Jack betting on Hannibal knowing? Or is he feeling a little overconfident?

Even a brief conversation with Will about the lines he's crossed to pursue Hannibal aren't enough to give Jack pause as Will suggests using Mason as bait to catch Hannibal in the act of murder. I mean, how could that possibly backfire? Does anyone on this show ever go anywhere with some backup? But, okay, let's play along.

Jack's got another card up his sleeve — Dr. Bedilia, another witness against Hannibal. Only she doesn't seem to be much help to Jack's case on the surface, yet she does provide a chilling new perspective on Hannibal's pathology. I loved how what we thought we knew about the patient that attacked Bedilia, the one that swallowed his own tongue, was revealed to be wrong and left us with a really, really unsettling scenario. "He swallowed his tongue. It wasn't attached at the time." And just like that, what we thought we knew about the meticulously styled, composed Dr. du Maurier is changed. That Hannibal can worm his way into this seemingly steely analyst's psyche so deeply that she could commit such a brutal act, self-defense or not, doesn't bode well for Will who's always been more emotionally fragile.

And according to Bedilia, loneliness makes a person vulnerable to Hannibal's brand of persuasion. But is Will lonely? He's always got a friend in Hannibal. Hannibal, who like an abusive boyfriend, has isolated Will from everyone he cares about: Abigail and Beverly are dead, Alana's estranged, and Jack still can't really trust him. Will is at least cognizant enough to call out the codependency.

After that claustrophobia-inducing scene, was there any question that Will would save Hannibal's life when Mason was the one who literally had the doctor on the hook?

Oh, Mason. You were doomed the moment you got between Will and Hannibal.  You were further done the moment you called Hannibal's sketch garbage and put your feet on the sofa. And stabbed his leather chair. That's really epically bad. (Kudos to Mads Mikkelsen, who can express so much disdain with the tiniest furrow of his brow.) I was also "enchanted and terrified" by what Hannibal did to Mason. Crazy carnival music aside, I loved Mason's psychedelic trip with pig-headed Dr. Lecter in his suit, pigs at his feet, and of course, the nasty surprise waiting for Will when he got home. What most chilled me about the scene — aside from the obvious face-slicing! — was Hannibal's calm, predatory gaze and level voice. "Slice off your nose and eat it."

I especially loved that Mason even trolls Mason; "I'm full of myself… Full of myself," he repeats to Will's dogs, to Hannibal and Will.

And lest you thought turning your face to ribbons was bad enough, how about getting your neck broken, leaving you still alive, just trapped in your scarred, paralyzed body with only your sister — who hates you — and a lust for revenge? No pity at the table indeed. Mason is no longer free-range rude and his sister has something that might not feel quite like justice, but it's close enough. That'll do, Pig. That'll do.

With the Vergers out of the way for the finale, what can we hope to see next week? There's a knockdown kitchen fight between Jack and Hannibal, Alana's presumably had more target practice, and Will seems to have lured his nemesis out into the open. But it wouldn't be a finale without a few surprise treats.

Final Bites:

  • As unspeakably ugly as Hannibal finds discourtesy, he can be pretty vulgar when he wants to taunt someone, like Mason's henchmen. "Did he soil himself?" Yeah, Hannibal went there. It was perverse.
  • This was a particularly violent episode of Hannibal with little of the tasteful distance to make the brutality seem more artistic. But Mason wasn't an artist, so it worked for me.
  • Kind of love that Jimmy from Boardwalk Empire ended up in a mask somewhat more extreme than Richard Harrow's.
  • Even Hannibal can't make aspic look appetizing. It's meat broth Jell-o. Gross. It doesn't belong outside of an Edward Gorey book.
  • Palate Cleanser of the Week: Good boy, Winston! You're the only dog of the pack with enough self control to not eat strips of human face. That means you get to stick around. Does Will keep dogs that now have a taste for human? Because it's hard to see those dogs as cute after that.