This episode dispenses with the case of the week entirely, in favor of advancing the plot its truly interested in, Will Graham’s plan to out Lecter as the Chesapeake Ripper. We’re also dealing with the aftermath of Bella Crawford’s attempted suicide and Beverly’s fridging by Hannibal Lecter. By the end of the third season, the show has almost entirely jettisoned the police procedural elements of the show, to focus on the battle between Will and Lecter.
In the course of the series, we’ve known that Lecter has done horrible things, but most of these things have happened off screen. This time his killing of Beverly is coded as the worst thing he’s done. Its merely the most blatant implication of his villainy. In Bryan Fuller’s favor, it is a testament to his writing abilities, that he can make us sympathize with such a hideous being, getting us to recognize his humanity. Against Bryan Fuller is, in his attempts to avoid the cliche of serial killers sexually victimizing women onscreen, he has still managed to fall into the cliche of non-sexual victimization of women, though, especially in the second season.
Bella, Beverly, and later Freddie Lounds and Abigail Hobbes, are not killed in a sexual fashion, and with the exception of Bella and Abigail, they don’t die on screen, but their deaths are portrayed for their shock value, if not to us, than to the characters on the show, which is what Fuller claims he was trying to avoid. Some people claim that Lecter kills plenty of men too and so do the serial killers on the show, but most (if not all) of the men’s deaths occur off-screen.
At any rate,this particular episode doesn’t even seem to have an overriding theme, as many of the previous episodes do. It is mostly about advancing Will’s plot. Although we open with a shot of Lecter encouraging Jack to take care of himself, after his wife’s suicide attempt, we don’t actually spend a whole lot of time with Jack in this episode.
Freddie is called to the same telescope Location where Jack found Miriam Lass’ arm. This is why Lecter is NOT Jack’s friend, despite the questions I proffered in my last post, because this, displaying Beverly’s body in this place, is a direct slap in the face to Jack Crawford, especially on top of nearly losing his wife the previous day.
Jack is losing the women he feels responsible for, and Lecter is directly responsible for the loss of two of them, and had a hand in prolonging the death of the third. So, when we re-watch the fight between Lecter and Jack, at the beginning of the season, you can understand Jack’s volcanic, violent response to learning who has orchestrated so much of his misery in the last couple of years. In Jack’s mind, Lecter most certainly had it coming. Jack trusted him completely and found that Lecter was never worthy.
It’s a testament to Lecter’s utter narcissism, that he can rail against Will’s betrayal of him, and never notice that Jack is far more justified in his sense of betrayal than Lecter is. In fact, most fans of the show don’t seem to notice it either, so caught up are they in humanizing Lecter and Will’s relationship. If anyone has a firm right to feel betrayed, it would be Jack Crawford. Lecter mentally destroyed Miriam Lass, and then Will Graham. He has duped Jack again and again. He killed Beverly and neatly sidestepped killing Jack’s wife, while the whole time, he’s been feeding Jack his victims, and leading Jack to believe they were the best of friends.
As with all of Lecter’s victims, there is a massive amount of “field kabuki” involved in Beverly’s death and display. She has been sliced open lengthwise and displayed between panes of glass, like a biological specimen. I think Bryan Fuller must have see The Cell, because this is a direct callback to a scene in that movie, where a horse gets dissected alive, in the same manner. In fact this series has much the same aesthetic as that film, so if you haven’t seen it, you should check it out. (Only be warned, it does involve the victimization and terrorizing of women, and stars Jenifer Lopez.)
Jack reports the news to the rest of his Forensic team and the FBI community, and the news eventually gets back to Will Graham, who asks to see Beverly’s body.We get to watch Will suit up for this field trip and, for the first time, see Hannibal Lecter’s mask from the movies, or rather a version of it, as this one is transparent. Its heartbreaking, to see Will wearing it, as everything we know about the movies has been reversed. Will mentally re-imagines the crime scene, spurred on by Beverly’s specter, which urges him to “interpret the evidence”, but he refuses to give Jack Lecter’s name, telling Jack he’ll have to reach his own conclusions, his own way. (Jack is too far under Lecter’s enchantment, right now, for Will to convince him of anything.)
Will confronts Chilton about talking to Lecter about him, which is against his express wishes, but Chilton says it nothing important and complies with Will’s request to bring Abel Gideon to the facility. I think after his conversation with Lecter in the last episode ,Chilton has grown increasingly suspicious that Lecter is The Chesapeake Ripper. Will convinces Chilton that Gideon is a witness, and can help jog his memories about what happened to the two of them, the night Will tried to kill Gideon.
Zeller and Price prepare to process Beverly’s body. I don’t think it need be said that in real life these two would never be allowed access to her body, in order to preserve the chain of evidence and keep contamination of the evidence to a minimum, just in case either of them held biases as to who her killer was. At any rate, them processing her body, is a clear conflict of interest, and I would think it would be fairly traumatic for them, as they were her friends.
Gideon is brought to the Hospital and he and Will discuss what happened the night they met. Their entire conversation is recorded by Chilton, who believes it. Chilton, unable to keep his mouth shut around Lecter, informs Lecter that Gideon is at the hospital at Will’s request. Lecter doesn’t like this and asks to see Gideon, who pretends the two of them have never met.
Lecter encounters Freddie Lounds after his conversation with Gideon and she informs him that Will asked her to interview him. I’m sure Lecter is worried about all these people coming to talk to Will, and wonders what Will is planning, with all these requests to speak to certain influential people. First the request for Chilton to become his primary physician, then the request to have Gideon transferred to talk to him, and now an interview with Freddie Lounds. Whatever Will is planning, Lecter needs to nip that shit in the bud.
Will tells Freddie he wants to use Tattlecrimes to open a dialogue with the admirer who sent him the ear at his trial. Will’s activities and adventures closely parallel Lecter’s activities in season three, when Dollarhyde, who greatly admired Lecter, opened a dialogue with Lecter and sent him Chilton’s lips. (The only show on TV, where that sentence even begins to make any kind of sense, without it being totally ridiculous.)
Aided by Freddie’s interview in Tattlecrimes, Will’s orderly confesses to him that he is his admirer. Like Lecter in season three, manipulating Dollarhyde into going after Will and Molly, Will enlists his admirer to kill Lecter. This is overheard by Gideon.
After this request, Will hallucinates that he is becoming the ManStag, and he should, after adopting just the kind of underhanded tactics that Lecter uses against his enemies. This is not the first time that Will tries to kill Lecter, but one can argue that he certainly becomes more comfortable with that activity as the series progresses. He’s never tried to kill Lecter under the aegis of the law anyway, but at least he had righteousness on his side, and didn’t try to manipulate others into doing it.
Alana visits and tries to talk Will out of his vengeful mood but can see she’s not making much headway. She goes on to question Chilton about why Gideon has been brought to the hospital, and then confronts Gideon about his presence, as well. Alana is on a real tear in this episode. She is always extremely protective of all those who come under her wing, and now she’s trying to protect both Will and Lecter, simultaneously. Gideon warns Alana about what Will has done and she calls on Jack for aid.
Will’s orderly, Matthew Brown, kidnaps Lecter at the public pool. He ties Lecter up and places him atop a bucket with a rope around his neck. He also slits Lecter’s wrists, so that when he finally goes weak from blood loss, he’ll choke to death. He interrogates Lecter, asking if he killed Will’s Judge at his trial, and if he is The Chesapeake Ripper. Lecter doesn’t seem at all phased by any of his, and is still as snarky as usual.
Jack and Alana track Lecter, and for the second time, in the series, Jack saves Lecter’s life. The first time was in Savoreux, when Will tried to shoot Lecter, in Abigail’s house.
Will, unaware that his plan has been foiled, hallucinates a flood of blood in his cell that night.So, its not Will trying to kill Lecter in Abigail’s kitchen that begins Will’s fall into the abyss. It starts when Will attempts to, as Nietzsche put it, “out-monster the monster”.