Will Graham’s plan to trap Hannibal into revealing himself to be the Chesapeake Ripper continues.
So far the only thing Will has seemed to accomplish is to fall deeper down the rabbit hole of Hannibal’s desires for him. Even Jack is starting to question just how far Will is willing to go to accomplish a goal, which seems nebulous at best. Its not been fully fleshed out exactly how Will plans to trap Hannibal. Hannibal, so far, has been too canny to admit anything during their therapy sessions, while goading Will into being his worst self. The question is, is Will being truthful, or just telling Hannibal what he wants to hear.
In this episode we get a glimpse of one of Hannibal’s end games in the culmination of Randall Tier, into a deranged killer, who thinks he’s an animal. When Randall was a child, he was sent to Hannibal becasue he believed he suffered from a form of animal dysmorphia, that makes him believe he is in the wrong body. Hannibal, who often functions as a kind of anti- psychologist, who does the exact opposite of his actual job description, encouraged Randall to give in to his true self, much as he encourages Margot to kill her brother, and Will to kill anybody in his orbit, (except him, of course).
This episode still has many of the tropes of the Police Procedural, except here, its well blended with the show’s mythology. As the season progresses, the Police Procedural is jettisoned entirely to focus on the relationships of the characters.
The episode begins with Will dreaming aobut killing Hannibal. His desire for this is so strong that he often fantasizes and dreams about harming Hannibal. Yet at the same time he’s reluctant to kill him because he’s so drawn to him. Hannibal is extremely good at telling Will the kinds of things he wants/needs to hear. Will is a man who is starved for affirmation, even if that affirmation is bad.
You basically have these two incredibly unique, and profoundly lonely, souls who have latched onto one another, but neither of them is the most desirable type of companion for the other. Hannibal eats people, which is a thoroughly repugnant concept to Will. That Will refuses to let loose his inner demons is a source of great frustration to Hannibal.
What I’m trying to articulate is best said at the beginning of the episode by Will’s dream version of Hannibal (which is an homage from a scene from Hannibal Rising, where Hannibal kills a man tied to a tree.) This is what Will thinks Hannibal wants for him, but also applies to his own feelings:
‘Dr. Hannibal Lecter: No one can be fully aware of another human being unless we love them. By that love, we see potential in our beloved. Through that love, we allow our beloved to see their potential. Expressing that love, our beloved’s potential comes true.’
For Hannibal’s part, he is just giddy at the idea of encountering an intellectual equal, who has the same capacity for chaotic violence that’s as deep as his own. It’s frustrating for him that Will often only uses his capacity for violence to help others, instead of simply pleasing himself, or Hannibal. Will’s murderous tendencies are too sporadic for him, I guess.
We do get to hear, from Hannibal’s lips, an echo of the above quote, in his therapy session with Will, and again, when Jack visits to thank Hannibal for saving Bella’s life, although with Jack he says all of the above without actually saying it in a way that Jack could catch on.
Randall Tier has decided that now is the time for him to realize his true nature, and has begun killing random people, while dressed as an animal, using hydraulic teeth he built himself. Hannibal figures out almost immediately that its him.
And can we talk about what a Bizarro world they all live in, where there’s a serial killer, with a gimmick, around every corner, or everyone on screen has killed at least one person?
After one of their therapy sessions, Will encounters Margot outside Hannibal’s office. She makes no secret of her interest in him. Later, she visits his home and the two of them share a drink, and compare Hannibal’s therapeutic methods. Margot wonders exactly what kind of Doctor is Hannibal. Will already knows. Will reveals that Hannibal’s therapist, Bedelia, came to visit him when he was incarcerated. Needless to say, Hannibal does not like any of it. The last thing he wants is for his patients to start talking to each other about his methods.
After another one of Randall’s massacres, Hannibal tries to make Will understand Randall’s motivations for killing in relation to Will. Randall Tier (whose last name means “beast” in German) is giving in to his instincts and feeling his power, much as Will should. Before the BAU can interview Randall, Hannibal visits Randall to express pride in his development, and tell him how to avoid the scrutiny of the BAU. This works and Randall remains free. In return Hannibal encourages Randall to pay Will a visit.
This is another test for Will, to see if he’ll give in to his instincts.If Randall wins then Will was never worthy, but Hannibal has bet his money on Will. He is certain that his “Clever Boy” can out-smart Randall and prevail (and Hannibal probably gets the vicarious thrill of killing through Will.)
Randall attacks one of Will’s dogs, (in an echo of the Red Dragon arc of next season, he attacks the pet and then the family.) Randall’s first attempt to kill Will is unsuccessful, and he breaks through Will’s front window, only to be shot down by Will, who was lying in wait for him. In Will’s mind the attack was clearly Hannibal’s doing hence the image of the RavenStag breaking into the house.Like wise, when Will is killing Randall he sees the ManStag is his mind’s eye. He knows Hannibal was behind the attack and wishes it was Hannibal he was killing.
Hannibal arrives at his office to find the body of his success story laid out on his desk. Will announces that they are even with trying to kill each other as Hannibal’s “Clever Boy”, has impressed him, once again.