It’s fitting that, as so much of the Hannibal storyline has come full circle, closing the Garret Jacob Hobbs/Abigail Hobbs plot that was interwoven throughout the larger Will Graham/Hannibal Lecter narrative, the season finale would utilize the considerable talent of David Slade to close out what has been a fantastic season with an episode that expertly brings one chapter to its conclusion, while readying the next arc with an unsettling smile on its face.
Slade set a strong visual standard with the season premiere and bolstered that aesthetic with ‘Potage,’ and wisely, the other directors who came in to helm an episodes all managed to stay well within the visual parameters established by Slade, granting the season an even deeper sense of cohesion and depth. And in that regard, while the writing for ‘Savoureux’ was superb, and possibly some of the best all season, bringing the first Hannibal arc to a close with such visual balance really helped to demonstrate why this series is a cut above.
But ‘Savoureux’ isn’t all gruesome tableaus and nightmarish crime scenes teetering on the brink of impossibility. Instead, the finale manages to take the events, the crimes and, most importantly, the victims, of the past 12 episodes and bring them all to the party, as an example of how each episode – even the ones that may have felt like little more than a throwaway – mattered in terms of the series’ understanding of its characters within the larger setting of the BAU and cases like the copycat, the Chesapeake Ripper and Minnesota Shrike – the one that kicked this journey off.
And that understanding of character helps to make the inevitable arrest and incarceration of Will Graham all the more harrowing, as his colleagues and friends are asked to process him and evaluate the nearly insurmountable amount of evidence pointing to him as the copycat killer.
Will’s friends in the BAU are as sickened by the possibility of his crimes as they are tormented with the idea they failed to see the warning signs. The episode grants Laurence Fishburne and Caroline Dhavernas some excellent scenes, giving both actors plenty to do in a relatively fast paced episode. Jack is naturally beside himself, conflicted by his desire to use Will as a means to save lives and his inability to stop when it appeared his tool had begun to crack under the pressure. Dr. Bloom, meanwhile, is particularly great in her one-on-one Will where she asks him to draw a clock, and again when she quietly tells him she will take care of his dogs for as long as he needs.
But it’s Hettienne Park as Beverly Katz who once again uses her time on-screen to demonstrate how her character fits into the larger framework of Will, Hannibal and the BAU. Naturally, she’s upset as the evidence she’s collecting points a rather conclusive finger at her friend and colleague, but unlike Jack, Alana and Hannibal, she doesn’t have a significant emotional investment. Sure, she’s compassionate, but as opposed to the others, there’s nothing Beverly wants from Will in return, so when she tells him to look at the evidence, there’s no avoiding what it says – about Will and to him.
In that regard, the finale turns inward in a manner different to the pensive hallucinations that have populated the latter half of the season. Rather than unleash a bewildered Will onto some desolate road or the woods in the dead of night, the hallucinations corner him; they make him look strange, paranoid and, most of all, guilty. But looking at the evidence, Will acknowledges he could have killed Abigail Hobbs, but the timeline of his illness doesn’t match with the other killings, meaning he has to have been set up.
And that’s when the episode turns its focus outward, using Will’s impaired mental state to bring him to an unpleasant understanding of the man he trusted. And the realization that he will soon be incarcerated in a place he fears above all else, because he failed to see the darkness of Dr. Lecter before now, is as powerful and upsetting as the intimation that Dr. Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) is better acquainted with the other side of Hannibal than anyone had suspected (whether or not she knew she was eating what was left of Abigail Hobbs is another matter, however).
Much of this season depicted mental illness in many forms and as it went on, it also began to look at the often-tragic consequence of its failed diagnosis. As Will stares back at Hannibal through the metal bars separating them and coldly regards his visitor as “Dr. Lecter,” it’s clear that Hannibal was beyond Will’s perception because he is not a psychopath, but something else entirely; something much worse. As it appears Will now recognizes this fact, one wonders what kind of terror the concept of clarity will bring to season 2.
Hannibal returns for season 2 sometime in 2014 on NBC.