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Hannibal - The Number of the Beast is 666 - Review

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Hannibal, “The Number of the Beast is 666,” was written by the team of Jeff Vlaming, Angela Lamanna, Bryan Fuller, and Steve Lightfoot, and the episode was directed by Guillermo Navarro. It’s another beautifully written, acted, and directed episode, and it brings us one step closer to finale of this chapter of the series. It’s interesting that as the show more closely follows the novels, it also follows a more somewhat more straightforward narrative strategy.

We get not one but two sessions between Will (Hugh Dancy) and his new psychiatrist, Bedelia (Gillian Anderson). I adore how Anderson has grown this character. There’s a wonderful contrast to how seemingly motionless and emotionless she was when we first met her as Hannibal’s (Mads Mikkelsen) therapist. This is mirrored by Mikkelsen’s very restrained performance of Hannibal. Regardless, Bedelia seems a particularly odd choice for Will, but on the other hand, I'm just glad we get more Anderson.

As the episode begins, Will is imagining Molly (Nina Arianda) in place of Dolarhyde’s (Richard Armitage) other victims. And of course, this was Hannibal’s sadistic plan all along. It didn’t matter whether Dolarhyde actually killed Will’s family because Hannibal knew that Will would see them as dead regardless. As Bedelia points out, Hannibal allowed Will the three years to build a family just so that Hannibal could take it all away again. Bedelia seems to be enjoying Will’s pain.

Will wonders what Hannibal has in store for Bedelia, but Bedelia feels she’s perfectly safe – for now. Hannibal will want to kill her himself and only if he will then have the leisure to eat her. When Will calls her Bluebeard’s wife, she retorts she wouldn’t mind if she’d been his last wife. It’s clear that at least some of the joy she got out of Will’s pain is due to her jealousy. It seems Will is the last to realize that Hannibal is in love with him.

There is a lot of discussion of God and sacrifices in the episode. Jack (Laurence Fishburne) and Hannibal discuss lambs – nice nod to the next episode and the next novel. Jack has no problem thinking of himself as god – and Hannibal points out that gods demand sacrifices. Will is clearly Jack’s sacrifice. We also see Dolarhyde continue to abuse himself in sacrifice to this Red Dragon god. Chilton (Raul Esparza) becomes Will’s sacrifice – and in a way Alana’s (Caroline Dhavernas) as well.

Will, Alana, and Jack once again meet to discuss a doomed strategy to catch the dragon. Alana questions whether Will is still in control, and it’s debatable despite what he says as he flashes in his mind’s eye to Alana with glass over her eyes and mouth. The three decide to use Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) to set a trap for the dragon with Chilton “to cover the snare.”

Esparza is simply wonderful in this episode. In his first scene, he is like a petulant child – he is so much Hannibal’s inferior in every way. He rails against Hannibal for publishing a refutation in a very prestigious journal to Chilton’s own book. The book that exonerated Hannibal. Hannibal basically calls Chilton out as the hack he is. He warns Chilton that “fate has a habit of not letting us chose our own endings.” Chilton is never going to be able to decide his own fate as long as Hannibal can keep chipping away at him a piece at a time. For his own part, Chilton taunts Hannibal with his loss of importance – everyone is focused on the Tooth Fairy now – and his loss of agency – a definite misreading that Chilton will come to regret.

Chilton agrees to help with the sting whereas Alana refuses to place herself in danger. I loved the scene as Chilton begins profiling the Dragon and then Will adds his glosses, and how surprised Chilton looks. The photo is a set up from the get go. Will invites Chilton into the photo and puts his hand on his shoulder. Esparza is again terrific here as he looks surprised and then pleased by Will’s gesture. Does he think they are now friends? Chilton is always looking for approval and veneration, especially from those he knows are smarter than he is – which is pretty much everybody.

There’s a nice misdirect as we are supposed to be worried that the Dragon is coming for Will. Will tells Jack that he blames Hannibal for the attack on his family. Will also has to remind Jack that Dolarhyde most often goes for the headshot when Jack insists that Will is well protected with guards and body armor. It’s clear that Will is still Jack’s sacrifice. And it’s not much of a misdirect if you’ve read the book or seen one of the movies.

Dolarhyde easily takes out Chilton. It’s a beautiful shot as we see Chilton on the phone in the backseat of the car, blithely singing his own praises to what is presumably his publisher as Dolarhyde executes Chilton’s bodyguards, leaving two eye-like bloody stains on the rear window on either side of Chilton’s head. They look a little like dragon eyes…

I’m just going to keep singing Esparza’s praises as he goes from smug to cravenly afraid. It’s hard to believe how much sympathy one can feel for a character with no redeeming qualities, yet you still feel for him as he is super-glued to the chair and tortured by Dolarhyde – who has presumably already broken Chilton’s spine. Chilton remarks that his back hurts the moment he wakes up and then later describes to Will where Dolarhyde will break Will’s spine.

Dolarhyde brings us back to God as he asks Chilton if God is with them and if Chilton is praying. Chilton admits that he prays when he’s scared – and then like most of us forgets about God and what he prayed for after the danger has passed. Dolarhyde is about to reveal himself to Chilton when the doorbell rings and Reba (Rutina Wesley) arrives. She’s brought Dolarhyde soup because she heard he was home sick with the flu. Chilton sits like a witness to the scene between Reba and Dolarhyde as she tells him that she’s not been so scarred by life that she’s afraid to love.

After Reba leaves, Dolarhyde tapes Chilton delivering a message to Will. When Dolarhyde first wakes Chilton, Chilton is afraid he’s been burned – it’s a nice bit of foreshadowing, and also a bit of a misdirect. Dolarhyde solicitously drapes a blanket over Chilton. This is gone as Chilton delivers his message and we can see the scar from where Hannibal first gutted Chilton. Chilton’s final words on the tape are “from my own lips you will learn a little more to dread.” Chilton is happy once the taping is done because he foolishly thinks Dolarhyde will let him go. Instead, he symbolically tears off Chilton’s lips with his false teeth – and of course, sends them to Hannibal who has been so annoyed with Chilton’s words. Dolarhyde’s reasoning is to help Chilton better understand him – after all, Dolarhyde has always had trouble getting people to understand him because of his lip disfigurement.

Alana unknowingly hand delivers that package to Hannibal containing Chilton’s lips. I particularly like the very structured way Mikkelson walks to the front of his cell. There’s also a beautiful contrast to how restrained he is when talking to Jack in the first scene with his hands behind his back and how much more animated he is when talking to Alana and Jack while he’s actually restrained.

As Hannibal explains, he’s “in an excellent humor.” He’s positively giddy! Hannibal also calls Alana on her complicity in Chilton’s attack. Hannibal knows that Alana purposely didn’t help Will because she knew of the danger: “You saw the hole and let him roll right into it.”

In Will’s second session with Bedelia, she throws back in Will’s face something he said to her in the first: “You play, you pay.” She calls him on being complicit in Chilton’s attack. Bedelia likens them to figures in Dante’s inferno – pilgrims trying to make their way through Hell. Agency again is important. Are they pilgrims? Will asserts that they are pets, and Bedelia points out that the Great Red Dragon kills the pets first, and then she points out that Will marked Chilton as a pet by putting his hand on his shoulder in the picture.

It’s clear from Will’s face as he does it that he knows what he’s doing. And it’s clear that Chilton recognizes what Will’s done when Dolarhyde is forcing him to look at the slides. Will maintains it was for authenticity to Bedelia. She replies that maybe he wanted to put Chilton at risk. Will says, “I wonder…” and Bedelia presses “Do you wonder?” After all, he, if anyone, should know what was in his mind. Will admits that he doesn’t have to wonder and that he wasn’t surprised by what Dolarhyde did. Bedelia tells him that he might as well have struck the match himself. “That’s participation,” she says. Hannibal does have agency in the world as long as he has Will.

Even though I suspected what was going to happen, part of me wondered if Dolarhyde would pull the flaming wheelchair on Chilton as we’d already seen Will fake that with Freddie once before. Frankly, Freddie is so much more annoying, I was hoping that Dolarhyde would get hold of her. I also almost feel badly that Chilton isn’t dead, though part of me was sure that he would live through it. He is horribly burned and still manages to tell them about Reba – and call Will on setting him up.

The final scene is Dolarhyde kidnapping Reba and bringing her to the house. He carefully carries her past the ticking clock and flowers – sensory clues that will prove important. He then reveals to her that he is the Red Dragon.

Anderson, Mikkelsen and Esparza really stood out for me in this episode. But Armitage was also wonderful – he’s so horribly awkward with Reba and frightening with Chilton. I thought this was another solid episode, and that makes me even more unhappy that we don’t have another season to look forward to. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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