“How do you see the Ripper?”
“I see him as one of those pitiful thing sometimes born in hospitals. They feed it, keep it warm, but they don’t put it on the machines. They let it die. But he doesn’t die. He looks normal. Nobody can tell what he is.”
That’s because Hannibal is “wearing a very well-tailored person suit.” A “human veil.” That’s why no-one suspects Hannibal, that’s why Alana’s doubts about Abigail don’t extend to Hannibal, that’s why the betrayal will hurt so very badly. Will is relying on this man for his mental health and safety, and that same man is slowly but steadily taking it away from him.
This whole episode is one giant exercise in setting Will up to be the “Ripper’s friend.” For two reasons:
One, the Ripper is lonely. He likes Will, he wants Will to be his friend, his accomplice.
Two, the Ripper needs a patsy should the FBI get too close. Hannibal is playing a dangerous game here, and he’s playing it only because, in Will, he sees the possibility of friendship, of someone to share his little… hobby. Hannibal means to lead Will right to breaking point, to a point where he won’t be able to resist the pull of Hannibal’s world, of his killings. He wants to lead Will right to the brink, where Will with empathise with him, incapable of escaping.
There’s every chance that this is game is going to go terribly wrong — which is why the game is rigged, from the very beginning. Hannibal doesn’t do this out of malice, merely to protect himself should Will prove too stubborn, too strong. Hannibal is betting his life on Will being putty in his hands. But, just in case it doesn’t work out that way, there’s a noose just waiting to be tied around Will’s neck.
Should Will fall prey to Hannibal, Hannibal will use his confusion and losing time to his advantage, to bind Will to him for good. Should Will resist, Hannibal will use those same circumstances — some engineered by him, some simply falling into his lap and furthered by him — to frame Will for all the crimes the Chesapeake Ripper has committed. Everyone will think that the one thing all those cases have in common is Will.
When, in fact, what those cases have in common is one manipulative bastard.
“I see enough of you to see the truth of you.”
This episode also sees the careful introduction of Bedelia de Maurier, played by Gillian Anderson, an almost mythical character. We know very, very little about her. She keeps herself tightly locked away, even from Hannibal — or should I say, especially from Hannibal? He uses her giving him wine as approval to serve wine to Will as well. But is that to seek approval for his actions from his own conscience, or to assuage Will’s questions? He could have just lied to Will about this. That suggests that Hannibal wants to be honest to Will in that regard. Or perhaps giving Will wine wasn’t pre-planned, perhaps Bedelia gave him the idea. Then again, that certainly wasn’t the first glass of wine they’ve shared after a session.
More trivia: Mrs Komeda, one of Hannibal’s dinner party friends, is played by Ellen Greene — who played Charlie’s aunt Vivian Charles in another show written by Bryan Fuller that got cancelled after two seasons: Pushing Daisies.
All images courtesy of NBC’s Hannibal Facebook page.