Last episode we spoke briefly about the dude (played by Patrick Garrow) who is building an art work out of human bodies – he kidnaps them, kills them (usually) with a heroin overdose, and coats them in resin, and sews them together to form a giant eye, looking back, he hopes, at God. Let’s redefine “cannibalism”, for the purpose of this blog entry, to let this dude in – he is using human bodies for his appetites, in this case metaphysical ones. He may not be eating the victims (although who knows?) but he is certainly using them up, in large numbers.
He gets a bit sloppy, and one of the victims (Ryan Field), who has a high tolerance for opiates (the murder weapon of choice), escapes, first tearing off bits of his flesh that have been sewn to other bodies. This is what cannibalism texts do at their heart – they show the insides of the human body. They offend our sense of the clean, proper symbolic order by showing that inside, we are just animals, able to be treated like any other species, and torn apart to assuage appetite for food, visual arts, worship, or anything, really.
Will is in the asylum, where he tearfully begs Alana and Hannibal for help.
Has he begun to doubt Hannibal’s guilt, or is this a ploy? Hannibal’s plots are not always seamless – Bedelia has certainly seen through them. She comes to Hannibal’s office to terminate his psychiatric sessions. She has begun to question his actions – particularly with regard to her attack. Yes, we’ll hear more about that attack.
A toxic masculinity dance commences, where he advances on her and she steps back – he ends up in her face, where she tells him her conclusion, “based on what I glimpsed through the stitching of the person suit that you wear”:
“Exactly, I cannot say. I’ve had to draw a conclusion based on what I glimpsed through the stitching of the person suit that you wear.”
The FBI is still baffled by these dozens of missing people, although Beverley has visited Will with pictures, and he told her that the killer is choosing them for their skin colour – he is making a colour palette. He’s an artist! Hannibal can dig that:
We’re supposed to see colour, Jack. That may be all this killer has ever seen in his fellow man.
Hannibal understands that – he finds killing easy too. In his fellow man, he sees dinner.
He also has the nose of a bloodhound, and can tell, from sniffing the latest body, that the victim ran through a cornfield. He discusses the case with Will in the asylum for the criminally insane, and Will confirms the artwork
Hannibal figures out where there is a suitably private abandoned silo, near a cornfield, and near the river where the bodies were dumped. We see him surveying the area, wearing his killing suit (because dry cleaning is so expensive)
He climbs on the roof, where there is a small opening, through which the “eye” can look up at God. When the killer appears, Hannibal greets him.
The FBI find the crime scene, thanks to Will’s advice, but now the killer is stitched into it. In the silo full of bodies, Jack and Hannibal engage in some philosophical speculation:
Jack: How does a human being go so bad.
Hannibal: when it comes to nature versus nurture I choose neither. We are built from a DNA blueprint and born into a world of scenario and circumstance we don’t control.
Jack: Praise the mutilated world, huh? [This is a reference to a New Yorker poem after 9/11].
Jack: Ritual human sacrifice.
Hannibal: I’m not sure if it’s an offering but it’s a gesture. The eye looks beyond this world into the next and sees the reflection of man himself. Is the killer looking at God?
Jack: Maybe it’s some sick existential crisis.
Hannibal: If it were an existential crisis I would argue there wouldn’t be any reflection in the eye at all.
Jack: you say he doesn’t see people. He sees material.
Hannibal: Those in the world around him are a means to an end. He uses them to do what he’s driven to do.
Jack immediately sees his own reflection – he was using Will to do what he was driven to do [saving lives, which is not really the worst possible sin, but he’s still beating himself up about it].
They haven’t really figured out that the last victim is the killer, but they do manage to notice that he is missing a leg. Only Hannibal knows where that leg is. We see him cutting off the foot with an electric meat saw, to Beethoven’s 9th, and converting the shank into a nice Osso Buco.
Will does his visionary thing for Beverley and realises that the killer’s body doesn’t belong.
He sees stag-man looking through hole in the roof, but the eye remains fixed and unseeing, unless someone else sees him. That someone will be Hannibal.
Will sees himself being sewn onto the eye by Hannibal. He remember Hannibal’s words from Season 1, episode 2:
We see what really happened: Hannibal is cooking up heroin, reassuring the killer with classical references (because it’s comforting to know there is a Renaissance painting allusion available when someone is sewing your skin to some corpses).
Why is the killer lying there letting Hannibal get on with his needlepoint? Well, it involves a religious crisis.
Hannibal tells him:
“God gave you purpose – not only to create art but to become it…. Your eye will now see God reflected back. It will see you.”
Hannibal is well aware of Nietzsche’s concept that “God is dead” and that we, humanity, killed him, and therefore need to replace him. Hannibal is now looking down at the dying killer:
Hannibal has done what he believes is best – finished the killer’s artwork, made him a part of it, given it a sacred content. Bedelia visits Will and tells him the same thing:
It may be small comfort, but I am convinced that Hannibal has done what he honestly believes is best for you.
She whispers to Will:
Will’s doubts about Hannibal have been dissolved. Now there will be a reckoning.
Speaking of reckonings, Hannibal is back in his killing suit in Bedelia’s house – but the furniture is covered – she is gone. She’s left him a bottle of scent and he hears her words “you are dangerous”.
No shit, Bedelia?