The first part of the episode was a gorgeously rendered nightmare. Will's dream with the stag transforming into a wendigo was dark and creepy; everything that came after it was worse. The show employed this shaky camera technique in the earlier scenes, while Will is stumbling around his house and trying to make sense of the overwhelming evidence that he has killed Abigail Hobbs, that's fantastically unsettling. Brian Reitzell's score has been eerily effective all season but the sound and score in this final episode was the best. It's so discordant and menacing. I think the show did a great job in these first few scenes of putting the audience right inside Will's fevered brain. For me it was overwhelming in the best possible way. Hannibal has reminded me more than once of Twin Peaks and this episode comes closest to rivaling the earlier show's final episode, where Cooper enters the Black Lodge. Nothing else on TV has made me feel so simultaneously disoriented and delighted.
Next we have to watch as everyone Will knows turns on him and everything he cares about is taken away. The scenes where he is processed by Zeller, Price and Katz made me wince. Zeller and Price treat him with cold indifference but it's even worse when Katz gets ahold of him and basically scolds him for being at the FBI in the first place. The rational part of my brain knows she's doing awesome police work and that the whole tough-guy routine comes from her caring about Will and probably feeling that he's betrayed her trust. But as a viewer who knows Will is innocent it's hard to take. Once again I found myself loving Alana Bloom. First for her emotionally charged exchange with Jack Crawford and then for her interview scene with Will. Not only does she offer to look after all of Will's dogs indefinitely (you rock, Alana) but she almost puts the pieces together. Until Hannibal undermines everything with his carefully crafted evidence. I'll admit I never saw the fishing lure thing coming. What a master stroke of evil brilliance. And what a perfect example of the way Hannibal has insinuated himself into Will's life and corrupted it.
In the last part of the episode Will escapes custody and confronts Lecter. I loved the reconstruction of the copycat murder tableaux in Lecter's office. All in black, shadowed and inky, just like the stag and the wendigo. A literal representation of how everything Hannibal touches is tainted by his darkness. And the scene between Hannibal and Will in the Hobbs family kitchen was electric. After all the manipulation and scheming, even with half his brain still on fire from encephalitis, Will is able, at last, to make that final leap and determine that Hannibal is the murderer he's been hunting. Then Crawford comes riding to the rescue and blows everything to hell. Which leads to that final haunting scene, the inverse of the famous scene from Silence of the Lambs, with Graham behind bars and Lecter on the other side smiling serenely at the wickedness he's brought about. It's a dismal place to end up but it's necessary and, like pretty much everything else about this show, perfect.
As a fan of the horror genre I could not be more delighted that Hannibal exists. The arguments are still raging about whether or not something this dark, twisted and grotesque belongs on network television. I maintain that, for all its wonderfully bizarre flourishes, this is a show that is primarily character driven and the characters are very well-written and compelling. The production values have been consistently excellent and every aspect of the show seems to be crafted with thought, care and passion. That makes it exactly the kind of thing we ought to have on network television. Kudos once again to NBC for sticking with it.