Despite being one of the best TV shows in recent memory (not to mention one of the most critically acclaimed), Hannibal never did huge numbers when it came to ratings. However, that never stopped it from developing a devoted group of “Fannibals” who supported the NBC series from day one and helped to make a third season a reality.
That third season was downright incredible, and if it really is the last we’ve seen of Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal Lecter and Hugh Dancy’s Will Graham, then at least they went out on a high. Delivering a satisfying ending to their story, the season was packed full of amazing moments which were beautifully shot, incredibly acted, or just seriously messed up!
Here, we take a look back at Hannibal’s amazing third and final season, highlighting the ten best scenes which stand out as being some of the best not just from this season, but the series as a whole. Needless to say, major spoilers follow, but if you aren’t up to date at this point, then you should really stop reading now to go and watch this incredible series…
10. Will’s Near Miss
The first half of season six centred around Will Graham’s hunt for Hannibal Lecter, and when they finally came face to face in an art gallery, Will had made the decision to kill his former friend (even if doing so could potentially push him down a darker path). However, little does he know that Chiyoh is keeping a protective eye on Hannibal, and she shoots Will before he can do the deed.
Of course, had he known that Hannibal had come to the conclusion that the only way he could forgive his former patient was by eating him, he probably would have acted inside the gallery itself! When he wakes up, he’s tied to a chair unable to move, and is powerless when Hannibal starts cutting into his head with a cranial saw much to the horror of a similarly incapacitated Jack Crawford. It’s a hard to watch scene and eerily reminiscent of the one from the 2002 Hannibal movie…thankfully, this Hannibal doesn’t get quite that far!
Despite being on the run, Hannibal can’t help but draw Will to him (or give up his murderous tendencies), hence why he displays the bodies of one of his latest victims in a cathedral in Palermo. Of course, this being Hannibal, he’s actually folded the corpse into the shape of an origami heart, a twisted display which Will is understandably both horrified and mesmerised by.
However, sensing that his old friend is somewhere nearby, Will heads into the catacombs beneath the church and pursues him through them alongside a detective who has been hunting for Hannibal for decades. It’s a tense and exciting scene, particularly as you’re waiting for the killer to jump out at any second to take out one of the men hunting him down. Ultimately, he manages to elude them without shedding any blood, but not before Will – who can tell he’s nearby – offers his forgiveness, a surprising twist in their tale.
8. Abigail’s Return
One of the things that makes Will offering his forgiveness to Hannibal so shocking is what happens with Abigail earlier in that same episode. The superb premiere focused solely on Hannibal, and when we meet Will again in the second episode, he’s still in a hospital bed following the brutal attack he endured in the season two finale.
It’s then that Abigail reappears by his bedside, explaining that they both survived because Hannibal stabbed them with surgical precision in a way which meant they wouldn’t die from their wounds. It’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, and Abigail accompanying Will on his journey to find Hannibal makes perfect sense. That’s perhaps why it comes as such a blow when it’s revealed that she really did die of her wounds and has been a hallucination the entire time! It’s a heartbreaking moment, and one which was handled in a very smart and unique way.
7. Hannibal’s Surrender
After Will and Hannibal escape the grisly fates Mason Verger had intended for them, the latter returns his old friend to his home. However, it’s impossible to relax during these scenes, especially knowing that there’s still a very good chance that the cannibal means to eat him! When Will wakes up though, the two share one final therapy session in which the FBI profiler cruelly (which, let’s face it, you can’t blame him for being at this point) breaks Hannibal’s heart by stating that he no longer wants anything to do with him and that whatever their relationship was or could be is over.
Hannibal leaves moments before Jack and the FBI arrive, but to Will’s dismay, it’s then that the killer surrenders and tells him, “I want you to know exactly where I am, and where you can always find me.” Though it’s arguably a move made out of spite, it’s also a way of ensuring that they remain connected.
6. Chilton’s Grisly Fate
Poor old Chilton! Whether it was getting framed for murder or shot in the head only to survive and be left horribly disfigured, he became something of a punching bag in Hannibal. However, it was oddly satisfying to see the slimy psychiatrist who dubbed the titular character “Hannibal the Cannibal” be put through these sorts of trial and tribulations…at least until season three took things down a seriously messed up route.
After Will coldly sets him up to be taken by the Red Dragon, Chilton has his lips bitten off by the insane serial killer and is then burned alive. Amazingly, he survives both of these ordeals, and seeing his horribly scarred body when Will visits him in the hospital makes for uncomfortable viewing (the make-up effects were frighteningly realistic). Raúl Esparza was always a highlight of the series, but both his performance and the character were taken to new levels in season three.
Hannibal: The Complete Season 3 is out now on Download, DVD and Blu-ray. Hannibal The Complete Seasons 1-3 is also available on DVD and Blu-ray.