“From the beginning you and the dragon had been one. You are becoming, and the dragon is your higher self.”
The way this show is currently paralleling Will Graham and Francis Dolarhyde is absolutely brilliant. The above conversation is even more significant when you consider Bedelia telling Will that he is capable of righteous violence because he is compassionate, and that extreme acts of cruelty require high levels of empathy, certainly something Will is in no short supply of.
Dolarhyde is not killing his victims because he wants to inflict pain upon them. In his madness he believes he is helping them. He believes he is elevating them to their higher selves by giving them to the darkness within himself that he calls the dragon. This is righteous violence. This is his compassion. But Hannibal knows that this darkness is something that has been inside him all along, and this harkens back to Will at the end of season 2. As he attempted to trick and trap Hannibal, Will unlocked a part of his nature that has always been present, and is just as natural to him as being sweet and good and kind, which he undoubtedly is. But as he said earlier this season, he never knew himself more than he did when he was with Hannibal.
And speaking of which, as soon as Dolarhyde said this:
I was immediately reminded of this:
Molly is to Will as Reba is to Dolarhyde. Through her he has found an escape from the darker side of himself. He consumed the Blake painting because he wanted to desperately to be someone else for her. He wants to step away from the darkness and into the light, but to do so would be to deny half of his true self, and Hannibal is dependent on him embracing that darkness at this point.
Hannibal’s ethics and motivations are fascinating. He is undeniably capable of experiencing love, but the nature of that love and the nature of who he is twists it and turns it into a truly destructive force. He likes testing people, he likes placing them in situations where they have a choice to do right or wrong to see which they will choose, and he is no stranger to a good old game of cat and mouse. But his motivations with Dolarhyde go a bit deeper than that… I believe he thinks if he can help Dolarhyde become his higher self, if he can help him become the dragon, then he can help Will come around again too. He can pull him away from his family (the family that he believes is a poor replacement for the family they were creating together) and back into his orbit.
A striking difference between the canon of the books and what took place on the show is that Hannibal did not send Dolarhyde after Will AND his family… he only sent him after Molly and Walter. Hannibal doesn’t want Dolarhyde to kill Will in this universe, but he is unbelievably jealous and wants Will’s new family out of the picture as soon as possible. This isn’t simply about playing a game out of boredom for him. In the end it all comes down to his deep and twisted love for Will Graham.
Will and Molly love one another, there is no doubt about that, but we are being shown through visual subtext and absolutely blatant and heavy handed dialogue that Will and Hannibal belong together. They are two sides of the same coin, but Will’s true destiny to be with Hannibal cannot be realized until he learns to, once again, give in to his own becoming.
Will wanted to run away with Hannibal not only because they were friends, or because they truly do love one another on a deep and profound level, but because through Hannibal, Will found his freedom. His transformation at the end of season 2 also felt very deliberate, it began as a premeditated plan to capture Hannibal after all, but it resulted in Will discovering the true nature of the beast residing in his own belly. A part of him will always want to be with Hannibal, will always wish they had run away together all those years ago, and I guess only time (
aka the final two episodes) will tell if that part of himself will be victorious in the end.