Hannibal Recap Episode 3.12 – The Number of the Beast is 666
Since the beginning, Frederick Chilton’s sense has not been equal to his ego. He thinks he’s a genius (and he does have a knack for self-promotion), but his all-consuming self-regard blinds him to the game being played around him. He is a pawn, and the kings and queens have finally offered him up for sacrifice.
“The Number of the Beast is 666” revolves around the FBI’s attempt to catch the Dragon. With the help of Freddie Lounds, Will baits the hook with inflammatory statements, while Chilton – still stinging from Hannibal’s public refutation of his best-selling book – volunteers to give the article professional credibility.
The plan works, to an extent. Dolarhyde is furious at the implications in Freddie’s article, but he’s not foolish enough to walk into a trap. He instead captures Chilton and subjects him to a rigorous interrogation, forcing him to refute his earlier statements on video. Then the Dragon rips Chilton’s lips off with his teeth and sets him on fire in Will’s courtyard.
He also mails the lips to Hannibal, who happily makes a snack of the upper (or maybe it’s the lower).
Chilton survives the attack and relays the news that Reba is a blind black woman, which should narrow Jack’s search for Dolarhyde. In the meantime, Chilton is left to ponder his own insignificance. His most degrading moment happens during his interrogation, long before we see his charred, faceless body in a hospital chamber. When threatened, Chilton grovels. He cries and begs for mercy, cowardly saying whatever Dolarhyde wants to hear in the hopes that it will buy him leniency. That’s the problem. Chilton has no creativity. He does not stand for anything original, and therefore has nothing to guide him during times of crisis.
It makes Chilton emblematic of the broader themes of the show, the other side of the coin that spins between Will and Hannibal. The show has always been about action, about energy and becoming. What is a human body capable of when pushed to realize the ideal vision of itself? Some, like Dolarhyde, are able to initiate their own transformations. Others, like Molly, need to be forced to make the change. That’s why adversity is usually positioned as a catalyst.
The catch is that you need some kind value system to direct the process. For Hannibal, adversity is supposed to push people beyond their limits, showing them the things they’re willing to fight for to achieve. Chilton instead becomes smaller, a weak, shriveling creature bandied about like a catnip toy because there is no substance to his being. His innermost self is little more than crass and dull concerns like money and glory, and that foundation is unstable and ultimately fleeting.
As it relates to his injuries, Frederick Chilton simply does not understand the rules of the game. He is so wholly focused on celebrity that he cannot conceive that other people do not share those interests, which makes it impossible for him to predict the movements of agents like Hannibal and Will. “The Number of the Beast is 666” forces him to confront that ineptitude, especially since everyone else knew exactly what was coming and was smart enough to stay out of the way.
The episode ends with Dolarhyde kidnapping and revealing himself to a terrified Reba while Will ponders his own role in Chilton’s downfall. Hannibal, meanwhile, has never had more fun as a devil presiding in Hell waiting to collect the sinners. It should make for a thrilling final episode. With Chilton off the board, only the strongest pieces are left on the table and it will be fascinating to see what Will, Hannibal, and Dolarhyde are able to become.
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