I am at a loss for words. Through a season that's managed to surprise us and still (largely) remain faithful to a story we're familiar with, Bryan Fuller takes us far, far off the beaten path for a finale to everything we know... and a jumping off to one hell of a third season. [Spoilers below.]

The majority of viewers assumed that Dr. Lecter would finish the second season behind bars. I know I did. Instead, the cliffhanger presented in the first ten minutes of the season premiere is revisited, compounded, multiplied. And we'll get to that.

Both Jack and Hannibal share plans w/ Will Graham. Lecter kicks things off with yet another dinner invitation, fully expecting Jack to try to arrest him, or kill him. Jack accepts the invite, fully expecting Hannibal to try to kill him. They're both relying on Will Graham to be their man in the room, their secret weapon. Both ask him: "Will you do what needs to be done?" His reply is the same to both. "Oh yes."

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The cinematography of this single moment, splicing the faces of Hannibal and Jack, and doing the same for Will (making him literally two-faced) is just the latest demonstration that Bryan Fuller's creativity, his imagination, may simply be without limits. This is good news, as it will come in handy next season when his Hannibal is completely off the map.

Will spends time in his head, speaking with his first kill, Garrett Jacob Hobbs. Will lines up a shot with a hunting rifle, and takes down the Stag— the symbol of his own darkness, the representation of everything he has in common with Hannibal— that's haunted him for two seasons.

Bella Crawford is still livid with Hannibal. She lies in bed, still hating him, still livid. Despite her suffering, she can't attempt euthanasia again. She can't abandon Jack twice. "You saved me, for Jack. Will you save him, when I'm gone?" He doesn't answer.

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Will and Freddie share a moment. She's glib as ever, saying "Nothing sells like a survival story." Will is unconvinced. He pleads with her not to write about Abigail. "Let her rest in peace," he says, completely unsure if he's going to survive the night. That's a valid doubt.

Hannibal and Will go about burning Lecter's psychiatric notes— anything of his on Will Graham. Hannibal's planning to flee with Will, and wants to leave nothing behind of any importance— to him or to his patients. They discuss the future, even the possibility of getting caught. Hannibal intends to reside in his memory palace, if such a thing happens.

And then Will makes his first mistake: he came to Hannibal's house directly from his meeting with Freddie. He has her smell on him— and just like that, everything changes.

Dr. Bloom's been having nightmares, being pervaded by something vile. She feels poisoned. She asks Will how he can be sure Hannibal's not setting a trap for him. Will says that he can't.

At supper, Hannibal asks if they could just disappear. Jack says that he can't. Hannibal asks if Jack offered Will forgiveness, would he accept? It's more of the same double-entendre dialogue we've had from Hannibal, for ages. He says one thing, he means another. He's so wrapped up in the ideal, untouchable vision of himself, that he's virtually incapable of an honest, direct statement. They end on an ironic toast: "To the truth... and all its consequences." This freakin' show.

Kade Purnell warns Jack that his plans for Hannibal amount to entrapment. She's not wrong— they're trying to do something extremely shady, as it's the only visible avenue left to actually catching Hannibal. And it's not good enough. Purnell forces Jack onto 'Compassionate Leave', which might as well be suspension. Kade puts out warrants for Jack and Will, for entrapment and murder. Will calls Hannibal, repeating the call Lecter made in the pilot: "They know."

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So begins the fight we saw at the start of the season. Alanna is outside, calling 911. Jack still gets stabbed in the throat. Alanna trains her gun on him. Hannibal offers her an out— if she walks away, she'll live. If she remains, he'll kill her. She pulls the trigger.

Nothing. On any one of the nights she'd spent with him, Hannibal simply took her bullets. Alanna's failure to prevent this... borders on insulting. What kind of idiot walks into Hannibal Lecter's house without checking their weapon? (The same kind that runs up the stairs instead of out into the street, I guess.)

Alanna reloads... when Abigail Hobbs steps out of the darkness, and pushes her out the window. The 'Oh Crap' expression on Alanna's face matched my own. Will arrives, calls 911, Alanna pleads that he go inside and find Jack.

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Will finds a contrite Abigail in the kitchen. Hannibal materializes behind him. Hannibal states, "We couldn't leave without you," before slicing through Will's stomach. He embraces Will as he bleeds out. Hannibal forgives Will, before prompting Abigail to come to his side. He tears open her throat.

Hannibal steps out into the night air, baptized in the rain, as four people lay dying, in and around his home. He disappears.

The Goldberg Variations carry us out as Hannibal flies off in first class... beside Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier. He closes his eyes, content.

This freaking show.

It's been renewed for a third season. On the downside, it's on hiatus for a year, so settle in for a long wait. I have a feeling it's going to be worth it.

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