‘Hannibal’ Finale: A Planned Fake-Out Or Murder/Suicide?

The Hannibal finale ended with a cliffhanger, but did Hannibal and Will plan to fake their deaths, or was it a murder/suicide attempt by Will?

If you’re like me, Fannibals, you may have watched the Hannibal finale a few times now, or at the very least the final five minutes of it. The finale was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen on television, and was everything I could have wanted (well, I still want to see that “lips hovering over lips” that didn’t make the cut; it better be on the DVD). It was truly amazing, and I’m apparently not the only person who thought that as it had a current rating on IMDB of 9.9 and nearly 6,000 votes at the time of this article.

Having re-watched the finale and trying to analyze all that occurs, I still cannot determine with certainty if the cliff fall was planned by Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) and Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) or a murder/suicide attempt by Will. To be clear, I know what Bryan Fuller and Hugh Dancy have said in interviews: that it was a murder/suicide attempt by Will after finally acknowledging that killing with Hannibal was indeed beautiful and not being able to accept this truth. However, I also know that we cannot always trust Fuller or Dancy when it comes to explaining motives or outcomes of a scenario (in an effort not to spoil things for us or because they like to troll us —not sure which it is, to be honest). Therefore, that leaves me to trying to figure it out for myself. Allow me to elaborate the reasons why both options make sense and how certain things that happen are contradictory. I would love to hear your own thoughts on this matter in the comments below.

I am leaning toward the cliff-fall being planned between Hannibal and Will so that they could fake their own deaths. Part of the reason I say this is when Will is explaining the plan to Bedelia (Gillian Anderson), he tells her, “If I were you Bedelia, I’d pack my bags. Meat’s back on the menu.” Furthermore, he says, “Ready or not, here he comes.” If Will had intended to kill Hannibal after they killed Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage), or if he was expecting Dolarhyde to kill Hannibal, then why threaten Bedelia in such a manner? Why warn her that Hannibal is going to be loose and come after her?

Also, I don’t think Will intended for Dolarhyde to kill Hannibal. If he had, what did Will think would happen afterward? Surely he didn’t believe that Dolarhyde would just let him (Will) go. Did he really believe he could kill Dolarhyde by himself? He is aware of Dolarhyde’s strength, and while Will has been able to defend himself before in fights, did he believe he could beat Dolarhyde? I suppose he thought he could shoot Dolarhyde after the Dragon killed Hannibal? But would shooting Dolarhyde really be that satisfying for Will?  If Will wasn’t intending for Dolarhyde to kill Hannibal, did he honestly think he could kill Hannibal himself? When that moment came, did he actually think he could follow through with it?

When Hannibal and Will first get to the house, they are standing on the cliff out over the Atlantic. It’s possible (maybe likely) that they were gauging whether the jump would be survivable for them. When Hannibal says, “Soon, all this will be lost to the sea,” could that have had a double meaning and actually be referring to their lives as they know it?

That night when Dolarhyde arrives, he has his camera with him. When Dolarhyde threw Will outside and then followed him, it took a short time for Hannibal to join in the fight outside. It seems very likely that Hannibal took that time to maneuver the camera so that it would catch them going over the cliff, thus convincing the authorities that they died and allowing themselves the freedom to assume alternate identities. This obviously speaks to the cliff jump being a premeditated act.

Murder Husbands at last; ‘Hannibal’ Season 3 finale.

Last but not least, Hannibal doesn’t fight Will at all when he pulls them off the cliff together. You would think that had they not planned it in advance, he would struggled against Will, and I don’t think he would have had any trouble succeeding.

Still, you might be asking whether Will would really plan with Hannibal to fake their deaths. Will is now aware that Hannibal is in love with him, and he cannot deny to himself his own feelings for Hannibal. Also, as Hannibal has pointed out to Will, he is unable to return home to Molly, even if he wants to. What would that be like? He has, on many occasions now, envisioned himself killing her. I’m not saying he would actually kill her, but that would haunt him. It reminds me of Season 2, when Hannibal realized how much he missed Will once Will was imprisoned for his murders — so much so that he helped Will escape. By the way, Will realizing he missed Hannibal and helping to orchestrate Hannibal’s escape has been my headcanon for quite some time.

Even with all of this nearly convincing me they planned to fake their deaths, there are some things that seem to contradict that theory, most of it having to do with the dialogue between Hannibal and Will inside the getaway home. While Hannibal is pouring the wine (that Will gave him back in Season 1, Episode 6 “Entrée,” mind you), he asks Will if he is planning to watch Dolarhyde kill him, to which Will responds, “I intend to watch him change you.” Of course, we know “change” is just a fancy euphemism for “kill.” Additionally, when Hannibal tells Will, “Save yourself, kill them all,” Will replies that he’s not sure he can save himself.

Was he already planning to follow through with a murder/suicide attempt? If so, perhaps Hannibal picked up on it, because when Dolarhyde arrives, Hannibal makes the comment that, “Suicide’s the enemy.” Was that line meant for Will as much as it was for Dolarhyde? Or was that just some plain old fashioned foreshadowing? Also, if they had planned for this fight and for the cliff dive, then Will wouldn’t have had to tell Hannibal, “He’s watching us now.” That linecould be taken two different ways, I suppose, but it just seems like the way Will says it, he is confessing to Hannibal about the set-up rather than informing him that things are about to go down as planned.

I mentioned above about the camera and how it’s possible that Hannibal moved the camera to catch them going over the cliff, but how would they know Dolarhyde would have the camera? Yes, perhaps they assumed he would have the camera since he likes to film his murders … but were they aware of that fact? I’m not sure. It is possible, I suppose, that when Will and Dolarhyde conceived of the plan to help Hannibal escape so that Dolarhyde could kill him, that it was mentioned that he would bring a camera to film the murder.

“See…this is all I ever wanted for you, Will. For both of us.” – Hannibal Lecter

As I said, I am mostly leaning toward the fact that the cliff jump was indeed planned by the two of them in order to fake their deaths. Perhaps the inside dialogue was also being recorded and therefore the reason for them to say what they said; it could have even been scripted by Hannibal and Will as they drove to the home. Otherwise, the dialogue seems to point to a murder/suicide plot by Will.

Last note, for those that may be confused: Hannibal definitely survives (otherwise the show wouldn’t be Hannibal) and it is pretty likely that Will survives. When we see Bedelia with her leg cut, she would not have cut her own leg off to serve it to herself. She was angry and scared when finding out Hannibal would escape, so no way did she do that to honor them. Besides, Fuller has confirmed in interviews that she did not cut her own leg off, and he also pointed out the two additional place settings, which insinuate that Hannibal survives. Fuller has been careful to not say whether the second place setting is for Will or not, but it is safe to assume so. Repeatedly, Fuller has said that the show is about Hannibal’s and Will’s relationship and that a Season 4 (if we get one) would reexamine their relationship.

What are your thoughts, Fannibals? Was the jump off the cliff a murder/suicide attempt by Will? Or did the Murder Husbands plan to fake their own deaths?