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Are we not created in his image?

Hmm. I should get a Hannibal icon, probably. It's a show that rapidly managed to glue me into my chair (with the occasional "oh christ no what ugh" moment when I'm peeking through my fingers) (oh god no pun intended on the most recent murder-artist argh) (arrrrgh) by hitting buttons I wasn't entirely aware I had - both pleasant and, um, not. I just want to draw a possible parallel in the latest episode and it's possibly not the one you think? So look beneath the cut for spoilers, if you want.

Right, so, obviously the Mural Painter - literally, of course - stands in for and is replaced himself by Will and Lecter in different ways, just as Will and Lecter are swapping roles and doing really weird things to the scenes they were originally inspired by. I mean, obviously. I'd say Will empathing the killer's outrage at the change to his mural might echo Hannibal in the future, when he becomes aware Will did not become what he intended; of course Hannibal's enormous fucking ego means he imagines himself a fitting understudy to God. He's a Lucifer analogue. It's a thing he do. (And, hey, an eye that cannot see looking upon what was never there is the "truth" Hannibal's trying to get everyone to accept. Will's empathic sight must have dimmed and failed, leaving him blinded, leaving him somehow convinced Hannibal killed Will's victims. But Hannibal overplayed his hand, and Will saw, meaning the eye now has something to fix upon - the real murderer, the real artist.)

The parallel I'm thinking of, though, is not between them. It's between Will and that last victim - poor Roland Umber. Abducted, dosed, fixed, imprisoned; he faced the same terror in fast-forward that Will is enduring in slow-motion. And he reacted the way that Will is - mind-shattering horror at finding himself in a hell that almost can't be imagined, followed by trying to free himself from the "design" and escape, continuing to live, spiting his would-be destroyer. He shows cunning and resilience, both native and borne of desperation. He does, in the end, escape. But in his desperation he left pieces of himself behind, and ultimately from spite broke himself, freed of his demon's grasp in death. That is a danger Will faces - that he might escape, prove himself innocent, spite Hannibal...and still die, or tear away the softness, the kindness, in his nature. Umber died in a river and his body drifted away. Will's river-space flowed with corpses. Bargaining with people's lives for strange favours, I think, has him flinching away from himself, not to mention manipulating Alana emotionally; he's not happy about it. But he does it. (That, at least, still separates him from Hannibal. Lecter would never understand that Will cannot remain himself without always resisting evil. Lecter thinks Will's empathy is beautiful - but he can't turn it off, unmask himself and reveal something like Lecter beneath, and that's what Lecter is hoping for, I think.)

So the struggle this season is going to more than just Will's trial with his slim chances of being proven innocent, Hannibal's continuing manipulation plus the ghastly danger he represents to everybody all the time just by existing, and Chilton being a gross slimy toolbag. Alana's well-meaning and misguided compassion, Jack and his justified self-doubt, Bedelia's flight... those matter as well, but they aren't the central conflict. The central conflict is the one that's always been there. Can Will stay who he is?

Non-spoiler: this show is so good and so incredibly weird.

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