The ringing doorbell saves Tobias’ life. Will is becoming ever more conscious that he is unstable and is beginning to flail in search of a crutch; first, kissing Alana, then driving immediately to Hannibal to discuss the knock-back she has given him. Hannibal provides Will one by turning him back to work, and throwing Tobias Budge into Will’s path (or perhaps vice versa!). Hannibal knows that Tobias poses a threat to him, but also that he poses a threat to Will and the police officers who might come for him; Tobias has told him as much. Presuming that Hannibal doesn’t mean for Will to be killed, he must have a strong faith in his ability to identify and out-play someone like Tobias. This is a near-fatal misjudgment on Hannibal’s part, for both Will and Hannibal.
The ‘serial killer death match’ that ensues humanises Hannibal. He is put in real physical peril, something which doesn’t usually happen (at least as far as know) when he kills. This humanity is also wonderfully expressed in the sad, wounded expression Hannibal has when Will and Jack arrive at his office. Hannibal has destroyed Tobias — a potential friend who understood the worst of him — and Franklin, who he had tried to discourage Tobias from killing, and we have a sense that he has done so not only for his own preservation, but at root for Will. Hannibal has made his choice between opportunities for friendship. He tells Will that he “appreciates his company” in the world of serial killers that Will thinks of as ‘his’, but in which of course he is really a visitor.
The end of this episode also suggests that Hannibal has more “company” than we might have at first assumed. Du Maurier’s attack and the death of her patient in her office — still something of a mystery, although later revealed as one of Hannibal’s many killings — are suggestive of a mutual understanding between Du Maurier and Hannibal about the meaning and import of death. Hannibal expresses a sense of responsibility for Franklin’s death — in veiled terms, of course — that Du Maurier counters, arguing that each individual has an “intrinsic responsibility for their own life” that no one else can be burdened with. For her, this means taking responsibility for the attack her patient made on her, but not responsibility for his death. Hannibal’s agreement is a moment where the two of them seem to come together through the “veil” that Du Maurier has previously sensed between them. This is one of the most fascinating relationships in the whole series, and I can’t wait to see how it develops in series 2.