Hannibal and Chilton remark upon how Gideon “pushed back” during psychic driving, having come to suspect what was happening to him. Hannibal’s more subtle machinations with Will are therefore drawn into contrast with Chilton’s clumsiness, although of course, Hannibal is seeking only to amuse himself, and what could be more amusing than a subject “pushing back”? The last three episodes of this series explore whether Will will be able to push back against Hannibal, or whether he will be completely subsumed by Hannibal’s narrative about him. Will’s disintegration now is so far progressed that Hannibal is able to resort to some pretty easy manipulation, for example to get him to pursue and kill Gideon simply by planting the suggestion of Alana being in danger and leaving keys and a gun on the table.
What didn’t quite fit together for me was Freddie Lounds’ role in this episode. It would have been more compelling, I think, to have had Alana Bloom in her role, forced to assist in Gideon’s disturbing surgery on Chilton, then later pursued by him herself. Perhaps this would have damaged Alana’s credibility in her response to Will’s disintegration, though; any good psychiatrist, primed with the example of Abel Gideon, would sense something amiss. Instead, we have to put up with Lounds’ blank look throughout the episode. A depiction of shock, perhaps, but I found it a little shallow.
There is an interesting resonance in the dialogue about a loss of identity being a “difference of opinion”. In Will’s assessment, Gideon is having this disagreement with himself; in the episode, there is again a “difference of opinion” between Will and Jack about who Will is. The idea that our selves are constructed, not only in others’ minds but also in our own, is key for Hannibal. He is seeking to shape the construction of Will’s self and cultivate or test Will’s “madness”, as “madness can be a medicine for the modern world” and the “existential crisis of modern life”. In this line, though, Hannibal is not thinking of Will’s madness necessarily benefiting him, but benefiting Hannibal, staving off a crisis of boredom, if nothing else!