Hannibal is beginning to show us the glorious and daunting spectrum of human love, frailty, and depravity… and Will Graham’s starting to lose it just a smidge.
Waking up standing in the middle of a country road in the dead of night, the preternatural elk haunting his dreams turns out merely to be Winston, his recently adopted dog, and the officers shining flashlights into his eyes, reassured that he isn’t suffering from overdose or emergency, drop them home.
Perhaps not an emergency, but unnerving enough to prompt a bright and early visit to Hannibal at home, who receives Will warmly, in his own detached way, offering no-doubt-sumptuous coffee, and rebuffing Will’s apology for the imposition. “Office hours are professional; my kitchen is always open for friends.”
No rest for the weary, Will is summoned to a grisly crimes scene, but Jack assures him this will wake him up.
A couple, positioned at the foot of the bed in prayer position, their backs flayed and the skin strung up to resemble angel wings. Sweat on the bed, and vomit on the nightstand: the killer spent the night, with the figures in gruesome supplication as he slept. Will requests a plastic sheet and lies down, looks from inside the “angel-maker.”
The killer isn’t looking for people to pray to him, but rather for him, confirmed by Will’s suggestion to analyze the vomit. Examination, as usual, confirms his impression: the vomit indicated steroids and anti-convulsants. The killer has brain cancer.
But it’s taking a toll. Hannibal suggests it’s driving the sleepwalking, borne of Jack’s manipulative, borderline usurious stewardship of Will’s gift, of treating Will like “fine china, to be brought out only on special occasions.” Sleepwalking, after all, is an effect of repressed aggression. Is Will feeling aggressive toward Jack? It would be justified… Will puts the question point blank, equal to equal: “Are you trying to alienate me from Jack Crawford?” Hannibal delicately relents, but the seed has been planted.
At the next encounter with the angel-maker, this time meeting an unfortunate in Cleveland hung from a scaffolding in an alley, Will’s temper grows short; he’s having trouble looking out from within the murderer’s mind, discerning the method by which he’s choosing his victims. Pressed by a peevish Jack, the seed germinates and Will pushes back, suggesting that as director of the Behavioral Sciences Unit he try coming up with his own answers. Jack turns to face Will squarely, levying a sharp, “I did not just hear that that. Did I?”, sending the rest of the team scurrying, and cowing Will to yield the moment.
The angel-maker’s obsession isn’t biblical; angels in scripture never have wings. Male genitalia found nearby; the killer has castrated himself, accepted his own death and begun turning himself into an angel himself. But still no selection rationale (and no way to know that the killer perceives the individuals as aflame, indicative of their fitness of purpose). Jimmy Price does find out that all three victims enjoy sordid criminal pasts, suggesting that the angel-maker believes is doing God’s good work.