Will Graham has lost everything - his home, his job, his freedom and even the belief of his colleagues and closest friends. The only thing he has left is a belief that the secret to getting out of prison lays locked deep in his own head. And even that is not enough. He also needs a plan.
Roland Umber has awakened to find himself in a living nightmare: after being knocked out and kidnapped, he has been sewn, naked, into a jumble of human corpses. Screaming in pain, he wrenches himself free of this gruesome tapestry and stumbles outside, where he realizes he has been in a corn silo on a seemingly abandoned farm. As he looks around and takes in the situation, a pair of headlights washes over him. His captor is here!
Roland runs into a junkyard of abandoned cars and hides inside one of them. The kidnapper, armed with a hunting rifle, tracks him in a nerve-wracking game of cat-and-mouse. Roland breaks for a nearby cornfield. The kidnapper follows, trying to get a shot. On the other side of the field, Roland runs into some woods. The kidnapper shoots and just misses. Roland comes out of the woods and nearly falls off a cliff high above a river. He's trapped! With the kidnapper closing in, Roland has no choice but to jump into the water. But his escape attempt has a tragic ending as he hits his head on a rock hidden just beneath the river's surface. From the top of the cliff, the kidnapper watches as Roland's corpse washes away.
In prison, Will is starting to accept the possibility that he may have committed the terrible acts of which he's been accused. Visiting him, Hannibal and Alana once again offer to help him remember his crimes so he can come to terms with himself. Will admits he needs their help and breaks down crying, terrified of what he may find buried in his psyche. The guards walk him back to his cell and he sits on his bunk, still sobbing. As soon as he hears the guards walk away, his crying stops, replaced by a look of steely resolve. Will was playing his friends, and they bought it. Sneaky, but what game is he playing?
Roland Umber's body lies on a table at the FBI crime lab. Hannibal, Jack and the FBI forensics team are stumped as to what all the victims they have found might have in common. Beverly suggests the color palette theory that Will came up with, presenting it as her own idea. Jack and Hannibal see through her, and Jack is furious she made a secret visit to the prison to ask for Will's help. He drags Beverly into his office to chew her out, but leaves her with the impression that Will's idea might have some merit and that she should take whatever steps she needs to in order to do her job. Even if that means running with a theory given to her by an accused serial killer.
Alone in the forensics lab with Roland Umber's body, Hannibal bends down and inhales deeply. His highly sensitive nose picks up the scent of corn, and he knows Roland was in a cornfield just before he died.
Beverly returns to visit Will, who will only help her more with the case if she agrees to truly consider the possibility he is innocent. She agrees and hands over photos of Roland's body. Will closes his eyes, imagining himself in the lab looking at the body. Suddenly he knows: Roland wasn't ripped out of the human mural. He escaped. Will tells Beverly this and adds a warning: Hannibal may have said that Roland was ripped down by the killer and discarded like the other bodies the FBI found, but that is not necessarily what he thinks.
Hannibal finds the farm and the abandoned silo from which Roland Umber recently escaped. Clad in the plastic suit he wears when he kills, he climbs a ladder up the outside of the silo to the top and looks down through an opening. Below him is the pile of dead bodies, with a blank space where Roland Umber had been. From above he can see the killer's intent: the corpses form a mural in the shape of a human eye. The different colors of the bodies give the eye an eerie depth and texture. It stares back at Hannibal, cold and sad, giving up its maker's secrets.
Who but Hannibal could be impressed by such a grisly tableau? As he admires it, the silo door opens and the killer walks in. Unaware of Hannibal's presence, he prepares to spray resin from a tank over the mural to keep the bodies preserved. "Hello," Hannibal calls down to him. When the killer looks up, startled, Hannibal pays him the highest compliment: "I love your work." Nothing like a little dark humor between serial killers.
A step behind Hannibal like always, the FBI finds corn residue on Roland's body and tracks it to the abandoned farm and the silo. To help make sense of the grisly scene, Jack calls in his newest profiler... Hannibal. Pretending to be horrified at what he sees, Hannibal tells Jack that the killer might be so proud of his work he will go on to create more murals... or that, having created this one, he might be done killing for good. "Those in the world around him are a means to an end," Hannibal says. "He uses them to do what he is driven to do." His comment resonates with Jack, who wonders to his own therapist if he is guilty of using Will for his own ends: to save lives.
Back in the FBI lab, Crawford and the forensics team examine the unidentified body of a man from the silo. They cannot figure out why this man was placed in the mural where he was, since his skin color is wrong for that particular spot. Plus he was too big, and the killer had to cut off the man's leg to make him fit. The team figures he was Roland Umber's replacement, but why would the killer switch colors "mid-brushstroke"?
The answer, of course, is that he didn't. It was Hannibal who sewed the killer into his own mural, saying of the man's work, "I'm going to finish it for you." As a bonus, he took the man's leg. While the FBI is busy with this mystery, Hannibal is busy carving up the killer's limb to use in a recipe: osso buco with a human leg instead of veal. Yum.
Still seeking answers about what might have happened to the mural maker, Beverly visits Will again and brings Hannibal along with her. They show Will a picture of the mural. "What would be the last image fixed on this dying eye?" Hannibal asks him.
Will closes his eyes, going into the killer's point of view, doing that thing he does. He is in the silo, imagining he is the mural maker, stepping carefully among the bodies, looking carefully at the John Doe's corpse and then up at the opening in the top of the silo through which the mural eye stares up at God. "I didn't put you here," he snarls through gritted teeth. "You are not my design."
Will snaps out of his trance and tells Beverly and Hannibal that the John Doe is the killer, sewn into his own mural. But who would have done that? "He must have had a friend," Hannibal suggests with maybe a faint hint of defensiveness. Not that Hannibal could be considered anyone's "friend." After all, look what he's done to Will...
Clearly terrified of Hannibal, his psychiatrist, Bedelia Du Maurier, has told him she is resigning as his therapist and told Jack that she will not be able to cooperate with the FBI's investigation anymore. Now she visits Will in prison, saying she wanted to meet him before she "withdraws from social ties." She steps up close to the bars of his cell, breaking a rule to stay behind a white line several feet away. As orderlies rush down the hall, yelling at her to step back, she whispers to Will, "I believe you." As guards hustle Bedelia away, Will grips the bars and gasps. Clearly he is badly shaken.
Late at night, Hannibal breaks into Bedelia's home, wearing his plastic killing suit. The furniture in the house has all been covered with white sheets. Bedelia is gone, having apparently decided to withdraw for a good long time. Hannibal stands in her living room as her last words to him echo in his mind like an epitaph: "The conclusion that I have drawn is that you are dangerous..."
Bedelia may have reached that conclusion, but her fleeing won't help Will. He'll have to save his own life with the help of whatever memories he can find buried in the recesses of his mind. If those memories can even be trusted...