Will Graham is free from prison. But as long as Hannibal Lecter has gotten away with his crimes, is he really free? Or will he remain a slave to his single-minded pursuit of the man he is sure framed him for murder until he finds justice?
With the alleged Chesapeake Ripper, Frederick Chilton, gunned down by Miriam Lass, it would seem Hannibal Lecter is in the clear. Will and Jack Crawford are doing what they can to keep up appearances. They even attend dinner at Hannibal's house, though they insist on providing the fish for him to cook themselves. Hannibal seems almost jolly. And why not? He's sleeping with the beautiful Alana Bloom; he's back in Will's good graces, and he's in his element cooking a meal for friends. One could almost grow to like the guy if it wasn't for that one little killing-and-eating-other-people habit that he can't break.
At a stable, a veterinarian examines the body of a horse found dead in her stall. The horse's owner thinks she might have died of a broken heart after delivering a stillborn foal. "Did they check for twins?" the vet asks. "It feels as if there is something still in here." He cuts the stitches keeping the horse's abdomen sewn shut and reaches inside the body. "Definitely something still in here," he grunts as he hauls out... the corpse of a woman, dead eyes open and staring back at him. Either this is a case of some "The Empire Strike Back" role-playing gone horribly wrong, or there is a sadistic new killer on the loose.
Jack Crawford and his Behavioral Analysis Unit team are on the scene, and even Hannibal is back consulting. This after he told Jack he was done following his near death at the hands of the hospital orderly Will asked to kill him. He really must be feeling much better. He's got his appetite back and everything. The team determines the woman was strangled to death before she was placed inside the horse.
A young woman, Margot, is pushed face down atop an eel tank. As she cries, a hand reaches in and catches a single tear on a piece of paper. The paper is then deposited in a martini glass with three cocktail olives on a spear. Hmmm, that's a new twist on an old cocktail.
Margot is in Hannibal's office, her arm now in a sling. She talks about having attacked her brother - was he the one who uses her tears as a martini mixer? - and it's clear she is still seething about him. Hannibal asks if she plans on attacking her brother again and admits he is ethically obliged to tell the police if she says yes. "Be that as it may, if there's no one to protect you, you have to protect yourself," Hannibal says. "It would have been more therapeutic if you had killed him." In some ways, Hannibal is the coolest therapist ever. Again, if it wasn't for that killing-and-eating-other-people thing...
The BAU team is examining the dead woman's body when they sense a heartbeat, which is odd for a corpse in rigor mortis. They slice open her chest cavity, spread her ribs... and a bird flies out and begins darting around the room, apparently no worse for wear considering it was trapped in a human corpse.
Will and Jack examine the stable where the woman's body was found. Will comes up with his theory about the killer. Namely, that whoever sewed the victim into the horse was not her killer, but considered himself a healer who was giving the victim a chance to be reborn. The two men visit Peter, a former employee of the stable with a building full of all kinds of animals - rabbits, birds, you name it. There could even be a Chupacabra hidden in there somewhere.
It's pretty clear that something is off with Peter. He was kicked in the head by a horse once and now cannot stand to look at and touch something at the same time. Will isn't convinced Peter is the killer, but he bets the strange man knows who is.
Hannibal had told Alana it was good for Will to be back in therapy, but Alana might not think so if she sat in on their next session. As Hannibal expounds on the current case and on Will's going back to consulting with the FBI, the profiler tells him to stop. He makes clear he still holds Hannibal responsible for what happened to him and that he still fantasizes about killing Hannibal. But it's only a fantasy. "I don't want to kill you anymore, Dr. Lecter," Will assures him. "Now that I finally find you interesting." Hannibal's future victims will surely appreciate Will's interest.
The FBI has found a field full of graves, 16 in all. Fifteen contain the bodies of young women. The 16th was empty; someone dug her up to sew her into that horse. Specifically, Will thinks Peter dug her up. He pays Peter a visit, taking him the bird found in the dead woman's chest for him to care for. Peter points Will to his social worker, Clark Ingram. The FBI brings Clark in for an interview with Alana. Watching from behind a one-way mirror, Will becomes convinced Clark is a psychopath; but the FBI has nothing to hold him on, so Jack orders the man released.
Peter comes back to his home to find all his cages empty and his animals gone. Someone is sending him a message, and he bets he knows who. Returning to the stable where he used to work, he finds the body of a horse. Clark Ingram stands over it, holding a bloody hammer. It's the same horse that kicked Peter in the head, and Clark tells him that between this and the 16 dead women, people will say that Peter's break was a long time coming.
Will and Hannibal arrive at the stable and find Peter sewing the abdomen of the dead horse. "Is your social worker in that horse?" Will asks. Peter says yes. Will leads him away, talking him down. "I envy you your hate," he says. "It makes it easier to kill him."
Peter looks confused. "I didn't kill him. I just wanted him to understand what it's like to experience the death that he created." Peter didn't kill Clark? That means...
The sides of the dead horse bulge. Bloody fingers poke through the incision and pull it apart. Horse guts come spilling out, followed by a blood-and-gore-covered Clark Ingram. Hannibal turns from the sheep he is petting. "You might want to crawl back in there if you know what's good for you." Behind him, Will points a gun at Clark, who drops to his knees and says he's the victim. Will cocks the revolver and tells Clark to pick up the bloody hammer lying nearby. Hannibal tries to talk Will out of shooting the social worker. The tension builds. Hannibal, seeing he isn't getting through to Will, drops his thumb in between the hammer and the firing pin just as Will pulls the trigger. Then he takes the gun away. Hannibal is impressed and proud that for all his work to shape him, for all the seeds he has planted in the profiler's brain, Will's actions are ultimately directed by a violent unpredictability.
Looks as if these two are going to have lots to talk about in their next therapy session.
Will resumes his therapy with Dr. Lecter. The FBI investigates the murder of a woman whose body was found sewn inside a dead horse.