The Behavioral Sciences Unit deals with the science of death every day - the how and the why, the cold hard facts. But rarely does the team confront the metaphysical aspects, the theological questions: What is death? How do we face our own, and how do we live with the knowledge of its inevitability? But sometimes the killers they encounter have thought about those questions and have taken steps to put their answers to the test.
Will Graham is in his happy place: standing in the middle of a softly lit river giving fly-fishing lessons to Abigail Hobbs. Who is alive and has both her ears, so this must be a dream. He wakes up when Beverly Katz appears outside his cell to tell him his theory about the mural killer was correct: someone sewed the murderer into his own tapestry of bodies. Will has another theory about who did it, which Beverly resists. "Hannibal Lecter has no reason..." she says before Will interrupts. "He has no reason besides his own amusement and curiosity," he says. And also, he always has new recipes he wants to try out.
Beverly agrees to look into the mural killer's partner, but she's not going to look specifically for Hannibal Lecter. Plus she's about to get busy with a new case: There is a body in a field, and it has been hollowed out and turned into a beehive. Which is a pretty sweet twist...
Will continues his plot to poke Hannibal, to trick him into a mistake. The latest piece of his plan: Giving Dr. Chilton full access to his mind, answering any and all questions, taking any and all psychological tests. It is a plumb for Chilton, who will make his reputation in the psychiatric field with his insights into the mind of infamous psychopath Will Graham. On one condition: Will insists that Chilton be his sole doctor. No more Hannibal getting the opportunity to poke, prod and manipulate Will's psyche. Hannibal will have to find other minds to toy with.
Even if he doesn't have Will, Hannibal can still amuse himself with people in Will's circle. He has been treating Jack Crawford's wife, Bella, as she deals with the psychological pain of dying from incurable lung cancer. Plus he's got Beverly, who asks him to take another look at the body of James Gray, the mural killer, to see if he sees something she has missed. Hannibal seems thrown when Beverly tells him she and Will have an arrangement: he'll consult on cases with her if she will keep looking into the murders he is accused of committing. Is Hannibal afraid she'll get onto him, or is his ego wounded that he is not the only outside consultant the FBI is working with?
True to his word, Will allows Chilton to test him, only the first one will involve sodium amytal - or "truth serum," as it is more commonly known. This gives Will an idea. "What would you use to induce memory loss in a patient," he asks. Chilton lists the ways. "Dr. Lecter has indicated a willingness to consider the unorthodox in treating his patients," he tells Will. And both of them are about to find out just how unorthodox.
The serum injected, Will remembers being in Hannibal's office months before as the doctor injected him with something and made him stare at a blinking strobe light. He tells Chilton that Hannibal was inducing his seizures and his blackouts, taking advantage of Will's encephalitis to mess with his brain. Chilton has to admit that would suggest a radically unorthodox form of therapy.
At least Chilton now has a pretext for cutting Hannibal off from Will. Which he does, while all but accusing Hannibal of unethical treatment of Will. Careful, Chilton. You've already been partially disemboweled by one crazed killer.
The Behavioral Sciences Unit is still trying to solve the mystery of the beehive victim, who was lobotomized and had his eyeballs removed before being placed in the field. The BSU might want to start with the creepy acupuncturist treating another middle-aged man for arthritis. When he is good and numb, she takes a large spike and uses a hammer to drive it into his eye. And they say acupuncturists are quacks...
A little girl sees a man standing in a park, staring up at the sky. "You shouldn't stare into the sun, mister," she tells him. "You'll hurt your eyes." The man turns. He is the acupuncturist's patient. Minus both of his eyeballs, of course.
In the BSU lab, the team examines the victim, whose arms and face are covered with bee stings. They quickly determine the stings are covering needle marks from acupuncture. This gives Beverly an idea. She returns to the body of the mural killer and re-examines the stitches that bound him into the mural, only to realize the stitches are covering a surgical scar. Someone had operated on the killer first, sewed up the incision, and then sewed him into the mural. What was the point of the surgery? Beverly sinks her fingers beneath the killer's skin and finds his kidneys missing. Whoever killed him took a trophy. She takes the information to Will, who is upset to find out she asked Hannibal to consult in James Gray's autopsy. "Stay away from Hannibal Lecter," he snarls at her. Always good advice!
Jack Crawford and the rest of the BSU team track down the beehive victims' acupuncturist, who almost immediately confesses to the crime. "I quieted their minds so they could die in peace," she tells the agents. So the pain doesn't matter. Wonder if any of this is ringing a bell with Jack? Because he's about to have reason to think about it.
Having earlier told Hannibal she was thinking of suicide and her husband that he has to accept there will be a time when he can do nothing for her, Bella Crawford returns to Hannibal's office to give him a gift: a gold coin. As thanks for helping her to "see that death is not a defeat, but a cure." Hannibal senses something is off with her and asks, "What have you taken?"
"My morphine. Every bit of it," she says defiantly. She whispers goodbye and goes to sleep. Hannibal takes the coin she gave him and flips it into the air. When he sees which side landed facing up, he gets his doctor's bag out of a cabinet and gives Bella an injection. She wakes up, sees him and whispers, "No." Later, at the hospital, she slaps him across the face and, over Jack's objections, orders the doctor out of her room. Hannibal seems nonplussed. Perhaps he'll go home and relax by cooking something.
Taking advantage of his absence, Beverly breaks into Hannibal's house in a search for evidence. She finds a basement room resembling a dungeon: sharp instruments, chains strung everywhere in ominous fashion, like a slaughterhouse for pigs. She flicks on a light switch to see something better... and Hannibal is behind her, home from the hospital. She turns, sees him, aims her gun. Hannibal, so fast as to be a blur, flicks off the light switch and dashes towards her. In the dark, a gun fires, fires again, fires a third time... and hits flesh. But whose? And who survives this encounter?
Well, the show is titled "Hannibal"...