While Will continues to assert his innocence, Hannibal and Jack try to come to terms with the fact that he's in jail; Kade Purnell visits Will.
Workers make a grisly discovery--bodies discarded in a river, creating a soupy crime scene for the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) to decipher. Hannibal Lecter assumes Will Graham's FBI duties, assisting on the case, while Will sits in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane awaiting trial for the very murders he investigated.
Jack Crawford introduces himself to Will Graham in Will's classroom. Freddie Lounds tells Abigail Hobbs about Will : that he's FBI but not FBI, and he's able to catch murderers because he thinks like a murderer. Hannibal Lecter offers to help Will get out of the dark places that Jack sends him into. Hannibal tells Will he is able to catch murderers because he gets into their heads, but he also allows them to get into his own head. Will confesses he hallucinated that he killed Abigail. Will, now in custody, tells Jack that whoever has set him up, is also close to Jack. Dr. Bedelia DuMaurier warns Hannibal to be careful because they are now seeing his pattern and that Jack's beliefs about him may unravel.
As Hannibal prepares a meal, Jack comes into the kitchen and we see their alternating reflections off of Hannibal's chefs knife. As Jack reaches into his jacket, Hannibal throws the knife at him, making Jack drop his gun. The two fight, crashing around and destroying half the kitchen. Jack finally gets the better of Hannibal, but then Hannibal grabs a shard of glass and stabs Jack in the neck. Jack stumbles into the wine room and closes the door behind him. Hannibal throws himself against the door, trying to get at Jack.
TWELVE WEEKS EARLIER
Hannibal serves up a sashimi dish for Jack. As he explains the intricacy of the presentation, Jack says he almost feels guilty about eating the dish. Hannibal says he never feels guilt about eating anything. Hannibal expresses his feeling of loss at Will's arrest. Jack confesses that he himself is guilty of murder (implying Miriam Lass) in the eyes of the FBI. Jack says Will thinks Hannibal is responsible for all this, and Hannibal says Jack should go ahead and investigate him. Jack says Will went mad, and then made the accusation against Hannibal.
Will is fly fishing in a fast flowing river. He sees the stag. This is a vision Will, at the state hospital, has as Dr. Frederick Chilton is interviewing him. Will accuses Chilton of being ineffectual and demands to talk to Hannibal. Back at the river, the stag man emerges from the water.
Dr. Kade Prurnell is interviewing Dr. Alana Bloom and Jack. She asks if Jack knew Alana was going to file such a report accusing Jack of keeping Will on the job even though he was showing signs of mental stress. Jack says he knew, and Prurnell asks if Jack knows it's an accusation of misconduct. Alana counters that she only reported it as a lapse in judgment, but Prurnell says a lapse in judgment IS misconduct. Prurnell urges Alana to recant the report for the sake of everyone involved, but Alana insists that because Will's life has been destroyed, what she reported has to be a matter of record. She immediately apologizes to Jack.
In Rockville, Maryland, two public works employees ford a river to get at a beaver dam. As one pokes at the obstruction with a staff, bodies start floating up to the surface. The employees run off.
Hannibal tells DuMaurier that Will has asked to see him, and that he wants to see Will despite all that has happened. DuMaurier thinks the two just want to keep manipulating each other and that Hannibal is obsessively intrigued with Will. Hannibal insists Will is his friend and that Will sees his own mentality as grotesque but useful, like a set of antlers, and that Will can't suppress that, so it's a kind of honesty. DuMaurier asks what Hannibal can't suppress.
Hannibal visits Will at the State Hospital. Will says he used to hear his thoughts in his head in his own voice, tone, timbre, and accent, but now he hears Hannibal in his head. Will disputes Hannibal's claim that he is his friend. Hannibal urges Will to accept responsibility for the deaths, otherwise there will be no clarity. Will says he has clarity about Hannibal and what he did to him. Will promises Hannibal a reckoning. Hannibal says he's always had faith in Will.
Beverly Katz takes a DNA sample from Hannibal. She goes over to a clothes rack and takes fiber samples from some of Hannibal's suits. He says he tries to leave an indelible mark wherever he goes; she says hopefully not with his DNA. She says the sampling is just a formality as no one believes there is any reason for this except for Will. She is mad at herself for missing the clues about Will.
Hannibal enters the river crime scene. Jack has asked him there to make a psychological profile. The bodies have been sealed in resin and injected with silicone as a preservative. But they are rudimentary versions, like practice, or discards.
Hannibal signs an informed consent document allowing DuMaurier to disclose information about himself to Jack. DuMaurier advises against it, mostly for therapeutic reasons. Hannibal reasons Jack should be able to investigate Will's accusations. She thinks Hannibal is maintaining an air of transparency while putting her in a position to lie for him again. She wonders how much longer Hannibal's flirtation with the FBI will continue. He accuses her of being more suspicious of him than Jack. She says Jack doesn't know what Hannibal is capable of. He says, neither does she.
Alana walks the dogs. She meets with Will. Winston has been running away, going back to Will's house. Will has been firing his FBI-assigned lawyers. Alana offers to find an independent lawyer for him. Alana reassures Will that his brain was affected, so he could not be responsible. He asks if she's ever helped a patient recover memories. Chilton is listening to all this from his office.
In an office, Alana hypnotizes Will but as he watches her, she turns into stag woman. He then finds himself sitting in front of a long dinner table, with heaps of decaying food set out, and the stag man at the opposite end. Will looks down at his plate and sees an ear (presumably Abigail's). Will wakes and Alana urges him to tell her what he saw.
Hannibal serves Chilton a vegetarian dish. With one fewer kidney, Chilton has to watch his protein intake. Chilton says Will is using his experience to try to avoid his therapy and to manipulate him, and that all he talks about is Hannibal. He says the only benefit Will got from the hypnosis session was further manipulating Alana. Chilton tells Hannibal Will thinks Hannibal is a monster; Hannibal counters by saying, in that case, you are dining with a psychopathic murderer, Frederick.
A young man is riding the subway, holding on to a pole, when someone puts his hand on his and tells him he has nice skin. Later that night, a car alarm wakes the young man and he stumbles out of his house to investigate. He turns off the alarm and walks up to the car but sees a plastic sheet sticking out of the trunk. He opens the trunk, the rest of the sheet covers the trunk's floor and we see another man walking up behind him.
We see close-ups of medical procedures, suturing, injections, etc. Then we see the young man, naked and barely conscious, being sprayed all over his body with a liquid.
At the lab, Brian Zeller says all six river victims have no connection except they were abducted with their cars and had a large amount of heroin in their bodies. Also there is BHT in their system -- a color preservative. Katz wonders if the river bodies were discards, how many bodies were keepers.
Katz visits Will at the State Hospital. She is there without Jack's knowledge, and shows Will the file of the river bodies. She hands Will a stack of about 20 enlarged DMV photos of people who were similarly abducted in the local area. Will shuffles the stack and places each photo on the desk, arranged by skin tone. Will says it's a color palette.
A trustee brings Will a liver dinner. As Will eats, he gets a vision of Hannibal, opening Will's mouth with a laryngoscope and depositing Abigail's ear down his throat. Will wakes, coughing, and sees the ear in his food tray. It changes back to the liver.
Jack goes to Will's house. He sees Winston sitting on the porch, and asks Winston if he blames him, too. Alana comes by and finds Jack and Winston sitting on Will's bed. He says Winston's just here to find Will. And Alana asks if that's also why Jack is there. Jack says he understands why Alana filed the report to question his judgment at a time when it needed judging and that it will help in Will's defense. Jack doesn't think Hannibal is guilty; Alana doesn't think Will is either. She says Will wouldn't be so adamant about finding the truth if he were guilty.
Will has a vision of him fly fishing again but this time he sees Jack on the river bank. Jack has actually come to see Will at the hospital. Will admits to not having any evidence to convince anyone else of Hannibal's complicity. But he's had a recovered memory that HAS convinced him. Jack counters that a recovered memory is not evidence, and they have gone over all the evidence and nothing connects Hannibal. Will assures Jack that he is not the intelligent psychopath they were looking for.
Hannibal sits in his darkened office, staring at the patient chair.
In an industrial area with a row of silos, we find the young man, lying in an almost-fetal position, naked, on the inside floor of the silo. His legs are glued together; his hand is glued to the side of his face. As the camera pulls into a birds-eye view, we see him in the middle of a crowd of unmoving naked bodies, laid out in an organized palette of skin tones. He screams.
NEXT / THIS SEASON
Hannibal works another crime scene Jack tells him its nothing like he's ever seen. In court, we hear Will will be found guilty and given the federal death penalty. Will warns Katz to stay away from Hannibal because he is toying with her. Hannibal looks down into the silo and sees the bodies. DuMaurier whispers to Will that she believes him. Katz asks Will if Hannibal is the Ripper, what does he do with the trophies? Will, horrified to say the words, replies, he's eating them.