"The Number of the Beast is 666" is the twelfth episode of Season 3. It aired on August 22, 2015.
Will Graham and the FBI enlist the expertise of Dr. Frederick Chilton in the hopes of luring Francis Dolarhyde into an ambush, using Freddie Lounds as their mouthpiece. As Will's empathy for Dolarhyde begins to affect his fragile psyche, Bedelia Du Maurier warns that the killer Will should be most concerned about at the moment is himself. Meanwhile, Dolarhyde senses that the FBI is closing in and launches a horrifying endgame.
Will meets with Bedelia Du Maurier and he sees Molly ending up like Mrs. Jacobi and Leeds. Bedelia sets the stage for Will to see that Hannibal may love or be in love with him, preventing him from finding happiness with anything other than with his ex-psychiatrist. Meanwhile, Jack meets with Hannibal in his cell to realize that Will is the Lamb of God and that his wrath should not be ignored. "The Lamb's wrath touches anyone who errs."
In a meeting with Jack and Alana, Will balks at their acceptance that he set himself as bait for Dolarhyde even though it was his suggestion to begin with. Will knows that they will have to involve Freddie Lounds interviewing him bad-mouthing The Tooth Fairy for her tabloid. Still, the latter will see it as a trap unless a professional is Will's bonafide which Alana refuses to be. Chilton visits Lecter to berate him for ruining his reputation by publishing articles that refute his own book about Hannibal the Cannibal. Chilton feels it a betrayal since he lied for Lecter about the fact. Continuing his venom, Frederick predicts that Hannibal will rot in his prison and lose his infamy and notoriety.
Jack, Alana and Will hold a meeting with Freddie Lounds and Chilton to strategize the best way to push Dolarhyde's buttons in crafting Lounds' baiting interview with Will. The purpose is to rile the suspect and most of the suggestions have to do with painting Dolarhyde as a frustrated, impotent and ugly homosexual fraught with an incestuous past. The group agree that the photo included in the article should be of Will with a background that makes it clear that he is in Washington, D.C. in order to bait the Tooth Fairy to come for him. Chilton agrees to pose for the cover photo with Will. Even though Jack thinks this cat and mouse game that they're playing is foolhardy, Will rationalizes that at least it will keep other families safe if Dolarhyde is focused on him alone; he reminds Jack that he blames Hannibal for putting his family at risk, not Dolarhyde.
Chilton is abducted by Dolarhyde. He wakes up glued to a chair and complains that he feels like he's been burned. Chilton tries to placate Dolarhyde when he realizes that this act is revenge for the tabloid intervew from which he participated. Francis turns him around and forces Chilton to see his face, but in that instance, the doorbell to his house rings and it's Reba. He threatens to kill her if Chilton makes a sound. Reba had tried to call Francis but got no answer; he lets her inside. She won't be long; her taxi is waiting. The office said that he was sick so Reba is there with soup. She is within feet of the incapacitated Chilton and he doesn't make a sound. She regrets how they parted and admits that she still loves Francis; she sees a kinship in their mutual ability to reject love because of their disabilities. Reba leaves and Dolarhyde then sets up Chilton in front of his projector. The slides are of The Great Red Dragon as well as the crime scene photos of the Leeds and Jacobi family murders, "do you see?" The last slide is the tabloid cover photo of Will standing next to Chilton. The latter promises to stop telling lies about the Dragon and confesses that Will and the police pressed him to tell these lies. Dolarhyde reduces Chilton's character to a "slug" and unrobes himself, showing his tattoo of the Great Red Dragon on his back in front of a white screen.
Dolarhyde forces Chilton to recite a message that he videotapes but before letting him go, he puts his grandmother's dentures in and bites off his lips and tongue. Francis sends Chilton's lips to Hannibal with the message "with these he offended me" and the latter certainly empathizes with that. By the time the FBI arrive, only one lip remains; Jack asks Hannibal about the other lip, it is shown Hannibal eating the lip. Much to their bemusement, both Jack and Alana realize that using Chilton in this way has backfired since the doctor's been missing since this package was received. Alana is to blame since she could've provided the same information to ensnare the Tooth Fairy.
Will, Alana and Jack watch the tape sent to them by Dolarhyde of Chilton's speech; in it, he places the lies about the Dragon on Will's head. Chilton implies that his fate will be more merciful than it will be for Will before Dolarhyde's back comes into frame and he assaults Chilton. After his distress, Will consults with Bedelia about "you play, you pay." Chilton was always seeking a face through Hannibal only to lose it to Dolarhyde. Bedelia analyzes the cover photo on the Tattler, specifically that Will put his hand on Chilton's shoulder, not to provide authenticity, but to set up Chilton as the instigator of Will's wrath against the killer. It's clear to Bedelia that Will is fully responsible for all that has happened since he put his hand on Chilton's shoulder, "that's participation." Will is Hannibal's agency in the outside world. At the same time, Chilton, stuck in his wheelchair, is set on fire and sent tumbling into a fountain in the same way that the FBI faked Lounds' death. Chilton is alive and horribly burned and asks to see Will. Frederick accuses him of setting him up and he tells him about seeing Reba arrive at Dolarhyde's home.
Francis has kidnapped, bound and gagged Reba and taken her back to his home. He tries to communicate the path to his Becoming, but she doesn't know anything about the mass killings from the news until he mentions the families' names. Reba realizes that he's the Tooth Fairy but Dolarhyde urges her to correct herself. "I am the Dragon."
- The dialogue comparing Bedelia to Bluebeard’s wife was initially scripted for Bedelia and Dimmond in “Antipasto,” in a sequence that was abandoned.
- Hannibal’s “wrath of the Lamb” dialogue quotes the Book of Revelation from the Christian Bible, which inspired William Blake’s Red Dragon paintings. Hannibal quotes from Revelation 6:16-17. From the King James translation: “the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondsman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Hannibal also references the opening of the seven seals that secure the scroll of God’s judgment on the earth; in Revelation, the “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” who takes the appearance of a slaughtered Lamb, is the only one who can break the seals, hence Hannibal saying that the Lamb is becoming a Lion. He quotes from Revelation 16:11 when he says, “in righteousness [the Lamb] doth judge and make war.”
- Jack’s tally of “eight people dead in a month” presumably includes the Jacobis and Leedses, but leaves out the driver Molly flagged down in the prior episode, the sole victim of the third full moon since Dolarhyde started his killing spree.
- Hannibal quotes Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, from Johann Peter Eckermann’s Gespräche mit Goethe (Conversations with Goethe), when he says, “Wood burns because it has the proper stuff...” This is the second episode in a row Hannibal has quoted Goethe.
- At 13 minutes and 40 seconds long, the sequence between Dolarhyde and Chilton in Dolarhyde’s house is the longest scene of the entire series. It comprises a third of the episode’s runtime.
- The photo of Valerie Leeds’s corpse seems to show a pair of (presumably fake) lips placed on top of the mirror shard on her mouth. The lips were not seen on her corpse in “The Great Red Dragon.”
Book to Show
- This episode continues the show’s adaptation of the novel Red Dragon, adapting material from Chapters 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 36, 38 and 46.
- Like the prior three episodes, this episode takes its name from a painting in William Blake’s Great Red Dragon series. The painting The Number of the Beast Is 666 is referenced in the novel Red Dragon when it is said that Dolarhyde “would like to meet Lecter, talk and share with him, rejoice with him in their shared vision, be recognized by him as John the Baptist recognized the One who came after, sit on him as the Dragon sat on 666 in Blake’s Revelation series, and film his death as, dying, he melded with the strength of the Dragon.” In the book, Hannibal also signs his coded reply letter to Dolarhyde “666,” at Dolarhyde’s instruction.
- Bedelia’s line that it excites Hannibal to know Will is marked “in this particular way” comes from Clarice’s mental speculation in The Silence of the Lambs as to why Hannibal calls her back after Miggs throws semen on her.
- Bedelia’s line about Hannibal daily feeling a stab of hunger and finding nourishment in the very sight of Will, and wondering whether Will aches for Hannibal, comes from a line Hannibal speaks to Allegra Pazzi in the film Hannibal, speculating about the couple in Dante’s La Vita Nuova (and impliedly talking about his own feelings for Clarice).
- Hannibal’s line about Will’s thoughts being unbound by fear or kindness comes from narration in The Silence of the Lambs describing Hannibal himself. (This contrasts with Alan Bloom in Red Dragon and Alana in “Apéritif” claiming that fear is one of Will’s strongest drives, and the price of his imagination.)
- The show leaves out a book subplot involving Freddy Lounds fraudulently calling the FBI posing as “Mr. Pilgrim” to gather information about the case, which directly leads to Jack deciding to enlist Lounds to help. Like the prior two film adaptations, the show also drops the character of Lounds’s girlfriend Wendy, a former dancer and owner of a topless bar Lounds helped her buy, thus eliminating a lot of the book’s humanization of Lounds.
- The scene of Jack and Will hatching the plan to bait the killer using Lounds is loosely adapted from Chapter 17 of Red Dragon. In the book, they know Dolarhyde reads the National Tattler from his correspondence with Hannibal; in the show, the plan is more of a shot in the dark. Also, in the book, Jack prefaces the plan by first talking about how they will respond to the next set of murders, and Will guesses what Jack is driving at and becomes angry that Jack is trying to manipulate him like “a fucking idiot.” In the show, in contrast, Will apparently proposes the plan himself before the scene begins, inspired by his conversation with Freddie in “...and the Woman Clothed with the Sun,” although he retains his resentful attitude toward Jack from the book. Will’s line that they don’t have anything else loosely adapts Will’s book line, “What you’ve done, you’ve decided to use me for bait because you don’t have anything else.” Other lines taken from this Chapter: Jack’s line that Will knows this is “the best way to bait him”; Jack’s line that Lounds will have to interview Will and take his picture; Will’s line, “I’m in it now. Can’t go home as long as he’s loose”; Will’s line that he will really bad-mouth the killer and give him a shot; and Jack and Will’s dialogue about the setup and giving the Dragon a good shot, something open where he can get close (this is all Will’s line in the book).
- Chilton’s line that since his commitment, Hannibal has written some brilliant pieces for the Northern Medical Journal of Psychiatry is taken from a book line Chilton says to Will in Red Dragon (in the book, he instead names The American Journal of Psychiatry and The General Archives).
- Chilton saying that he has seen a lot of hostility comes from narration in his first scene with Will in Red Dragon.
- Chilton asking if Hannibal thinks he is his nemesis comes from The Silence of the Lambs, when he claims to Clarice that Hannibal thinks this.
- Hannibal “refuting” Chilton’s diagnosis of him calls to mind the passage in The Silence of the Lambs when Chilton claims Hannibal gave Chilton misleading answers in their interviews, then ridiculed Chilton in Journal articles. Chilton’s dialogue also references this book passage later when he is on the phone in the parking garage and claims Hannibal gave him misleading answers.
- Chilton’s lines about the “freak value” of Hannibal’s byline and Hannibal’s attention dwindling since he has been overshadowed by other creatures come from The Silence of the Lambs, when he says these lines to Clarice.
- Chilton’s prediction of Hannibal’s future comes almost verbatim from The Silence of the Lambs, when he is goading Hannibal into taking the deal Chilton brokered with Senator Martin.
- Will’s interview with Freddie Lounds adapts material from Chapter 18 of Red Dragon. In the book, the interview takes place in FBI headquarters. The show follows both of the prior film adaptations in streamlining events by moving the interview to Will’s “Washington hideaway” where the photo is taken. In the book, Chilton has no involvement in this plot. Dr. Bloom fills a comparable role in the book; although he is not interviewed himself, he conferenced with the parties beforehand and “laid out his theories” (“The others listened like karate students at an anatomy lecture”), and is present for the interview. Most of the dialogue in this scene comes from narration in the Chapter describing the interview: Freddie’s line that Will is making statements no investigator would make and no straight newspaper would credit; Chilton’s assessments, which come straight from Bloom’s analysis in the book (Chilton editorializes a bit more, calling Dolarhyde’s implied homophobia “tedious,” and also directly telling Will how to “piss [the Dragon] off,” whereas Bloom refuses to “scheme toward hurt” in the book); and Will’s reinterpretations of Bloom/Chilton’s theories (Will’s “vicious, perverted sexual failure” line comes from later in the book when Dolarhyde quotes it from the Lounds article, but it is unclear whether it came from Will or Lounds in the book). In the book, Will takes the extra step of falsely claiming that the Tooth Fairy sexually molested his male victims, playing on the killer’s apparent homophobia. Will’s expression when Chilton calls Dolarhyde “the child of a nightmare” is reminiscent of Jack’s reaction when Bloom uses this phrase in the book: “Crawford’s eyelids drooped at the compassion in his voice.”
- The T-shirts reading “The Tooth Fairy Is a One-Night Stand” come from the novel, but in the book they are not sold by the Tattler.
- Will reinterpreting Chilton’s diagnosis in real time on the record during the interview is reminiscent of him doing the same of Bloom’s assessment in the 1986 film adaptation Manhunter.
- Jack’s line about a “key shot” taken in Will’s Washington hideaway comes from narration in Chapter 18. Freddie’s initial proposal for the photo in the episode is a description of the actual photo used in the novel (in the book, the landmarks visible through the window are the Capitol dome and the sign of a popular motel, changed to the Capitol dome and a fountain on the show). A separate photo in the book depicts Will putting his hand on Lounds’s shoulder in front of a gun rack in FBI’s Firearms and Toolmarks section. Both the 1986 film Manhunter and the 2002 film Red Dragon conflate the two photos described in the book by having Will and Lounds pose together by the window, and this episode follows suit with the Will/Chilton photo.
- Will and Jack’s walk around the park adapts material from Chapter 18 when Quantico’s chief SWAT inspector Spurgen (a character left off the show) drives Will and Jack around the area. Jack’s line about playing games in the dark of the moon comes from narration describing his thoughts in this Chapter. Jack’s description of the setup is an abridged version of Spurgen’s assessment in the book.
- It is not clear what Will means when he says Dolarhyde has gone for the head shot “seven out of eleven times.” In the book, Dolarhyde has ten known victims at this point (five Jacobis and five Leedses), and Spurgen says he has gone for the head shot seven times (the three where he did not are Edward Jacobi who surprised him on the stairs, Charles Leeds who suffered a cut throat and was not shot, and Valerie Leeds who was shot strategically in the abdomen to keep her alive). On the show, the Jacobis and Leedeses each have one child less from the book, lowering the total casualties to eight, and Dolarhyde also shot the driver Molly flagged down in the head, bringing the number to nine. It is unclear who the tenth and eleventh people Will is referring to are, but they could be the Marlows, whom Bryan Fuller said on the “Apéritif” audio commentary were killed by Dolarhyde (although this may have been retconned since the show never references this anywhere else). In this accounting, the four times Dolarhyde did not go for the head shot would be the two Marlows (as seen in “Apéritif”) and Mr. and Mrs. Leeds (as seen in “The Great Red Dragon”); however, photos of Mrs. Jacobi’s corpse seen in this episode and others do not display a visible head wound, nor did the Leeds children as seen in “The Great Red Dragon” (this might be either a production oversight or a concession to network censorship).
- Will’s line, “He thinks he can do anything,” calls back to his line to Hannibal in “...and the Beast from the Sea,” and comes from Dolarhyde’s thoughts in the novel when he first brings Reba to his home.
- Will saying that if Dolarhyde can hold off until they catch him, maybe they can help him stop, comes from the novel when he is drunkenly speaking to the killer while alone in his Chicago temporary apartment.
- The show skips Dolarhyde’s altercation with an airport newsie while buying the Tattler issue with Will’s interview.
- Chilton’s kidnapping in the parking garage loosely adapts material from Chapter 20 of the book. In the book, Dolarhyde kidnaps Freddy Lounds (who, like Chilton on the show, is planning a book on the Red Dragon). Having gender-flipped Freddie on the TV show, Bryan Fuller decided he did not want to see a female character suffer having her lips bitten off then being set on fire. Instead, he reassigned the role to Chilton (whom Fuller has compared to Kenny from South Park for the injuries he suffered at the hands of Abel Gideon in season 1 and Miriam Lass in season 2). In the book, Lounds arrives home after working late on his article and finds Dolarhyde’s van over the line of Lounds’s spot in his parking garage. Lounds slams his car door into the van as retaliation, then is chloroformed by Dolarhyde while locking his car. Whereas Jack provides an FBI detail for Chilton on the show, in the book Lounds is left entirely on his own (although he was apparently supposed to receive protection once the Tattler hit newsstands nationwide).
- The scene between Chilton and Dolarhyde at Dolarhyde’s home faithfully adapts material from Chapter 20 of the novel, down to the detail of Dolarhyde using sanitary napkins to gag and blindfold his captive, with Chilton substituted in place of Freddy Lounds. The beginning of the scene being shot largely in closeup on Chilton echoes the scene as shot in the 2002 film adaptation. Likewise, Dolarhyde standing in the light of the projector when he reveals the tattoo comes from the 2002 film adaptation, but the addition of him standing with the projection of the Blake painting overlapping his tattoo is an invention of the show. Differences from the book: In the book, Lounds is wearing shorts; in a rare instance of the show adding nudity, Chilton is completely naked. The show leaves out a few details from the book, such as Dolarhyde giving Lounds tea with honey before turning him around to see his face. Dolarhyde tapping “insistently on Lounds’s chest” and then touching his eyelid is changed on the show to a tap on the forehead. In the book, Dolarhyde takes off his robe and shows off the tattoo as soon as he turns Lounds around, then puts the robe back on for the slideshow; in the show, he drops the robe at the conclusion of the slideshow. In the book, Dolarhyde’s slideshow also includes shots of “the Dragon rampant,” presumably in the act of killing his victims. As part of the show’s overall toning-down of Dolarhyde’s homophobia in the book, the show eliminates an exchange where Dolarhyde becomes enraged when he believes Lounds is implying that Dolarhyde is “some kind of queer,” and asks if Lounds is a queer. The show leaves out some of the more colorful language from Dolarhyde’s tirade: “...I have pressed my unique seal so much deeper in the earth, where it will last longer than your dust. Your life to mine is a slug track on stone. A thick silver mucus track in and out of the letters of my monument. [...] My movements are followed and recorded as avidly as those of a mighty guest star. Do you know about the guest star in 1054? Of course not. Your readers follow you like a child follows a slug track with its finger, and in the same tired loops of reason. Back to your shallow skull and potato face as a slug follows his own slime back home,” and the immortal line, “You are an ant in the after-birth.” In the book (and the 1986 film Manhunter), Dolarhyde keeps his mask pulled up to the nose and never takes it fully off in Lounds’s presence (whereas in the 2002 film, Dolarhyde has his face exposed for the entire interaction). Dolarhyde filming his captive is an invention of the show; in the book, he makes an audiotape of Lounds. Chilton’s panicked assurance that he has a very good memory is an addition of the show.
- Reba visiting while Dolarhyde has his captive in the house is an invention of the show. The dialogue is adapted loosely from a phone call in Chapter 38 of the novel. Dialogue taken from the book includes Reba saying D’s office told her he was sick and him claiming he has the flu.
- Reba saying she does not like surprises comes from narration in the book when Dolarhyde shows up at her door unannounced, after she has just gotten back from supper with Ralph Mandy.
- Reba’s line that she is “demonstrably guilty” of liking Dolarhyde comes from Dolarhyde’s thoughts in the book as he sits in a motel parking lot in his car. In the book, this passage is reflective of his own self-loathing.
- Reba’s line about her “cripple’s anger” comes from narration in the book after Dolarhyde has left her house after he first takes her home.
- Reba’s line about not being so scarred by life that she is incapable of love comes from narration in the novel: Ralph Mandy has told Reba in a “cowardly mew” that he is this scarred by life.
- Dolarhyde mailing Chilton’s lips to Hannibal is an invention of the show. In the book, Dolarhyde keeps Lounds’s lips in his journal; the note he sends with them on the show (“With these, he offended me”) comes from the label on the plastic bag he reserves for them in the ledger.
- Hannibal slurping down Chilton’s lip is reminiscent of the impromptu slurping noise Lecter makes in the Silence of the Lambs, where Lecter describes eating the census taker’s liver.
- Hannibal saying that he is in an excellent humor comes from the book the Silence of the Lambs, where Lecter is pleased with having a good week, with his cosmetics going well.
- Hannibal saying Chilton often offended him comes from the book, when he writes the same of Lounds in his letter to Will.
- Chilton’s flaming wheelchair ride is adapted from Lounds’s fate in Chapter 21. The show already adapted this sequence with Freddie’s faked death in “Kō No Mono,” which Hannibal references in this episode. Material dropped from the show: In the book, before sending Lounds rolling, Dolarhyde reveals that he fibbed about the thermos of “ice” for Lounds’s lips, which actually contains gasoline (in the show, the gasoline comes from a regular gasoline can), and Dolarhyde explicitly calls Freddy “Graham’s pet” as he shoves the wheelchair. In the book, the wheelchair crashes in front of the National Tattler building; the show changes this to the fountain near Will’s apartment.
- Chilton’s recorded statement comes almost verbatim from Chapter 36 of the book, where Lounds’s statement is mailed to Will as an audiotape. In the book, Will listens to it alone in the empty Chicago courtroom he is using as his headquarters. In the show, Will experiences the tape with Jack and others, as he does in the 2002 film Red Dragon.
- Will’s line, “Damned if I will feel,” comes from his thoughts in the novel after Lounds on the tape tells Will to feel the spot where the Dragon will snap his spine.
- As in “...and the Woman Clothed in Sun,” Bedelia once again references Dante’s Inferno, calling back to Hannibal’s lecture in “Antipasto,” originally from the novel Hannibal.
- Bedelia and Will’s debate about Will’s motive in putting his hand on Chilton’s shoulder (up through Will saying he wonders) comes from narration in the book, as Will questions his own motives with Lounds, after receiving Hannibal’s letter.
- Jack and Will visiting Chilton in the hospital comes from their visit to Lounds in Chapter 22 of the novel. Jack’s line that Chilton is trashed is paraphrased from a book line by FBI Chicago Office Special Agent Chester: he warns Jack and Will, “I hear this fruit really trashed Lounds.” Will guiltily saying he is okay because he had the SWAT team comes from this Chapter. Jack’s line that Chilton said Will’s name in the emergency room is spoken re: Lounds by a detective sergeant in the book. In the book, Lounds is in a bed, not a tank, and has an airway and respirator in his throat. Will’s greeting to Chilton/Lounds upon entering the hospital room comes from the book (“Freddy, it’s Will Graham”), but in the book, Lounds does not regain consciousness. Chilton’s initial line in the scene is spoken by Lounds in the book in the emergency room before Will arrives, and the detective sergeant plays it for Will on tape (the show’s version removes some of the obscenities from the book). Will repeating the line in monotone style happens a bit later in the book, when Captain Osborne from Chicago Homicide asks what Will understood Lounds to be saying.
- In the book, Freddy Lounds dies in the hospital shortly after Will brings his girlfriend Wendy in to see him. In contrast, Chilton survives his wounds on the show, and Freddie Lounds remains alive and well. The show therefore leaves out the book scene of Lounds’s funeral.
- The show skips over most of the followup investigation into Lounds’s death from the book, including: the FBI looking into a license plate number Lounds was able to provide before he died (they learn that Dolarhyde stole the plate off a commercial TV repair truck, leading them to realize Dolarhyde must have had a van); analysis of the wheels from the wheelchair (including the character of arson specialist Liza Lake, who is dropped from the show); speculation on the antique nature of the wheelchair (in the book, it is specified that the wheelchair was one of several given to Grandmother Dolarhyde by the county for her nursing home); and the realization that the Dragon got a copy of the Tattler before it was on sale at most locations (he bought it at Lambert St. Louis International Airport). The show also skips a lot of material from this section of the book showing the practical realities of Will’s life as a traveling investigator, living out of various hotel rooms and temporary apartments and working in spaces like empty jury rooms.
- The closing sequence of Dolarhyde kidnapping Reba is adapted faithfully from Chapter 46 of the book. In the book, Dolarhyde’s actions are driven by his desperation after seeing Will and the FBI at Gateway, and then driving to Reba’s house where he sees her kissing Ralph Mandy (a character left out of the show; she is actually kissing him goodbye after having told him she is seeing Dolarhyde, but Dolarhyde flies into a jealous rage, killing Mandy and capturing Reba).