Can Will Catch The Tooth Fairy On 'Hannibal'?

With only three episodes left in its third (and increasingly likely last ) season, NBC's Hannibal is staring down the barrel at an impending conflict between scarred FBI profiler Will Graham and budding serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, known to the world as the Tooth Fairy for the bite marks he leaves in his victims. But, can Will Graham catch the Tooth Fairy before the series' end? The former has been tracking the latter ever since he murdered two seemingly perfect, happy families in their homes... and seems poised to do it again at the next full moon. Previously stumped by this murderer's particular psychosis, a symbol found carved into a tree at the latest crime scene pointed Will towards the paintings of William Blake — namely, The Great Red Dragon And The Woman Clothed In Sun.

This connection led Will to the Brooklyn Museum, where the original painting was stored (and is in real life, as well). Unfortunately, Dolarhyde had the same impulse; after literally devouring the watercolor, he came face-to-face with his pursuer. The question of who was the predator and who was the prey in that situation became immediately clear as Dolarhyde hoisted Will into the air and threw him against a wall, before making his escape. So, can Will manage to catch up with the Tooth Fairy again? And if so, will he be able to overpower him? ...Or might the encounter prove fatal for our favorite profiler?

The press release for this Saturday's episode, "...And The Beast From The Sea," indicates that any more confrontations between Will and Dolarhyde will probably have to wait. Although Will and Jack know the Tooth Fairy is planning another attack, "without a solid lead, they remain unable to predict the next family on the Red Dragon's hit list." However, viewers might have a better sense of Dolarhyde's intentions than even Will Graham does. In last week's episode, we saw Hannibal dial Dr. Chilton's office from his cell in the Baltimore State Hospital and con a secretary into giving him Will's address.

Those who have read Thomas Harris' novels know exactly what Hannibal does with that information — and, surprisingly, Will might know, himself, sooner than readers might expect. (Spoilers ahead!) In the promo for this week's episode, we see Will ask Hannibal what he told the Tooth Fairy. "'Save yourself, kill them all,'" Hannibal responds. "And then I gave him your home address."

This is a fairly major curveball for those expecting Season 3 to follow the plot of Harris' Red Dragon. That book ends with a fatal confrontation between Will and Dolarhyde at Will's home: The serial killer attacks Will and horribly disfigures him before Will's wife Molly shoots him dead. But, if Will is already confessing to his machinations with three episodes to go in the season, then what does showrunner Bryan Fuller have in store for his finale?

If Will already knows that Hannibal has given Dolarhyde his address, then the Tooth Fairy has lost the element of surprise — so it makes no sense for the climax to play out the same way it does in the books. It remains to be seen how far the ripples of that change will reach, but one possibility is that Will won't be the one to catch Dolarhyde at all. In fact, no one will.

In the books, before Dolarhyde seeks Will out at his home, he kidnaps Reba and sets his house on fire, intending to kill her and then himself. But, he can't bring himself to murder the only person who ever loved him, so Reba escapes the burning building while Francis shoots himself — or so the FBI believes when they find a charred corpse in the building. But, it turns out that Dolarhyde faked his death with the body of a random man he'd killed so that he could go seek out Will Graham unimpeded.

With the Tooth Fairy's attack on Will seemingly stymied by Hannibal's confession, perhaps Fuller tends to do away with the fake-out false climax of Harris's novel. Perhaps the killer's story will end even more tragically, with Francis actually taking his own life after he can't reconcile the half of him that yearns to slaughter innocents with the half that just wants to be loved by Reba. It's a testament to both Fuller's storytelling abilities and actor Richard Armitage's terrific portrayal that we can have sympathy for such a vile murderer. We want him to be able to stop, even when we know he can't. We want him to let Reba love him, even when we know he won't.

Season 2 of Hannibal may have ended in a bloodbath, but Season 3 seems more likely to end in heart-rending tragedy.

Images: Brooke Palmer (3), Sophie Giraud/NBC