Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) takes his relationship with Reba (Rutina Wesley) and Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) to the next level.
Let’s bitch it out…
At this point, Hannibal is just a few episodes away from what invariably appears to be its series finale. Although series creator Bryan Fuller probably didn’t know that these would be the final episodes of the show, the series has slowly evolved into an odd dual-story line structure that sometimes makes it feel like we’re watching two interconnected, but separate shows.
On one hand, we’ve got our familiar characters like Will (Hugh Dancy), Hannibal and Bedelia DuMaurier (Gillian Anderson) – people we know well enough to infer nuance and double-meanings when they talk. ‘…And the Woman Clothed in Sun’ dedicates a lot of screen time to Bedelia and Will’s chats about how Hannibal chipped away at their respective psyches. Unsurprisingly Anderson turns in another memorable performance as the compromised doctor who (accidentally?) murdered her own patient, Neal Frank (Zachary Quinto). Anderson has always infused Bedelia with an icy demeanour, half-whispering her lines in such a way that she always seems half-removed from everyone else. This episode reveals how much more alike she is to Hannibal than we knew: her public lecture conflating their time in Florence with Dante’s inferno is reminiscent of Hannibal’s art history lecture earlier this season and the tone and cadence of speech she adopts for outsiders confirms that Bedelia is quite a skilled liar/actress.
There’s no performance in her conversation with Will deconstructing the difference between kindness and cruelty, however. Bedelia confesses to Will that murder is not in his nature – his reaction to a wounded bird is to help it (a fact evident in Will’s reclamation of so many stray dogs). Compare this to her (and, by extension, Hannibal’s) reaction: she would feel empathy for the bird, but her first impulse is to crush it and eliminate the perceived weakness. This unusual reaction is visually represented by her sessions with Neal, whose fear and paranoia of Lecter she dismissed until the moment she found herself with her arm crammed down Neal’s throat. Meanwhile the visual symmetry between Will and Neal is undeniable. Although Neal may have been less aware of Hannibal’s true nature, by intercutting Neal’s therapy with Will’s discussion – both men seated in the same position – there’s a clear link between them. Couple this with Hannibal’s move to secure Will’s home address (acquired so easily it’s frightening) and Bedelia’s tip to Will to resist helping and Hannibal is laying the foreshadowing down pretty thick. Bedelia’s suggestion is less of a warning than an inevitability. Thomas Harris fans know what’s to come, but for those who are unaware, these scenes make it clear how much danger Will is in.
The Dolarhyde/Reba story line that dominates the rest of the episode feels like part of its own separate show. After last week’s meet cute, the pair take their relationship to the next level after a memorable visit to the animal doctor for some heavy (tiger) petting. Hannibal has never lacked for memorable visuals, but the lighting and FX used to capture how Dolarhyde sees Reba is breathtaking. The choice to brighten the colour of the tiger’s fur coupled with Armitage’s ecstatic/fearful/tantalized visage as Reba’s hand inches towards the sleeping tiger’s teeth is unexpectedly gripping (the layered soundtrack, featuring both piano and horror movie undertones, is also incredibly effective).
All of Francis and Reba’s scenes have teased the interconnectedness of sexual attraction and violence in a really understated fashion, which has been fascinating to watch. Too often shows with serial killers <cough Criminal Minds cough> focus on the fetishization of murder to such an extent that victims (nearly always female) become objects to be destroyed and humiliated. While I won’t argue that Reba is a fully fleshed out character, Francis’ idolization of her (particularly evident in the angelic light of sex) has infused the traditional serial killer story line with a personal intimacy that makes it feel fresh. The persistent undercurrent of danger in their relationship – from his pressing down on her chest while she sleeps to his frenzied search for her the next morning – infuses all of their interactions with a sense of dread; we’re constantly waiting for something terrible to happen to her. Although Will is in arguably far more danger, it’s Reba we worry for, especially when Hannibal admits that the Tooth Fairy likely targeted his victims because they were kind.
- The final scenes at the museum are a little too brief for my taste. I wasn’t bothered by the convenience of both Will and Francis seeking out the Red Dragon painting at the same time (we’re running short on episodes at this point), but their encounter was more of an agonizing tease. Still, I didn’t expect the pair to interact so soon, so that’s fun…
- The phone call that ended last week’s episode is revisited as we see how Francis got in touch with Lecter. I like how Francis pictures himself standing outside of his body, watching as he and Lecter chat. It reinforces how the Red Dragon is like a second entity within – a possession that he is a bystander to, if you will.
- I really dislike that this episode title is nearly identical to last week’s. Just sayin’
- Will (after Bedelia claims she “lost herself” in Hannibal’s aura): “You didn’t lose yourself Bedelia, you just crawled so far up his ass you lost yourself.”
- Will: “If he does eat you, Bedelia, you’d have it coming.”
- Bedelia (to Will, when he suggests Hannibal commits unacceptable acts of murder and cannibalism): “They are acceptable…to murderers and cannibals.”
Your Turn: Do you feel like you’re watching two different series at times? Did Bedelia’s confession shock you? Is Will in grave danger? What are your thoughts on the visual techniques used to show how Francis sees Reba? Thoughts on Will and Francis’ first interaction? Sound off below.
Hannibal airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on CityTV in Canada and Saturdays at 10pm EST on NBC in the US