It’s been a month and a half since I wrote about Hannibal, and I don’t feel like waiting any longer, so let’s get to it.
Season 3, episode 10: “…And the Woman Clothed in Sun” (Aug. 8, 2015)
Guest stars: Richard Armitage, Rutina Wesley, Zachary Quinto.
One of the unifying themes of Hannibal is identity: the difference between who we are and who we claim we are; the difference between who we are and who we believe we are. That theme is all over “…And the Woman Clothed in Sun,” most clearly embodied in Bedelia du Maurier, who we find has written the next act of her life around the fiction that Hannibal brainwashed her into believing she was Lydia Fell.
That’s bullshit, of course, but you can’t say Dr. Lecter doesn’t have a queer hold over her, as we learn in a flashback finally delineating exactly what that murder in Bedelia’s past is all about. Zachary Quinto knocks it out of the park here as an ordinary guy who wandered into the askew universe of Hannibal looking for sleeping pills (not an observation original to me, sadly; I must thank the A.V. Club’s commentariat) and died on Dr. du Maurier’s office floor with her arm shoved down his throat, apparently to the elbow. I think this explanation bears more than a whiff of manure, but I guess we’ll never find out for sure.
She’s got it good, at least compared to Will Graham, who continues to struggle with the nagging feeling that Hannibal Lecter might have been right about him all along. Her diagnosis: Hannibal and Will are not, shall we say, “just alike.” She asks Will to imagine chancing across a wounded bird. Will’s impulse would be to save it. Du Maurier’s would be to crush it: what she rationalizes as a “primal rejection of weakness.” Yeah, whatevs; maybe you’re not as sane as you’d like to think you are, yeah? That being said, she also observes that “cruelty requires a high degree of empathy.” Will couldn’t save Hannibal Lecter. He probably can’t save the Tooth Fairy, either; crushing him instead would probably save him a lot of trouble.
Elsewhere, both Dolarhyde and Lecter pretend play the impersonation game. The episode opens with a flashback to the previous installment’s final scene, playing out the conversation from D’s point of view. Unsurprisingly, he sees himself as sitting for a therapy session in Dr. Lecter’s office. Later, Hannibal pretends to be a publisher in order to scam Will’s home address from Frederick Chilton’s secretary. (If you don’t know why, you won’t have to wait long to find out. Incidentally, this is one of my favorite scenes in Manhunter, and while Bryan Fuller’s interpretation doesn’t disappoint, I think I still prefer Michael Mann’s.) In the final act, Dolarhyde poses as a scholar to gain access to Blake’s original The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun.
But, most poignantly, D stumbles upon the theme when Reba McClane tells him what her co-workers think of his looks: that he’s sensitive about his face, but he shouldn’t be. He’s convinced his scar makes him ugly; he doesn’t realize he looks like the dishy Richard Armitage. This revelation leads into another of the series’ notoriously outré sex scenes, culminating in Reba’s transformation into the Woman Clothed in Sun. It’s another one of those moments where the series’ aesthetic sensibility strays uncomfortably within the range of outright camp, but Fuller and director Guillermo Navarro keep it on the right side of the line. Once again, Hannibal demonstrates why it was television’s finest art-horror experience…while it lasted.
Ultimately–and sadly–Dolarhyde is destined to lose his internal battle with the Dragon. Poor guy–Reba may describe him as elegant and eloquent (and certainly there’s a soulful quality to this version that Tom Noonan and Ralph Fiennes’s lacked), the antidote to the self-loathing that drives him will never quite take root in his mind. No wonder he’s driven to eat the Dragon.
Overall, it’s a bit of a talky episode, despite such visual set-pieces as the tiger (did I tell you the tiger scene’s in this episode? Cuz it is. If you know Red Dragon or Manhunter you know what I’m talking about), the various transformations into characters from paintings, and the like. But it’s a great deal more entertaining than your average “Let’s sit down and talk about the themes of this narrative,” because of the actors involved and the compelling nature of their characters.
Season 3, episode 11: “…And the Beast from the Sea” (Aug. 15, 2015)
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.” —Revelation 13:1-2 (KJV)
Guest stars: Aaron Abrams, Scott Thompson, Richard Armitage, Ruitna Wesley, Nina Arianda.
Red Dragon fans will understand what I mean when I say “…And the Beast from the Sea” is the episode where Hannibal says, “Save yourself, kill them all.” Armed with the address his mentor-slash-informal therapist finagled out of Chilton’s secretary last week, the Tooth Fairy–actually, by now he’s earned the name the Great Red Dragon–attacks Molly and Walter, an act which takes place at the climax of the source material. Bryan Fuller, of course, isn’t interested in having a standard thriller-formula confrontation between Will and Dolarhyde; when the reckoning comes, it’s on Fuller’s terms, not Thomas Harris’s.
We realize what D is up to when the canine contingent of the Graham family takes ill; the vet suspects food poisoning, and Molly sees little reason to disagree, or to bother her husband with the news. At night, when Dolarhyde actually visits the house, she senses something amiss quickly and decisively acts to save herself and her son, although the Dragon wounds her in the process (plus, let’s have a moment of silence for the Extra Who Dies, that the more important character may live).
Even from the beginning of the episode, Will understands that Lecter is playing him and the Dragon against each other–he even goes so far as to theorize that the Dragon is an ex-patient–and, after the attack on his family, Graham decides he’s just about had enough of “you crazy sons of bitches.” (Lecter’s response is priceless, and probably sums up the Harris ethos better than anything else I’ve seen on the show so far.) Crawford, Graham, and Alana Bloom pressure the doctor into assisting them, and he does the next time his “lawyer” calls, but he tips the Dragon off at the last moment. The FBI discover the Dragon’s been using Lecter’s old office (amazing how it’s not been re-rented after, what, three years?), but Dolarhyde knows not to go back.
He can’t go back to Reba, either, much to the sadness of (Freba? McD?) ‘shippers; he ends their…relationship…or whatever you want to call it. This being the third adaptation of Red Dragon I’ve sat through, this is the material that had to work for me if I was going to accept it, and I have to say that Armitage and Rutina Wesley sell the hell out of their scenes–even if Wesley does get saddled with one of Harris’s most inscrutable lines of dialog, the one about taking one’s hat or going as one damn pleases.
While it necessarily doesn’t mean an end to the Grahams, Molly understands that something fundamental has changed between her and Will (ruefully admitting that she was wrong when she said, four episodes ago, that she’d be the same when Will got back). I think this is the last we see of Nina Ariadna on the show–I can’t remember whether she’s in next week’s episode, and she’s not in the finale. If the show went on another season, I expect I’d miss her, and the…I guess you could call it “grounded-ness” that she brought to the character. But the “bro-mance” has always been between the sensitive profiler and the cryptic Lithuanian, once an eminent psychiatrist, now just another crazy son of a bitch in a mental hospital.
At least it’s a lavishly appointed mental hospital…until, that is, Alana comes to take his books away. And his toilet. She definitely seems to enjoy it. I’m glad; she’s earned it.
Season 3 episode ranking