#Hannibal Episode 10: Affected Me Profoundly [Spoilers Abound!]

Pleasure

Confession time… the entire episode had me feeling just about like this. Painfully close to climax.

This week’s episode, as Perry has already pointed out, was so chock full of material that felt like a gift to the fans, that I hardly know where to start, or how to frame my “review”… if review is even an appropriate word for the gushing that I feel is about to proceed forth from my buzzing brain and my heightened sense of arousal and my almost overwhelming sense of pride in the accomplishments of my favorite actor.

Yes, this episode delivered all of that and more for me, and was so rewarding that immediately upon viewing it during my new 2 hour lunch break with the Do Not Disturb sign implied by my firmly closed office door Friday lunch hour, where I blocked off an extra hour so I’d have time to jot some initial impressions after watching, I discovered not the slightest available self-discipline and instead consumed it twice back-to-back and even then found myself at a loss to form coherent thoughts, so I fell back on musing about why it was I was suddenly inundated with desire to touch and trace the hitherto somewhat ignored scar on Francis Dolarhyde’s face.

Puppy Dog Eyes1

Yes, this is exactly how I’m starting to stare at Francis Dolarhyde…

Now I’ve watched the entire episode 5 times, enthralled and probably displaying the same level of intensity and big puppy-dog eyes as Francis Dolarhyde displayed as he stared at Reba in what is sure to become a classic Armitage scene, The Tiger Scene. It was Just That Good. Perhaps another measure of how good it was can be taken by the fact that Hubby, who is decidedly NOT an avid fan of Hannibal due to its disturbing content and general “sick as shit”tedness (his words), also watched it twice, despite himself.

The final moments of the previous episode lead directly into the first of many incredible sequences in episode 10. To review, in S03E09, this was the telephone conversation we heard just before the credits rolled:

Hannibal: Hello.

FD: Hello, Dr. Lecter. I wanted to tell you that I am… delighted… that you have taken an interest in me. I don’t believe you would tell them… who I am… even if you knew. The important thing… is what I am Becoming. And you… you alone… would understand this.

Hannibal: What are you Becoming?

FD: The Great. Red. DRAGON!

lucasFD

Francis does channel a bit of Lucas North…

In S03E10, the opening sequence is a gift to both the Fannibals and the Armitage fandom. How shall I count the ways? For anyone critical of the somewhat unrealistic nature of simply picking up the phone and getting through to the incarcerated celebrity psychopath, the creators gave us a plausible sequence of events that not only satisfies how it was done, but gives any Armitage fan a gorgeous flashback to characters past, channelling Lucas North in a way that was probably lost on the average Fannibal. However, for the purposes of this show, it illuminated for me just how crafty, competent, and deliberate Francis Dolarhyde is capable of being, adding a new dimension to the character that has only been touched upon previously. Yes, we know that his atrocities have so far confounded the FBI, indicating that they were carefully planned and executed… but much of the footage we’ve had up to now has shown him in the grips of his delusions, while this sequence shows him in coldly calculating, methodical mode, which heightens our respect for him as an adversary. He ruthlessly practices every syllable of the name of Byron Metcalf, Dr. Lecter’s lawyer, in the mirror. He changes his licence plates, drives to the lawyer’s building, breaks in and reroutes the exchange like a covert operative so as to hijack the caller ID for his purposes.

phone exhilaration

Hannibal’s assertion that what body he occupies is irrelevant clearly exhilarates Mr. D.

What follows was a feast for Fannibals and Armitage Admirers alike. After successfully connecting to Dr. Lecter himself, an extended version of the conversation ensues, and to be honest, I’m still not completely sure how to interpret the conversation between Francis Dolarhyde and Dr. Lecter. Was it in Francis’ head, Hannibal’s mind palace, or some supersensory amalgamation of the two? Whatever it was, it gifted everyone with a scene that could only be fantasized about, given the source material: a physical scene between Mads and Richard… and it was absolute performance perfection from both of them. Suddenly, the one-sided conversation from the previous episode becomes an exchange that seems to feed the egos of both killers:

Hannibal: Hello.

FD: Hello, Dr. Lecter. As an avid fan, I wanted to tell you that I am… delighted… that you have taken an interest in me. I don’t believe you would tell them… who I am… even if you knew.

Hannibal: What particular body you currently occupy is trivial.

FD: (gasps with relief and triumph): I knew!… that you alone… would understand this. The important thing… is what I am Becoming.

Hannibal: Tell me…. what are you Becoming?

FD: The Great. Red. DRAGON!……

I’ve admired you… for years. And I have a complete collection of your… press notices. Actually…. I think of them as… unfair… reviews.

Hannibal: As unfair as yours? They like to sling demeaning nicknames, don’t they?

FD: “Tooth Fairy.”

Hannibal: What could be more inappropriate?

FD: It would shame me… for you to see that… if I didn’t know that you… have suffered the same distortions in the press.

Hannibal: You’ve read Freddie Lounds’ latest?

FD: It’s not a good picture of you.

Hannibal: Your speech is bent and pruned by disabilities, real and imagined, but… your words are startling.

FD: I want… to be recognized by you.

Hannibal: As John the Baptist recognized the One who came after?

FD: I want… to sit before you, as the Dragon sat before 666 in Revelation. I have… things… I would love to show you. Some day… if circumstances permit… I would like to meet you… and watch you… MELD… with the strength of The Dragon.

Hannibal: See how magnificent you are. Did He Who Made The Lamb, make Thee?

tooth fairy

The expression of mortification when the words “Tooth Fairy” are spoken.

This exchange was brilliantly conceived, and fascinating. After the revelation of who he is Becoming, The Great Red Dragon suddenly sits across from Hannibal in Hannibal’s office, composed and sophisticated to a degree that seems to astonish the Francis still seated at the desk, who looks on in silence, and I felt he was experiencing a bit of a break in his psyche here, almost gaping as he finds himself watching his Red Dragon persona converse intelligently with Hannibal, who as always, seems to tailor his responses in such a way as to draw forth exactly what he most likes to explore… the killer’s ego. Armitage’s performance here was so beautifully nuanced… with my personal favorite moment being the Dragon’s reaction to mention of his press moniker, “Tooth Fairy”… It causes the Dragon to flinch, avert his gaze in shame, and visibly collect himself before responding to Hannibal. I loved the voice that Armitage used in this entire exchange, especially the sinister and gravelly tones he used on certain words… Dragon… Meld….

See, here is where I don’t know where to go next! I don’t really want to go scene by scene, but maybe a quick break from Richard’s incredible performance to touch on the other main player in this episode, Bedelia, as she has the first scene after the opening credits. Unlike last week, when I certainly did not welcome the return of Abigail Hobbs, this week saw the return of a character we haven’t seen for several episodes now… the lovely and mysterious Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, played by the exquisite Gillian Anderson. She’s been a source of confusion for me for a very long time… is she on the side of good, or is she just perhaps the smartest villain on the entire show? This episode illuminates her in a series of sequences… we learn that her well-designed method for covering her tracks to explain her time in Europe with Hannibal has profited her, and she is now giving lectures describing her journey into the belly of the beast, implying that she was abducted, drugged and induced to lose her very identity by Dr. Lecter, and now she uses this experience to explore the concepts of “self” and “identity” with her audiences.

Through a couple of conversations with Will and some flashback sequences, we finally learn that Bedelia is, indeed, a villain. In a rather illuminating exercise with Will in which she asks him to describe his reactions to the idea of an injured bird he happens upon in the grass, she reveals that her own initial impulse, when confronting such vulnerability, is to crush it. Perhaps this is a truth about herself that she has recognized from childhood, and has endeavored to suppress through the intellectual knowledge that to pursue it would undoubtedly result in eventual consequences. Yet, when Dr. Hannibal Lecter became her patient, and she recognized an essential likeness between them… two highly cerebral individuals, each with a streak of cruelty, though one has endeavored to suppress it, and one has turned it into a lifestyle and an art form… despite the inherent danger, she could not help but finally indulge herself by observing and making an in-depth study of Hannibal, who covertly and elegantly pursues his deviant urges. Clearly she has enjoyed her access to Hannibal, using their doctor-patient relationship to explore her own identity, without ever desiring to make any effort to assist him in overcoming his tendencies, and at times taking steps to protect Hannibal and shield him from potential consequences of his fascinating actions.

In this way, Bedelia is exactly like Hannibal, coolly facilitating the exploration of the dark impulses of each patient. Although I don’t think Bedelia is the predator that Hannibal is, she undoubtedly is capable of a crime of opportunity… when that fragile, vulnerable bird crashes to the floor in her office, evidently choking on his own tongue… she watches raptly, shocked but unable to stop observing his death throes, never making any move to call for an ambulance… and then she falls upon him and finishes him off in a moment of ecstasy that was chilling to watch. As we know from earlier episodes, Hannibal helped her to hide this crime, and their strange relationship has progressed from there. One thing is very clear, as Bedelia says… she has been “behind the veil” all along, with Hannibal, because she and Hannibal are essentially variations of the same psyche. Not a moment of time with Gillian Anderson as Bedelia was a wasted moment in this episode, even if she was competing with one such as Richard Armitage. And that is saying something.

Pet the tiger

Do you want to do it? (Please, please, please say you’ll touch it!)

Without further deviations, then, I’ll return to my impressions of the rest of this episode with emphasis on the performance of RA as Francis Dolarhyde. And, heavens, was it an episode. The long-anticipated Tiger Scene was next, and I was captivated. It met every expectation. I loved Richard’s handling of the combination of fumbling suitor and disturbing fixation in those early moments in the van, when Francis shyly asks Reba if she’s ever seen a tiger, and awkwardly explains his planned surprise… “Did you ever… see… a tiger? They’re working on its tooth… and they have to put him to sleep…. if you want, you can touch him.” This tugged on my heartstrings, to be sure… but then suddenly he is overcome with the intensity of his desire, his face suddenly reflecting an infatuated and eager anticipation, as he  waits to see if she would be interested in touching the tiger. Just before he adds, “Do you want to do it?” it’s absolutely clear that the idea of Reba touching the tiger is of utmost interest to him, and we realize that Francis is now exploring whether she might be interested in touching another beast… in touching him. And it is equally clear, from the small smile that crosses her face, that Reba intuits the underlying question.

radiant

She seems to “see” it exactly as he has described it.

In the next sequence, which required multiple re-watches to catch all the nuances of performance, Reba does indeed touch and explore the tiger. There was an interesting choice of cinematography here. When we first see the tiger, it looks decently realistic. There is a moment when the veterinarian interrupts Francis and Reba, and Francis clearly resents the other man for drawing Reba’s attention away from Francis and the tiger, and he turns away, brooding. (Brooding! We all know nobody gets his brood on quite like Armitage!) Then Reba, as if she senses his discontent with the intrusion into their intimacy, asks Francis, not the veterinarian, to describe the tiger for her. Here is where it gets interesting in terms of cinematography, because as Francis gives a description of the tiger, (“He’s… striking. Orange. Black Stripes. The orange… so bright… is almost bleeding into the air around him… it’s… radiant.”) and they begin to show nothing but Reba’s hand caressing the tiger’s coat, the coat changes from its formerly realistic appearance to an exaggerated, radiant orange hue that is indeed so bright that it bleeds into the air around them, almost as if they are showing what Reba “sees” in her mind as she strokes the tiger.

The Tiger's Mouth

Francis is overwhelmed as Reba’s hand approaches the tiger’s maw.

The idea that Francis is imagining himself as the beast under her fingertips becomes very clear as we see how he hones in on her, fixating with a slightly ominous intensity on every stroke; his breathing becomes agitated, he shivers, his immersion culminating as he gasps and covers his own mouth, overcome with a potent mixture of captivation and repulsion as he imagines her hand approaching his own mouth. Armitage absolutely could not have captured the essence of this scene any better… I loved it. It was the perfect mixture of romantic gestures, both on Francis’ part in having this idea to provide his date with something so unique and so intimate, and on Reba’s part in recognizing the undercurrents, and lovingly exploring then laying her head against the tiger to listen to its heartbeat. I believe she wants to show him that the tiger does, indeed, attract and draw her in. And yet the courtship continues to have an underlying sense of foreboding… one can’t help but realize that, however enthralled he appears to be, gazing at Reba with a look of innocent wonder on his face as the tears slide down her cheek, there does remain a risk. However beautiful he might be, all bets are off… should the tiger awaken.

Fear of Touch

He looks entirely sexy, appealing, and vulnerable in this moment.

Richard Armitage totally brings sexy back in the next scene, which takes place in Francis’ living room. Here is where I became aware of my attraction to the scar, but really the whole package is enticing. The snug, stylish shirt and jeans. The sharpness of his features, the muscular frame. Although we’re intimately acquainted with his beautiful body from previous episodes, here he is presented in a very alluring atmosphere, with intimate lighting and classical music, and its effect on me was an immediate quickening. Reba tells him that he has a “kind of hard, clean, neatness that they like” and I couldn’t help but think, Yes, Yes, Yes! at this description. But then as she approaches him, I was struck by the beautiful vulnerability, the muscles working in his amazing neck, as he waits for her approach. It’s clear that he’s torn between wanting to be touched, and completely fearing to be touched, and I became simultaneously choked up and turned on by this incongruity. He initially flinches, but submits to his first kiss, his breathing irregular with the force of his emotions, then I found myself completely aroused just by imagining what comes next, as she lays her cheek against his thigh and reaches across to stroke his other thigh. I found that moment incredibly hot, my heartbeat racing as I imagined initiating this incredibly attractive man to the pleasures of intimacy. He’s so overwhelmed with sensations and competing emotions that he drops his martini, the glass shattering on the floor, and soon after, the beast emerges and he grabs her up and clomps off with her in a way that at least to Hubby, who doesn’t have any familiarity with the storyline, feared was indicative that the monster had taken over.

Tender Moments

This moment affected me profoundly.

Thankfully, rather than whisking her clumsily away to do violence, instead they next make love in a very intense and artistically rendered love scene, in which I couldn’t help but admire the rhythms of his body and the contours of his muscles as he takes his pleasure over her. I especially loved the transformation of Reba in his vision of her as The Woman Cloaked In The Sun… stunning visuals. But what took my breath away the most was the incredible sweetness of the aftermath, as Reba sleeps next to him, and Francis gently explores her, listening now to her heartbeat, and taking her hand, using it to caress his head, and his disfigured, sensitive mouth.

Neck Snuggle

This is tenderness.

Then he lays his head on her shoulder, looking so much bigger than her, yet somehow so vulnerable. I definitely choked up here, and it’s a scene I can watch again and again for all the subtleties of performance by Richard Armitage, who despite being right there in bed with his lover, is alone in his discoveries of these new, tender impulses coursing through him. As for me, I believe this scene almost rivals the amazingly tender train station kiss, at least when measured by my own wish to insert myself into the scene in place of the actress. And speaking of the actress, I bet it has been fun for Rutina Wesley to see these scenes, as she had to act with that blank stare or with her eyes closed, so she probably hasn’t had the opportunity of seeing her co-star in action even in the scenes they performed together.

Protective Embrace

He knows The Dragon is onto them….

Gosh, this is getting long.  There are so many moments to comment upon- no wonder I was so overwhelmed after the first viewing. How can I review Episode 10 without commenting upon the very exciting pleasure of watching Richard Armitage Francis Dolarhyde run so athletically through the house, and charge up long staircases in his glorious boxer briefs? Whew! But in all seriousness, I did love the hunted look on his face as he finally finds Reba, holds her protectively as he listens to The Dragon rattling around “upstairs”, and breathlessly tells her he’ll take her home, all the while looking around with watchful wariness as if That Other One could be lurking anywhere, ready to destroy her. Loved it, and hope to see more of that as the separation between Francis, who is falling in love with Reba, and The Great Red Dragon, who demands that she be offered up in sacrifice to His Becoming, begin to wrestle with one another inside our character.

Devouring The Masterpiece

And may I just say that all previous thoughts of his alluring sexiness go right out the window when he wears Grandmother’s dentures?

Which brings me to the final scene… at the Brooklyn Museum, which I also just adored every moment of. From Dolarhyde’s entrance, dressed sharply in a long-coated suit and tie, where he alertly watches every aspect of his surroundings, taking note of the armed guard, using his own pen to sign the register, speaking brusquely with the curator. I couldn’t help but become almost giddy with amusement at the absurdity of his next behavior. The curator warns him that he’s not allowed to touch the painting, but, oops… he accidentally went and rubbed his face all over it then stuffed it in his mouth. I don’t know why that tickled my funny bone, but I was overcome with hilarity when he did that. I saw a live tweet Saturday night from one of the Fannibals that made me laugh out loud: “As a museum professional this may be the most horrific scene ever to appear on #Hannibal #SwallowedWhole Nightmares, @BryanFuller”… LOL. Of all the horrific material to be seen on this show, and the devouring of a priceless painting was the worst!

Manhandling Will

How much do I love this? Let me count the ways….

And of course, that wasn’t the only ridiculous moment… for who should arrive to interrupt Francis’ feast, but Will Graham, there to view the painting but just a moment too late. The painting is down the hatch, Will… you’ll have to make do with a reproduction! *Snickers* I loved the expression on both Will’s and Francis’ faces when they made eye contact and recognized one another in the elevator. Then… the coup de grace… though it seems there was quite a bit of indignation on Twitter amongst the Fannibals when their hero was bodily lifted and slammed into the wall of the elevator then tossed like a lightweight out the door… I loved it! I guess that confirms it… I’ve gone to the dark side because I was clapping and cheering inside to see Francis so easily dispatch his adversary.

All in all, this episode was hands-down my favorite episode to date. It simply had everything. I’d be hard-pressed to pick my favorite moment.

 

 

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Dolarhyde Does Smile… But I Wouldn’t Trust Him

fddarkroom2a fddarkroom2b

Yes, just when Reba offered to develop his infrared film and teased that “privacy is guaranteed”, I caught a brief smile… mainly visible as a dimple forming, but I’m pretty sure it was there.

[SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 3.9 BELOW!]

So overall, I’m enjoying Hannibal. Not surprisingly, I have my favorite cast member, and I was really chuffed to read all the many reviews that seem to show the critics and TV buffs are as impressed with Richard Armitage’s Francis Dolarhyde as I am. I also continue to appreciate Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal, especially the sly humor he showed in this week’s episode, and Hugh Dancy, whose performance is also always really strong. Something I forgot to mention about the first Red Dragon episode that interested me was how it seemed Dancy was able to channel Richard’s way of moving up the stairs when he re-enacted the murders in his mind. Did anyone else notice that? These things being said, I was not a fan of yet more scenes with Abigail. I feel like I’ve been done with Abigail, and I was irritated to see her back. I don’t want to waste any more time on her, especially if that time comes at the expense of time with, well, Francis. LOL

I was really impressed with Rutina Wesley’s performance as Reba. She came across as likeable, kind, down-to-earth, and I loved her line about not feeling any sympathy from “Mr. D” (unfortunately, Reba, you may have picked up on no sympathy because he’s incapable of feeling sympathy… but we’ll see what he’s capable of soon enough!) and I especially liked when she said that sympathy feels like “spit on my cheek” as it illuminated for me some of her reasons for being so reckless as to accept a ride home from this virtual stranger and to invite him into her house when she’s alone and arguably defenseless. I mean, he could be a serial killer! =) But when she said that, I realized that she has probably had all she can take of people/men being helpful out of a sense of duty or obligation toward a blind person, and so finds Mr. D’s lack of pity refreshing.

FDdragontailIn the few minutes of screen time that we had with Francis Dolarhyde, I was mesmerized once again. His scene in front of the movie projector, as he was apparently under the delusion that a dragon tail was sprouting, gave me creepy shudders. That neck work was quite a sight to behold, so extended and almost contorting. Definitely serpent-like. It always amazes me how he is able to make use of every unusual muscle in his body to evoke reactions in the audience… and my reaction here was terrible disquiet as I felt myself shrinking away from the screen.

fddarkroomWhile the earlier scenes with Dolarhyde gave me the freak vibes, Richard Armitage again brought out the little nuances in his scenes with Reba that make it all so interesting. One moment, the heebie-jeebies… the next moment, the little squeeze on my heart. Like when Reba first turns around in the dark room, before Francis realizes she has no sight, and he automatically brings his hand up to shield his disfigured upper lip. That moment tugged on the heart strings for me.

fdreba2bAgain it happened when Reba brought up her interest in speech therapy, and we see him almost flinch… there was an awkward moment where I felt a momentary threatening vibe, but then it was as if shame overwhelmed him, and my heart broke once again.

There was certainly a lot of that back-and-forth between squirming apprehension and feeling the empathy for Francis. It’s what I’ve expected and hoped for, and Richard Armitage has delivered. I was right back to feeling scared when he delivered the “Trust me, I’m smiling” line… even more so right at the end, when we heard his voice become “THE GREAT. RED. DRAGON.” Chills! I glanced at Hubby just in time to see him shudder, too. I’m loving having all this new Richard Material once per week… Life is good. I hope Richard receives an Emmy nod. =)

 

 

The Love Story Hasn’t Started, And Dolarhyde Already Breaks My Heart

dolarhydemirror1Was that as amazing for everyone else as it was for me? I still can’t say whether it was despite the fact or more because of the fact that there was essentially no dialogue involved, but wow- I couldn’t have been more impressed with our introduction to the NBC Hannibal’s version of the character of Francis Dolarhyde.

When I first listened to the source material, the audiobook version of The Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, I knew that this role would be unlike anything Richard Armitage has ever done. It all comes down to the little boy, the small Francis, known to himself as “Cunt-Face”, born with a severe cleft palate and whose mother promptly abandoned to an orphanage, left to the mercies of an apathetic system and the cruelties of the pack. Young Francis Dolarhyde, whose Grandmother later retrieved him not to offer him unconditional love and a home with family, but as a means to torment her daughter and flaunt the imperfect child as a failure, a fly in the ointment of the new “perfect family” life his mother hoped to have. The boy’s story is both infuriating because simple human decency would have made all the difference, and terrifying, as you experience Grandmother’s methods… I think this excerpt from the book illustrates nicely the type of villain we have in the evil old woman, who Francis sees as his saviour and strives so ineffectually to please:

Francis Dolarhyde, five years old, lay in bed in his upstairs room in Grandmother’s house. The room was pitch dark with its blackout curtains against the Japanese. He could not say “Japanese.” He needed to pee. He was afraid to get up in the dark.
He called to his grandmother in bed downstairs.
“Aayma. Aayma.” He sounded like an infant goat.
He called until he was tired. “Mleedse Aayma.”
It got away from him then, hot on his legs and under his seat, and then cold, his nightdress sticking to him.
He didn’t know what to do. He took a deep breath and rolled over to face the door. Nothing happened to him. He put his foot on the floor. He stood up in the dark, nightdress plastered to his legs, face burning. He ran for the door. The doorknob caught him over the eye and he sat down in wetness, jumped up and ran down the stairs, fingers squealing on the banister.
To his grandmother’s room. Crawling across her in the dark and under the covers, warm against her now.
Grandmother stirred, tensed, her back hardened against his cheek, voice hissing. “I’ve never sheen…….”
A clatter on the bedside table as she found her teeth, clacket as she put them in. “I’ve never seen a child as disgusting and as dirty as you. Get out, get out of this bed.”
She turned on the bedside lamp. He stood on the carpet shivering. She wiped her thumb across his eyebrow.
Her thumb came away bloody.
“Did you break something?”
He shook his head so fast droplets of blood fell on Grandmother’s nightgown.
“Upstairs. Go on.”
The dark came down over him as he climbed the stairs. He couldn’t turn on the lights because Grandmother had cut the cords off short so only she could reach them. He did not want to get back in the wet bed. He stood in the dark holding onto the footboard for a long time. He thought she wasn’t coming. The blackest corners in the room knew she wasn’t coming.
She came, snatching the short cord on the ceiling light, her arms full of sheets. She did not speak to him as she changed the bed.
She gripped his upper arm and pulled him down the hall to the bathroom. The light was over the mirror and she had to stand on tiptoe to reach it. She gave him a washcloth, wet and cold.
“Take off your nightshirt and wipe yourself off.”
Smell of adhesive tape and the bright sewing scissors clicking. She snipped out a butterfly of tape, stood him on the toilet lid and closed the cut over his eye.
“Now,” she said. She held the sewing scissors under his round belly and he felt cold down there.
“Look,” she said. She grabbed the back of his head and bent him over to see his little penis lying across the bottom blade of the open scissors. She closed the scissors until they began to pinch him.
“Do you want me to cut it off?”
He tried to look up at her, but she gripped his head. He sobbed and spit fell on his stomach.
“Do you?”
“No, Aayma. No Aayma.”
“I pledge you my word, if you ever make your bed dirty again I’ll cut it off. Do you understand?”
“Yehn, Aayma.”
“You can find the toilet in the dark and you can sit on it like a good boy. You don’t have to stand up. Now go back to bed.”

So yes, as we are drawn into the past by Harris’ narrative, it is impossible not to empathize with this tormented child. I was absolutely confident that Armitage would feel it, too, as he prepared for the role, and I have known that we would have an opportunity to feast upon psychological nuances heretofore not seen in other characters portrayed by Armitage: a deeply damaged child.  What was so rewarding to me, then, was that without any actual dialogue, Richard Armitage’s portrayal of Francis Dolarhyde was unbelievably spot on in bringing that vulnerability out to play.

http://fringeofmadness.tumblr.com/post/124908836935/ω

Not that peristalsis really pertains to an essentially solid anatomical part, like a THIGH, but damn, that comes close. Gif from http://fringeofmadness.tumblr.com/post/124908836935/ω

Like anyone else watching, I was mesmerized by the opening sequences that show Dolarhyde deep in his own skin, twitching and flexing and undulating as he indulges in his inner tumultuous transformation, seeking respite from the inadequacies of a lifetime by creating something fierce and powerful and otherworldly in the form of The Great Red Dragon he will unleash.

 

 

Sinuous

Not sure when I’ve been so transfixed on a ripple of muscle traveling down the side of a torso. Absolutely serpentine… I could feel The Dragon under there, and it elevated my apprehension in just the way that I imagine well-done horror is intended to do…

These scenes were fascinating, and breathtaking in their way, and very effective in inspiring the sort of fear and awe that the monster requires. They also very adeptly set up the paradoxical situation in which we are meant to view Francis Dolarhyde- that despite a craniofacial defect, a fractured psyche, and decidedly abhorrent urges, he still possesses attributes that we can find alluring. He has a beautiful body that he hones, and as we will see later, he has at least a corner of decency and even innocence somewhere on the inside, a part of him that abhors what he is “Becoming” when it threatens to destroy the one beautiful and wholesome thing in his life.

FDmirror2

Richard Armitage channels the vulnerability and self-loathing of the young boy who grew into Francis Dolarhyde.

Yet, as gorgeous as those scenes were… for me, the true brilliance in our introduction to Francis Dolarhyde took place in front of the broken mirror, as Francis stood with a heartbreaking combination of determination and self-contempt, practicing speech sounds. There in front of the mirror, visibly gathering his resolve to try again, we see little, almost involuntary helpless gestures with hands. We see him lift his chin a notch. We see his chest rising and falling. We see him flinch, and scowl, and viciously smack himself with brutal committment as he repeatedly tries to say something, though what it is he tries to say, I’m still not sure. Armitage beautifully channels the damaged, chastised child here, and it was mesmerizing to behold.

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And may I just say… eyelashes!

Again I saw the little boy in the scrapbooking scene. Something in the way Francis hastily cuts out the article, then carries his book with almost child-like reverence, to the table. I loved how he takes a moment to view the picture of himself as a young boy with Grandmother, then turns it over/brushes it aside with impatient disgust, and begins slapping the glue and articles into the scrapbook almost haphazardly. Quite the contrast from Hannibal’s treatment of the same article, so precisely and elegantly handled as he prepares to send his greetings to Will Graham. Francis, on the other hand, is comparatively clumsy in his work, knocking over a container of pens, and scribbling over the moniker “Tooth Fairy” with the messy desperation of a frustrated youth. Here is this 40-something man, but he just channels that which is unschooled, leaving his vulnerabilities on the table.

Anyway, if a few short scenes, some tortured noises, some postures of damaged psyche and child-like behavior patterns can have already softened me toward this monster, it’s looking like the introduction of the love story with Reba will be that much more difficult to “square with reality” when it comes to Francis Dolarhyde. Richard Armitage has nailed it so far, and absolutely left me craving more.

Congratulations, Richard! It was a stunning debut on U.S. Network television. =)

On All The Ways I Loved The Red Dragon Trailer…

It’s official. I’m completely bugged out. And how do I know I’m bugged out? Because earlier, after waking up and needing another “fix”, I found myself glued to the Hannibal trailer again, on my laptop using my earbuds, with the sounds of kids and TV and tablet in the background just fading out. I was once again mesmerized to such a degree that when Hubby tapped me on the shoulder to ask if I’d like some bacon and eggs, I jumped out of my skin and yelped! Much to the amusement of Hubby and kids, LOL.

Last night, when I first watched the exquisitely done trailer for the 6 episode Red Dragon Arc that will conclude Hannibal‘s run on NBC, the closest word to describe my initial reaction was electrified. Although it was past 10pm when I first watched the trailer, and prior to watching it, I was exhausted and intending to go to bed early, this incredible footage of Richard Armitage embodying the complex character of Francis Dolarhyde acted like a triple shot of espresso into my system and suddenly, there was no question of me going to bed early. I watched it repeatedly, reveling in it, really, just addicted to everything about it.

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That “Look”…. that intensity, and the cinematography of the entire scene… color me #mindblown!

As I said after viewing the first 2 episodes of Hannibal S1 the same day that Richard’s Dolarhyde casting was announced: “stylistically, the show is very different from anything I’ve seen Armitage do, and it will be fascinating to watch not only his portrayal of the sick fiend that is Francis Dolarhyde, but the incorporation of Armitage into the overall composition and feel of this series is going to be completely new and different.” Well, based on what I’ve seen in this trailer… I’m not going to be disappointed. I loved the musical accompaniment to the footage, especially in the initial series of shots as they introduced Dolarhyde- the cinematography and quirky percussion-driven soundtrack was simultaneously beautiful and jarring, just drawing me into the character, conveying his unique dichotomy of shyness/vulnerability and fierceness/intensity that makes the character so compelling and so terrifying. “Do you see me now? Yes. Do you feel me now? Yes.” I see him, and feel him, in the gut. In an instinctual way that Hannibal is so brilliant at accomplishing through some voodoo combination of artistically irresistible visuals and visceral musical score.

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This little startle, this endearing vulnerability, as Reba reaches out to touch his face. Remember, this is the man whose earliest knowledge led him to believe his own name was Cunt-Face when he was at the orphanage. And here it is. This. A brief glimpse of that back story in a facial expression. A perfect little taste of that Armitage brilliance.

So unable to sleep, I decided to start making Francis Dolarhyde gifs (I did THIRTY!) last night, and when I started studying the gifs, and playing with the light settings, I was blown away by the subtleties of facial expression and body language. If I didn’t know by now that Richard Armitage can inhabit a character and become that character completely, just several minutes of footage of his work here would have convinced me, and should convince anyone, of his astounding “immersion” capabilities. I can’t tell you how eager I am for more of this, despite the dark and creepy atmosphere and the knowing I have that the journey is likely to be both heartbreaking and terrifying. If the trailer can have me on the edge of my seat and bugged out completely, what will 6 full episodes be like? Prepare to be overwhelmed!

Another wonderful thing about this trailer was that we were able to hear shy and taciturn Francis Dolarhyde’s voice for the first time (!!!) in a few moments of dialogue. Having read the book, I’ve been aware that this would be what could make or break the character, because it’s so critical to the “vulnerability” aspect and the empathetic response that we are supposed to experience. The character was born with a severe craniofacial birth defect, and though later in life he has reconstructive surgery to repair the cleft palate, he has a persistent mild speech impediment and is extremely self-conscious about it. He is acutely aware of and feels such embarrassment over his speech patterns, especially with the “S” sounds, that he will pause and consider ways to rephrase his dialogue so as to avoid “S” sounds whenever possible. We didn’t have a lot of dialogue in this trailer, but what I did hear was absolutely spot on for my expectation of what this type of speech impediment would sound like. Only three lines of dialogue, yet I found myself falling a bit in love with that voice, because I’ve never heard Richard Armitage sound so… fragile.

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Love the eyelashes. They seem to flicker over words that are most difficult to enunciate.

The first line we hear is Francis speaking to Hannibal over the phone. The dialogue itself, when written, could be delivered in so many ways. “Dr. Lecter, I am… delighted… that you have taken an interest in me.” But Armitage’s delivery, using a very soft voice, stumbling lightly over the word “delighted” and with the slight hesitations of a deeply timid person, perfectly captures  the tentative hopefulness in his voice that what he is “Becoming” would be of interest to one he admires and aspires to be… the way one might speak to a deity with whom one someday hopes to acquire equal footing.

 

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Francis does something he’s never dared to do before in his adult life… reach out to a woman.

I deliberately closed my eyes to listen to “Miss McClane, can I give you a ride home?” so as to experience it as a blind woman might… this line was delivered flawlessly when I shut my eyes and listened. He asks her so politely, yet so awkwardly, perfectly embodying a man who is entirely uncertain of himself, and completely inexperienced in any sort of attempt to engage with another human, and particularly with a woman he likes. And yet, just listening to the endearing sweetness of it as he slightly lisps over her name, I could almost feel how she would feel in that moment, because you can tell, just by his voice, that he’s overcome a struggle to get up the nerve to ask. For me, anyway, it would be very difficult to say no to him after he’s tried so bravely to overcome his own discomfort with even the idea of gallantry.

 

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OK, so maybe there is a smile there at the beginning… but it’s definitely no kind of reassurance to see that kind of smile on a… biter.

Then came “Trust me. I’m smiling.” It starts with a whisper… and I know from the book that he was battling his inner darkness and an impulse to be vicious… so that whisper of “Trust me” is imbued with shades of darkness and internal struggle. Then his voice breaks slightly over the word “smiling” and again, that slight speech deficit. I can’t WAIT to see the rest of this scene. I was gripped in the book with fear for Reba’s safety, alone in her house with this psychopath who is more than capable of savaging her. Any woman alone with him would be in mortal danger… but her blindness, her inability to see his facial expressions as he considers his options… it’s the finest sort of suspense.

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Really. Those underwear don’t leave much to the imagination. That’s artistry. *Wipes chin*

And speaking of things I can’t WAIT for…well, I couldn’t make a post about the brilliance of this trailer without acknowledging its effects upon my ovaries. WOW. The team that put together this trailer certainly didn’t stint us on drool-worthy material, did they? It’s almost as if they suspected a large contingent might be, er, anxiously awaiting an eyeful, and by all that’s heavenly, they delivered. Let’s have a grateful round of applause, shall we? For the producers, for Richard, for the slow camera panning and the quality of the footage, down to each drop of sweat and each jaw-dropping moment of the bodybuilding routine that was lavished upon us… yeah. WOW. More of that, please! I think Richard has surpassed all former levels of buffness for this role, and I we can probably all agree that there promises to be a tremendous amount of eye-candy for those willing to venture over to the dark side. =)

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*Shudders*

But if this is anything to go by, this flash of hideous monstrosity… we will be visiting a very dark and terrifying place when we go on this journey with Francis, indeed. The gif above, showing the man, is all that is attractive. Which makes this… the stuff of nightmares…. all the more discordant and repelling. What a contrast between the tentative and awkward man with the hesitant speech, the intense and powerful man with the muscular physique, and this, the repulsive face of The Dragon… all I can say is that the makeup effects and the absolute commitment to inhabiting evil by the actor here are amazing. It’s awful, and it’s awe-inspiring. He’s going to scare my pants off, and I’m not exactly sure if I’ll like it.

It looks like these last six episodes have the potential to be a tour de force by Richard Armitage. It’s entirely new ground for him, and though it’s not without trepidation, I’m entirely eager to experience it. *Gulps*