#RichardArmitage Curls My Toes: Hannibal S.3 Episode 12

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Just the sight of the masked Dragon in his kimono is enough to make me shudder.

This week’s Hannibal was downright incredible. Francis Dolarhyde, in all his muscular glory, has curled my toes in a good way in the past, and has given me creeps and brief thrills of horror along the way. But this episode surpasses everything that came before in terms of the intensity of performance. And while I was certainly on the edge of my seat during several sequences last week, Episode 12 all but electrified me with fear. Well done, Mr. Armitage!

A strong episode from start to finish, from my perspective. Will Graham is now having visions of himself in Great Red Dragon Wings, as he in previous seasons envisioned himself in Raven Stag Antlers. He is dreaming visions of himself with outspread wings, standing over his own wife with the mirror shards in her eyes and mouth in the same type of crime scene as that left by The Dragon. It occurred to me that while Hannibal certainly does have “agency in the world” and has manipulated Dolarhyde like a malevolent lover bent on revenge, I’m not certain he’d like this new development. After all, when Will has started identifying so closely with a killer as to take on his own set of antlers/wings in the past, it has turned into almost a love story. I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of this ultimate revenge: Will might fall in love with Francis Dolarhyde (what’s to stop him? FD is hellishly sexy, Will apparently craves darkness and danger, and as we’ve seen all season long, part of FD actually might want to stop, as Hannibal never has!)

OK, so that scenario works better for an Armitage fanatic than the average Fannibal, who seems to adore the twisted love relationship between Lecter and Graham. I doubt that will happen. In fact, the writers gave a nice nod to all the Hannigram shippers in the conversation between Will and Bedelia in the opening scene, when Will asks her, “Is Hannibal… in love with me?” Her answer, delivered in such measured tones, conveys her underlying displeasure with the answer. I think before Graham came along, Bedelia enjoyed these distinctions herself: “Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for you… and find nourishment at the very sight of you? Yes.”

While Will is exploring love themes with Bedelia, and Hannibal is exploring religious themes with Crawford, we see that Dolarhyde is again in his attic, kneeling before The Great Red Dragon painting in what at first appears to be a worshipful manner. The echoes of Hannibal’s last words to Crawford appear to be a foreshadowing that does not bode well for Reba: “All Gods demand sacrifices.” Then his posture changes, and he curls over as if in pain, and we soon see dual images of his hand clawing the painting, then clawing the tattooed image of the painting on his back. Blood drips down the image, then the opening credits roll.

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I felt that this scene was meant to convey that the battle still rages within Francis Dolarhyde. The Dragon does certainly require a sacrifice, and what would be more fitting than to devour The Woman Clothed In Sun? Yet, Francis has only the desire to protect Reba. He’s tried to ingest the original painting, and offer up a different family, but neither of these efforts were successful. Now we find him trying to shred the framed painting in his attic, and even the tattooed reproduction on his back. We’ll never know if he would have been successful, however unlikely that seems, because in an effort to bait the unsub into a trap, the FBI is about to infuriate and “wake The Dragon”… with ghastly consequences.

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Hannibal belittles Frederick Chilton.

Will, Alana and Crawford decide to use Freddie Lounds and her tabloid “Tattle Crime” to write an insulting article about “The Tooth Fairy”, hoping to draw The Dragon into an attack against Will Graham, the face of the investigation. Alana points out that it feels like a trap to her, and probably will likewise feel like a trap to the unsub, and they all agree that by incorporating comments from a psychiatric professional, they may lend some level of credence to the article. When Will asks Alana if she’s volunteering, she responds that she’d have to be a fool to put herself in such a situation.

The next image we see is Chilton. More of that Hannibal humor, obviously implying who the fool (or patsy, as it turns out) must be. Chilton is alternately whining and shouting at Hannibal, enraged that Hannibal has so easily refuted Chilton’s book, his work that painted Hannibal as insane before the psychiatric community, by publishing brilliant work of his own. I particularly enjoyed Hannibal’s demure humor here, when Chilton groused and mewled about Hannibal intentionally humiliating him and treating Chilton as if he were Hannibal’s “nemesis”… Hannibal’s reply, with a startled little snicker “No! No, ‘nemesis’? No.” was so subtly derogatory, but went right over Chilton’s head. After bitching at Hannibal for a few more minutes, he exits, and Alana is waiting for him, ready to offer him the opportunity to lend his expert opinion to the bait article for The Dragon. Chilton gladly accepts, unknowingly sealing his own doom.

In the next scene, Freddie Lounds meets with Will, Chilton, and Crawford to derive as much inflammatory material for her article as possible. Chilton makes statements such as “The Tooth Fairy’s actions indicate projective delusion compensating for intolerable feelings of inadequacy.” Will adds “Not only is The Tooth Fairy insane… he is ugly and impotent.” Chilton goes on, “There is a strong bonding of aggressive and sexual drives that occurs in sexual sadists at an early age,” and Will says, “He’s a vicious, perverted sexual failure… an animal.” And so on. At the end of the session, Will invites Chilton to pose in a photograph with him, and intentionally puts his hand familiarly on Chilton’s shoulder. This small gesture, as Will later realizes and struggles with, made Chilton on par with a family pet in the eyes of The Dragon, thus making Chilton, like the family pets, The Dragon’s first target.

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Dolarhyde is seen driving, glowering down at an issue of Tattle Crime, Will is seen making himself visible about town under the surveillance of snipers, and moments later, it is Chilton who is snatched from a parking garage, his two bodyguards dispatched with dizzying speed. What follows is one of the most spine-chilling scenes I’ve ever watched. Armitage was masterful. It’s almost impossible to convey the level of menace he projected, or the sickening sense of dread that rose in me as the minutes ticked by.

The scene began with a brief flash of humor, as Chilton is shown gagged and blindfolded with a panty liner. A panty liner! What could more succinctly convey The Dragon’s disdain for his captive? I think what was so very chilling at the beginning of the scene was the measured, false solicitude and the almost polite address afforded his victim. After very gently removing the mouth gag and blindfold, awakening Chilton with sniffing solution, Dolarhyde asks, in the gravelly tones of The Dragon, “Would you like a blanket? I’ll get you a blanket.” He gently places a blanket around Chilton’s shoulders, and gives a little press of his hands on Chilton’s shoulders in what should normally be an affectionate, reassuring gesture. Instead, I started to squirm with foreboding. Chilton soon realizes he’s in a tremendous amount of discomfort, and asks, in a childishly high tone, whether he’s been burned. The response serves to mount the sense of terror even more, as The Dragon repeats the word “Burned” several times, turning it over and over in slightly different cadence each time. I could almost hear the wheels turning in his head… Burned. A fitting conclusion. A Dragon’s Prerogative. Burned. Yes. But eventually he answers, “No. You just rest there.”

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Something in the performance and the cinematography was incredibly effective at de-humanizing Francis Dolarhyde, the one who I’ve felt such tremendous empathy for in previous episodes. Not in this scene. Everything about him, to me, read as “Other”- it was as if Chilton was at the mercy of a beastly, almost alien being, someone or something with whom we could no more relate than we could understand the mind of a velociraptor. The calm, but absolutely predatory movements of Dolarhyde, the tilted head, the guttural sounds. The camera angle looking up at Dolarhyde looming over Chilton was toe-curling. The focus would shift between Chilton’s petrified face, and The Dragon’s ominous visage.

Chilton’s initial foggy confusion ends after he asks what he is doing here, and his captor replies, after a deliberate pause, “Atoning, Dr. Chilton.” The poor man realizes he is glued to his seat, and immediately begins to tremble, attempting to convince The Dragon that he hasn’t seen his face, couldn’t identify him. “Do you know… who… I am?” Chilton stutters out that he doesn’t know, or want to know. The Dragon goes on, “According to you, I am a vicious… pervertedsexual… failure. An animal. You know now, don’t you?” Armitage delivers these lines so slowly, with such carefully restrained fury. This was so effective at mounting the tension, building the horror. Chilton babbles on that he wants to understand, that he wants his readers to understand!

“Do you feel… privileged?” The Dragon inquires. Chilton is by now stammering, panting, and he latches on to this question to try to establish a connection with his captor. He garbles on about feeling privileged, yes, but admits that, “Man to man, I am scared!” Here is the next moment where chills raced down my spine, when The Dragon repeats the phrase, “Man… to man.” By this time, I was fully aware that the one we are seeing here is as far from a relatable “man” as can be, and the next lines confirm everything that I have already been feeling simply on the basis of Armitage’s almost preternatural performance, hovering over Chilton in his black nylon mask and his kimono. “You use that phrase to imply frankness. But you see… I am not a man. I have Become… Other. I am more than a man. Do you think… ‘God’… is in attendance here? Are you… praying to him now?” Chilton falters and stammers on, admitting we pray mostly when we are scared, and that he ought to. “You ought to. There are so… many things… that you ought to understand. And in a little while… I will help you understand.”

Chilton begins to truly panic now, as Dolarhyde turns him around to face him, directs him to open his eyes, and viciously threatens to staple his eyelids to his forehead if he does not. The tension has now been ratcheted up to an almost unbearable degree, with the viewer beginning to almost hyperventilate along with Chilton, when suddenly, “Ding Dong”… the doorbell rings! It’s Reba! With a container of soup for D, after he’s called in sick to work! Dolarhyde threatens Chilton that he will kill the woman if he makes a noise, and now he lets her in.

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We finally hear a touch of humanity in Dolarhyde again, when he speaks a few lines to Reba. She asks if she may come in, and states that she won’t be long, has asked her taxi to wait (possibly saving her life). When he says to her, “You shouldn’t be here,” it does sound like Francis’ voice instead of The Dragon, and his shoulders are slightly slumped, chin down, in Francis’ mannerisms.  She gives him the soup, then tells him, “I… I didn’t come… just to give you soup, D. I guess I’m guilty of liking you. Demonstrably guilty. And I know you like me too.” Francis hesitates, but offers, “I do.” She goes on, admitting to having more than her share of “cripple’s anger”, and tells him that she hopes neither of them are so scarred by life, that they are not capable of love. At one point, as if sensing there is something strange going on in the room, she does turn around, almost as if scanning the room for another person, and to Chilton, I have to give credit for more fortitude on behalf of an unknown woman than many would have been capable of, because he does, indeed, look on in total silence. It was interesting that when she turned toward Chilton, Dolarhyde’s Dragon starts to emerge. He seems to expand in size, his chin lifts, and we sense that he may spring at any moment. I held my breath. When Dolarhyde does not give Reba any further encouragement or acknowledgement after her speech, she says, with a heartbreaking look of disappointment, “Enjoy the soup.”

With Reba safely on her way, The Dragon resumes his program. He will now make Chilton understand the things that he ought to understand. The projector is on. Dolarhyde shows his terrible slide show. “Look! Do you… see… now? Do you see? Do. You. See!” He repeats the line over and over, his madness and passion overflowing, and each time he says it, it comes out differently, with emphasis on “Do” or “You” or “See” varying with each repetition. I was absolutely gripped with the verbal performance here. Finally, The Dragon unleashes his towering fury, all the more effective as it boils over after simmering under the surface for all this time. The escalation of his voice is thrilling, and hellish. “You… said… that I, who see more than you, am insane! I, who have pushed the world so much… further than you, am insane! I have dared… more than you! I, The Dragon! And you call me… insane! Before me, you are… a slug… in the sun! You are privy… to a Great Becoming. You recognize Nothing! It is in your nature to do one thing correctly, and before me, you tremble! ‘Fear’ is not what you owe me! You. Owe. Me. AWE!”

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After this electrifying speech, culminating in Dolarhyde removing both the face mask and the kimono to stand before the projector, naked, the lights come up, and he stands very calmly in front of Chilton, looking handsome, almost reasonable, and friendly again. He has a thermos of ice, and gives every impression that Chilton will now be released. He circles around to his video camera, and directs Chilton to make a statement for the camera, indicating that they are almost through. Chilton complies, and Dolarhyde praises him. As you can see in the images below, he is once again almost unbearably sexy.

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Monster In MotionYet the camera is still rolling. And the sexy is about to change. Dolarhyde allows Chilton a few moments of relief, then, as if it were a mere afterthought, he suddenly muses that there is one more thing he could do, to help Chilton understand, and “Remember!” He dons the mask and then the teeth, Chilton begins to panic, and then, in an incredibly rapid, gracefully animalistic movement, FD crawls over the back of the sofa, descends upon Chilton, and bites the man’s lips off in the most gory, bloody way imaginable. This was the moment, apparently, that caused the crew to gasp aloud, and it was a moment that I couldn’t bring myself to screen cap, and never want to see again!

Hannibal shortly thereafter receives a package containing Chilton’s lips, with the scrawled note “With these he offended me.” Hannibal thoughtfully allows the FBI to keep one of the lips for analysis, and eats the other lip. Hannibal received one gift, and the FBI received another. The FBI receives the video recording made of the trembling Chilton under FD’s direction. “I have had a great privilege. I have seen with wonder and awe, the strength of The Great Red Dragon. All that I said was lies from Will Graham. I have blasphemed against The Dragon. Even so, The Dragon is merciful. Because I was forced to lie, he will be  more merciful to me, than to you, Will Graham. Reach behind you, and feel the small knobs on the top of your pelvis. Feel your spine between them. That is the precise spot where the Dragon will snap your spine. There is much for you to dread. From my own lips, you will learn a little more to dread.”

After another session with Bedelia, in which Will and Bedelia discuss the placement of Will’s hand on Chilton’s shoulder in Freddie Lounds’ photograph, both acknowledge that doing so put Chilton at great risk.  Bedelia suggests to Will that he may as well have struck the match himself. Throughout this conversation, we see flashes of the greatly disfigured Chilton being doused in lighter fluid, set aflame, and rolled away in a burning wheelchair. We soon learn that Chilton, amazingly, survived, though burnt to a unrecogniseable crisp, and awaits Will Graham in the ICU. Chilton is able to speak, though garbled, and though Crawford is present and can’t understand a word he says, Graham seems to intuit exactly what he says. “He said, ‘You set me up. You knew it. You put your hand on me in the picture like a pet.'” And, when Graham asks if he has any information that could help them, “A black woman- she’s blind.” This is indeed a lead, and I suspect that Dolarhyde must also have realized that Reba’s existence is now a tangible threat.

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In the final scene, which came as a surprise to me, we now see Reba is bound and gagged in Dolarhyde’s van. He arrives at his house, carries her inside, and gently lays her down. As he is carrying her, he looks down at her with a mixture of tenderness, and ravenous hunger. Despite the fact that he’s abducted her, there is just a moment there, when I hoped that all would be well, because of that look, and the gentlemanly way that he asks her if she will be good, if he unties her. Then I remembered how kind and considerate he appeared with Chilton at the beginning, offering the blanket, and speaking so politely. Dolarhyde unties her, and allows her to speak briefly, as she tells him how scared she is, that she never wanted to hurt him, then pleads with him to please be friends, and forget about this. He interrupts her harshly, telling her to “Shut up!” (something that the Francis she has known would never do). He tells her he is about to tell her something of great importance, “Sermon on the mount important”… and asks her if she knows about what remarkable events happened in Chicago and Buffalo. Leeds and Jacobi. As the horrific truth begins to set in, he asks her if she knows what “they called” the being who visited those people, and when she starts to answer “Tooth Fairy”, he grips her chin violently and says “THINK! And answer correctly!” She stammers out the correct answer, The Dragon… and backing away with wings unfurled, he tells her, “I. AM. The Dragon.”

Francis DolarhydeWhat a cliffhanger! Now that he has abducted Reba, it feels as if the battle for Francis’ humanity has been fought and lost, and all that remains is for him to be caught and stopped. Flawed, beautiful creature that he is, of course we’ve known all along that his crimes are too horrific, his evil is too entrenched, for any other outcome. He’s shown himself to be very cagey in the past, and I have no doubt that the finale will be a real thrill ride. I don’t know whether to hope that there is some small redemption to be found for Dolarhyde in the end… or if it will be nothing but a relief to me to see the Dragon defeated.

Who knew Richard Armitage could channel such absolute menace? Such wrath? When I first wrote about this role, I said that I had no doubt that Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde would scare my pants off… but until I actually experienced it this week, I really had no idea of the level of fear he would be capable of generating in me! Every week, his performance seems to eclipse in some way the performance of the previous week. It’s been a remarkable ride. The finale is almost upon us, and I know I’ll be devastated when the performance is over, and these weekly highs will have come to an end.

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A Few #FrancisDolarhyde Edits

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Just a bit of profile porn from Episode 10, Brooklyn Museum scene.

Guess what!? I finally installed my preferred photo editor on my laptop, and found out the Mac version works on png files!

This means my screencaps of Hannibal (meaning, Richard) don’t have to be emailed to the desktop, then converted to jpg, then edited to my satisfaction.

This is going to be very useful as I race to get out my impressions on Episode 11. Or not, depending on how well I like it.

 

 

 

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Because, well, isn’t that just a bit enlightening? I mean, if you’ve ever wondered what he looks like at… certain moments?

Last weekend, Episode 10 rather overwhelmed me, and  ok, let’s face it: FD basically took over my entire weekend.

Is it any wonder why? There really isn’t an adequate word or phrase to convey how much I really enjoyed editing this one.

 

 

 

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No words. None.

Ahem! Anyway, this weekend I have a play date lined up for the kids on Saturday and… um… what was I saying?

Oh. Right. Then a birthday celebration for my brother to host, so who knows how successful I’ll be.

 

 

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What quilt?  

Plus, I’m really trying to finish up the long-abandoned quilt I was working on so I can get started on a new quilt that interests me more.

Although, no quilt seems to invigorate me half so much as all this new Armitage material, so that might be a pipe dream.

 

 

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Just the thought of Hannibal being finished makes me need a strong drink.

At least until we get through these next three episodes. (*Sobs*)

Anyway, so tonight I played around with a few screencaps on my laptop, which I’ll share here.

 

 

 

 

boxer briefs.pngPretty easy on the eyes, isn’t he? Yes, this new laptop editor is going to make my life so much more pleasurable.

Er, easier.

 

Right.

 

 

 

 

 

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Normally, I disapprove of running in the house. Unless the disruption looks like this.

Next up, figure out how to do gifs on the Mac….

OK, gotta run!

 

 

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.

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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*

What Are The Odds? Boldly Becoming Shrine Arrived on Hannibal-Eve!

 

 

 

Tonight’s the night for those of us in North America… Hannibal Season 3 Premieres on NBC at 10pm/9pm Central! So how fortuitous was it that yesterday, on Hannibal Eve, I received a package from the amazingly talented CEO of RAPS, Inc. herself, complete with not one, but two, of the very subtle and stealthy bright pink “Armitage Army Shrine Division” stickers which may or may not have attracted the attention of my office manager, who became even more inquisitive this morning after I asked if anyone had a lighter or a match.

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My loot! Can’t think of a better way to mark the premiere of Hannibal S3 than lighting the candles on this exclusive, first-ever RAPS of Francis Dolarhyde!!

Ah, Guylty… so lovely of you! Yes, I was the very happy and lucky winner of her glamorous and very comical Boldly Becoming Shrine from the RAPS for Charity Auction #1. Guylty also included a kind and humorous hand-written note on handcrafted Guy-décor stationary, a key chain with Richard’s handsome visage, and a framed photograph by the wonderful photographer herself from the Berlin Premiere of DOS. Oh! And some Armitage-themed magnets which I put right onto the fridge and forgot to include in my photo! I’m blown away!

I do fear for the fate of the hapless postal workers involved in the Ireland-to-Oklahoma transit of the shrine, should Francis Dolarhyde ever find out that the very cute dragon on his back became dislodged! Or if he should learn that a few of the sparkly red blood-colored hearts surrounding his powerfully winged figure had fallen down. Thankfully, his precious masterful toothpaste was not disturbed, or I’d shudder to contemplate the consequences for the postal carrier community!

I *did* run into a problem yesterday when I tried to assemble the golden candles I meant to light in honor of that fine ass The Fearsome One. One of the candles just would not stand up, so I was forced last night to casually ask Hubby to produce a bit of the putty he uses to get his fine mineral specimens to stand just so in the display case….

* * *

“Do you have any of that putty you use in the mineral cabinet?”

“Yeah, I have some. What do you need it for?”

“Ah… I need it to help something little to stand up straight.”

“What little thing do you need to stand up straight?”

“Hmmm. It’s at the clinic. Just a little… thing I have.”

“What thing?”

“It’s just a little candle. At the clinic.”

“What?”

“A candle.”

“At the clinic?”

“Yep.”

Contemplative Silence.

“And the candle’s for…what exactly?”

Stubborn Silence. Wide, innocent gaze on my part.

“Why do I get the feeling this has something to do with Richard Armitage?”

“Ah… yep.”

“You’re what- lighting a candle for him for some reason?”

“You must know?”

“I’m dying to know.”

“It’s a RAPS. That stands for a Richard Armitage Pocket Shrine. From another blogger. From Ireland.”

“A ‘pocket shrine’.”

“That’s right. A Richard-Armitage-as-Francis-Dolarhyde-in-Hannibal Pocket Shrine. With little candles. Needing putty.”

“Right.”

The cynical Eyebrow lifts.

Sheepish Hopeful smile on my part.

“So! The putty?”

After a moment, he shakes his head, but smiles.

“I’m on it.”

* * *

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Absolutely appropriate for work. Right?

So! That was awkward went pretty well! You’ll notice I didn’t mention anything about the bidding. I made it to the clinic with my putty, and that did the trick. I then remembered I’d meant to bring along something to actually light the candles. Damn! I rummaged around by myself for awhile and when no matches or lighters presented themselves, I resorted to asking my office manager if she knew of any. Why is it I never know where anything is in my own clinic? Of course she did. She was the one I’d delegated to prepare the storm shelter for tornado season, and she’d included a couple of candles and a lighter in her plastic tub of necessities. So I rummaged around again in the storm shelter and came up with the lighter, and by then all the staff wanted to know what I was up to, reminding me how nosy they all are that they noticed I’d received a package from the Armitage Army Shrine Division, so they were invited to worship view the shrine and after they were done laughing at me were very appreciative of Francis’ ass assets.

It’s a wonderful day! And Guylty, HUGE thanks. You’re just awesome. =)