Cloning Rumors Ignite Armitage Fandom Hysteria

Cloning Conversation

Transcript of conversation between Richard Armitage (RA) and Bryan Fuller (BF) from Hannibal S. 3 Commentary, full text available on Richard Armitage Central.

Recently released transcripts of a conversation between British actor Richard Armitage, who guest starred as serial killer Francis Dolarhyde on season 3 of NBC’s Hannibal, and the show’s producer, Bryan Fuller, have once again embroiled the Armitage fandom in controversy. The conversation, while salty at times, with references to “fluffers” and where the sun does or doesn’t shine, became exponentially more controversial when Bryan Fuller revealed his intent to clone the popular actor from a pubic hair retrieved from modesty patches worn by Armitage on-set.

Rather than subduing the pandemonium that was all-but-guaranteed to arise from such a statement, Armitage likened the plan to experimentation in Jurassic Park, and even offered to submit an additional, larger sample of hairs for the cloning experiment by donating bag of hairs he himself had collected during epilation of his legs in preparation for the application of Dolarhyde’s prominent dragon tattoo.

Amongst the fandom, the proposed plan to create clones of Richard Armitage garnered many enthusiastic proponents, and just as many indignant detractors. “Oooh, the more, the merrier, I say!” gushed one fan, gazing at a large collage of Armitage images on her computer screen. “I would request that at least one clone be designated as a full-time audiobook narrator!” added another. “The neat thing is, with several clones at his disposal, Richard can deploy clones to work on all sorts of roles! Roles to meet every individual fandom member’s fantasies. That Clairmont vampire role, maybe James Bond, definitely some brooding period drama heroes… this would basically allow Richard to get so much more done in his career! It would even free him up to work on all those artsy-fartsy independent films he so enjoys but never seems to get released!”

Despite Armitage’s own willingness to clone himself from his leg hairs, many argue that clones of pubic hair origin, as proposed by Fuller, having sprung from an inarguably erogenous zone, would likely make the best lovers. Speculation about the clones’ origins seems to be a popular topic among the fandom, with many fans advocating beard-origin clones, and others campaigning for clones derived from clean-shaven cheeks. Other ladies have asserted that the clones should be acquired from Richard Armitage’s alluring nape curls, and a few quirkier ladies rather enjoy imagining clones sprung from his unruly cowlick. “You know the gold standard has to be when they roll out the rarefied Left Nipple Chest Hair edition!”

One fandom member lamented what she called “an appalling lack of understanding of the basic biological principles of cloning” by Bryan Fuller, Armitage, and the fandom. “It hardly matters which hair or indeed which type of cell is used to isolate the Armitage genome… a clone is a clone is a clone, my friends. There will be nothing more or less enticing in a clone derived from Richard’s nape curls than a clone derived from Richard’s nose hairs! Seriously, what’s far more interesting is the inherent promise of returning to natural nose phenotype! I’m all for the clones if it means we get Richard’s old nose back!”

Predictably, many of those who oppose Fuller’s decision to clone Richard Armitage cited various religious or mystical beliefs. “The time of one’s birth determines the configuration of planets in the birth chart, which in turn affects one’s destiny. If the natural timing of conception and birth is somehow changed or manipulated, as in the case of cloning, the birth chart and therefore the clone’s personality and destiny, must be altered accordingly! It’s imperative that Fuller’s team of geneticists have a thorough astrological consultation before they proceed!” cried one admirer, paging through a large volume of charts and planets.

“Richard is one-of-a-kind and created by God… in fact I daresay he’s one of God’s finest creations! There will never be another Richard Armitage, and it’s nothing less than blasphemy to try to re-create him!” was the fervent cry of another Armitage admirer. Others who agreed that Fuller’s plan to clone the 6’3″ actor was morally wrong reluctantly wondered if the Hannibal producer’s depravity had “rubbed off” on Armitage. “I had long ago agonized that involving himself in an evil show like Hannibal, a show that glorifies murder and aestheticizes cannibalism, would have a damning spiritual influence on Richard. Now this conversation with the show’s producer provides indisputable evidence. Cloning himself! The very concept illustrates the depths to which Richard has fallen!” said another long-time fan, wiping a tear from her eye as she spoke.

Still other fandom members were leery about the outcome of Fuller’s Armitage Clone project, stating that simply creating genetic clones of the beloved actor may not have the desired effect of “the more, the merrier” that so many of his fans are celebrating. “If you’re not already watching Orphan Black, you should be! Yes, Richard Armitage clones would share identical facial features and some general character traits, but who’s to say they’d even wind up in the entertainment industry? It’s impossible to predict how they’ll act or what they’ll do! I don’t see how Bryan Fuller can be so sure that they’d turn out to be lovely gents with a heart for people and a social conscience anything like what we all know and love about Richard! And what if they grow up with anything other than a seductive British accent?”

Other fans were eager to point out more mundane concerns about the proposed Armitage clones. “Doesn’t anyone realize that clones don’t just spring up into fully formed, delicious men with drool-worthy thighs and deep chocolatey voices? As far as I know, there’s not an accelerated growth rate associated with clones, so these clones would have to be born and go through all the normal stages of development. Who really wants to do diaper duty on an Armitage Clone baby? Who wants to put up with the terrible twos? And for heaven’s sake, who really wants to revisit the gawky teen years while waiting for the mature and sexy man that we know his DNA is capable of? Come on, ladies! We all know that Richard Armitage seems to just get better with age… most of us’ll be long gone by the time those clones hit their super-sonic-sexy-stage, won’t we?”

Richard Armitage, his agent, and Bryan Fuller were all unavailable to confirm or deny plans to go forward with Fuller’s cloning agenda. In light of the controversial nature of the project, the cloning of Richard Armitage could be postponed indefinitely, sources believe. Still others postulate the entire conversation may have been nothing more than a publicity stunt designed to give the fans something to talk about as everyone waits for news of a new project, or the release of any number of completed projects, to occur.

One fandom member scratched her head, quietly convinced that news of the cloning project was neither a concrete plan nor a publicity stunt. “Um… I just thought Richard and Bryan Fuller were… like… #onlyjoking.”

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Thrilling, Touching, Fitting: My Impressions of Hannibal S.3 Episode 13

Vision7

The Great Red Dragon has met his destiny.

Well, as far as mic drops go… this one was worthy. But oh! For the first time since Hannibal started airing the Red Dragon arc, I find myself having trouble getting motivated to blog about it. It wasn’t that the series finale didn’t inspire me. It’s just that I’m feeling rather devastated that it’s over.

So, Spoilers ahead, of course. And toward the end, some graphic images. Be forewarned. The first time I watched the finale, I was gripped with suspense. The final battle scene exhilarated me, even as my heart shrieked in denial. A series of gorgeous final images of Francis Dolarhyde left me breathless. The music was beautiful, the embrace between Will and Hannibal somehow moved me, and then the plunge over the abyss… perfect!

I watched the entire episode again immediately, and then watched Ep. 12 and Ep. 13 together with Hubby, who was behind by a week, later that evening. Again on Saturday, live-tweeting. So obviously I was into it. Yet still I find it hard to write about. I suppose it’s because in my mind, the summer of The Dragon is really over, and I just don’t want it to be done yet!

grasp

According to the source material, when Francis ordered her to feel his neck, a thought of gouging at his eyes went through Reba’s head. When she reaches for his face, he stops her with a rapid grip on her jugular area.

The opening scene begins immediately where Episode 12 left off… Dolarhyde has abducted Reba, and revealed to her that He. Is. THE. DRAGON. In previous episodes, I have had little difficulty determining which persona- Francis or The Dragon- was in the driver’s seat at the moment. During this scene, I believe that the two have reformed into one, for the most part. Francis is in control, and he doesn’t intend to kill Reba, yet there is enough Dragon present to willingly subjugate and terrify her.

 

key

Reba is directed to locate a key around his neck, and remove it. The intimacy here, and the unspoken menace of the pressure he applies to her neck, had me very much on the edge of my seat.

I was very emotional during this scene, especially on the re-watch with Hubby, because we had just watched Episode 12 and I noticed a few things about the way Francis carries her through the house that I hadn’t picked up on last week. He almost slows down as he passes close to certain reference points, allowing her time to assimilate the ticking clock, the vase of fresh flowers. I loved that. Now he proceeds with his carefully laid plans, directing Reba to stand up and approach him. He isn’t rough with her, but he doesn’t spare her the implicit threat of violence, either. He speaks calmly and slowly, and every word he says is deliberate, intended to both scare her and reassure her, to build her foreboding and expectation of disaster, yet to keep her calm enough so that she is able to navigate herself out of her hellish predicament, all the time unaware that he has his own devious objectives. Her achievement, will be his achievement. She is to survive, but because her name is known to the FBI, she is to serve a very specific, premeditated purpose. In these early moments, he displays very little emotion, though his intensity is formidable. I loved how his voice would change from harsh to gentler tones, continually keeping her guessing without causing her to completely panic and lose her head. “Get up. Stand by the bed. Do you know where you are in the room? And you know where you are in the house? Then you know… where the front door is, don’t you.” He directs her to take a key from around his neck, and go down to the front door, and lock it. He indicates that he is testing whether he can trust her, and he lies, saying he’ll wait for her in the room.

Poor Reba. She does as he commands, but upon reaching the front door, she pauses for a moment, listens over her shoulder, then decides to make a break for it. Opening the door, she rushes through, and headlong into his arms, where he has circled around and waited for her on the outside.

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No matter the menace, I couldn’t help but notice how incredibly gorgeous he looks in this doorway scene. And the velvety low tone as he backs her through the door, saying only, “Oh, Reba.” Although she’s proven that she’s not to be trusted, he remains completely calm. Repeating his directive to lock the door, he tells her to put the key around his neck, and go back to the bedroom. “You know the way.” (OK, I know this is totally inappropriate, but in a different context, this whole scene could be very, very hot. Fanfic writers, are you paying attention?)

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Now the scare factor increases exponentially, as they return to the bedroom and he seats her on the bed, looming over her. “Sit down. And sit still. Or I can’t keep him off you.” A shotgun muzzle appears in front of her face, and he directs her to feel it, ensuring that she forms a picture and an expectation for exactly what is about to happen. He begins to allow her fear and despair to get to him, and emotion enters his voice, as if he is about to become tearful himself. “You know what it will do? Take your hand down.” Reba releases the weapon, and he withdraws it. “I wish I could have trusted you. I wanted to trust you. Y-you… felt so good!” He backs away, telling her it’s all over for him, and she hears and smells the sounds of him splashing lighter fluid around the room. “I can’t give you to him. You know what he will do? He will BITE you! Better you go with me.” Reba does now panic, as he lights a match and flames whoosh across the floor.  He looks on with distress, a tear running down his cheek, and as the flames go higher, he cries, “Oh, Reba. I can’t bear to watch you burn!”

Reba Released

Ew. A bit of brain splattered on her forehead.

The shotgun fires, she is splattered with gore, hears a body hit the floor, and screams. Wonderful acting on the part of Rutina Wesley. But he has prepared her with careful forethought for what she must do next, and she rises to the challenge, launches into action, finding the body, removing the key from his neck, and crawling through the house, past the flowers and the clock and back down to the door, making a safe escape.

Will visits Reba in her hospital room, where she tells her story, visibly heartbroken. He attempts to comfort her. “In the end, he couldn’t kill you, and he couldn’t watch you die.” She begins to cry, shaking her head, distraught. She feels as if something must be wrong with her for having fallen in love with, and drawn to her, a freak.  “You didn’t draw a freak. You drew a man, with a freak on his back.”

Failed Mic Drop

Will lets Hannibal know was played.

Will’s next stop is Hannibal, where he updates his old “friend” about The Dragon’s death. Hannibal asks, “Are congratulations in order?” Hannibal is sorry to hear that The Dragon evidently committed suicide, telling Will that he was rooting for him. “It’s a shame. You came all this way and you didn’t get to kill anybody. Only consolation is Dr. Chilton. Congratulations for the job you did on him. I admired it enormously. What a cunning boy you are.”  Will denies, annoyed, and Hannibal goads him further, asking him if there’s any point to going home, and implying that his life of normalcy will never be the same. Will becomes fed up with these mind games, and approaches the plexiglass, placing his hand on the glass, and leaning toward Hannibal, he tells him, “You turned yourself in, so I would always know where you were. But you would only do that… if I rejected you. Goodbye.”

FD Will

Surprise! Guess who faked his own death?

Back in his hotel room, Will is blindsided by… Francis Dolarhyde! Not dead! We have seen before that he is cagey, and now we see just how cagey he has been. Every moment with Reba was choreographed to stage a suicide that never occurred. And now he has the jump on Will. In his video message through the hapless Chilton, The Dragon had promised to snap Will’s spine, so upon regaining consciousness in the hotel room, Will’s first words to Dolarhyde are, “You didn’t break my back.” Dolarhyde cocks his head, staring at Graham. “Your face… is closed to me.” A short exchange ensues, in which Dolarhyde patiently allows Will enough of an opportunity to establish some level of rapport, which has always been Will’s strong suit in his ability to empathize with deranged thought patterns, and Will successfully directs Dolarhyde’s attention toward Hannibal Lecter. Will says, and we hear his voice echoed and overlaid with Hannibal’s voice, ” ‘I understand that blood and breath are only elements undergoing change to fuel your radiance’… Hannibal said those words… to me.”

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FD: I wanted to share with Lecter. And Lecter betrayed me.

Will: He betrayed me, too.

FD: I would like to… share.

Will: You shared… with Reba.

FD: I shared with Reba, a little… in a way that she could… survive.

Will: But you didn’t change her.

FD: I chose not to change her. I am… stronger than The Dragon now.

Will: Hannibal Lecter… is who you need to change.

FD, leaning forward, eyes sparking with intensity: I want to meet Lecter…. How would I manage that?

FD Will5

Ah, Francis. You impress me, and distress me.

I must point out that this was the point where it became really clear to me that there was no longer such a distinctive separation between “Francis” and “The Dragon”… While I’d noticed it before, as he interacted with Reba, he confirms it here. It’s Francis speaking, but he’s very much in tune with his Dragon. In some ways this pleased me; I was glad that Francis had enough of a foothold that he made a decision not to “change”/murder Reba, and I was almost proud of him for coming up with a plan that was good enough to fool the FBI.  And I can admit that the notion of a meeting between Graham, Lecter and Dolarhyde did give me an immediate thrill of equal parts delight and terror. On the other hand, my romantic side was disappointed that even when “Francis” has apparently won this internal battle, his love for Reba and her love in return was nowhere near strong enough to give him the desire to stop his quest, or to seek normalcy. He is as driven as ever to transform himself, and has chosen to continue this transformation by “changing” others. He was never capable of understanding that another powerful force might transform his life, and I admit, I always wanted that for him. Sigh. Alas, this is Hannibal. And the Hannibal finale, no less. Francis Dolarhyde must seek his glory in the goriest way possible.

Comedy Relief

These two always bring a smile to my face. Too bad they didn’t get to find any victims blindfolded with panty liners….

The next scene establishes how the FBI learns The Great Red Dragon is not dead, after all. And it’s not by any mention from Will concerning his discourse with Dolarhyde at his hotel! No, Will is to be seen in the background, listening along with Crawford as if this is all news to him. Further testing of the remains from Dolarhyde’s burned down home are related to Crawford and Will in a comedic routine that I very much enjoyed between forensics techs Price and Zeller. They eagerly detail their discovery of two pairs of dentures on the body that Reba had mistaken for Dolarhyde, a newly manufactured pair in the pocket, and “Grandma’s old yucky pair” was found in the mouth. Oh, and I admit I was sincerely delighted to hear Dolly had left those ugly things behind, and this fact no doubt made his final scenes far more visually appealing.

Let's Free Hannibal

Graham and Crawford discuss using Hannibal himself as bait. Who else thinks this might be a bad plan?

Later, Will plays out his deception with Crawford. His goal, evidently worked out with Dolarhyde in return for his release with spine intact, is to set up a way for Dolarhyde to meet with Hannibal. Will suggests to Crawford that the one “bait” that might be an even more tempting draw for The Dragon than Will himself, would be Hannibal.  He suggests that they take Hannibal into federal custody, and fake an escape, providing Dolarhyde his target. Crawford is skeptical. “Why in God’s name would anyone want to meet Hannibal Lecter?” But as it turns out, Will has an answer that turns out to be absolutely true. “Why, to kill him, Jack. The Dragon could absorb him that way, engulf him, become more than he is.” The more they talk about it, the more they begin to like this idea, and I believe they intend to let the killers battle it out, and then kill whoever is left standing. However, the viewer is not sure, from this point forward, where Will’s loyalties really are. After all, it seems reasonable that he could have told Crawford about his hotel room ambush, the bargain with Dolarhyde. As willing to play outside the rules as Crawford has always shown himself to be, I would imagine that Crawford could have been convinced. So why does Will keep Crawford out of the loop? His motivation, perhaps, can only be understood by Bedelia.

Bedelia Jittery

I never expected to see Bedelia so discombobulated.

When Will makes his final visit to Bedelia’s office and relays the plan, Bedelia is incredulous, and visibly nauseated at the very idea. As well she might be. She knows that she has long been on the menu. As she pours herself a strong drink, her usual composure is tested to the limits. Her hand jitters at her side.  “What you propose is…. so thoughtless!” She returns to her seat, warns Will that “Who holds the devil, let him hold him well! He will hardly be caught a second time.” Will now whispers that he does not intend Hannibal to be caught a second time. She stares at Will with dawning horror. “Can’t live with him, can’t live without him. Is that what this is?” Disgusted, Bedelia is unable to sit still and begins to pace the room again. Will’s words echo the desires of The Dragon, when he tells her, “This… is My Becoming.” This caused me to wonder just how much passed between Will and Dolarhyde in that motel room. How much of an understanding passed between them? Does Dolarhyde know he is being used to solve Will’s Hannibal problem, or does he care?

Alana Hannibal

“Your wife. Your child. They belong to me.”

After a visit with Chilton in his hyperbaric chamber, to remind herself what Hannibal is capable of, Alana eventually comes around to Hannibal to offer him the deal with the FBI. In return for his cooperation in Crawford’s plan, Hannibal’s privileges will be restored. Hannibal knows intuitively that this is not Crawford’s plan, but Will’s idea. “Yes, and that worked out so well for Frederick Chilton,” he says sarcastically.  “You trust Will with my well-being?” She pauses, then says, quite candidly, “As much as I trust you with his.” Hannibal returns her candor with candor. He muses that he might escape in earnest, and come to kill her. “You made a bargain for Will’s life. And then I spun you gold.” A reference to The Brothers Grimm, in this dark fairy tale.

I Need You Hannibal

So it was not goodbye, after all.

All that remains to gain Hannibal’s consent is for Will to ask him in person. Politely. With a “Please”. When Will arrives, Hannibal eggs him a bit about their previous parting, telling him he believed it was a parting worthy of a “mic drop” exit. Except, it turned out that The Dragon was not dead after all, and now Will must return, and pick up the mic. “To the devil his due.” Will complies, and runs the plan past Hannibal, who points out, “It sounds weak to you, even as you say it.” Will ignores these jabs, and steps closer. “You’re our best shot, Hannibal. Please.” Hannibal only smiles.

 

The best laid plans… well, what follows is certainly a clusterf**k for everyone involved in Hannibal’s “Federal Custody” adventure except for Will and Hannibal. Instead of a staged escape, Francis Dolarhyde ambushes the FBI transport van using a stolen police cruiser. Lights and sirens blaring, he pulls up along side the lead cruiser, efficiently shoots the driver, and maneuvers the transport van off of the road. While everyone is still dazed from the impact, he shoots every member of law enforcement, leaving only Graham and Lecter alive in the back of the van, then drives away. Now Lecter is a free man, and The Dragon will pay him a visit at a time and place of his own choosing.

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I loved the way they shot this scene. In Episodes 11 and 12, Dolarhyde impressed me despite myself with his confidence and deadly accuracy with firearms, presumably gained from his time in the military, and although it was a brutal scene, I couldn’t help but be impressed with his methods in this episode, as well. As Hannibal predicted when he made the comment about the FBI’s plans not working out so well for Chilton, Dolarhyde once again proves himself to be one step ahead, and a highly effective operative. Shades of Lucas North, or rather, John Bateman, I suppose. I loved how when Will is thrown forward and bashes his head, we see a flash of Dolarhyde’s face in the elevator in his vision, and then all is blurry. I’d recognise that tall, lean silhouette of Dolarhyde opening the back of the van anywhere.  Hannibal and then Will climb out of the van, and I loved Hannibal’s cheerful attitude as he divests himself of the straight jacket, enjoying the sun on his face and the wind ruffling his hair for the first time in years. Hannibal wastes no time commandeering the other police car, and pulling up to Will, he opens the passenger door, shoves out a body, and asks Will, “Going my way?”

Rapid Departure

Alana, Margot, and child make haste to get out of dodge.

We see a few shots of Jack Crawford, looking helplessly about at the chaotic wreckage of the FBI transport detail, now a crime scene. Jack’s troubled visage fades out as the whir of helicopter blades is shown, and we see that Alana and Margot have wasted no time, and are preparing to board a helicopter in front of the Verger estate with their little Verger child. And finally, we see footage of tall, scenic cliffs, waves crashing at their base, and Will and Hannibal standing side by side in front of Hannibal’s gorgeous, modern, remote getaway home atop the bluff, overlooking the ocean.

 

FDglass2

The Dragon materializes.

Later that evening, inside, Will stands looking out the plate-glass window toward the ocean at the moon. Hannibal is now sharply dressed, and busies himself opening a bottle of wine and pouring for the two of them. As usual, Hannibal understands more about what has brought them here than Will has given him credit for. “It wasn’t surprising that I heard from The Great Red Dragon. Was it surprising when you heard from him?” Hannibal asks if Will intends to watch The Dragon kill him, and Will now admits that “I intend to watch him change you.” Hannibal’s feathers are not overly ruffled even by this admission. Conveniently forgetting the time he gutted Will, and the other time he started to saw into his skull, Hannibal tells Will that his compassion for Will is inconvenient. “No greater love hath man, than to lay down his life for a friend.” Will sighs, and warns Hannibal that The Dragon is probably watching them as they speak. A split second after Hannibal responds that he is well aware of this, a bullet penetrates the plate-glass window behind Hannibal, the bottle of wine he is holding explodes, and as he crumples over, it becomes apparent that the bullet went through Hannibal before striking the wine bottle. As Hannibal falls in slow motion, the glass window shatters, and the figure of The Dragon walks in from the darkness.

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Oh, after such an entrance, I’d have liked to have seen it go differently. Dolarhyde has the weapon, Hannibal is down, and the ball is in Dolarhyde’s court. For whatever reason, he doesn’t incapacitate Will right off the bat, merely warns him not to run. Will is absolutely calm, giving no indication to either Hannibal or Dolarhyde that he will step in to help either of them. He appears to be an impartial observer. Hannibal, with his customary politeness, says “Hello, Francis” from his position on the floor. Dolarhyde stands over him, and replies, in the softer tones of Francis, “Hello, Dr. Lecter.” This moment brings back their first telephone conversation, and I was fascinated to see whether Hannibal would endeavor to manipulate Dolarhyde again. He does. Of course he does! Panting and holding his abdominal wound, Hannibal begins by complimenting Francis on choosing not to commit suicide. “You were seized by a fantasy world, with the brilliance and freshness and immediacy of childhood.” Francis stares down at him with that fantastic gleam in his eye, and Will merely sips his wine. Soon Dolarhyde kneels down and places his weapon on the ground. I immediately began to fret that this was a mistake! He doesn’t reply to Hannibal’s rather esoteric abstractions, merely sets up his camera, and says, “I’m gonna film your death, Dr. Lecter. As dying, you meld… with the strength of The Dragon.”

Hannibal continues to converse with Dolarhyde, but as the filming begins, he glances up at Will. Their eyes meet, but Will continues to placidly observe. Hannibal catches a subtle motion, the glint of a blade in Dolarhyde’s hand, and again he looks at Will, with more urgency. Whether Will is responding to Hannibal’s cue, or to his own perceptions, I was not sure, but he starts to reach for a weapon, a moment too late. With stunning violence, Dolarhyde is upon Will, simultaneously plunging his blade into Will’s cheek and lifting him off his feet. From a vantage outside the home, we see Dolarhyde once again throw Will like a rag doll out into the night.

[Warning: gallery below contains image of the battle between Will, Hannibal and Dolarhyde, and though I did not include the goriest sights, several images are upsetting.]

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What follows is a tremendous battle scene. First Will and Dolarhyde trade vicious stabs, and then just as Dolarhyde is about to deliver a fatal slash across Will’s neck, Hannibal leaps onto his back from behind. I won’t go into every gory detail, but for quite some time, The Dragon holds his own, throwing first Will, then Hannibal, great distances. At one point, Will is starting to become delirious from blood loss, and looks up to see The Dragon, wings gloriously unfurled, stalking after Hannibal, who has been thrown across the patio and is struggling to lift his head. Now it is Will’s turn to attack him from behind, and as the beautiful song “Love Crime” begins, it becomes apparent that Will and Hannibal will finally succumb to the battle euphoria, for lack of a better word, that killing together brings them. Although it was so very graphically violent, the choreography was fantastic, and as I learned during the live tweeting on Saturday night, the stage directions for the battle called for Dolarhyde to rampage around like a wounded beast, a bull or a bear, too powerful for either Will or Hannibal alone, but ultimately falling when their attacks converge in concert.

FD Death

The Dragon is fallen.

I especially loved the Dragon’s outspread wings when he finally went to his knees. Armitage was absolutely tragically beautiful, and magnificent in that moment. Coming as I did into the finale with such mixed feelings for the character, strong empathy tempered by resignation that he must be stopped, I found the moment of his death to be both moving, and somehow fitting. As he falls for the final time, we see images of flames, Dolarhyde’s face in the attic as he watches his painting and his scrapbook consumed by fire.

Just gorgeous, these shots. His face by firelight. His profile. His form outlined with fire wings, and then the shot of his blood spreading out in a radial pattern as he dies,  slowly pooling into the shape of his Dragon wings. The only thing I could have wished different in these final images as Dolarhyde breathes his last, was maybe a vision of Reba. But that’s just me. Ever the hopeless romantic. So, for my own enjoyment, I’ve added that vision of her to the “Goodbye, Dolarhyde” gallery below. =)

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Hannigram Embrace

The climax all Hannigram shippers have been waiting for.

The Great Red Dragon is slain, and all that is left is the final moments between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. Whatever Will’s motives have been, there can be no doubt that a consummation of the dark bond between these men has just occurred. Between the haunting music, the looks of awareness that passed between them as they converged on Dolarhyde, and all of the foreshadowing that has prepared us in recent scenes… “Is Hannibal… in love with me?” …. “Will! Was it good to see me?”… it seemed inevitable to me that Hannibal should now go to Will, who appears quite mortally wounded near the cliff’s edge, and gently help him to stand. Will remains, breathing raggedly, in his arms. “This is all I ever wanted for you, Will. For both of us.” Will lifts his head, with effort, and whispers, “It’s beautiful.” Will then collapses forward, his hand kneading Hannibal’s shoulder as he buries his face in his neck. Hannibal’s face is awash in ecstasy for one moment, and in the next, Graham uses his remaining strength to throw them together over the side of the cliff. Loved that! It was somehow romantic, and shattering, and a perfect climax to both end the series, and leave the smallest possibility of a continuance with the knowledge that the ocean roils below. I thought it was beautiful, and if I would call myself a Fannibal, it would have satisfied me, whatever the future may hold for the show. I hope this was the general consensus, though I’ve not read any reviews just yet.

OMG Bedelia

Ready or not, here he comes….

After the credits have rolled, there is one final moment for the fans… a teaser that hints of their fate. It’s Bedelia, looking at once beautiful and seductive and overwhelmed, seated alone at a beautifully set table. And upon the table, a long leg prepared with every gourmet flourish. Bedelia slowly removes a fork from her table setting, concealing it in her lap, and as the camera pans down, we see that her lap is disfigured with a stump.

As everyone who has read my reviews of the Red Dragon Arc, and prior to my reviews, my eager speculations and discussions of NBC’s Hannibal surely are aware, I’ve had a pretty thrilling ride. I may have had my issues with some aspects of the production, and disliked some major characters along the way, and I’m not a fan of gore or horror in general, but the overall aesthetics, the gorgeous cinematography, and even the character arcs drew me in despite myself, and by the end of Season 2, I was eager for Season 3, with Armitage’s eventual appearance the proverbial icing on the cake. I also read and enjoyed the Red Dragon book, and was drawn to the antagonist from the start. All this to say that I was pretty invested in both the Red Dragon arc and the NBC Series Finale. And it did not disappoint.

Doorway1

Damned if I won’t miss this beautiful, scarred face.

And most importantly, Richard Armitage did not disappoint. His Francis Dolarhyde was one of the most compelling characters I’ve ever watched, and his performance was stunning.

Everything I could have wished for, and then some.

I’ll be watching the final 6 episodes in one sitting at my earliest opportunity.

 

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

maskeddragon2

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.

Nemesis-No

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.

And The Beast Returns: #RichardArmitage in Hannibal Episode 11

Moonlight Dragon

The Dragon must rise.

In last week’s episode, Francis Dolarhyde was at his most sexy and most empathetic. This week… well, it’s Richard Armitage. The sexy never goes away completely, especially the more time FD spends in his skivvies… but this week, we spend a good deal of time with The Great Red Dragon, and while his methods may serve to douse the flames of my attraction, he doesn’t disappoint. He scared my pants off, and not in a good way. In quite a departure from the norm, there really wasn’t anything gory. Violence, yes. But mostly, the finest sort of suspense.

With Hannibal

Top: Hannibal speaks to Francis. Bottom: Hannibal speaks to The Dragon.

It was yet another superb performance by Richard Armitage. Through his use of facial expressions, body language, and voice alterations, there is a distinct separation forming between the times when Dolarhyde’s “Francis” persona is present, and the times when his “Dragon” emerges. The acting! Unbelievable! The further we go, the more I am able to appreciate what an incredible role this has been for Armitage.

Early in the episode, we are treated to another scene in Hannibal’s office. As it turns out, something I didn’t catch in the previous episode was that Dolarhyde wasn’t in Hannibal’s mind palace. He was  physically in Hannibal’s office, using some sort of computer software to change only the caller ID to the lawyer’s office.

The conversations they are now having are, in both their minds, taking place from a doctor-patient perspective, but Dolarhyde, at least, is really in the room. I love these scenes between Mads and Richard. Dr. Lecter is quite adept at “handling” Francis Dolarhyde, manipulating him as easily as he always manipulates anyone in his sphere of influence. It seems that Francis seeks advice, the ear of a respected idol, as he tries to work through his conflicting emotions, and the new frightening division he’s experiencing between “his” will, and The Dragon’s will. Hannibal obliges him, to an extent, but always with his own agendas, and he is able to maneuver “Francis” out of the way and draw forth The Dragon in this early scene. Suggesting to Francis that he need not sacrifice Reba, Hannibal steers him in the direction of Will Graham simply by proposing that he can “toss The Dragon to someone else”… and immediately, The Dragon responds. The transformation is immediate, and I find the experience of watching this transformation unbelievably fascinating.

Screencaps of “Francis”

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In the gallery above, I’ve put some edits of screencaps showing Francis, when he’s Francis. This one is often agitated, distraught. He is more earnest in expression. He frequently glances over his shoulder, watchful and paranoid that The Dragon might overhear him. His brow is often furrowed, almost perplexed. And his voice is higher, and far more timid. To my ears, his voice is rather sweet, and can sound intensely emotional, especially as he describes his life-changing experience with Reba, when he touched her, felt her heart beating, and the realization dawned that he was with a living, breathing woman.

Same Scene, Screencaps of The Dragon

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Contrast the images of “Francis” with the images in this gallery. The Dragon. The Dragon sits tall, with his chin up, and an occasional slight tilt to his head, which puts me in mind of a predator. There is a gleam in his eye, an intensity in his gaze, sometimes delivered with a slight smile that I find bone-chilling. This one has a sinister confidence in his demeanor as he converses with Hannibal that Francis never shows. This one’s voice drops to a lower, more guttural tone that never fails to ratchet my fear and foreboding. Hannibal has just dropped a hint that The Dragon might focus elsewhere, and immediately the monster comes to the surface, with a picture of Will Graham in his mind.

Stalker2This sets the stage for some remarkable suspense-building. Soon we see The Dragon in action, stalking Graham’s family. Amazing imagery, with some beautiful night shots of rushing water transitioning to the moon shots and then to the tree on which the predator carves his calling card as he lurks in the woods outside Will’s cabin, watching. Then the moon is shown again, waxing gibbous, eerily rotating … nearing full. And we know what is going to happen when the moon is full.

 
Francis Reba 11The romantic elements continue, but with an ominous new development. Last week, I was relieved that the sexy and emotionally riveting scene on the sofa was not polluted by Francis’ disturbing film footage. In Harris’ book, that scene actually had Francis taking advantage of Reba’s blindness by watching footage of potential victim-families, during Reba’s first visit to his home.

 

CreepThis week, the creators gave us that scene, and it was perhaps even more chilling than it was in the book, simply because in the book, this was the first time Francis had ever invited a woman over, and it was almost as if he didn’t know what else to do with himself, so he decided he’d roll the film. Yet, in this version, we know damn well what can happen when these two get a martini and settle on the couch, yet Francis chooses to watch his creepy footage rather than to focus his attention on Reba. The full moon is approaching, and The Dragon must be appeased. I suppose that one could make the argument that on the previous visit, there was time enough to explore the emerging romance, while now, with fewer days remaining before the moon reaches its zenith, Francis is feeling the pressure to, as Hannibal put it, give the Dragon something to focus on other than Reba. Whatever his reasoning, his impulse to watch his footage with his beautiful girlfriend relaxing trustingly against him, disturbed and sickened me.

 

DocumentsOnward, the plot moves, building tension with each scene. Although I’m planning to confine most of my remarks to the Armitage scenes, as a veterinarian myself I was a bit amused with the immediate jump made by the onscreen vet to the “canned dog food from China” as the source of the dogs’ illness, though she did redeem herself by asking for a sample to test. Yes, there have been confirmed incidents in recent years of melamine and other compounds added to some brands of food and treats manufactured in China or using ingredients imported from China… but there are so very many other possibilities, from the dogs consuming some rotten nasty thing they found in the woods to some form of malicious poisoning (which should have been brought up and might have saved everyone a great deal of terror had the possibility been entertained!) Anyway, I understand they didn’t have the time to devote to a thorough veterinary consult, but I had to just comment that my B.S. meter went up a tick during this scene. And while we’re on this topic, one other thing that bothered me was why they didn’t have Will sit down with a sketch artist, after his elevator encounter, and get a poster circulating!? Tsk, tsk.

These, however, were minor concerns, and easily forgotten as the episode moves through a scene between Hannibal and Will in which Will confronts Hannibal about intentionally throwing him into the direct path of the unsub, not realizing how much more that Hannibal has already done! He implores Hannibal to help him stop The Dragon from harming an unsuspecting family, and Hannibal replies, with his classic mixture of candidness and obfuscation: “They are not my family, Will. And I am not letting them die. You are.” And without further ado, the episode enters one of the most tautly thrilling sequences that Hubby and I agreed we have ever had the pleasure of watching.

Creep2“Holy hell! I think I just held my breath for too long!” was Hubby’s comment, and I realized that even after having already watched the episode twice the day before, I’d done so as well. Every aspect of Dolarhyde’s home invasion, from the opening sequence, as Dolarhyde inserts his biting dentures with a throaty hiss, then dons a black nylon-style mask in a nod to the Manhunter/Noonan version of the character, to the cut to the now full moon, ratchets up the terror. Despite having some assurance (from the source material) that Will’s family would evade the brutal murder intended by Dolarhyde, I know that occasionally Hannibal writers change things up. And while I knew from Richard’s own comments that there wouldn’t be an overt scene of violence done by his character in the series, I wasn’t completely sure that Will’s loved ones weren’t about to die. I could well imagine Dolarhyde entering the room, the camera cutting to a scene of the outside, and blood suddenly splattering the window in slow motion, or some such.

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I loved this scene- the mounting dread as he steps purposefully, slowly along the floorboards, and the wood creaks, alerting Molly to the intruder. Nice footwork, Mr. Armitage! Every carefully placed step screams his menace; every pause as he stops to listen sings their peril. After his stealthy approach, the killer discovers empty beds, and the action picks up, his movements now rapid yet every bit as chilling as he searches the house, checking under beds, then moving quickly along as he now begins to hunt for moving prey. The scene direction, as he steps outside, with Molly directly under his position, crouching under the deck, and Walter in a precarious position hiding behind the car that the predator is now assessing, was thrilling, and his immediate and ruthless response to the car alarm, firing rapidly shot after silenced shot while advancing upon the car, showed the character in a chilling new light. Ultimately, the mother and child make a narrow escape, and I loved the final images as the beast stands alone in the road. It’s a cold night, and his breath fogs the air around him like smoke, in yet another visual Dragon reference. Dolarhyde, chest heaving, lowers his gun and then howls his fury at the moon. No matter Francis’ struggles, when The Dragon is upon him, he’s all business. A formidable adversary, whether to his victims, his pursuers, or to Francis himself.

Handstand3This becomes all too clear the next time we see Francis Dolarhyde. The battle in the attic! This scene had to be one of the finest performances by Armitage of the entire series, if not his career. While watching, I was blown away by the physicality and brutish violence done to himself, as The Dragon comes across Francis, who is again to be found stirring my reproductive juices by doing a lovely handstand in the attic. We have a glimpse of The Dragon using his tail to knock Francis’ hands out from under him, then the Dragon circles, though we can’t really see him. But we know The Dragon is there, from Francis’ counter moves, alert and panting, as he springs to a crouch, turning around as he waits for The Dragon’s next strike. 

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I thought the scene was brilliant, from a performance standpoint as well as cinematography. I did my best to get some screencaps of this scene, but the action was so fast and intense that most of the screencaps were blurry. The Dragon pummels Francis, but of course he’s the same person, and sometimes we have brief glimpses of the Dragon, or the battle from Francis’ perspective, while other times we step outside of that perspective and see glimpses of what’s really happening… Dolarhyde is leaping around, rolling, dodging blows and simultaneously pummeling himself. The footage was certainly shocking to me… I wondered if this was the instance that caused the crew to gasp, or if that is yet to come. At the end of the scene, Francis lays on the floor, exhausted, broken and bloody.

 

New LookThe next time we see Dolarhyde, he appears with cuts and bruises on his face, wings behind him, and appears to be the victorious Dragon. He is waiting in Reba’s dark room, with an air of sullen menace about him. There is a way he is holding his lips that was an entirely new look for Armitage, and I immediately thought he looked like a young Michael Douglas for a few moments.

I was terrified for Reba when she came in, because Dolarhyde appears to be in Dragon mode, and remains silent and still when she greets him. When he does finally speak, it’s in the guttural, low register of The Dragon. He asks her, “Do you remember… the light? Is it worse to have seen it, and lost it?” I loved this line, because his threatening tone and sinister demeanor indicate it is the Dragon speaking… and it occurred to me that the question may have been posed as much to Francis as it was to Reba. This scared me, and Reba also immediately picks up on the strangeness of this address, and asks him what’s wrong. As she approaches him, seeking to comfort him and reassure herself, he suddenly seems to snap out of it, and a completely distraught Francis emerges, a tortured look coming across his face as he crumples over, starts to cover his face with his hands. He confesses that he doesn’t know what’s happening to him, that she threatens him, and she cradles his head against her for a moment, before he gasps and jumps backward as if she’s seared him. She moves forward again, this time reaching to caress his face.

BreakupI loved these moments between them. The chemistry is palpable. He is completely torn, frightened of her, frightened of himself. He’s just lost a battle with The Dragon, been completely humiliated, and The Dragon is always there, lurking in the periphery of his mind. The only way he knows how to protect her is to break it off, yet part of him is so drawn to her, still so fascinated and in love that he steps toward her inadvertently as if he wants to hold her again. When she lifts her chin and tells him to go, I felt as if another battle is wrought on his face, and the sinister aspect begins to return. It’s as if neither Francis nor The Dragon is really ready to let her go, each for their different reasons. Francis still craves and desires her, and The Dragon still hopes to eliminate the threat she poses.

LashesIn the next scene, a tormented Francis calls Lecter. After the incident at the museum and Dolarhyde’s attempt on Will’s family, the investigators finally cued into Hannibal’s involvement and have decided to try to use the relationship between Hannibal and the Red Dragon to get a trace on his location. Alana and Jack Crawford have arranged for a wire tap/phone trace and have advised Hannibal to keep The Red Dragon on the line for as long as he can. When Hannibal answers the phone, there is silence on the line, so Hannibal speaks a few lines about his Becoming, and about how The Dragon is his “higher self”. Instead of drawing out the Dragon, though, it’s Francis who finally answers. “If… I am not as strong as The Dragon… she will die. I have to think. I need to think. I… told her… that I can’t be with her.”

NeckHannibal smoothly adjusts, and now addresses Francis. “You are almost blind to your own true feelings. You are no more able to express them than a scar can blush.” Francis relates his fear that Reba might come to the house, and what will happen if The Dragon, who he seems to believe resides in the attic, “comes down” while she is there. Then, in a moment that gave me chills, a tendon pops out on Dolarhyde’s neck, and the low, awful voice of The Dragon answers Francis’ question. “You KNOW! How easily she would TEAR!” Francis glances fearfully over his shoulder, and Alana’s eyes widen a fraction at this vocal transformation. It’s another incredible moment for Armitage. Moments later, Hannibal ends the call abruptly with “They’re listening!” Dolarhyde’s eyes flare, and he leaps into action, narrowly escaping before the FBI team reaches Hannibal’s abandoned office.

HorrorThat about sums it up. The Beast was never completely out of the picture in the previous episode, but he was subdued enough to draw me in and make me care for Francis. This has not changed, but Episode 11 brings The Beast again to front and center. This battle being waged internally in Dolarhyde is at the center of the story, and as it was what I found most gripping and fascinating when I read the book, I couldn’t be more impressed with how it is unfolding onscreen. I love the writing, cinematography, and most especially Richard Armitage’s performance. Another brilliant episode.

My biggest complaint is that there are only two chapters left.

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.

 

 

phonograph.png

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.

 

 

sip.png

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.

 

 

 

 

 

run francis run.png

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!

 

 

#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.

 

 

Starting to Dig #FrancisDolarhyde… Scar Included

Francis2aYeah, so… having just watched Ep. 3.10, I think my physical attraction to this character is #Becoming. Yes, he still gives off creepy vibes at times, and without giving away too many spoilers, this did happen early on in the episode as they explored the dynamic developing between Francis and Hannibal. Let me just say… this episode was my favorite to date. Francis figured heavily so I felt as if a satisfactory “RA Quota” was fulfilled, and even the scenes without Francis were primarily with Bedelia, who I find very compelling as a character, not to mention I’m a long-time fan of Gillian Anderson. I’ll probably review this episode more later after it’s aired in the U.S., but for now, I’ll leave it at this: Fabulous!

Francis3aWhat I wanted to talk about was this somewhat strange phenomenon… that suddenly I’m starting to dig the scar. From the moment I first saw it, I thought it didn’t detract from the uniquely sharp handsomeness that is Richard Armitage’s face, but that was where I left it. For some reason during Ep. 3.10 I started actually finding the scar attractive in itself, and naturally I find that a bit curious.

 

Then I remembered something interesting, and perhaps only thought of it because of a song I happened to hear this morning. I was driving to work and happened to finish my audiobook, and I’d forgotten to download a new audiobook before leaving the house. Rather than try to mess with that while driving, I decided to turn on the radio, which is something I never do if there’s an audiobook to listen to instead. “The One I Love” by R.E.M. came on, and I felt this soft sense of nostalgia come over me, which momentarily puzzled me before I remembered that a boy once dedicated that song to me and played it on the radio the last night I saw him. His name was Chad, and he was the night shift DJ at a local radio station in the small Oklahoma town where my parents lived.

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for bad boys. Chad was not exactly someone my parents would have approved of me seeing. He was a high school drop out, for one thing, so I didn’t even know him from school. He happened to be best friends with another guy I did know from school, and both of these boys were in a completely different socioeconomic class than I was. Bobby lived in a tiny, run-down camper with parents who were drug and alcohol addicted, and due to having nowhere to sleep except in a chair or on the floor, he often stayed over at his friend Chad’s house, which was not a lot bigger than the camper, and you’d have to step over piles of clothes and junk debris and past an unconscious parent to navigate your way to Chad’s room, which he kept neat as a pin, a huge contrast to the squalor of the rest of the home. I knew Bobby from art class, and we’d occasionally hang out together, sharing the same taste in alternative music, and so the summer before I went off to my freshman year of college, I met Chad through my friendship with Bobby. I only went to his house a couple of times, usually to look at Chad’s artwork. He was (and still is) an amazing graphic artist, and now makes a living at it, illustrating comic books. Anyway, the summer after graduation, with about a week to go before I left town for college, Chad and I sort of hooked up and had a few intense days of feeling in love with that strange piquancy that comes when a separation is imminent and you know it’s not likely to work out for a thousand other reasons, but still feel that attraction humming and buzzing.

REMThe thing is, Chad also had a scar on his upper lip, a scar characteristic of a cleft palate repair. I don’t know for certain whether that was the case, because there was no speech issue whatsoever, and I never asked him about it. Having moved to the Oklahoma area during my high school years, I didn’t know the history in a way that normally I would have in such a small town, and I never felt it was polite to ask Chad or Bobby about the scar. Maybe if we’d had more than one week together, that would have been shared, but we didn’t. The night before I left for college, I did drive into town to say goodbye. He was at work at his DJ job, and we spent a couple of hours hanging out, then I left with a heavy heart, knowing I’d miss this boy, though no promises of staying in touch were made. On my drive home, I listened to his radio station, and I’ll never forget his husky voice saying, “Jen, this one’s for you.” And as the first lines of the song, “This one goes out to the one I love” came over the airwaves, my eyes welled up with tears.

Sigh. Of course, I did go off to college, and while I was there I met a new boy, and was in a steady relationship for 4 years, so even when I did come home, I didn’t seek Chad out again. Years later, now and then l do think back on those few days with the boy from “the other side of the tracks”, and it makes me happy to know he has a very pretty fiancé and a successful job as an artist now. He was a pretty damn good kisser, and I never found his scar to be unattractive. It was just a part of him, something a little dark and melancholic and broody.

Francis1aMaybe that’s why I now find myself wishing I could trace that scar on Francis Dolarhyde’s face. And staring at it with a new focus and level of attraction that confuses me.

I don’t know if it’s because it reminds me of a boy I used to know, or if I just happen to have some weird quirk.

Does anyone else find that scar appealing? Or am I just a little odd? =)

Dolarhyde Does Smile… But I Wouldn’t Trust Him

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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. =)