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.

Dolarhyde Does Smile… But I Wouldn’t Trust Him

fddarkroom2a fddarkroom2b

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

[SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 3.9 BELOW!]

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

On All The Ways I Loved The Red Dragon Trailer…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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*Shudders*

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

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

First Glimpse of Francis Dolarhyde!!

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Francis. What hands you have.

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Very dark, but my how those shoulders do bulge…..

 

There was apparently this article but I could never get it to play. Fortunately, the video was apparently uploaded by someone helpful to Youtube! And looks like it’s been giffed already…

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I find this incredibly provocative….

 

 

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Oh, my. I feared there would be an uncomfortable attraction to the serial killer. I feared correctly.

From various sources on RAC and jollytr on Tumblr (sorry I’m not sure if she was original poster… too clueless with Tumblr still!)

YouTube link

Is Falling for Francis Dolarhyde Out of the Question?

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I’ve finished Red Dragon, and it’s provided much insight into the potential greatness of the character of Francis Dolarhyde in Richard Armitage’s very capable hands. The series Hannibal on NBC creates a very different atmosphere than anything I’ve yet seen Richard do, and this is likely to be his darkest role yet. However, aside from his psychopathic tendencies, in many ways, the character of Francis Dolarhyde is not completely different from characters that Armitage has portrayed in the past.

He’s tortured and conflicted.

He’s sick in the mind and soul.

He’s crafty and devious.

He’s capable of great atrocities.

He seeks transformative glory.

He’s capable of finer feelings.

He’s capable of grand and even tenderly romantic gestures.

He’s at war within himself.

He seeks redemption, but ultimately fails.

Sounds a bit familiar, right? Based on comments about the character that I have read, I was not alone in my unsettling feelings for Francis Dolarhyde. I never grew to trust him, and many of his actions and thought patterns horrified me. At the same time, I felt that I could at least begin to understand him, and I felt the ability to empathize with him on his journey. Although I knew that the depth of his mental illness, and the atrocious nature of his sins would ultimately make him irredeemable, there were still times when I had the hopeless desire to see him find reprieve from his demons and escape the madness that consumed him. This character has been one of the most memorable and richly drawn villains of the crime genre for me, and he’s all the more frightening because of the unpredictability of his emotional responses and his conflicting desires.

If I know one thing about Richard Armitage, it’s that he knows how to portray inner conflict and how to elicit sympathy from his audience no matter where the script takes him. This particular character will give him the opportunity to explore much more than just a methodical serial killer. He will be able to explore the themes of self-loathing and simultaneously emerging delusions of grandeur and narcissism, which is one very interesting aspect of the character’s pathology: the attempt to leave behind the fearful, pathetic and powerless “Cunt-Face” by virtue of Becoming the all-powerful, fearsome “Red Dragon”. He will be able to explore what happens to that dynamic when a woman enters the picture, and he experiences for the first time the attentions of a woman who is frankly appreciative, and kind. He will be able to tackle the portrayal of a schizophrenic un-coupling of the character’s diverging personalities into Francis Dolarhyde, who finds himself bewildered, in love, and desirous of protecting what he knows is precious in Reba, and The Red Dragon, who believes she represents only weakness, and demands to devour her.

I really can’t wait to watch it all unfold.

Limerick: Welcome to #Hannibal

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The past several days, it has come to my attention
That Armitage will be entering an entirely new dimension.
It seems his new role
Will be with the goal
To sicken and defy comprehension.

In fact, this news has caused admirers to reel…
With many unsure of just how to feel.
How so? One might ask
That would be quite a task…
But I assure you, your blood might congeal!

The casting announcement that caused such divide
Was for “The Tooth Fairy”… Francis Dolarhyde.
Welcome to Hannibal
That’s right! A cannibal!
The Great Red Dragon, and Evil Personified.

As this rhyme continues, spoilers and assumptions will follow…
Do stop reading now, if sharp teeth leave you hollow.
For Francis, I’ve learned
Is malevolent and turned
To a degree that some of us will not wish to swallow!

For one thing, he’s a killer, but it doesn’t stop there…
No, Francis, it seems, would raise anyone’s hair.
He murders whole families, together
When he’s off the tether
Not even children will this demented man spare…

I’ll believe this, because the show is so gory…
I’ve watched several episodes and it’s quite the story.
Horror presented with dark finesse:
Not my usual fare, I’ll confess.
But I’ll watch Dolarhyde, in all of his glory.

Tattoos have been mentioned, and for me that’s one draw.
I’ve no doubt that his body will leave me in awe…
As to his face
I may need my space
With sharpened teeth does this killer gnaw.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always cringed
When I see modified teeth, I just feel unhinged!
So Francis’ bite
Is sure to be a sight
That will result in my eyes being singed.

I’ve also read, on his Wikipedia page
Of a cleft palate repaired, when he came of age…
So the makeup effects
Are interesting to project
Whether he’ll be handsome is so hard to gauge…

This brings an interesting question to mind:
Attractive or not, will my subconscious find
A soft spot for this ghoul
Despite all that is cruel?
Will he elicit empathy? We’ll see as it unwinds.

This morning on Twitter, I experienced a thrill…
heart-stopping moment that gave me a chill.
Imagining that voice
Gave me no choice
But to wonder if the lines will be delivered to one he will kill…

“You see me now, Yes.” And the terror will rise…
Looking into Francis Dolarhyde’s eyes.
“Do you feel me now? Yes.”
A killer’s caress…
It makes me dizzy even as it… Horrifies.