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.

 

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#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.

Thoughts on Hannibal, Two Seasons In #CatchingUpOnHannibal

 

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Gorgeous artwork by Loakenshield (Girl of Gisborne) celebrating Richard Armitage casting for serial killer Francis Dolarhyde (“The Red Dragon”) in NBC’s Hannibal, Season 3.

I thought it was time to update my progress in the NBC’s Hannibal realm. For obvious reasons, namely the casting of Richard Armitage as the serial killer Francis Dolarhyde for the last 6 episodes of the upcoming third season, I’ve been immersing myself in the dark and terrifying world in which Armitage is probably even now creating a memorable space for himself.

I averaged about 2 episodes per night, and for the most part, Hubby stuck around.  He would sit on the couch and browse his phone a bit, and I did notice that he intentionally kept his eyes on that phone for all the most gruesomely horrific parts, but he nonetheless managed to follow along pretty well with occasional sardonic comments such as “Remind me why you’re subjecting me to this horrorgasm?”  And “What are we doing watching this sick, sick show?  Oh, right, so we’ll be ready when Richard shows his Blessed Face…” However, I did notice that when I turned the TV off after the penultimate episode of season 2, Hubby was rather disgruntled.  “Well, we’ve come this far!  You’re stopping short of the finale?”  And I noticed he was pretty quick to hustle the kids off to bed the following evening so we could get the finale over with! I think he did get drawn in, almost despite his better judgment.

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Here is another artwork by Loakenshield (Girl of Gisborne) depicting Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde, aka The Tooth Fairy.

I, on the other hand, got to the point where I was quite invested in the story line and the characters. The psychological games are what I find interesting. While I have always been ok with graphic violence, and I generally enjoy well-done police procedurals, Hannibal on NBC is really a different kettle of fish from the other shows I watch, and it took time to grow on me. I don’t know if I would have ever gotten around to watching the show, or stuck with it long enough to become invested, if it weren’t for Richard Armitage’s upcoming involvement, but regardless of what might have been, at this point, even if RA announced tomorrow that he was pulling out of the series, I’d be looking forward to this summer, when they are scheduled to air season 3. Richard’s involvement will therefore be just icing on the cake, in my mind.

Quick break here to give a shout out to a very talented artist in our ranks, Loakenshield. Highly recommend you check out her Pinterest page featuring Armitage related manips, cartoons, sketches, digital artwork and featuring many chaRActers!

* * * Spoilers, Disturbing Topics and Graphic Images, below this point! * * *

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Hannibal seated at the harpsichord, composing. I love the interior design of his home, the music, the atmosphere…

The show is really quite beautifully done.  I love the interior set designs, cinematography, scenery, the classical music, just the overall feel of this production.

To be fair, I have to admit that there are more than a few eye-rolling moments for me, though they don’t make me want to turn it off and not come back. Hannibal can be completely unrealistic… ridiculous for instance how long it took them to catch on to the fact that Abigail was, indeed, bait for her father. Though they speculated about that early on, it took forever for the FBI to come up with what turned out to be pretty easily proven evidence that she accompanied him on his killing missions, under the guise of visiting potential college campuses on the dates the victims from those college campuses disappeared. Many of the killing methods defy scientific logic or explanation, no matter how cool they look. And the show doesn’t really work at all as an FBI procedural, because there are too many intuitive leaps.

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I guess it takes me back to old childhood phobias, but the episode where the killer was under the bed did make my toes curl.

But back to the reasons that I found myself identifying with the Fannibals. The series does have wonderful suspense, and it can literally cause me to curl my toes and want to hide my eyes during certain episodes. That rarely happens for me (I don’t usually go for the horror genre, in general, but when these toes of mine do curl, I score one for the production team!) I was completely unsettled during the episode that featured the age-old monster lurking under the bed, and I had to avert my eyes when the creepy acupuncturist-lady began removing eyeballs on her paralyzed but wide-awake patient. No, those episodes weren’t among my favorites, but they left an impression. For me, it’s more about the psychological terrors, the mind games, and ok, let’s face it, the wardrobe.

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This is a classic look for Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Photo from an Esquire magazine article discussing the wardrobe.

Although I’ve seen a few comments to the effect that they thought Hannibal dressed too outrageously to “stay under the radar”, I completely disagree. In my view, the wardrobe team couldn’t have done a more spectacular job, particularly with Hannibal. Costume designer Christopher Hargadon’s work was phenomenal. A little research online revealed that a tailor local to Toronto, Garrison Bespoke, was recruited to create Hannibal’s suits. Not only was Hannibal’s wardrobe visually stunning to look at, featuring most often a two or three-piece suit, spread collars, and wide, carefully knotted, intricately patterned silk paisley ties, but it was clear that the producers were almost using the wardrobe to explore deeper thematic elements of the show and the character’s psyches. Contrast Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s meticulously elegant look, with Will Graham’s hodgepodge of t-shirts, flannels and non-put-together looks, and it’s a nice metaphor for their psychological mindsets.

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A collage of Hannibal Lecter’s suit and tie combinations. Found at thecatsred.tumblr.com

I’d almost like to watch the series again just so I could screen grab Hannibal’s every sophisticated outfit, and make a collage of all those beautiful male fashion looks.  I can’t think that I have ever been as aware of any particular man’s wardrobe as I was for this character in this series. Then I went looking for some examples, and low and behold, one of the Fannibals already did that for me! I can’t help but hope that the costume team will dress Francis Dolarhyde with their characteristic flair.

Mads Mikkelsen’s performance has really made me a fan of this actor, and made me want to go find other movies and shows he’s done. Hannibal had a bizarre effect on me. I love the contrast between his thoughtful, polite, sophisticated, reserved persona- a man of incredibly refined manners and tastes- with the savage that lies beneath. I loved his low-key sardonic humor. “Eat your nose, then.”  I loved how my stomach would curl, as he would be seen calmly slicing and dicing God-knows-what in his kitchen, even though everything is the very picture of class and sophistication.  When we have the rare glimpses of his sadistic side in action, he shows such a startlingly swift and aggressive athleticism. Can you believe that one-handed kitchen counter vault in the season 2 finale?

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After he sends a killer after Hannibal from within his prison cell, Will has a vision in which his back sprouts raven-antlers of his own. Love this sort of dark imagery. Gif from hearme-roar.skyrock.com

 

Hugh Dancy gives another very compelling performance as Will Graham. Graham is the very damaged protagonist, and he battles inner demons and a fragile mental state, with Dr. Lecter’s influence becoming ever more sinister in his life.  The closer he becomes to Hannibal, the darker his own actions become. Almost from the beginning of his relationship with Hannibal, Will begins having visions of a raven stag, an ominous but beautiful creature that represents Hannibal Lecter in his life, although it doesn’t become clear to Will that the stag is connected to Hannibal for quite some time. Late in season 2, Will vows that the only way to catch Hannibal is to draw even closer to him and make him believe that Will is embracing the psychopathic lifestyle, but they do it in such a way that not even the viewer is really certain whether Will has gone over the edge.

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Sex Scene, Season 2, Episode 10. How weird was that?

There was a sex scene later in the second season that sort of simultaneously showed Hannibal with Alana and will with Verger’s sister, though at least in Will’s mind, he was the one with Alana, even though he seemed to know on some level that she was making love to Hannibal. This scene was filmed so artistically and creatively, I found it almost hypnotic. Quite simply one of the most unique and interesting sex scenes, though not really arousing to me, that I have ever seen. I noticed that Hubby had nodded off during that episode, and when I woke him up after the show was over, I notified him that he’d happened to miss the Weirdest Sex Scene Ever.

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Loved when Hannibal looked down upon the killer muralist from the top of the grain silo and offered his compliments. “I love your work.”

Some of the death scenes could be artistically almost pleasing to look at. For instance, the mural of bodies that Hannibal found in the grain silo was pretty cool to look at. If the artist were a photographer and just posing nude models of every skin tone, it would have actually appealed to me. Of course, this is Hannibal, so naturally the artist was a killer, and his gruesome medium was dead bodies.

There are moments when I find myself almost in disbelief that this show is from network TV. It really has more the feel of something I’m used to seeing on HBO or other cable television, and I can see why it’s viewed as something of a feather in NBC’s cap. I did find it interesting that I was unable to watch more than 2 episodes in any one sitting. Usually when I really like a show, and it’s available as an entire season, I will tend to binge-watch. Not so with Hannibal. Perhaps my psyche can only take so much gore and disturbing mental concepts at one time. Nonetheless, I’m really looking forward to this summer with great anticipation. One episode per week will suit me just fine, and I have every confidence that Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde will scare my pants off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Hannibal- Two Episodes In

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This meme appeared on hannibalismforfannibals on Tumblr. Seems to be a positive reaction…

Yesterday was really kind of thrilling. I happened to be “Richarding” online when a barrage of news about his casting as Francis Dolarhyde in the NBC series Hannibal appeared suddenly on Twitter, forums and feed. It was really quite exhilarating to be a part of it! I’ve been just a little down, not really knowing when Sleepwalker, Urban and the Shed Crew, Pilgrimage, or even the digital download of The Crucible would be available, so this news of a recurring role in an ongoing television series right here in the US, expected to air in just a few months later this spring, was very welcome news, indeed. I’ll be curious to find out what the “Fannibals” (the apparently fervent Hannibal fandom) think of the casting announcement.

I almost immediately downloaded the Audible version of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon while simultaneously checking availability on either of my two streaming services for the television series. Turns out season 1 of Hannibal is available on Amazon Prime, which means I get it for free, and season 2 is available to rent or buy the episodes. I haven’t started the audiobook, but last night, after the kids were in bed, Hubby and I streamed the first two episodes of Hannibal, and after watching the first 10 minutes, Hubby got up, left the room, and returned with a Scotch for fortification.

Yeah. It was disturbing. I don’t think he was all that impressed, but he didn’t say he was going to stop watching. He merely said, “I like spending time with you.” Hubby is not against the genre of serial killer/murder/detective mysteries per se, but he opted out of True Detective, The Fall, and Fargo (three shows I love) because he doesn’t like the disturbing dreams he has when he gets invested in these type of shows. We generally do have similar taste in television, enjoying Vikings, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Strike Back, and Sherlock together, but he tends to tolerate violence better when it is presented in more of a combat or battle situation, rather than a psychological thriller.

I have long been fascinated with the psychological phenomenon of serial killers, and more drawn to fiction and film that depicts them realistically (ie, minus the gore-fest style horror genre of Freddy Krueger, etc., which is not at all my thing) so I was pretty sure, after reading the critical acclaim and scanning viewer comments, that Hannibal was going to be a show I might just grow to love, irrespective of Richard Armitage’s involvement. After viewing the first 2 episodes, the jury is still out on whether my initial impression was correct. I was most definitely uncomfortable with the imagery of the first two episodes, and from what I’ve read about the series, that was nothing in comparison to what will come later, in the second season. I did think that 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.

Mild spoilers beyond this point.

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Dr. Hannibal Lecter sits down to dine alone.

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Will Graham, the troubled protagonist of the Hannibal series on NBC.

The cinematography and the tone are darkly sophisticated and compelling, and I was very impressed with my introduction to the characters of sinister psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), and autistic-spectrum, emotionally fragile empath Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), both of whom consult for the FBI as criminal profilers on serial murder cases early in the series. I am curious to see where their relationship leads, as it appears that Dr. Lecter is moving in the direction of becoming Will’s therapist, and will endeavor to get inside his head. The food styling is both beautiful and disturbing. Every time Dr. Lecter sat down to a beautifully plated gourmet meal prepared in his home, with the classical music in the background, I literally squirmed and shuddered. So far, the style of the murders has been- shall we say- creative in the extreme, almost to the point where it defies scientific rationalization, which in some ways makes the subject matter more palatable (excuse the pun) because it does give an impression of sadistic artwork. Not that sadistic artwork has ever been a personal interest of mine, but the imagery is truly so horrific that in some ways, it doesn’t feel real. Rather, it feels surreal, and I’m not sure why this carefully crafted version of horror works for me.

I have a knowing, inside, that this type of film might  alter me, and my perception of Richard Armitage, in ways I’m really not comfortable with. I honestly don’t know how someone who approaches his craft like Richard does is going to cope with what he has to do, become, embrace.

I’m going to keep watching, but I predict that there will be many an Armitage admirer who can’t watch, or won’t.