Last week in Hannibal we returned to Thomas Harris territory; the Tooth Fairy, The Great Red Dragon, Francis Dolarhyde, et al. Despite this move back to its literary roots, part two of And the Woman Clothed with the Sun should be treated as a separate entity.
While the series follows the book, Dolarhyde’s romance with Reba McClane, Hannibal’s set up of Will Graham, the eating of the Blake watercolor, and so on, the second half of this two-part episode looks at lot of things, that may have already been examined in the book, but for the purposes of this review will be treated as a stand alone version of Lector’s, and Will’s adventures.
After all, things have been changed from the literary tale of Graham, Dolarhyde and Lector. Lounds is a redheaded woman instead of the male newshound for the National Tattler in Harris’ book, Alana Bloom is a man and there is no Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier in the books. Regardless of the changes of some characters and the inclusion of others the series looks at the psychiatry of the serial killer as monster; peeling away layers to reveal the horror beneath.
Looking at the end of the second half of And the Woman Clothed with the Sun first, the reveal that Francis’ scar, on his upper lip, is barely discernible comes as no real surprise. Hannibal “named that tune in one,” early on when he pointed out to Will that he was disfigured mainly in his mind. Leaving behind the elaborate backstory in Harris’ book, it was apparent that the scar itself was minimal and that the cleft palate surgery left internal scarring. In the television show the only clue we have to Dolarhyde’s history is his nervous recitation of the enunciation exercises before his call to Lector, “Reh, Meh, Keh.”
This little scene tells us more than enough about the Tooth Fairy and his journey to become The Great Red Dragon.
This second half also gives us the female orgasm and death connection again. Part One had a young Abigail reacting sexually to her “murder” by Hannibal (as father) and this week we see Bedelia reacting so savagely to her murder of Zachary Quinto’s character that she passes out, such is the strength of her orgasm, after she penetrates Neal Frank with her arm and fist. Neither of these two scenes are too surprising as the show is, after all, about sex and death and how the two are interwoven and both sides of the same coin. (Although it could be argued that sex and death are two sides of a triangle with the apex being the sensuality of preparing and eating human flesh.)
There are other things that the episode shows perfectly. Dr. Du Maurier’s total denial of any complicity in Hannibal’s crimes while she was an intimate part of his life. Will’s reaction goes from humorous condemnation, “spending time in Hannibal’s bowels, the bride of Frankenstein, and crawling so far up his a** that you didn’t care.” All reactions to her public recitation at the beginning of the episode. Later he changes to amused acceptance “you lie Bedelia. You lie a lot. Why do you lie a lot?”
Perhaps most telling of all, is the framing of the tiger scene. (One does wonder if Francis makes his decision to take Reba to “see” the tiger based upon Hannibal’s William Blake The Tyger quote during their conversation.) That psychopaths are capable of such romantic gestures, and really, taking your blind girlfriend down to “look” at an unconscious tiger is the height of romanticism, is frightening. How can someone who murders entire families do something so touching, so kind or, as Reba herself says, so eloquent?
How can the monster, or the insanity, be hidden so well? While this question is not answered by director Guillermo Navarro, he does show us the beauty of the scene. The dark beauty of Reba’s hand moving softly through the orange and black fur of the sleeping tiger. The lighting is so bright it is almost surreal as seen through Francis’ eyes and therefore through ours. The beauty is overwhelming and this, combined with the couple’s lovemaking later on, is what prompts Dolarhyde to eat the watercolor and try to defeat the dragon.
For those who have read the books there will be little in the way of surprise as the show moves toward completion. What remains is the question of what will make it to the small screen version. Will Lounds lose her lips? Quite possibly after all, Mason Verger ate an incredible amount of his face. It is already apparent that Lector is setting up Will Graham, just as he does in the book. (Why else is he getting Will’s address?)
All that remains is to see just how much Bedelia, who really does feel as deadly as any serial killer in this verse, is involved. Again, regardless of the book, it will be fascinating to see where this all leads. The writing, and show creator Bryan Fuller have opened up a lot of possibilities as well as new characters. The Du Maurier victim, Neal Frank, is a good example of another character created just for the series.
Frank, played with brilliant paranoia by Zachary Quinto, gets himself so worked up that he begins to fit. Bedelia helps Neal to swallow his tongue, by apparently shoving the appendage right down into his stomach, and as horrible as this scene is, the entire incident, from insertion to removal and her orgasm, is preceded by Quinto’s character spouting a very funny line. Amusing for its very odd wording.
“No. No,” he says to Bedelia’s request to sit down. “This is culty and weird…” and arguably the funniest line in the episode is spoken by the guy who begins to choke and is then murdered by the reptilian Du Maurier. Neither character exists in the book and certainly this scene has come from the minds of the show’s makers. Such brilliance goes to show that anything can happen in this final season while they continue to follow the Harris verse.
This last season pulls out all the stops. While retaining the massive talent of Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Gillian Anderson and, occasionally Laurence Fishburne, they have added Richard Armitage and True Blood alumni Rutina Wesley. This cast must be one of the most impressive on television at the very least, in terms of cast awards and nominations not to mention performances on the show. Hannibal looks to finish impressively and continues to air Saturdays on NBC.