Hannibal: Wrath of the Lamb Season Finale (recap and review)

Hannibal Season 3

It is fitting that the season finale of Hannibal is a blood drenched and painful looking spectacle. The shocking end of the Lector/Graham love affair has the two working together to kill The Great Red Dragon. The scene, at the end is almost balletic and is horrifically beautiful. Hannibal and Will make a good team. Too good, apparently, hence Graham’s fatal decision at the end. The finale starts where last week’s episode ended.

Last week in Hannibal we saw Dolarhyde had taken Reba and brought her to his home. This week, in The Wrath of the Lamb, she is in the house. Francis “tests” his former lover by giving her the key to the front door. He tells her to lock the door and when she opts to open it and run, Francis is on the outside. He takes Reba back upstairs and forces her to put the key around his neck and feel his shotgun.

After splashing petrol (gasoline) everywhere, he sets it alight and saying that he cannot bear to watch Reba burn to death “shoots” himself. In essence the shotgun blast blows a huge hole in his head, one that Reba can feel as she takes the key from Francis’ neck. She wraps a blanket around herself and crawls out of the house as the fire spreads.

The beauty of this scene is both overwhelming and surreal. The disjointed and distorted piano notes caressing the set piece along with the fire caressing the ceiling and walls, is fluid and sweeping. As with all of the scenes in Hannibal the crowning glory is  the jarring gore; that piece of Francis’ flesh stuck to Reba’s forehead. The tissue that landed there when she put the key around her neck.

*Sidenote* Rutina Wesley, kills it in the first of this season finale. Her performance as the blind Reba has been memorable from day one and her own “finale” was just perfect.

After the opening credits, Reba speaks with Will Graham as she recovers from her harrowing ordeal. McClane may be scarred “He shot himself in the face, I put my hand in it,” she says, not once but twice, this is clearly something Reba will never forget.  Graham tells her that in the end, Dolarhyde could not kill her, nor could he stand to see her die.

Later, we learn that this is not true. Francis never intended for Reba to die, she was meant to escape and verify his death, leaving him free to exact his revenge on Will Graham and Hannibal Lector.

She points out, to Will,  that she drew a freak.  He corrects her and says she drew a man with a freak on his back.

Will: “There is nothing wrong with you.”

Reba: “I know there’s nothing wrong with me. In making friends, I try to be wary of people who foster dependency and feed on it. I’ve been with a few. The blind attract them.”

Will: (He knows. He has attracted his own.) “Not just the blind.”

Graham goes to see Hannibal and tells him “Ding, dong the dragon’s dead.” Lector asks if congratulations are in order and Will tells him that he did not kill Dolarhyde. “I was rooting for you Will,” says Hannibal. He then taunts Graham over Chilton’s punishment and congratulates him for the job he did on the doctor.

Will tells Hannibal that he will go home now that Dolarhyde is gone and Lector tells him it will never be the same. Graham reveals to Hannibal that he knows why he turned himself in.  “Will,” Hannibal asks, “was it good to see me.” “No,” Will replies.

After their exchange Will returns to his motel. At his  room, Francis Dolarhyde incapacitates Graham, attacking him from behind. The Great Red Dragon is not dead after all. After knocking Will out, Dolarhyde wakes him up and Will says, “You didn’t break my back.” The two talk and Francis reveals that he believes that Lector betrayed him. Graham tells The Dragon  that he needs to change Hannibal Lector.

Later, the Coroner double-act reveal to Jack Crawford that the headless and burnt body was not that of Dolarhyde but the man he kidnapped earlier, Arnold Lang. Afterward, Will sells Jack on letting Lector be the bait for Dolarhyde. “Allow” Hannibal to escape drawing the Dragon to him so he can be destroyed.

Hannibal - Season 3
Jack Crawford, Dr. Bloom and Will talk strategy and Hannibal’s fate.

Will tells Bedelia of the plan and she is furious and terrified. Du Maurier believes that Hannibal will be after her to kill and eat her.  “Who holds the Devil, let him hold him well,” says Bedelia. She warns Will, “He will hardly be caught a second time.” “I don’t intend  Hannibal to be caught a second time,” Will responds.

“Can’t live with him, can’t live without him,”  Bedelia taunts Will, “Is that what this is?”

“I guess,” Will replies.

After a little more conversation, Will gets up and tells Bedelia, “I’d pack my bags if I were you. Meat’s back on the menu.” Du Maurier gets her claws out, “You righteous, reckless, twitchy little man. He might as well cut all our throats and be done with it.” Will gets the last word, “Ready or not,” Will says, “Here he comes.”

Alana visits the burnt and scarred Frederick. Chilton reveals that he blames Bloom as well for his disfigurement. He tells Alana that he would like to have Hannibal’s skin. “You were never comfortable in your own skin,” she tells Frederick, “you would not be comfortable in Hannibal’s.”

“Are you,” asks Chilton.

Dr. Bloom tells Hannibal of the deal, he gets all privileges restored for playing along. Lector requests that Will ask him personally, and he wants Graham to say “Please.” Hannibal also threaten’s Bloom. (Later, after the “escape” Alana, Margo and their baby flee their mansion in case Hannibal comes calling.)

The plan is to release Lector into police custody and “let him escape” allowing Francis an opportunity to contact Hannibal.  The real plan is to kill Dolarhyde and Lector, according to Crawford. Will goes to see Lector and after a short “reprimand” from Hannibal “Now you have to pick the mic back up,” Graham does indeed say “Please.”

After delivering Hannibal to the federal authorities, he and Will are transported via a small motorcade. A police car comes up and, lights flashing, pulls up to the lead car. Dolarhyde is driving and he shoots the cop driving the lead vehicle causing it to crash. The domino effect of the first car crash takes out the entire convoy of vehicles. The van crashes and Will smacks his head into a window, he is semi-conscious when Dolarhyde arrives.

Dolarhyde releases Hannibal from his cage in the back of the van and drives away.

Hannibal - Season 3
The Dragon goes to the police van and releases Hannibal.

Hannibal climbs out of the van and takes off his straightjacket. Going to the closest police car, he drags the dead cop out of the driver’s seat while Will gets out of the van. Driving the car around, Lector pushes the other dead policeman out of the passenger seat, “Going my way,” he asks Will. Afterward, Jack Crawford surveys the carnage and we see Alana leave Mansion Verger with her little family.

Will and Hannibal are at the cliff-top house and Lector points out that the bluff is still eroding. He tells Will, “You and I are suspended over the roiling Atlantic. Soon all of this will be lost to the sea.”

Back in the house, Hannibal has wine and two glasses, he pours Will a glass and tells him  “My passion for you is inconvenient.” Will responds, “If you’re partial to beef products, it is inconvenient to be compassionate toward a cow.” After a little more conversation Graham tells Hannibal, “He is watching us now.”

Hannibal - Season 3
Dolarhyde moves in for the kill.

“I know,” Hannibal replies just before  a silenced bullet passes through his torso and smashes the wine bottle. Thus begins the long, protracted battle between the two men and the Great Red Dragon. It is brutal, dark, bloody and akin to a slow motion ballet. Blood spurts in fountains of black as the battle goes outside the house and into the moonlight and the two men, who are two sides of the same coin, orchestrate Dolarhyde’s death.

Disturbingly, yet not surprisingly, the men work as an effective team. Both suffer dearly from the wounds dealt by Francis as the Dragon. (One shot has Will seeing the Dragon approach Hannibal, wings extended, as it reaches for his intended victim.)

At the end of the battle, the Great Red Dragon is bloodily and violently banished. Will looks at his claret covered hands:

Will: “It really does look black in the moonlight.”

Hannibal: “See. This is all I ever wanted for you, Will. For both of us.”

Will: (laughing softly) “It’s beautiful.”

The two survivors embrace on the edge of the Atlantic clifftop and Will leans out over the edge, toppling the two out into space and down to the ocean below. After the end credits, we see Bedelia Du Maurier sitting at a large table groaning with food. In the middle is a rolled “long pig” (slang for human meat) and she is clearly waiting for Hannibal to arrive.

This episode, while a bit final (surely no one can survive that long drop to the rocks and ocean below) was a satisfactory ending to the series. NBC may have opted to end the story of Hannibal Lector and Will Graham but they have, at least, left us with a  brilliant legacy of dark beauty and horrible visions.

Surreal and sublime, the show offered feast as orgasmic delight, all the more so if the meal was of “long pig” dressed with sauces and side dishes to “die for.”

Kudos to both Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen for their double act  and the fitting finale. Director Michael Rymer never let us forget that these two actors made their character’s so alike that they became the mirror image of one another.

Hannibal - Season 3
Hannibal, in the reflection is clearly the reflection of Will and vice versa.

Despite the disappointment of having both main characters apparently expire, this was clearly the right ending for the series. Graham was never going to be comfortable with his transformation (his Becoming) to Hannibal, even if it was necessary in order to kill Dolarhyde.

This show will be sorely missed. Its dark beauty and horrible specters will have to haunt via reruns now. RIP Lector and Graham.

Hannibal: The Number of the Beast is 666 (review)

Jack Crawford and Freddie Lounds
This penultimate episode of Hannibal, The Number of the Beast is 666 may not be the most horrifying, that surely belongs to episode 2.12 Face Off where Mason Verger ate his nose and a good part of his face (in this viewers humble opinion that still strikes right to the bone), but last night the vision of Dolarhyde ripping off Chilton’s lips comes damned close. Later director Guillermo Navarro matches that “ripping” horror with a Sergio Leone type close up of Chilton’s face and his terror filled eyes as he starts burning.

Hannibal has always been a bit of a gore fest. At least in terms of buckets of claret being sprayed and great gouts of the stuff splashed over the walls and floors. Oddly, for a show that languishes in the sensuality of serial murderer’s committing their heinous acts, with special emphasis on Lector and his devotees love of “food,” this episode goes straight for the throat (The lips?) and bypasses the loving attention to the act.

There is no operatic overture or classical music to accompany scenes of preparing a feast. The only thing observed being eaten in this latest offering had Hannibal slurping down Chilton’s lip and then chortling about it with Crawford. The delight and focus is different. There is no sensuality here, just Lector proving that revenge is indeed best served cold…and raw.

Hannibal correctly diagnoses Dr. Chilton as not being made of the “proper stuff.” (The Lector version of the “right stuff” but spot on all the same.) Will says the same thing later on, after Chilton has punished by the Red Dragon for his “lies.” That are provided by Graham during the Lounds pseudo interview.

Will: “Chilton languished unrecognized until “Hannibal the Cannibal.” He wanted the world to know his face.”

Bedelia: “And now he doesn’t have one.”

– The Will Graham version of “be careful what you wish for.”

This entire installment cranks things up nicely. While the series has deviated from the book in term of victim, Freddie Lounds has his lips ripped off in the book, this change of fate makes a certain amount of sense. Although it implies that Chilton will not survive long enough for the cinematic tease where Lector tells Clarice Starling that he’s “going to have an old friend for dinner” as the Frederick disembarks from an airplane while Hannibal watches from the payphone where he talks to the FBI agent.

In this verse, that clearly will never happen. It would have been, presumably, in poor taste (not to mention seen as being misogynistic to an alarming degree) to allow Dolarhyde to rip the lips off of the female version of Freddie Lounds. (One wonders if creator Bryan Fuller considered this when he changed the gender of Freddie for the TV series.) Although the nice touch about the whole incident is how Graham set up Frederick for the assault.

In keeping with the strange allure of Hannibal and his world, it is oddly satisfying that Chilton was the object of Dolarhyde’s rage, something we share with Will who clearly shares Lector’s disdain and active dislike of the pompous psychiatrist. Hubris thy name is Dr. Francis Chilton and both Graham and Hannibal recognize this annoying and unflattering trait.

When Crawford, Will and Frederick meet with Freddie to write the article that will enrage the “Tooth Fairy” (Chilton’s uncomfortable and awkward recommendation that the word “fairy” bothers the Red Dragon and it they really want to “piss him off” they should use the homosexually offensive term to describe him is perfect and highlights his character perfectly.) The entire scene between Chilton and Graham is horribly amusing.

Chilton to Freddie: “The Tooth Fairy’s actions indicate a projective delusion compensating for intolerable feelings of inadequacy. Smashing mirrors ties these feelings to his appearance.”

Will: (slightly behind Chilton translates) “And not only is the Tooth Fairy insane, he is ugly and impotent.

As this goes on, Chilton looks increasingly bothered by Will’s baiting of the killer. As we stifle the urge to giggle at Graham’s obvious taunts, the unease felt by Frederick becomes shared by all. Graham putting his hand on Chilton in the photograph is a signal, as the lipless and burnt to a crisp doctor accuses Will later, “You put your hand on me like a pet,” although Frederick’s statement was somewhat harder to understand.

One thing is apparent. After the attempt on his family, Will is allowing his “inner Hannibal” to come to the fore. He clearly set up Chilton for the fall, as Bedelia says later and Frederick notes in ICU. Underneath the horror of this episode there is the clear indication of hubris. Not just from Frederick Clifton either.

“Beware the wrath of the lamb,” says Hannibal to Jack Crawford. He tells the FBI agent that they should all fear Will’s wrath. At the end of their exchange, Jack tells Lector that Dolarhyde is not the dragon, Lector is and follows up with “The Devil himself bound in the pit.”

“That makes you God, Jack” Hannibal replies.

“Yes it does,” says Crawford.

Before the end credits roll, we see the humiliation of Chilton, his punishment and his burning. (Like Will’s pretend burning of Lounds, Frederick is set on fire while bound in a wheelchair.) Reba has been kidnapped by her now former lover. The next step is for Dolarhyde to rid himself of the one human thing in himself, Reba.

Disturbingly, Will spends much of his time, when not setting up Frederick Chilton, with Bedelia Du Maurier. Through her we learn that Hannibal loves Will and we also discover this upsets her or at least makes her jealous. She relays to Graham that Lector may well have “agency in the world” but that he will never allow anyone else to kill her. As he is in captivity, Lector will never kill and eat her, the idea upsets her enough that she sheds a tear.

Richard Armitage was terrifying this week as Dolarhyde/The Great Red Dragon. Mads Mikkelsen was, as usual, brilliant and the scene where he mimics slurping down Chilton’s lip for Jack Crawford was priceless. The Hannibal Lector version of a raspberry.

Hugh Dancy, clever, droll and increasingly Hannibal by proxy. Just brilliant.

*Sidenote* Watching this latest episode I noticed that Dr. Alana Bloom and Bedelia Du Maurier sound very much the same when the talk. Tone, pacing and phrasing appear to be almost identical. It makes me wonder if this was intentional? Were Gillian Anderson and Caroline Dhavernas cast because they sound alike? Just a thought…

Special kudos to Raúl Esparza as Chilton. This performer has managed to bring out the worst in at least one viewer as he channeled his inner despicable “poor winner.” Yet when he was in the clutches of Armitage’s character one could not help but feel sorry for the “little man” who begged to be great. As Will says in the show, Chilton wanted to be great and it was not in him. When faced with the devil he crumpled and paid for Graham’s insults.

It speaks volumes that the first words out of Chilton’s lipless mouth had nothing to do with helping to stop the Great Red Dragon, but were, instead, accusations of Graham’s treachery. Proper stuff indeed.

Will has stated that he cannot go home. After the attempt on his wife and child, he has decided to stay away until the Dragon is caught.(Hence the photograph showing clearly his “temporary” location) Now that Dolarhyde has taken Reba, the series is speeding toward its conclusion. One that might be quite different from Thomas Harris’ books.

Fans of the novel will no doubt wait with bated breath to see what will be kept in from the series’ literary base. In a world where gender has been changed, character’s created and fates traded, anything can happen. The season finale of Hannibal airs August 29 on NBC. Do not miss it.

Hannibal: And the Beast from the Sea (recap and review)

Will Graham, Hugh Dancy
Hannibal last week gave us a look at the continued duality of characters in this world. That show touched on Bedelia’s ability to separate herself from her own crimes as well as those of Lector. The two parter also looked at the women in Hannibal’s life, including Alana Bloom; who threatened Lector with the loss of his dignity if he did not protect Will Graham. These threads were on top of the duality of Francis Dolarhyde.

This week sees Dr. Bloom making good on her previous threat. Before the end credits roll, Dolarhyde breaks up with Reba, The Great Red Dragon attempts to kill Molly and Wally (and later “beats” Francis severely for messing that assassination up), Hannibal warns The Great Red Dragon, Alana does take away all of Hannibal’s luxuries, Will confronts Lector and Jack Crawford is furious with his pet serial killer.

On the periphery; a reluctant good samaritan is killed, Will’s dogs are poisoned, and Wally learns of Will’s past. Graham himself is angry that he had to “justify” himself to his step son.

The dreamlike sequences of this episode continue to draw us into this somnambulistic netherworld full of human monsters. Director Michael Rhymer (Queen of the Damned, Battlestar Galactica) does a brilliant job matching the slow-motion surreal world of Hannibal as it appears in this final season. This should come as no surprise since he has directed a total of 9 episodes. His deft touch this week resulted in a particularly disturbing opening sequence where Francis is talking to (Being treated by?) Lector.

Following the theme of duality, as Francis and Hannibal discuss The Great Red Dragon, Dolarhyde brings up the topic of Will Graham. After dismissing Will’s looks, the subject of beauty or at least above average looks is a major part of Dolarhyde’s psyche, Hannibal reveals to his patient that Will, “has a family.” As he says this, Hannibal turns to look at the camera, thereby looking at himself as doctor treating patient, two places at once. While this conversation is taking place on the phone, the projections of Dolarhyde and Lector are all in Francis’ mind…and perhaps also in Hannibal’s.

It follows that Dolarhyde will suffer from a duality of self. He is, after all, being possessed by The Great Red Dragon and that entity wants him to destroy Reba because she dilutes his (the dragon’s) purpose. However, this imagery is not just in Dolarhyde’s head, but in Hannibal’s as well and he too is suffering a split purpose, a duality. He loves Will but also wants to destroy his family and ultimately Graham himself. So he has much in common with Francis and this opening pre-credit scene shows this.

More importantly, in the introductory sequence, Hannibal tells Dolarhyde, “Save yourself.” (Long pause for effect.) “Kill them all.” While this is taken to mean Will and his family, it could also include Reba. Keeping in mind that Lector specializes in cultivating his fellow monsters, it makes sense that he would advise Francis to kill the one true distraction that is keeping him from “becoming.” Hannibal senses that Dolarhyde cannot and will not contemplate abandoning The Great Red Dragon. It is also during this exchange that Lector tells Francis he can pass the dragon on to someone else, Dolarhyde’s expression reveals that this idea is repugnant to him.

The episode moves forward to Dolarhyde studying Will’s home and “becoming” the dragon. Later as he watches his Graham home movie, Reba is told that he is doing “homework,” and the film is of Molly, Walter and the dogs at the Graham residence. Reba asks if these are his “nocturnal animals” and he replies in the affirmative. She then raises the question of whether they know that he is filming them. “No,” Dolarhyde says.

*Sidenote* While Francis watches his movie of the Graham family, the silent film footage is accompanied by the sounds of a piano, reminiscent of the old silent movie days where a pianist played tunes to the footage displayed on the screen.

The dogs are drugged/poisoned and removed from the premises by Graham’s wife. Molly believes she has inadvertently made the dogs ill by substituting Will’s homemake dog food with canned Chinese dog food. The dogs are kept at the vets for an overnight observation. Will approaches Hannibal and asks him to reveal who The Tooth Fairy is, Lector lies and says he does not know who he is. He then goes on to mention Will’s family. “Who do you see when you close your eyes, Will? Is it your family you see?” Lector is giving Graham a hint as to who the killer’s next target is. He will not, however, tell Graham which family is meant to die.

“They are not my family, Will,” Lector says, “And I am not letting them die, you are.”

Francis puts in his “teeth” and sneaks into the house. He is masked and armed with a silenced automatic pistol. Cue some tense, and pretty white knuckle, hide and seek where Molly gets Walter out of the house and she sets off the family car alarm. Dolarhyde shoots the car and the Grahams run down the snowy street. Molly flags down (stands in front of) a car and after it stops, the driver exits and is shot mid-complaint. Molly and Walter leave in the vehicle and she is shot by Francis as she drives away.

At the hospital later, Molly is recovering and Will is angry. His conversation with Jack Crawford is full of irritated references to his family almost dying and not being able to go home. Alana reveals to Hannibal that she knows Dolarhyde has been talking to the him posing as his lawyer. After reminding Lector of her threat, Alana allows Crawford to tell Lector to help trap the killer. The next time Dolarhyde calls, Hannibal is to keep him on the line so they can track him.

Dolarhyde literally beats himself up for missing his opportunity to kill Graham’s family. Although in his mind it is the Great Red Dragon who is meting out the punishment. He then breaks up with Reba, who reacts badly to his expressed fears of hurting her. She tells him to get his hat and go. A distraught Francis calls Hannibal. After telling Lector that he could not hear Reba’s heart, Hannibal tells Dolarhyde, “They’re listening,” and hangs up the phone.

Crawford is furious, Francis collects his things and leaves Dr. Lector’s old office. The FBI search the place as Alana removes everything from Hannibal’s cell. “You’re not the only one who keeps their promises Hannibal,” she tells the bound and muzzled Lector. “Take the toilet too.” As she warned the doctor earlier, she has removed his dignity.

Will visits Molly and he explains to her that the Tooth Fairy went after them because Hannibal told him to. She reveals a duality of her own. This brave and normally easy going woman gets angry at the whole thing. She admits that it may take a while for them to recover from this.

Graham then confronts Hannibal is his “empty” cell. “I’m just about worn out with you crazy sons of b*tches.” Lector replies, “The essence of the worst in the human spirit is not found in the crazy sons of b*tches.” “Ugliness,” he continues, “is found in the faces of the crowd.” Will asks Hannibal what he said to Francis. “Save yourself. Kill them all,” Lector replies, “Then I gave him your home address.”

Hannibal stares blankly at Will, “How’s the wife?” “How’s my wife?” Will is furious. They talk further and Lector quotes Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust: First Part, “Two souls, alas, are dwelling in my breast, And one is striving to forsake its brother.” It shows the duality of Dolarhyde and his internal struggle. The dragon is freedom Lector tells Will and it is change.

Graham realizes that Dolarhyde is not killing the families, he is “changing” them. Hannibal asks Will if he craves change.

As this season rushes to its finale, one cannot help but wonder if Freddie Lounds will be punished, or changed, by Dolarhyde. Her name was brought up again in this episode, by Molly, and it is surely about time that the ghoulish reporter get her just deserts.

Hannibal having his items taken away by Alana ties in nicely with the verse created by Thomas Harris. In The Silence of the Lambs, Lector bargains with Clarice Starling for items to be returned. There are two episodes left in the last season of Hannibal. The show airs Saturdays on NBC.

Hannibal: And the Woman Clothed with the Sun Part II Review

Francis Dolarhyde and Reba as the zoo
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.

Hannibal: The Great Red Dragon (review)

Richard Armitage as Tooth Fairy in Hannibal
Last week saw the finish of the overly extended preamble to bring the series up to Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon and this week in Hannibal, episode 8; The Great Red Dragon, three years have passed. Lector has been declared insane and is incarcerated. As with most episodes of Hannibal, the pre-credit sequence is slow but it builds upon the killer and his identity. Like the rest of the series, each segment is slow and discordant as well as dark and concise amid the shambolic imagery of the music and the set pieces. Similar to a somnambulist on quaaludes or molasses dripping down a table leg on a cool day.

The episode begins with an introduction to the new villain; Francis Dolarhyde (played by Brit actor Richard Armitage [The Hobbit, Captain America: The First Avenger]) who is savagely silent as he transformed into the Red Dragon, although he does growl and roar at one point, his appearance is introspective and visceral.

Hannibal and Dr. Bloom talk about wine and truffles, the two items that lead Alana to Lector’s door in Florence when Verger was acting on his personal vendetta. They take a short walk down memory lane during their conversation, “Do you still prefer beer to wine,” Hannibal asks. “I stopped drinking beer when I found out what you were putting in mine,” Alana responds. “Who,” says Hannibal and Bloom echoes, “Who.”

In between the Bloom and Chilton interludes, Dolarhyde continues to transform; to become. Mirrors and animalistic sounds accompany his change. At the end of the process Francis is outside, naked except for the liberal splashes of blood on his body.

After the Red Dragon transformation, Hannibal shares a delicacy with Dr. Chilton (played with delightful hubris by Raúl Esparza) and their conversation also turns to past events. Speaking of the desert, which traditionally requires the blood of a pig, Hannibal says he substituted cow’s blood. Frederick asks about “before” when Lector served him the dish and Hannibal replies “The blood was from a cow only in the derogatory sense.”

Each conversation is a sparring match of sorts. Bloom and Chilton both lose their respective wordplay with Lector. Alana is left with the impending threat (promise) that Hannibal will kill her, “I always keep my promises,” he says; just as he did last week when he promised to save Graham. In his discussion with Chilton about the “Tooth Fairy” the first this Hannibal says is that the serial killer does not like to be called that. In one sentence, he deflates Frederick’s ego, it was Chilton who coined the title, and Lector assumes superiority as a result.

Later in the episode, we see that Hannibal is right about the killer not liking the moniker. While adding his latest kill to his scrapbook, Dolarhyde grabs a black marker and covers up the part of the headline that refers to him as the Tooth Fairy.

Chilton and Bloom verbally spar and she informs her colleague that Dr. Lector will get the better of him. Chilton gloatingly paints an imaginary picture of Hannibal watching “diaper carts” go by in captivity. Alana responds with the news that Lector will gloat about his victory over Chiton, indicating that he will have plenty of time, as he watches the diaper carts go by. Frederick tells Alana that Hannibal is showing some competitive vanity with the appearance of the Tooth Fairy.

FBI agent Jack Crawford goes to see Will Graham who lives in the country with Mollie and Walter along with a slew of dogs. Molly reveals to Jack Crawford that they are dumped by previous owners. She says that getting rid of the cute ones are easy and the rest stay on. Before the meal, Will tells Jack that he does not want to return. It is obvious that Graham knows he will end up seeing Hannibal if he gets involved with the Tooth Fairy.

As usual Hannibal is a visual feast. The imagery is powerful and in one instance, incredibly creepy. Dolarhyde listens to music, the singer sounds like Roy Orbison, while watching a home movie of the family he has just murdered. With a screeching noise (in his head) Dolarhyde reacts and as the film stock from the reels wrap around his face, he becomes the movie projector with light shooting out from his eyes and mouth.

A truly disturbing sight.

Other images are used as a construct. A short montage of newspaper clipping done by Hannibal and Dolarhyde, each using their own tools, in Lector’s case nothing sharp, and building their own collection of the “Tooth Fairy” murders. At the end of it, Lector uses his clipping to “bait” Will and Francis adds his to the large scrapbook he has obviously had for a very long time.

Molly talks Graham into becoming a part of the investigation and Will explains that if he goes, he will be different when he comes back. Molly reassures him by saying that she won’t. After their little talk, Will goes to look at the news clipping and letter that Hannibal has sent him. He reads the note, and in it Lector urges Graham to turn Crawford down if he comes “knocking.” Will throws the items in the burning fire, Hannibal has set the bait for Graham.

Will visits the latest crime scene and his skill at putting himself in the killer’s shoes and recreating what occurred has not diminished after his time spent with Lector. At one point, he realizes that the killer took off rubber gloves, he speculates about talcum powder found at the scene in a house that has none. This leads to forensics checking and finding that part of the Tooth Fairy’s killing ritual included flesh touching flesh, and they find a partial smudged thumbprint as a result. Unfortunately they also have the false lead of those false teeth, or plates, that Dolarhyde collected at the beginning of the episode.

By the end of the program Will is back at the bureau and interpreting the killer. Graham also recognizes that despite his overwhelming reluctance, he must consult with Hannibal.

Hannibal is darkly beautiful and spellbinding. The storylines are complex and tantalizing but it appears that fans of the show will be left wanting. Certainly the languid pace of the series is not popular with everyone and now that the show has reached an intersection with Harris’ book, perhaps NBC feels the show has reached a conclusion of sorts. Hannibal airs Saturdays on NBC for a little longer at least. Fans can only hope that the network does not move the show again.