Thank Thomas Harris for Hannibal Lecter’s memory palace; the way Hannibal‘s creative team has incorporated this notion into the show has been absolutely inspired and flawless. Nowhere is this more apparent than in one of the early scenes from ‘…And The Woman Clothed In Sun’, during which notorious serial killer Francis Dolarhyde calls his hero Hannibal Lecter and discusses his becoming. Instead of intercutting frames of both men talking through a device without actually interacting, the show’s creators have opted to put Hannibal’s mental capacities (and Dolarhyde’s fractured psyche and deranged imagination) to good use: the show presents these murderers talking to each other in Hannibal’s old office, from which Dolarhyde actually made his phone call. Not only is this an elegant means of storytelling, it also gives the actors much more room to interact and play off each other. It also means this was the first time in any medium that Hannibal the Cannibal and the Red Dragon actually “met”, which certainly was a perverse joy to watch.
Especially the moment when Hannibal quoted William Blake’s ‘The Tyger’ before he and Dolarhyde witnessed the manifestation of the Red Dragon was awesome to behold: “Did he who made the lamb make thee?” Hannibal asked before the faces of both Dolarhyde and him were lit by flame and the Dragon spread its wings and roared. As always the acting of Mads Mikkelsen and Richard Armitage was astounding: from the moment Dolarhyde heard Lecter’s voice for the first time and was overcome by giddiness and relief, to Hannibal’s surprised and then bemused look when Dolarhyde told him he wanted him to melt with the Dragon… all of it was an actor’s masterclass, further elevated through the show’s always strong cinematography and (art) direction. The lines the actors were given, as always, were ripe with meaning too: the fact that Hannibal quoted Blake’s most famous poem pointed not only to the artist who was responsible for the Great Red Dragon paintings, but also to an iconic sequence from the Thomas Harris novel and, from now on, this episode: Dolarhyde and Reba’s scene with a sedated tiger. Unlike the older adaptations, there was a clear sexual subtext to the scene: while Reba was touching the beast, especially its fangs, she was also touching something inside Dolarhyde, who was completely engulfed by this moment.
It’s no surprise then that Reba and Francis later wound up in bed together in a beautifully filmed scene that displayed the intensity of this occurrence and its effect on Dolarhyde: in a vision he saw Reba as the Woman Clothed In Sun from the Blake painting, an appearance radiant and good. When he woke up with Reba missing he immediately feared for her well-being and searched the house, before finally coming across her unharmed. This fear is something new to Dolarhyde: what he wants is no longer what the Dragon wants, because the Dragon wants to devour Reba while Dolarhyde cares for her and wants to protect her. This eventually led him to the museum where Blake’s original painting was stored to devour the Dragon before the Dragon could devour Reba. Signalling a major deviation from the book, Will was there too to have a look at the painting after having talked to Hannibal about the Red Dragon carving near one of the Tooth Fairy murder scenes. In a thrilling sequence Dolarhyde grabbed Will, lifted him up and threw him out of the elevator he was occupying to make his escape. It was a fantastic surprise for both readers of the novel and for novices, and a tremendous way to close out this very Dolarhyde-centric episode.
But during ‘…And The Woman Clothed In Sun’ we also finally learned what happened before Bedelia du Maurier “fisted” her patient Neal Frank to death. Bedelia, now a Hannibal Cannibal survivor with her own book tour, talked to Will about how she has always studied Hannibal and had him “under her care” the entire time they were together. But, as she put it, she “lost professional objectivity” along the way. She then went on to discuss the former patient she killed, portrayed by the wonderful Zachary Quinto. Bedelia talked about her primal rejection of weakness, something Hannibal likely knew about before he arranged the pieces for his perfect game: when his former patient started choking while in therapy with Bedelia (likely triggered by Lecter’s unique brand of phototherapy), she tried to help him before her natural instinct took over and she killed her patient instead of clearing his air duct to save him. “The next time you have the instinct to help someone, you might consider crushing them instead,” Bedelia told Will. “It might save you a great deal of trouble.” If her words will effect Will’s approach to Dolarhyde further down the line is unsure as of yet, but we’ll undoubtedly find out.
‘…And The Woman Clothed In Sun’ was another stellar Hannibal outing that kept you on the edge of your seat through incredible original material and an inspired take on the Thomas Harris book. 9/10