tv review – NBC’s Hannibal, episode 3.9

In my review of the previous episode I mentioned how I thought that the reunion between Will and Hannibal happened too fast and seemed too carefree, but I stand corrected: ‘…And The Woman Clothed With The Sun’ made their get-together a tense affair that underlined the potential danger of the situation straight away, and the episode also shed further light on Jack’s approach to the situation. Through this the writers have yet found another avenue to twist and show the dynamic between Graham and Lecter in new and interesting ways, which is its greatest feat while adapting a very familiar story: because of everything that has happened on the show, the Red Dragon storyline isn’t quite what you’ve seen before and feels very fresh.

Hannibal episode 3.9 - header 2The moment Will started his conversation with Hannibal, it was apparent that Lecter wasn’t playing nice: he immediately dealt blows below the belt and found his way into Will’s head in a matter of seconds. So much so that Will threatened to leave the room, which in turn had Hannibal play nice for a little while. Their new relationship is an interesting and difficult one: both men know that one of them needs the other to solve a case, and this gives Hannibal a lot of power over Will, who is just there to keep more families from getting harmed. Will appears vulnerable and practically naked before Lecter, whose keen senses sniff out every one of Will’s secrets. “Is there a child in your life, Will? I gave you a child if you recall,” Hannibal taunted after observing Will’s aftershave, and it was something he later circled back to when Will and him were discussing the Tooth Fairy murders. “A stepson absolves you of any biological blame; you know better than to breed. You can’t pass on those terrible traits you fear the most.” Mads Mikkelsen’s performance and Lecter’s casual way of speaking illustrated beautifully and cruelly how fast Hannibal had Will pegged, and how Will is, once again, in over his head. All thanks to Jack Crawford, who will stop at nothing to do what he considers his job: “Will has never been more effective than with you inside his head,” Jack told Hannibal, before displaying an amount of hubris that will likely cost him dearly.

While Will, Jack and Hannibal are looking for the Tooth Fairy, he himself is going about his business: watching his murder videos, reading Freddy Lounds’ articles on Lecter and Graham, and preparing for his next killing spree. What wasn’t so standard was how he ran into the lovely Reba McClane, portrayed here by True Blood‘s Rutina Wesley. They came across each other in their company’s dark room and took an immediate liking to each other: Francis to her because he’s deeply ashamed of how he looks and her blindness makes him feel at ease, and Reba to him because he doesn’t show her any pity. The interactions between these two damaged people have always been among the Red Dragon plot’s best moments, and Hannibal is certainly keeping with that trend, aided by the stellar talent they have involved: Richard Armitage is both vulnerable and terrifying as the Great Red Dragon, while Wesley plays her character with a determination, sass and spunk that’s immediately alluring. Much like this show has managed it with its other character, this Francis Dolarhyde and this Reba McClane are on their way to become the definitive versions of the Thomas Harris characters. They’re aided by the always strong direction, writing and art direction though, all of which add many meaningful layers to each and every interaction. Take for example the scene in which Dolarhyde picks Reba up at the bus stop: she sits in front of a poster of a dentist’s office, which showcases a giant set of dentures. It’s a brilliant piece of foreshadowing that simultaneously enhances the scene’s haunting atmosphere.

Hannibal episode 3.9 - header 3Even more haunting was the episode’s final scene, though: Dolarhyde calling Hannibal Lecter, while he declared his admiration for the man and told him what he was becoming. Armitage’s brilliant reading of the final line, and Mikkelsen’s subtle and spot-on reaction to Dolarhyde’s final sentence were downright chilling and treated fans of the Thomas Harris canon to a much more direct way of interaction between these two characters than they’ve ever seen. What was just as chilling were the episode’s flashbacks that offered a look at Hannibal’s grooming of the already quite disturbed Abigail Hobbs, which was a nice juxtaposition to Will’s wish to form a more traditional and healthy family unit. It’s harrowing to see how his selfless act to step back into the ring is already costing him, though: Will’s horrifying night terrors from Season 1 have returned, showing him having murdered his wife as the Red Dragon would’ve done it. It’s terrifying stuff… The stakes are high, indeed.

‘…And The Woman Clothed With The Sun’ was a terrific episode that felt very fresh despite the familiar source material, and kicked the Red Dragon story arc into high gear. 9/10

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