Under the light of a full moon and with the blessing of his new mentor, Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) makes a move against his adversary: Will Graham (Hugh Dancy).
Let’s bitch it out…
Last episode’s confrontation between Will and Francis in the museum was shocking and exciting because it was unexpected. I didn’t anticipate that killer and profiler would meet so early in Will’s investigation, but now that Will’s on Francis’ radar, they’re destined for more conflict. Things have become more dire for the tortured killer: after witnessing his lover Reba (Rutina Wesley) bathed in light, Francis is desperate to prevent the Dragon’s consumption of her. As his “therapy” with Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) continues, a malleable Dollarhyde is encouraged to fixate the Great Red Dragon’s attention on Will Graham in an effort to spare Reba.
While the motif of situating Francis and Hannibal’s phone conversations in Hannibal’s old office / mind palace has become repetitive, I quite liked the framing of Hannibal as a dark angel who appears at Francis’ shoulder to encourage bad behaviour. With the rise of the full moon, Francis watches a silent video of his latest “nocturnal animals”: Will’s family, Molly (Nina Arianda) and Walter (Gabriel Browning Rodriguez). It’s disturbing that he’s zeroed in on Will; doubly so because Reba is curled up on the couch next to him, unaware of his homicidal intentions as she peacefully drifts off to sleep.
That night the Dragon makes his move. In the episode’s best sequence, Francis – armed with the knowledge that Will’s dogs have been poisoned (and not by Chinese canned food) – breaks into the Graham house. It’s the centerpiece of the episode: a tautly-directed sequence that finds Molly and Walter barely one step ahead of Frances as he stalks them through the house and out onto the highway. The sequence – including a near hit and run on the road and a late in the game bullet to the shoulder for Molly – strongly evokes classic horror / slasher tropes. Complete with black stocking material covering his face and frequently framed by the camera in long shots, Francis is every bit the merciless faceless stalker in pursuit of the Final Girl. The lack of dialogue and the repetitive soundtrack both help to amp up the tension.
Prior to the attack on his wife and stepson, Will admits to Jack (Laurence Fishburne) and Alana (Caroline Dhavernas) that Hannibal told him where to find the Dragon at the museum. In the aftermath of his wife’s shooting, Will confronts his former confidant about Hannibal’s role in jeopardizing Will’s family. When they spoke before the full moon, Lecter admitted that he had been in contact with the Tooth Fairy and that he knew who the at-risk family was. Hannibal is, of course, anything but apologetic; he simply compliments Molly’s ability to escape certain death. He’s even less helpful to Jack and Alana when they recruit him to trap Francis, whom they know will call after that the unsuccessful murder. But Hannibal has never played by anyone’s rules but his own and the only surprise is that he allows the pair (visually depicted inside Hannibal’s office mind palace) to listen in at all before Dolarhyde is tipped off. Alana’s punishment is severe and immediate (just as she threatened): all of the furnishing from Hannibal’s cell are removed. There remains, however, an uncanny feeling that Hannibal hasn’t lost anything in the process. Perhaps it’s the premonition-heavy sight of the cannibal in his infamous face mask & gurney as the orderlies clear things away? We know how this story will end…
- I applaud the innovative visual approach used to show how the Dragon overpowers and controls Francis, but his self-mutilation after failing to kill Molly comes dangerously close to silliness. It reminded me a little of Liar, Liar when Jim Carrey beats himself up, which is not a great association.
- Molly’s angry flare-up in the hospital after learning that Jack preyed on Will, despite knowing that it could put her and Walter in danger, is completely understandable. The only surprising aspect is that she feels the need to apologize!
- Francis tries to put distance between him and Reba by suggesting that he doesn’t want to hurt her. She interprets this as a sign that he’s acting like all of the other weak men who don’t respect her and she dismisses him outright, albeit not without tears.
- Frances (to Reba): “Do you remember the light? Is it worse to have seen it and lost it?”
- Jack (after learning how the Dragon used Lecter’s office): “Hannibal’s having his fun.” I’ll never understand why Jack and Alana underestimate Hannibal. They’ve experienced his tactics first-hand!
- Molly (hearing how Jack has been using Will): “That’s a clammy sick feeling.”
Your turn: Was Francis’ attempted murder of Molly the high point of the episode? Were you surprised that Hannibal came clean about his involvement in the plot? Is Reba out of danger now that she and Francis have broken up? Are Jack and Alana stupid for trusting Hannibal? Sound off below.
Hannibal airs Thursdays at 10pm EST on CityTV in Canada and Saturdays at 10pm EST on NBC in the US