SPOILERS AHEAD FOR s3e9!!
Moving swiftly on, after this week we will be already mid way in this story line so i guess things will speed up a bit.
Overall this episode really felt much better put together; logical i guess since there was less catching up to do. A few surprises and they still managed to trip me up once in a while although i should know by now not to expect things to go well.. ever.
But let’s start with the agreeable bites, er.. bits. We suddenly had food that i can qualify as edible! Stuff that i could actually eat while watching the show without my stomach doing flips. I love Babybels and that was certainly a funny addition. Though how anyone could leave one unfinished is beyond me really.
Unfortunately nice food came with discovering Dolarhyde has, in spite of apparently strict education, pretty appalling table manners. First he puts chewed food back in the fridge and later on he devours a cherry pie as if he hadn’t seen food in years. He doesn’t even seem to know how to hold a fork properly. I get that Hannibal calls him a very shy ‘boy’ but did they really have to make him look that ‘raw’ to differentiate him from Hannibal? They seem to be trying almost forcefully to show us how different they are. And not very consistently. I don’t think FD and his detailed ‘becoming’ obsession fit somebody quite as unpolished as they are making him out to be.
Besides, he asks for the plum, offers to take her home in his van, i doubt even in front of somebody who can’t see him he’d give up control quite as spontaneously just over a pie.
I also wonder what the childhood flashback means? It didn’t show much else besides a highly orderly household, judging by the dinner table alone, dominated by elderly people and particularly a stern looking old woman. The visuals didn’t tell more and again i’m left wondering how much of the back-story is implied and i am expected to know and how much are they actually going to tell. Is this just another thread, barely started, which will run in parallel to the contemporary story, gradually expanding on DF’s personality? That would make sense to me as it would balance the apparent increasing madness with historic problems. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how much more we’ll get and how they will intertwine the timelines. I am still doubtful people who haven’t read the book can really makes sense of what has been shown so far.
Just to tie off the foodie thoughts: while at least this time round food was not tainted with blood (we even saw cake in the flashbacks Will was having of the murdered family) it was made to look creepy nevertheless. The literally blood red gooey pie Reba cut into with a big shiny knife was not your normal ‘mouth watering’ moment. The plums were red as well. but at least we didn’t see anyone actually take a bite.
You have to give it to the DOP (director of photography), he certainly knows his job. The most nurturing and innocent of images are turned quite blood curdling and scary with just a bit of lighting and camera work. Nothing is quite as it seems.
The camera work is incredibly creative and smooth. I’ve seen a film in the cinema recently and within 20 minutes i was nearly dizzy with the cuts back and forth and the views over the shoulder (made the mistake to waste money on 3D). Here you barely notice the change in perspective and you don’t necessarily switch between the participants; you see them mirrored, with the faces almost melding into each other or separating from each other, etc. It is creative and certainly pleasant to the eye. I hope these people will get really good jobs on other productions so we can enjoy their craft on other content too. Sometimes the blur of the background can be a bit too much, especially when the person in the background is actually talking, but generally they tend to make the right choice. Also, seen on the slightly bigger TV screen this didn’t feel nearly as dark.
The music certainly pushed our buttons, especially during the Hannibal+Will and Hannibal+Jack reunions. Those strings were really saaaaad and even i felt a tinge of pity for Hannibal being rejected: Will wouldn’t call him by his first name and you could see he was hurt and later on Hannibal mentioned he had given him a child (Abigail). Ok, it is very weird but in his warped way Hannibal feels very rejected and i think also very jealous. Of Will’s new family, which he dismisses as ‘ready made’, of his ability to not engage – apparently- of Will taking the moral high-ground ‘he is not to blame for anything’.
This strange protectiveness also comes across when he scolds Jack for using Will: how much room does he have left for new scars?
While i find Alana’s teasing and mundane threats nothing more than irritating, Hannibal’s protectiveness and jealousy is dangerous and his fixation with Will’s new family is i fear an indication of bad things to come.
In startling contrast to Hannibal’s keen insights into Will (and the reasons why he didn’t want to have children of his own for example) is Will’s interaction with Molly. It felt somewhat more natural than the first time around but they still live in parallel worlds. Even i jumped at her joking statement about having a criminal mind even as a young boy. I think the producers have now made it abundantly clear that she has no clue who Will is or what torments him. I suspect the series is trying to tell us Hannibal cares much more. Freddie certainly seems to think the same 😉
Again, i am not sure i agree with the choice. Why should we dislike Molly? Even if she doesn’t fully understand what is going on with Will, i’d think she would care about him enough to have more empathy. But they seem to be talking in parallel pretty much all the time and she doesn’t seem to sense the fact that Will is gradually falling to pieces again. This decomposition i thought was beautifully done with the shattering mirrors. However, i wish they hadn’t replicated the ‘bloody under the moonlight’ image with Will. It’s startling and powerful and it looses its value when overused and repeated like this. Or they could have gone back to the original one?
In a strange way, but so typical of this show, that very same moment provided some comic relief. I’ve watched it several times now and every time i found myself giggling at Hannibal explaining that the fenced garden would have been essential for Dolarhyde howling naked at the moon because ‘one must show consideration for the neighbours’. Some other puns were a bit bleh but this one made me laugh. Maybe because it is such a British thing to say? 😉
We finally got to know Reba and see her first encounter with Dolarhyde. She’s lucky she can’t see him as i think that intense stare would scare anyone away or at the very least make one apprehensive. I love the way she is so open and confident, a nice contrast to his restrained and guarded ways in public. You can almost see how he is drawn in by the openness. The ominous music that accompanies their encounters suggests some of his interest is definitely not safe for her. They seem to want to suggest with lighting and sound that his murderer instinct is the first one triggered and that he studies her in the same way he may have studied his victims. But while his stare is scary his voice is something very different.
My first reaction to his first words was an almost overwhelming sense of relief due to the instant recognition 🙂 That tone of voice and the deep, even if slightly raspy vibration can only be Armitage. And with such a scary series the very familiar becomes comforting 🙂 At least for an instant. In the next the ear perks up again and perceives both the masterful distortion of speech and the surprising accent. The speech defect is just prominent enough to match the facial scar, sometimes hidden and sometimes highlighted by the lighting depending on which character trait the director wanted to draw attention to. As to the accent it is the first time RA has really sounded startlingly foreign to me. I can only marvel at the incredible skill and hard work that must be behind such a consistent delivery of a different accent and speech pattern. And to still make it perfectly understandable and clear. I understood everything, which is why Reba’s assertions only made more sense. It doesn’t feel like she is paying compliments of any sort, she just speaks the truth as she hears it. It is this straightforwardness and truthfulness that made her instantly likeable for me.
— Hannibal (@NBCHannibal) August 2, 2015
I would say it is what fascinates Dolarhyde as well, he’s probably never been approach like this by a female before. He very likely doesn’t even realise she is flirting with him and that he is almost unconsciously flirting back. And i don’t mean the smiling scene but the one in the lab where she jokes he wants something in addition to the plum and then offers to develop the films for him with privacy guaranteed. In both instances we only hear him, we can’t really see his expression fully but his voice is smiling 🙂 Or i certainly thought i heard a smile in his voice. It is so far the moment he has been most human to me. It also seems a new experience for him to want her company for his ‘pleasure’. The ‘trust me, i’m smiling’ moment felt so dangerous however that i still wonder at this point if he is not seriously considering making her one of his victims, this last one certainly didn’t feel like a romantic or ‘soft’ moment of any kind. The sense of danger was for me even more acute since just a second earlier he had completely retreated within himself, all shy and conscious of his speech. And with her words of assurance i am not sure if what she brought out was not more ‘dragon’ than Dolarhyde.
He seems to be rather good at this chameleonic switch flicking between moods and personalities.
All this lovely jubbly business aside the episode also had a whole load of stuff i was really not expecting to see and certainly not to see that much of. I thought we’d done the murder scene walk through already but no, we revisited it.. again and again and again! And each time it was more and more bloody and horrendous… gratuitous gore and violent imagery. Yes, Will’s mind spins out of control but why wait to show us a blood covered room only now? I found the repetition and escalation nearly unbearable. And it got downright horrendous when it turned out it was just the image of the female which was repeated so shockingly. The second even more unpleasant ‘surprise’ was that contrary to what i had been lead to believe by Fuller’s statements the actual act of murder was shown and not only that but the full implication of what Dolarhyde was doing. There really was no mistaking it and apart from showing the 2 bodies together nothing much else was left to the imagination.
There was also the shudder inducing tail of the dragon which was also very scary for me, but it really didn’t even come close to the above which invaded the episode several times and which i have a really hard time extricating from my visual memory. I don’t know what else they could have shown us that they decided not to, but to me this was pretty much showing us exactly what had happened in graphic detail.
I for one will have a mountain to climb to find any sympathy whatsoever after this, regardless of what they will show me next. They made perfectly sure that the act itself is burned into my memory.
There were a couple of things which i wasn’t quite sure why they were there.
I understand taking Hannibal out of his cell and letting him wonder around in his memories and an imaginary world he enjoys makes sense, especially visually, but i don’t care much about Abigail or bringing her back this way. Just fillers which i hope will take up less time in future episodes.
I don’t get why Dolarhyde strokes Will’s image with a finger and then licks the ink? Or was it Hannibal’s face he was licking? Either way that was in a way weirder even than the dragon tail.
All in all a good episode, for me the best of the season, or the first one that really gelled and worked in terms of dialogue as well, less psycho-babble and more actual interaction. If they had started the season like this i doubt they would be where they are now. But it is what it is. As far as horror shows go i guess this was spot on. Certainly creeped me out beyond my comfort zone. All i want to do is go grab Reba and drag her away from Dolarhyde et co as fast and as far away as possible.