The split

Back on Hannibal, spoilers for ep 11 ahead for the many who haven’t seen it yet. Try to stay away from reading or seeing anything if you can, it works so much better if you come to it fresh 🙂

Image Sophie Giraud/NBC

By now i am completely out of the loop, but i’ve been out of it pretty much from the beginning. I personally prefer not to see or read anything about each episode before i see it, so don’t watch trailers and don’t look at pictures. I usually get round to it somewhere at the start of the weekend for a run through in peace and then get on with stuff that happens over the weekend. I’m currently on a business trip so even less time than usual and even longer hours in front of my PC during the day. It’s not completely out of my mind but i find it extremely hard to sit back down in front of the computer screen after being at it for 9-10h a day.

I’m finding this one quite hard to write about, for several reasons. One, because the relative emotional high point of ep10 is a single blink in the series and i know it is all back to bad and worse, confirmed of course by ep11. So there are increasing depths of emotional low to come, which – while interesting to experience – are much harder to write about.

The other reason is that i am finding amongst the excitement about it all that i am having a quite solitary experience in the end. While i experience pretty much the same rush of following something ‘as it happens on TV’, trying not to be spoiled before means i don’t get to look at anything and stuff is everywhere. So anticipation is somewhat solitary and it sort of becomes even more isolated after that. While i am usually trying to find the time to watch in peace reviews are already out and i’ve barely had time to sit down with it. Because i still have problems understanding some actors and their lines i tend to like watching twice before i make up my mind about things, but i don’t really have the time to do it 2x back to back. In last weeks the weekend went by without getting the chance to do so and, by that time, i have to duck everyone and everything again because it has all been written about, gifed, talked about and dissected 100-fold and i wouldn’t get a chance to actually think about how i feel about the show, what it made me think about, what i found interesting or not.

I know Tv is being consumed fast and en-masse, i do that with some stuff too, but the things i am really interested in i want to spend time with. Excitement about it for me means i want to see the new ep but it doesn’t translate into rush to put it behind me or chew my way through it; quite the contrary, i enjoy taking my time, especially because i’ve not had the chance before to see anything R has done as it was first broadcast.

It is a bit sad though not to be able to engage with the discussion. By the time i’ve half made up my mind about the episode everyone has already moved on to trailers for the next… while i am left to read back and see what people thought about the last. However, i am sure there are plenty others out there feeling the same way.

But – even though solitary – i am enjoying the experience and it is certainly made more interesting by the structure of the show itself, the fact that it has a non-linear narrative, that it is layered and does assume some prior knowledge of material,. etc. It is a bit like a puzzle as well as just a story on TV. You can play with it and engage with it on any level you want. You can follow the action, you can dissect the dialogue and find the clues, you can just laugh at it when it gets too strange, you can revel in camera angles, like/dislike wardrobe choices, you can compare accents, you can block the images out and focus on the sound, etc. Which is why repeat viewing can be very interesting 🙂

For me this episode was one of breakups and breakdowns. Let’s face it, no relationships in this show are quite ‘normal’ and none were intact to start with. There were little cracks here and there, but you could hope that at least some could be healed. (Hope… not a word i should be associating with this show! LOL) However this last episode went a bit like the wave of an earthquake through the ranks and almost nobody was left undamaged.

image NBC .. now they’re truly done

Hannibal and Will’s ‘relationship’ was never what it used to be from the start of the series but in his attempt to lure Will back in Hannibal has for the first time really lost the plot and failed to judge things in the right balance. Is being locked up starting to affect the good doctor’s finesse? Trying to take Will’s family away from him and confirming it with such unconcerned glee is surely the beginning of the end for those two. Maybe it is good for Will to be reminded of what H really is, in case he harboured any nostalgia. But that is one breakup that cannot be repaired.

Any ties Alana might have felt to H have been severed too and it is not just that she took the loo away 😉 I don’t think H will be able to forgive that lack of courtesy 😉 She does enjoy having the upper hand in this power play for now, we’ll see how it works out, but i would say again trust has been broken both ways and negative consequences are to be expected.

Aside – not that i would expect anyone to trust Hannibal. I don’t know why they didn’t figure out earlier he had been talking to Dolarhyde or why they thought he would just meekly keep him on the line for the police to catch! The naivety..

Then there is Jack – if Will had any doubts left as to where Jack’s priorities lie he’s been set straight at the hospital. Not much remorse then, Jack? It’s become obvious that he probably even considered Will’s family could be victimised in the pursuit of Dolarhyde but pushed Will in that direction nevertheless. I don’t think trust can be recovered in this relationship either.

Sadly, even Will’s family seems to be falling apart. Getting chased by a serial killer could do that i guess, but something was not quite whole there either. I had the feeling that although he might have told them about his past neither Molly nor Will himself ever dealt with the consequences of it. She seemed to have ignored it as best she could and he’s kept it locked up, not really finding in her an open ear for what he went through. It’s now dawned on Molly the past is not really forgiven and forgotten and i wonder if their relationship was ever on sound enough ground to survive such stress…

Molly’s son on the other hand also feels betrayed. He’s not had all that much time with Will as a father figure and the straightforward child’s mind immediately detects the possible similarities between both Will and potentially Dolarhyde being locked up in a mental hospital for murder. And Will can’t really explain the difference either…(Which also clearly points the finger to the similarities of Will and Hannibal also being locked up in the same mental institution. While Will was not guilty at the time he was put there, by the time he left he had made an attempt on H’s life via proxy) This very difficult conversation between Will and the boy was one of the most distressing scenes in the episode, particularly the instance when the boy insists Will should kill the man who made an attempt on their life (Dolarhyde) and not just lock him up to be treated…. It’s a chilling instance and much more frightening than any murder in the show: is it just the child’s anger at his mother’s injuries? is the desire to murder in everyone, even so small, if given the right circumstances?

I fear the bonds that held Will’s family together have been broken.

And then of course there is Reba and Francis. And Francis and the dragon… 3 is definitely too many in this relationship and for her own safety Francis decides to remove Reba from it.

Some of this breakdown of a barely sprouting connection between Reba and Francis is Hannibal’s doing. This particular scene is a mockery of the comfort and safety a psychiatrist consultation room normally provides and H does everything in his power to give the dragon wings and stamp Francis’ fragile humanity into the ground. He suggests he only has Reba because of the power of the dragon when Francis speaks in awe of his recent experience (some of the best lines in the episode): “I put my hand on her beating heart. Heard the sound of her living voice. A living woman… how bizarre.”  I really liked the use of the word ‘bizzare’. A striking reminder of the fact that Francis’ human side  is ‘bizzare’ to him, it’s new and fresh, inexperienced and vulnerable. And H prays on this vulnerability, suggesting he would never have had Reba had it not been for the dragon, thus accentuating Francis’ fears that the dragon will take her away from him and he will not be able to stop him. Deviously, H suggest he give the dragon Will’s family instead, thereby effectively pulling the 2 sides of Dolarhyde apart and completing the rupturing of his personality.

Image NBC .. the devil whispers..

The split is complete and we are treated with the spectacular visuals of the hatching of the dragon accompanied by the growth of the dragon’s tail and unfolding of its wings. The creature beastly howls at a rolling full moon.

Set on this path of what he believes to be Reba’s salvation Francis enjoys a last moment of ‘domestic bliss’ wearing a lighter coloured and neatly tucked t-shirt and enjoying a martini with Reba leaning against him… while watching his secret surveillance videos of the dragon’s next victims… Molly and her son. The whole scene is sad and creepy on so many levels… He is just going through the motions, but his focus is on the film far more than the women snuggled up against him. His warm, almost reassuringly whispering voice talks about ‘animals at night at the zoo’. And while Reba leans comfortably in we suddenly see Molly on the screen and the whole horror of the situation hits home.

Image NBC

The actual night attack scene was extremely well done, pure thriller material and enjoyable in a sick-ish way 😉 I’d have enjoyed it more if it was part of a normal action move because then i would have known mother and son would very likely get away. But with them mixing up the book material you never know which way things will go. The semi transparent cap Dolarhyde wore and the black leathers were a good choice, if only he wasn’t the bad guy! But out of context i very much enjoyed the view of black leather jacket, jeans and big leather boots 🙂 Not so much those horrible dentures! (howling at the moon again in frustration and all that)

Image NBC

When he fails to capture Molly his fate is sealed as he believes it to be the confirmation of his weakness in front of the dragon. Insert the other horrible scene in this episode, much worse than the chase that preceded it. Dolarhyde being punished by the dragon (in his mind) and in reality, punishing himself. It’s a visually stunning execution of the dragon’s force, including the dragon holding Dolarhyde up by his neck and choking him. And then there are the flashes of Francis actually hitting himself. It was excruciating to watch and it is painful to write about. Never mind if R actually did the handstands unassisted or not, or how they lifted him by a harness to simulate the dragon manhandling him. The images that made my stomach clench were of R gripping his own throat and then hitting himself quite obviously for real and quite viscously too and then collapsing convincingly into a heap, all streaked with fake blood. I really wasn’t prepared for that.

Image NBC

Following this defeat, a bruised and battered Francis goes to Reba and finally decides to break up with her ‘because he doesn’t want to hurt her’. It’s a disturbing scene as Dolarhyde shifts between the dragon and the human persona from one minute to the next confusing Reba even more. His voice goes from very deep and aggressive (asking Reba how it feels to not see the light) to collapsing tearfully against her and then dragging himself away, having resolved to leave her. The question about the light is however not necessarily meant to hurt her, but to understand ‘ is to worse to have seen it and lost it?’ Is it worse to have experienced love, even briefly and loose it than to never have felt it at all?She replies initially there is always something to enjoy but he feels threatened by the intensity of his feelings for her (and the perceived danger from the dragon). She tries to reassure him that the feeling of confusion is normal and tries to soothe him by caressing his face. I love Reba’s lines here, there are wise in some way, or at least borne out of experience but not resentment, in spite of everything she has such a positive view of life. What a contrast to poor Dolarhyde… as soon as she touches his scar he seems to be instantly reminded that (in his mind) he can never have her if he can’t protect her so it almost bursts out of him: “i can’t be with you”.

Image NBC

She is understandably confused and hurt and thinks he is just looking for excuses to break up with her. He however feels almost relieved he’s managed to make that decision and sad and frightened at the same time.He tries to reassure her that he is only afraid he will hurt her, which she doesn’t believe (how could she imagine what is really going on with him?). I am glad they let the music be sad and soft in this scene to give us a last glimpse of what we hoped for in the last episode and what could have been but now can’t.

It’s clear how much he hurts for loosing her and you have to wonder what will happen next since he’s now lost his fragile link to humanity…The fear is justified as he unravels further when he turns to H  for advice over the phone, only to be fed more b******t about his becoming and is split again between dragon (‘do you know how easily she would tear?’) and Francis (‘she called me a man, a sweet sweet man..’).

It is fascinating to watch R’s acting in this downward spiral. From buttoned up, tightly controlled murderer to gradually opening up to some human feelings, the amazement of the world that seems to be out there, almost in his grasp, to the way H uses this vulnerability and the world of hurt he plunges in. And then also listen to the unique voice he gives Francis, with all its quirks and slippages and hurdles, its almost hushed tone. And at the same time act the emergence of the dragon, with the other-worldly viciousness about it, with its completely different voice, its coldness of tone. And the world of sound between the two: the rumble of the dragon in the background,Dolarhyde’s grunts and mumbles, the desperate tearful breaths, the animalistic howls of the dragon. He may not speak very many words, but between the looks and sounds two very different and completely distinct personalities emerge. And the fine tuning is so precise that across 3 episodes we’ve come to instantly know if we’re looking at the dragon or Francis.

We’ve all been struck initially by the physicality of the portrayal, but although it still is a significant component of the character it has certainly taken a secondary place to the subtleties of his emotions and conflicts. And in somebody with such a striking physique it is impressive when it gets outweighed so quickly and decisively by the strength of artistic personality and creativity.

It has all been quite a tormenting and dark episode, but i still laughed out loud in one instance: Hannibal blaming the choice of murdered families on…. social media! ‘Can’t be too careful with those privacy settings!’ The show likes to tip its hat to the fans and this was a simply hilarious waving of hands in a gesture of hello 🙂 It did frustrate me that Will did not catch H’s innuendo about seeing his own family in his dreams… about the targets not being Hannibal’s family and Will being the one to let them die… come on!! How many more clues do you need Will???? It’s season 3 ep 11 not s1e1!

Image NBC

The famous H mask finally makes an appearance but for me it is too late to make a true impact, i still think D’s crooked teeth are far scarier!

I also giggled at the poke at the original book material in terms of ways of communication between H and Dolaryde (personal adds, toilet paper ;-)) and at Will saying with emphasis ‘i’m just about worn out with you crazy son’s of bi***es’. Yes, me too 🙂

I guess in the end they were right, everything and everyone changed in this episode.