Berlin Station- before the end of S1

Apologies to those who are waiting for more details of the Love Love Love play. Hopefully I’ll be able to post a bit more about it before heading off to see parents for Christmas. It’s been a bit hectic lately but I did want to just say a few things about Berlin Staion ep 9 before the finale.

I’m borrowing riepu’s amazing gif to illustrate the reason why I have kept watching the series 😉

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Kindly borrowed from riepu10 on tumbler 🙂

 

I have to say there have been less surprises in the series than I would have expected based on reading Steinhauer’s books. Or at least I have not been very surprised, including in episode 9. I hope some twist has been reserved for the finale otherwise I would be pretty disappointed with the overall plot and it’s predictability.

Don’t know about you but I didn’t think it was in the least bit shocking that the Germans were one step ahead of the game. It has been clear all along Esther knew more than she disclosed and they/she had been onto at least Daniel from very early on. And let’s not forget they are the ‘home’ team. They would be doing a very poor job of it if they weren’t at least as smart as they appear to have been. I also never thought Hans was quite as innocent as Frost seemed to believe. And wasn’t it Kirsch who actually warned Frost at some point about Hans and trusting him too much?

Speaking of which it seems to me where the spy-business is concerned Hans and Kirsch were the most professional all along and reasonably good at their job and mostly getting their priorities straight. Well, Kirsch might still turn to Mossad but I don’t really think so at this stage.

Sandra would probably also make a better spy than most in that section, I hope she stays. Otherwise that station really does seem in a bit of a mess. I am really tired of Valerie’s chips on the shoulder. I don’t think anyone with that much baggage and prejudice could make an effective and competent agent. The least an agent could do is listen to what others say, even if only to factor all information into the equation. If the series really would have wanted to shake things up from traditional settings they could have switched roles between Kirsch and Valerie. That would have made for interesting dynamics. But the way things have gone for both Frost and Valerie I could only say good riddance.

I mean Frost bumps into Kirsch and gives his wife an envelope for Sandra?? Really? I have to say Richard Jenkins played Frost really well, but the level of incompetence and bumbling around stretched the imagination for somebody who is supposed to be really experienced.

I’m not sure the CIA had to be quite such a mess in comparison to the German team, all the way more composed, professional, etc. Too big a contrast really.

I do have a niggle about Esther though 🙂 She dresses way too flashy for a spy! All that red in winter in Germany? But I’m willing to close an eye here because she’s a really interesting character and obviously a good spy. I’m not so willing to forgive her all the furs! In this day and age that is laying it on unnecessarily thick! It would stand out way too much. As se generally does, she’s a bit too much of a head turner to be a discrete spy 😉

There is one thing that really bothers me about the German team operated. They knew Julien had killed Clauda from the very beginning but let the game play out to catch out the entire CIA station. It doesn’t bother me from a plot element perspective. It’s just a cold calculated move, which was necessary to achieve the other goals of course since catching Julien at such an early stage would not have given them the CIA station but still… it’s cold. Poor Claudia, who I really liked died for nothing 😦 And of course Ingrid was used in the process, she just doesn’t realise it. But as much by the home team as she thinks by the Americans… sad view of freedom of press. But that is within the scope of the series so well done on that. I wonder though if these side effects which are however very important are evident enough? I would have liked for Ingrid to get a bit of insight into it or somebody to reflect on the lives of the completely innocent lost with no purpose at all. (Yes, there have been many deaths but Claudia’s was the most innocent one).

I was sorry Julien had to die but I didn’t see another solution for that plot line either, it was more a question of when rather than if. I am doubly sorry because I think Sabin Timbrea did a great job with the character and its multiple sides and he was really interesting t to watch. If I have enough reasons to watch S2 I will miss him.

Hector still is an interesting character as is his ‘friendship’ with Daniel, as much as 2 spies can be friends. I thought the dynamic between those two took a while to develop but there is something there (though it could have been so much more though had it been given some more attention). I do think Hector got progressively less interesting though and turned less complex in the end than initially anticipated. Some things were hammered home way too often and way too much, to the point where I didn’t feel the whole detail about what happened in Morocco in visual detail was necessary at all. At the point where it came we had already figured out what had happened there. To me it was completely superfluous.

I’m also not quite buying Patricia. I don’t think her being so calm while with Julien actually made sense since nothing indicated Julie was particularly stable or reliable on his actions. The tiny video from ep 10 only made things worse (like a lot of these previews have… ) she appears to judge Daniel for things that attracted her to Hector?! How does that make any sense at all. By the way I also didn’t buy that chemistry at all. The only way that could turn out making any sense at all is if she herself turns out to be a spy, a German one for example. Otherwise al her actions and words are a bit silly really.

Lastly Daniel – the character who seemed to mostly be around but not do much, whose actions seem to have limited consequences, other than when he just lets Hector do his thing. He seems to have been relegated to being the eternal observer, more than a character he is a collection of reactions. Those reactions have been well acted but I can’t help feeling very disappointed with the lack of meat on the bones of this character. And the fact that he has been used quite a bit as ‘meat’ at the same time. I am not saying those scenes have not been well done, but they didn’t actually take the character anywhere. At least Daniel had enough spy sense to not reveal anything either. Nothing the Germans or Esther got was from Daniel directly. It was just that, cat and mouse games.

What do we know about Daniel at the end of 10 episodes? That he thinks more than he acts, in fact that he seems largely reluctant to act, that he has some compass of right and wrong, that he has some family and that he does his job. None of it out of the ordinary, in fact he has been exceedingly ordinary. Just on that side of competent to not screw up – though that can be debated as every time he actively did not stop Hector a massive screw up happened. Is that enough after 1 episodes? If he was played by anyone else and I didn’t indulge myself in wordless minute acting would I care about the character? I doubt it. If he were to return I’d want a lot more for the character! Evil, good I don’t care at this point, just more to sink acting teeth in. Less of walking around being beautiful scenery.

I don’t think Hector will be killed off, Daniel would not have let him go if that was the case and there is potential to continue that story line further if both stick with S2 – one outside the system and the other inside (? But with doubts I guess?). That could certainly open things up.

Where do we go from here? No idea, the station is an unprofessional mess, I guess they need to sort that out in S2. I think it is fair for the home team to win, that is their job after all. I’m still I think with Hector/Ingrid thought it is not as black and white as they think and I’d wish Ingrid to be the third in the game if you will with much more awareness of everything that has gone on and less one sided view of events. I’d like there to be a link between her and Daniel , but that is wishful thinking and investing in a character that I don’t think will evolve that way and who, if he was to stay what he is in his job also wouldn’t evolve that way.

If Daniel’s role should stay exactly as it is and nothing more I think I’d rather he be killed off and move on to the next project. I can see some potential but it’s been a long shoot and a lot of time investment for something that as a character has yet to really pay off for RA. He can do so much more and I have difficulty understanding why the writers would choose to underuse him.

Mixed bag all along with positives that I really needed to draw out and which were mostly either in actors who were given too little time or have been killed off. Not nearly as engaging a watch as I had hoped for and with the major flaw that the characters one could most closely engage with and sympathise for were killed off while too many of the remaining ones are simply annoying or too one dimensional.

I’m rooting for a big clean up in the season finale.

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Berlin Station

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There is a definite level of excitement in the air due to a certain play starting its previews soon, but, since there will be time to talk about it once we know more, it’s time for me to try and get back into the writing saddle.

It’s been a long and difficult year and though i have seen many good things, reality has taken precedence over enjoyment of art. I hope to catch up on some of these, especially the few which have made lasting impact. This weekend however has marked the end of the 2016 Proms’ season as well as the start of both the Wigmore and the ROH seasons. And it was the first time in a really long stretch that a few good performances accumulated in a short period of time. I had come to fear that reality had numbed me completely to the joys of music since it had been nearly a year since i could say i really enjoyed something i saw or heard.

The late iIndiansummer and a few days of full on sunshine together with a great season start seem to have done the trick and i finally feel a little bit like myself again. Hopefully the impact will be lasting.

So, on the ‘vitamin’ boost provided by a splendid Norma at the Royal Opera House, a hilarious Barbiere at the same ROH (enjoy the lovely Javier Camarena singing Almaviva for BBC 3’d In Tune here )and an excellent Platonov at the National (all in the space of just 2 days) i feel i recognise again what ‘good’ feels like 🙂

Do watch Javier sing! You’ll definitely feel like 200 year old Rossini is fit for the charts today 🙂

Oh, and have a look around the Platonov page, there is a hilarious quiz video online from Chekhov on it 🙂 And by the way, my friend and i lay claim to having discovered the wonderful James McArdle (who plays the lead in Platonov)!  We thought he was great in the James plays two years ago and he is really good here too, hilarious and tragic at the same time, wise beyond his years, definitely one to watch. The whole cast is superb and Jonathan Kent’s productions are a joy of atmosphere and clever design. Go see if you can (just remember on McArdle, we were there first – Not really, he’s already been recognised with some awards ;-)).

And a few days before that there was the Last Night of the Proms, with these 2 memorable and uniquely funny moments from Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez (whom we all affectionately call Juandi :-)):

The perfect entertainer, wouldn’t you agree? And turning up looking like that, as the last king of the Inca LOL – unbeatable 🙂 Love him.

Sorry for the long digression/introduction but i thought i’d share some joy with you in case you prefer not to go on reading.As the above was also very helpful in compensating for a feeling of disappointment after watching the first 2 episodes of Berlin Station. Not all bad but certainly not what i was hoping for after a long drought of content. I went back and forth about writing something that was not as enthusiastic as people might expect but decided to go with it. Not everything we see is good and everything can’t always be excellent and that’s ok. So please feel free to stop here if you’d rather not read my doubts. 

Berlin Station – the good bits

  • The trailers and promos are all tight, interesting, intriguing and fast paced; the heighten suspense and make you want to watch;
  • the opening credits as well as all the graphics are fab, punchy, modern, journalistic- i really really like them;
  • the cinematography – very ‘noir’ with a lot of steel greys, dark skies, low lights etc It looks good on screen, there is no doubt about it and they had a brilliant camera crew;
  • I like the camera angles, close ups which make you feel like the person right next to the one on screen; The shots from above are also beautiful; the extra angles we have won due to drones 🙂 There was same crane filming around Claudia’s house as we saw i a BTS photo but there are shots from much higher up which can only be done by drones. It’s certainly the new kind of perspective which adds a lot visually (although i wonder what the rules are in Berlin, hereabouts drone filming over populated areas is prohibited);
  • I like some of the soundtrack, Bowie is a topical though good choice. BUT, the almost incessant thumping  and beat in 90% of the scenes was way too much.
  • The Germans – i like them all, even Zeitungs-Ingrid – although she is forced into a lot of OTT acting; the rest however are very natural, normal and understated in some cases. They certainly come off much better and more credible on screen than any of the ‘American’ lot; There are some problems, in as one can tell which of the cast are from the German side although not representing Germans in the series; Except for Ingrid they certainly get the better share of the dialogue, maybe just by the simple fact that there is much less of it.
  • I particularly liked Hans reaction to his former employee’s crude comment  – pretty much the most satisfying scene in the entire 2eps;
  • Claudia’a character was somebody we could warm to and i object to them getting rid of her so soon;
  • Kelly Frost – i really enjoyed her too; comfortably wifey without overdoing it, again a multidimensional character with a lot of wordless acting and also some good lines. I liked the fact that she came across as quite strong, much better defined in fact in spite of fewer scenes than many of the male characters.
  • Hector/RI – probably the best thing that happened to the series; greatly aided imho by the fact that he too has far fewer lines and Rhys Ifans gets to do a lot of wordless acting which is is excellent at. His American accent is minimal and natural and i had a laugh listening to one of his interviews; i never realised how strong his Welsh accent still is 🙂 The difference is truly startling. I don’t quite believe a real chemistry with Faisal, but then again it is not clear that he returns his feelings. What is clear however is that Hector cares, about great many things, in many different ways. I also like that his body language is limber and together with the Germans he displays none of the stiffness and almost confusion of movement/posture that comes across in most of the others. Having killed off Claudia thus swiftly he really is the only one i cared about/for and was interested in at the end of the first 2 episodes.
  • Kirsch – to some degree, his brand of patriotism/professionalism? feels a bit old fashioned and anachronistic but he does manage to make it almost realistic for the character; It’s one dimensional so far, but it comes across as credible, swearing and all.
  • love the old Berlin cafe where Frost and Hans meet – the kind of place i love to go to 🙂 And a relief from the overload of graffiti-walls (which i am pretty sure are somewhat less omnipresent in Berlin than the eps seems to indicate);
  • i like the old shoe-maker and his crew- maybe a bit old fashioned spy-stuff but it is effective as a  ‘make the viewer smile’ device and interesting use of non-electronic communication;
  • quite like the last roof scene with Hector and Daniel, or rather the idea of it;

So, there are quite a few positives, cinematography and characters being important parts of what i think would make a series successful. But it’s not a good summary if the most credible characters are all secondary and only 1 of the supposed main characters is engaging and intriguing. And if the intrigue comes mostly when they stop talking… Which leads me to my reasons for being disappointed as a viewer:

Berlin Station – the things that didn’t convince me

  • There are a few, but i guess one could say most are minor details (although the devil is in the detail in terms of credibility on screen) except for the one major one – the dialogue. The lines are bad, really bad. I can’t say i had a flowing viewing experience in any of the scenes involving dialogue. As soon as people opened their mouths the exchanges mostly stopped me in my tracks with their awkwardness. Worse, the characters looked awkward saying these things, with pauses filled with uncomfortable viewing. They didn’t look as if they thought what they were saying and it showed. It really doesn’t help engage me if instead of focusing on the action i keep rolling my eyes at what comes out of their mouths. Take a spy/analysit like Daniel saying ‘wow’ to being deployed to Berlin… really? Wow? Instead of a more interesting facial expression? The whole argument presented by the guy he replaces re the leak and Shaw sounded fake and only a device to let Daniel drill in again the consequences.The exchange between Ingrid and Claudia started off well but then went into implausible conversation in a public space; the whole making history as an almost one liner and bam, she is convinced again, really? Never mind the utter crudeness of Ingrid’s comment to her about getting laid (it was much worse in German). The whole exchange sounded like an unlucky translated version from English rather than a genuine conversation. Then there are all the astoundingly glib dialogues between Frost and his secretary/mistress. He’s supposed to be both clever (since chief) and moral but that’s the kind of stuff he says? Shaking head. It does things to my brain to see such an intelligent actor portray somebody who comes across as simple to say the least. Ingrid’ rant on the balcony although maybe justified by grief/anger also comes across as not quite right – ‘may you die in a drone strike?’ from an experienced journalist to somebody working in Berlin?
  • some story lines are unoriginal and others unnecessary- they use the disgruntled/overlooked employee 3x in 2 eps! Daniel to his boss in Panama, Valery 2x and also the German information/spy to Hans (overlooked for promotion) – are there no other reasons/backgrounds/actions to be found? Are all bosses meant to be stupid and their employees better? (Well, certainly not valid for Hans, but you get the idea). Then there is Gerald who gets shipped back to the US. Why invest in a character on his way out? Unless he isn’t on his way out but his family dropping him just like a hot potato was another cliche moment/rolling my eyes. Which by the way was signaled way too hard and too much in advance;
  • too much advance signaling (give us  some credit!)- Ingrid tells Claudia to get laid and lo and behold she gets picked up in the bar next (duh!); Gerald goes on and on and on about his wife and Budapest and of course he gets dumped as soon as things go south. We hear about Daniel’s past in Berlin again and again and again in the most improbably of circumstances, EVEYRONE talks about it, the unknown woman i  Panama, Valery at first sight and in their very first meeting, etc etc And apparently somebody who is CIA feels comfortable reacting to it and engaging in his past in Berlin with everyone. I do get it is relevant, but it would have been more effective, especially in terms of indicating it’s scarred him in some way if less was said. The secretary tells Frost he should get his wife to be his secretary so they could talk , cue wife wants to know more about his work, or the other way around but still – rolling eyes. Faisal fears he will get found out, Faisal gets found out. And don’t even start me about the ‘weird guy’ who is used as courier between Shaw and Claudia. We get a really good look of him being made to look really weird so you now he will do something! The only one not expecting it is analyst Daniel , who unlike the viewer does not get the clue.Weird guy ends up being a killer… duh. (As if normal people would not get involved in the Shaw thing , had to be somebody ‘weird’).
  • talking about obvious – poor Claudia, being careful and acting as secret courier but not noticing the big hunkering guy always 2 meters behind her and around her and always wearing the same things and cloaked and in cap and hoodie. If i had somebody lumbering round me like that i tell you i’d be completely freaked out. It just isn’t believable that somebody acting this strange and looking this suspicious wouldn’t attract attention.
  • the additional storylines around Faisal, Ioseva and so on, there is a quite a lot of it and it gets really confusing, how important is it, what is the main story line, what are we supposed to pay attention to? There is so much thrown in, especially in ep 1 one cannot possibly be expected to come out of it with a clear idea of what to follow. It is way too much, between trying to introduce all characters, several story lines, Panama, Shaw, Ioseva, family stuff. By the time the ep ends one is exhausted with too much information and can’t possibly remember what is what and what is important. I for one had completely forgotten at some point Daniel is supposed to get shot as it didn’t seem relevant at all anymore. The only clear thing in my head tbh was Hector and that he is somewhat involved in everything. Less is definitely more in story telling; ease people into it gently, you don’t need to tell them so much in 1ep, as you have 9 more to go. The scope of ep 1 is not to tell everything , not even to set the scene to everything, but to get people interested, hook them with something/someone. The more things and people = the more confused they become. And they will forget most of what you told them and few will bother to go back.
  • why are the safehouses such dumps? I expect a cockroach to crawl out every corner any minute. Spartan i get but are we to believe light and activity in a derelict building is really not going to attract attention?
  • the meeting with the woman from the German BfV – very James Bond but not quite – dialogue cryptic but not really funny; again all we get is that spies ‘know stuff’ (we never get much in the way of how do they know); But we get a sense i think that Daniel likes to handle the women.
  • why does Daniel find a cat in Claudia’s flat 2 days after she supposedly threw herself out of the window? Does German police not investigate suicides? Or in 2 days it was all case closed and done with, no signs of them searching the apartment, putting tape to prevent entrance. My, are they efficient… or wait, they are completely useless, they searched and investigated but failed to find the cat in the flat. It all makes perfect sense… since we need a cat to signal Daniel is partly human and cares, he certainly can’t be asked to show us that with his face/body language. Cat is better idea (NOT!);
  • Also it is absolutely relevant to show him dressing wet after a shower and then toweling himself off, then walking to a window, not a trace of damp from the recent shower on his skin, to what? Show us he cares/thinks about Berlin/remembers something? nope, just to show us a Berlin skyline and the fact that he still hasn’t unpacked his suitcase – that certainly explains while he keeps wearing the same clothes, if nothing else. I’d rather see something on his face than see his briefs, thanks very much, slightly more relevant to the story.
  • the impersonated picker-upper for Claudia is the only human face of Daniel we get apart from the interaction with his nephew. But his human face is a d*ck. I would certainly not have a drink with a fella who says about his potential blind date ‘i hope it’s not her’. But then again, as Ingrid bluntly told us, Claudia needed to get laid so doesn’t matter he’s an ….
  • Panama – a bloke walks around in the jungle with no tools, bags, anything and finds a box in the forest; he looks good but it’s a bit out of context to say the least;
  • the mum- story – again maybe a bit too much, not only was she cheating, she was cheating with a spy and then she died going off in her cheating ways with the spy; why do they have to lay it on quite as thickly? Just like it’s not enough Faisal give some secrets away because he believes he can help, he also has to be gay and in love with Hector. I do get the point about complexity and nothing is quite like it seems but i wonder if less again wouldn’t have been more, making it a bit more believable;
  • Daniel keeps going to the roof to talk (just so we can get the eye-graffiti imagine – which would have been more effective had we seen a bit less graffiti everywhere) until he decides not to go to the roof anymore and makes the call from his desk about the photo he is about to send.
  • USB sticks – this really bugged me; in an age where already 10 years ago we couldn’t use USB sticks at work with our laptops we are to be believe somebody grabbed CIA data on them? Because not only Claudia seems to get them from Shaw, they were also in the box in Panama. It’s a very crude device for modern age spying, very out of date since picking up and using a USB stick is a big no-no from a security pov these days.And they seem to be all over the place in BSt.
  • language points – these are relevant for me, but i don’t think relevant generally for audiences; at present it seems unlikely this will air in Germany and in any case it probably wouldn’t air in original anyway. But the variety of pronunciations of cities such as Budapest and Berlin drive me nuts. Particularly because they are neither here nor there, neither the English version of the name nor the original but something in between. Also different characters pronounce it differently. I guess this is possible, but i find it very irritating. The German is… generally bad. I could ignore it were it not for the few scenes where the characters interact with the locals in ways which seem to indicate they dominate the language convincingly. It does things to my brain watching those as i can hardly make out what they want to say, but the locals seem to understand perfectly and answer i German of course, which is utterly surreal. Kirsch makes an understandable stab at it and Hector does in  his limited lines but it’s the less bad of the bunch, not really good . Especially when Faisal (who is supposed to be another foreigner) and Ioseva (same) open their mouths and out comes utterly fluent, barely accented German. But, as said, relevant to German speakers and thankfully easily ignored by everyone else. I expected more however, or rather less lines but better articulated. Certain American accents are also much less convincing to me than others, see notes on Hector above. But that might be just my ears.
  • I don’t find Kirsch’s swearing too much, he manages to just build it into his lines like breath 🙂 But why is everyone else swearing so much as well? Lots of crude language but prudishness in other areas. Why the kiss between Claudia and Daniel? Given how the pick up went isn’t it more credible they would actually end up in bed together? A one night stand would have seemed more logical to me almost rather than the sudden tenderness? And body parts seem to be ok in a weird bar but not in houses/hotels where underwear is quickly donned or sheets cover up everything.
  • And then there is the whole disappointing fact that Daniel is neither a sympathetic character, nor one with an apparent complex inner life. Just an analyst/spy who we are told is clever. We see files and photos, weird magazines and such, but we don’t see thoughts on his face and most of all we see only feelings which are set up in backgrounds suggesting they are fake. We do see the extremely effective turning on and off of personality in some quick phone conversations or with Hector but it’s mostly because i looked for it specifically. We’re told this is the main story line, Daniel&Thomas Shaw but we don’t get to see it through an emotionally engaging lens. I frankly couldn’t care less if he catches Shaw or not at this point and i certainly wasn’t made to care about Daniel at all. Neither with Frost or the big boss has she shown any conviction about the cause, just an almost robotic determination to do the job. The why remains un-shown, untold, unexplored.

I really like spy series and thrillers and mysteries in film. But i need intrigue, emotion, sympathy or empathy of some kind to engage or at least some political or other moral/ethical conviction. At this point they killed off Claudia, who seemed nice and have only given us a bit of Hector in exchange. The plot has already been taken almost too far and too much information has already been revealed for complete mystery or intrigue and not enough about the characters. I don’t care about anyone beyond Hector nor have i been given anything/anyone to root for. While i think the idea is very interesting with all the moral conflict it involves, the story telling is not up to scratch. It is marred by cliches, awkward dialogue, too convoluted backgrounds/motives. For a spy series this feels disappointingly lacking in subtlety, attention to detail and cleverness. And i feel a lot of acting talent gets wasted as a consequence (Richard Jenkins as Frost for one, to give just an example, but valid imho for RA as Daniel as well). It just doesn’t make for exciting viewing. If i didn’t have a side interest i don’t think i would have made it based on the storytelling alone past ep 1 😦

So, the only thing left to do for me is to put my hopes into the play. #Lovelovelove is not what i would call favourite stage material for me, but it certainly has potential and could make for a more exciting viewing experience until something else comes along.. It’s certainly well written and has well fleshed out characters 🙂 .

Leading man weekend on Drama TV

Giggles! Ok, i couldn’t resists it 🙂 I swear it’s not my line, that’s what the advert i just watched said quite literally.

My dear friend who introduced me to a certain actor just emailed me this:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/dramachannel/11-reasons-why-you-definitely-need-john-thornton-i-19vbh

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This is how he says Hello. According to the article above: ‘That word you’re looking for is “omphhh”.’ No comment!

And i just saw the last minutes of North and South on Drama TV, ggrrr, missed the thing almost entirely! However upon a hasty search through the schedule i struck gold:

http://uktvplay.uktv.co.uk/shows/north-and-south/watch-online/

I’m sorry, this is UK only, but maybe you can see it online as it is available to watch for 30 days it seems.

And if you have the whole day free, you can also watch Pride and Prejudice again in its entirety as it is just starting: http://drama.uktv.co.uk/tv-guide/

Have a lovely Sunday!

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Threesome

Warning: spoilers for Hannibal S3 finale, some gory bits, excess of caps – sorry i couldn’t stop myself.

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You can imagine this to be whatever you like 🙂

Feeling a bit melancholic today.

It’s reporting week and that just makes me sooo tired every month. The reason I never wanted a job in Finance after trying it out once was the endless cycle of month end reports and stats and such. And guess what I have ended up doing? Yup. Though it could be worse, it could actually be monthly accounts, but it’s not, it’s just some other sort of monthly statistics. Still, it involves endless staring at and manipulating of figures and communicating to a long list of people who all expect error free reports. I wouldn’t mind it as much if it didn’t suck the life out of any writing impulse I have while it happens. I get home and I just can’t even look at the pc anymore and I just want some mind-numbing activity that doesn’t involve brain cells.

Which is why I have been struggling a lot with writing about the Hannibal finale. But since i fell into bed last night when I finally got home and then woke up at 4,30 in the morning I made myself  breakfast and then sat there with my tea and watched it for a second time in peace and quiet. And chomped quite happily on Cheshire cheese and plum tomatoes and then wholegrain toast and chocolate peanut-butter all throughout. And felt pretty similar about it as the first time I watched it…

You might think this is not how you’d like to start the day, watching blood and gore, but that is actually not what comes to mind first when I think about it. I found it relaxing in a strange way. Well, engaging is probably the more appropriate word. And stimulating visually and also mentally. It is anything but boring and interesting in so many ways. I realised watching the last episode that I will really miss it. There is precious little on TV which is really original and interesting these days. It is mostly one detective story after another and few are really good. I can count the ones I enjoyed last season on the fingers of one hand +1: Banished (BBC), Poldark (BBC), Fortitude (Sky), Our Girl (BBC), Blacklist (NBC via sky) and… Hannibal. There’s been others, but nothing particularly well done or just seasons which have been nowhere as good as the previous ones. There are probably others but there’s only so much TV one can watch 😉

Basically, even if parts of season 3 I was wondering ‘where they are going with all this’? and ‘what’s the point?’, I was still interested and enjoyed spending 1h a week with H. Last week I felt as if it had nowhere to go but end.  I still can’t imagine where it could go from here, but my imagination is a bit at a loss in this universe 🙂 Which is why I enjoyed the viewing experience I am sure, as it was less predictable than most other stuff I watched. I didn’t experience the rush to watch very often, it was more looking forward to siting down in peace and unrushed and seeing where it takes me and how I react to it.

I’m not a convert to the horror genre, I have to say. And I don’t think that was typical horror fare anyway. I still don’t enjoy being scared and most of the times this was not that kind of terror, it was mostly dissection after the fact or justification of upcoming deeds. We didn’t have many victims actually being chased around and I’m ok with that. To be fair, I was also much less put off by the gore than I thought I would be. On one hand I’ve watched crime drama all my life and on the other hand I have probably seen more blood and death on the opera stage than I have seen in 3 seasons of Hannibal put together. Opera is certainly not lacking in death, blood and crazies 😉 It’s all alternative realities and stories and they don’t pursue me in my dreams or make me question the way I lead my life and my universe has nothing in common with the various fantastical ones. So I’m sort of ok with watching quite bizzare and disturbing things, it seems more so than I thought, because it just isn’t reality.

I found dead bodies much less disgusting than other strange things, like Reba’s soup or Verger dying by swallowing a fish and things like that. Very puzzling what one finds icky, it is not always what your mind tells you it will be. I was grateful in season 3 for the lack of cooking of body parts! I like my food and in season 2 I really struggled with that. It is all just too revolting to me, even in fantasy land, which is why I never really warmed to Hannibal himself. Through absolutely no fault of Mads’ 🙂 I blame it on the food stylist! 😀

Strangely enough I even sort of reconciled myself with H in season 3, in that there were quite a few times when I actually felt sorry for him. Not that many though 😉

It is true that one big draw in the series were the actors. I didn’t know all that much about them, nor had I seen them a lot before, apart from Esperanza, Fishburne and Anderson of course and the other Brit ;-).

I’ve often battled with some holes in the logic, but at the same time what I liked best was that the characters had not much logic to them. You never knew what they were going to do or say next.

It has irritated me greatly at times, especially when the censorship reared its ugly head to high (that Botticelli!) or the women were just below par as characters. And I don’t think that really changed until the end… Alana just got more and more on my nerves and in the end Bedelia just got too fuzzy for my liking.

But oh the visuals… and the camera work… and the soundtrack… what a feast for eyes and ears! I will miss this tremendously. It has changed the way I view things forever I think. The lighting was original, even though on the dark side sometimes. The editing was flawless and the camera angles drool-worthy. There were fewer straight on head shots than you normally see on TV and instead you saw people through reflections, side angles, profiles and discovered the infinite variety of facets in human faces. And the close ups…. Oh, those amazing close ups! Visually it never once got boring and it has made usual TV where you pan from one character to another during a dialogue so old-fashioned. I think in some of these respects they have re-invented the ways in which a story can be told on screen and the depth you can lend to the image without going 3D and such. And for a horror show, where everything is OTT most of the time they went the other way, especially on the acting. It’s extremely subtle and underplayed, there are no grand gestures, no waving about of arms, no raising of voices. It is where having good actors made all the difference and allowed the visual innovation.

The writing was at times brilliant and funny and at times just self-indulgent and outlandish. But I thought the acting almost always delivered and made even the most outlandish phrases seem almost natural in the context. Most of the times I really got the black humour. Sometimes it was a bit too obvious, but it had an increasing insider feel which was a whole lot of fun in itself. Especially the 3rd series felt at times like fan-fiction almost 🙂 Which Fuller has also admitted in a way. I wonder if writing the series so much for fans is the best idea. I am undecided, as there is a great pleasure to be had from seeing your wishes come true on screen 😉 And that I am sure was certainly true in series 3 for the fans of the series. I would probably normally advocate for exactly the opposite: keep them guessing, keep them wanting and keep them watching 🙂 But when the possibility of the end draws nearer I think it is the right time to give the fans a bit of what they have wanted all along. I think the series finale certainly did that.

I have moved past all the arguments about the glamourisation of the criminal universe Hannibal lives in. The books have been out there for a while, serial killers are not new to TV. Not all creative ideas are fuzzy, comfortable, some are twisted, disturbing. I don’t think it is for everyone but I also don’t think it is something that shouldn’t be. With the right disclaimers it can certainly be enjoyed 🙂 And not taken too seriously as it is not meant to be in any way even a slight depiction of reality. Just like we accept the fictional universe in say Star Trek, or Game of Thrones or some superhero movie, we can accept this one too. I found myself to be a bit hypocritical being negative about the theme of it but at the same time enjoying watching it. I still maintain some of my critical points (see above) but I don’t have a problem with the universe itself as a fictional set up.

I am glad there is something different in the Tv panorama of today, it is always good to have innovation and change and Hannibal is a great part of a trend of increased quality on the small screen. In fact over the last years I’ve seen more interesting things on TV than in the cinema and certainly better written and better made.

So yes, I will miss it, TV will be much duller without it.

What about the finale? I had to watch it twice before expressing what I felt about it, to double check.  And the first word that comes to mind is still… romantic 🙂 And in a totally fanfic  kind of way to add to that. I would almost argue they went a bit too far with it as I had to giggle and smile more than once and it overrode the abundance of blood, fleshy parts and dead bodies by a mile!

They still played games, they like it too much, but I think ultimately they created a fitting end for the fans. In case we thought we managed to outplay them last time by looking away at the right times from lip-snagging and barbecuing they made sure they cheekily re-inserted the relevant highlights in the places where you just didn’t have time to look away. So there I was slapping my palm over my eyes and ewww-ing at the TV again. I guess with Hannibal still in prison for most of the ep and Dolarhyde doing most damage with a gun, so low on gore, they wanted to make that last point.

cantwatchburn

‘I can’t stand to watch you burn’… oh that face of suffering… sniff, sniifff..

Afraid it didn’t distract me quite enough not to notice, like I did in the last ep already, that they got Chilton’s teeth wrong. Whatever happened to him, his teeth could not have changed and the lower mandible closes in most cases below the upper range of teeth. Ie the teeth overlap, they never close edge on edge the way he was shown. The devil really is in the detail 😀

Regardless of wrong teeth I was still happy Chilton survived (and how just like Hannibal to wish him not to be too ugly 😉 ).

The episodes proceeded to get rid step by step of all but the 3 male leads.

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Goodbye Hannibal… i rejected you (yeah, right….)

First on was poor Reba. I am impressed considering they had to integrated the Dolarhyde story into the overall series how much of the book material they covered and actually how faithfully. Thankfully Francis managed not to kill her, but the experience was utterly scary. All the ordering around and the fire 😦  There were flashes of Francis regretting the outcome and losing her because she ‘felt good’ but sadly, even he realises it is all over for him. Maybe I am just hanging on to some little positive thing, but I believe he showed her clearly where the key was and made sure she knew the way to the door and back not just to keep her under his control and deceive her about his death but at least subconsciously to also make sure she could make it out of there. And whether he is dead or not, their relationship could not go on 😦 😦 😦 I could barely stand it to hear the sounds of anguish when he flicked the match to the floor…

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Perspectives, lights, lines, glass, stances…. love everything about it!

I am glad they gave us the little scene with Reba and Will in the hospital. It was good to see she is resilient and will make it through and also good to see Will empathise and provide support. We’ve almost only seen him chase or interact with the bad guys and it was nice to see this side of him.  Maybe that is the side of him Molly saw…. Too bad we saw it too late and I didn’t believe him when he promised Reba to come back and see her. And I felt really touched at what Will told Molly about Dolarhyde and her relationship with him, that he wasn’t a monster but a ‘man with a freak on his back’. It is what we felt all along about their relationship and I was happy in spite of the sad ending that Fuller decided to remind viewers of the value in that relationship (remember episode for fans and all that ;-)).

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‘Meat is back on the menu’ 😀

This is where we left the book behind and we were on completely new territory. We knew the ending would somehow belong to Will and Hannibal and I never thought Hannibal inside the asylum would be it. I’m glad they decided to bring Dolarhyde into the finale. I’m taking it as a massive compliment to Armitage and his acting talents (and I don’t think it is just the fan in me speaking, or the fan in Fuller for that matter 😉 He’s a fan alright but the critics have praised Armitage’s Dolarhyde from his first appearance so it was not just the nice thing to do for fans but also the right thing to do for the series).

righteoustwitchyman

‘righteous twitchy little man’ and again those camera angles and shots to die for!

Also, while the last episode put me at odds with Will this one managed to reconciled me back again. Yes, it’s probably because they gave me enough sugar coating to swallow the bitter pill. I enjoyed the strength he managed to summon up, first to snub Hannibal when he thought a resolution had been reached and then to go back and really end it when it became obvious not taking action was no longer an option.

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Will says .. please

I’m slightly frustrated Alana got away, I always much preferred her to Chilton, but I can’t imagine her still being interesting or putting up a fight as character after a fire. At least we got to see Margot and the kid 🙂 I still think Margot had the better clothes, she always did! (Speaking of which I am prepared to forgive them that white number Hannibal wore in the church because they put him in some really nice clothes at the end).

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want a ride? (doesn’t he looks just innocent sometimes?)

Bedelia’s anger and angst was quite funny, especially with Will dismissing it. Ah, how mean and petty of her to call him a twitchy little man 😀 And only after Will revealed he will be instrumental to Hannibal’s mock escape. I almost think there is more jealousy in her reaction than fear. Will telling her in that ironic voice ‘meat’s back on the menu’ was great! Some of the best lines in the show.

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Let’s not forget the moon (what else are you looking at? tsk tsk tsk)

Speaking of lines, I’m actually not sure about Hannibal making reference to ‘mic drop’… Not that it didn’t fit the situation, but it doesn’t sound like something the smooth doctor would say. But he did say ‘he thought they called it a mic drop’ rather than owning the phrase.

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cheekbones 🙂 and those looks in his eyes

It was quite a sad interchange between Will and H, as quite of few of them have been. Even though H succeeded in wounding him again through his family I did feel throughout the series that H was loosing ground with Will. Which is why H’s baits have been getting more aggressive as of late. I think when he turned himself in he was so sure of Will he thought he would always have him there. But Will has grown stronger and has overcome some of the trauma from the past and he is not quite so dependent on Hannibal as before, probably more dependent on his darker instincts than on Hannibal (to a point). He took quite some perverse pleasure in pointing out Hannibal would have been there had Will not rejected him first… outch! I almost felt sorry when Hannibal asked if it had been good to see him again. Unrequited love can be quite painful as both Hannibal and Bedelia seem to have found out. Twitchy little Will, eh? Who knew his tender charms could have them all so dependent on him, in different ways, but still. I did see the charm myself though, especially this episode.

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‘I don’t know if i can save myself’

I felt from the point where Dolarhyde first catches him that all 3, D, Will and H were equals. And not only that but tied through weird and dark similarities. They really made for a strange sort of threesome. Each with their own weakness and insanity. None weaker than the other two, all intelligent but sadly broken, all needed something from the others and being incapable of breaking free. All on the search of some kind of freedom and staying trapped.

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all that play with perspectives… and light

I think each one is searching for an ending or senses the ending near, each thinking that the death of the other 2 would liberate him somehow. I think even Will considers of knows this ‘out’ but is secretly hoping Dolarhyde will take the decision out of his hands. It is why, unlike with everyone else, these is no fear in any of them. Why Will is neither very surprised to find Dolarhyde in front of him, nor surprised to be alive. And there is an undeniable attractiveness to all 3 characters when in these final acts they are each so self-assured. I am sure Jack knows Will is lying but this is not the Will that can be intimidated.

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Dolarhyde, finally not alone

Dolarhyde on the other hand wants to meet Lecter, I don’t think out of admiration. In all his insanity he is intelligent enough to have realised by now that Lecter has played him and that he has probably lost Reba due to the way Lecter baited the dragon and he probably thinks he can kill the dragon by killing Lecter. I am not sure he realises he is on the path of killing himself too, but it is quite possible he thinks of himself being changed rather than dead… As he himself admits, trusting Reba with some of the truth has liberated him in some way, he doesn’t feel he needs to hide any part of him anymore. This confidence and determination make him stand tall and appear more physically imposing than ever before. (Strange how there is a change in Will’s physicality as well, even he seems a notch taller than before and his posture certainly exudes more inner strength than before).

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Hannibal wounded waits for Will to act

Some, like Will and Dolarhyde have come to decisions more instinctively than consciously and some like Hannibal have been plotting all along. I feel Hannibal too has accepted the possibility of his own death, the temporary freedom only means something to him because it brings Will back not because of freedom per se. There is an almost a shrugging off attitude he has to his own death, evident when he speaks about the sea eroding his shore and the place disappearing soon, just as he thinks he will.

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the Dragon’s last flutter…

It is why he is waiting patiently and almost excitedly for the Red Dragon to catch up with them, because he expects Will to step up to the plate so to speak. He expects something from Will which he has been waiting for all along.

I don’t think I quite realised that the first time around, it was just all overwhelming, but it became clear when he dropped to the floor shot with Dolarhyde talking about changing him and the look in his eyes as he was watching Will. Dolarhyde was almost of no consequence to him in the situation, it was all about what Will would do.

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The man behind Dolarhyde. the one who managed to save Reba in the end, finally Fuller bathes his face in golden light so we can see all its beauty

In this weird world of theirs blood and death and killing people is how these broken men express their admiration, their love if you will. In spite our eyes taking in all the blood spatter and the body count growing in their path the undeniable feeling about it is one of romanticism.

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Dolarhyde burns the dragon… what an incredibly beautiful image and silhouette

It is a good thing Will has enough sanity and connection to reality left to end it 😉 Meat may be back on the menu, but it really has to be to be a one off banquet.

And given how this world is upside down it couldn’t be clearer what the whole blood fest stands for. It is probably not how the fans wrote it in fanfic, but the feeling certainly was there. And the visuals were as much a feast for the eyes as possible. Each character was dressed perfectly for who they are but the best version of themselves. I couldn’t find fault in a dragon all in black, including a black leather jacket, in Will’s finally form fitting tailored trousers and white shirt and in H’s suits and elegant dark grey form fitting top. Thankfully no silly ties or suits in sight. I mean , let’s be really honest here, they couldn’t have shown more clearly how good looking all 3 are if they tried 🙂 There was at least 1 instance each where I smiled shaking my head at Fuller, but smiling in agreement nevertheless. I’ll freely admit Mads holding a glass of wine, with much shorter hair and smiling ever so slightly (looking nothing like a killer would thankfully) looked stunning too, in that instance I really got the appeal. So yeah, I didn’t mind those 3 men in one room at the same time at all 🙂

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Redemption for Dolarhyde? finally free of the dragon…

I was really sad Dolarhyde became the sacrificial lamb in a way, but while for H it was all about Will’s reaction I think for Will it quickly became obvious that D was physically capable of overpowering any of them 2. That was not how he had started this plan and it is something he couldn’t allow. And I think also when it came down to it although he said he would watch Dolarhyde kill Hannibal he couldn’t quite do it. While they other 2 killers may have been driven by their insanity I think Will make the only possible conscious choice, choice undoubtable allowed by his own darker instincts. This is probably the only he was able to do it, indulge.. how did Bedelia put it.. an extreme sense of compassion, because in that instance it was also the right decision to make for the only possible viable outcome. He could simply not let the dragon survive and the only way to prevent that was for him and H to act together.

As horrible as the killing actually was (agrr, bloody Hannibal and his bites) the choreography was beautiful and it managed to stay just shy of animalistic and just appalling. But at the same time show what each of them are, Dolarhyde just a man, just as Will in a way, and Hannibal something so much more unhinged and unnatural. There was an eerie beauty in the image of Dolarhyde splayed on the tiles with the blood fanning around him like wings, his blue eyes standing out. Interesting that they left his face untouched 🙂 And didn’t destroy the frame either with too much cut flesh showing or anything else that would make the image disgusting. Also, although bathed in quite a bit of blood the darkness kept it from being too revolting both on Will and Hannibal. Their eyes and foreheads and hair remained largely untouched and again the injuries remained hidden.

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It’s all Hannibal ever wanted for them…

(Compare this to what was done to Verger and to poor Chilton…. Nothing really to mar these 3 in these final moments).

I can’t say I am completely surprised by the end. As I was watching it for the first time I was actually expecting Will and H to kill each other, stabbing or something. The way it actually happened was poetic in comparison. I fully expected H to say what he did, that this is what he had wanted all along, he’s been pining for Will to become his ‘partner in crime’ for a really long time. I am not sure I like ‘my’ Will to go for it and say  ‘it was beautiful’. I admit I found it shocking when I first heard it, just because I never really wanted to have the admission of Will’s darker side (just like I mentally erase the fact that Dolarhyde has killed families before meeting Reba). But given his next gesture it made sense, this is the only was he would be able to admit to it, if while admitting he also puts an end to it. It is what keeps Will human, he knows it is wrong and can’t actually live with it.

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Will decides

Fuller has left it sort of open with the scene added and I guess this could be explored further but for me it is the satisfactory and right end. I need Will to remain on the positive side of the story. While the attraction and game might be interesting with all the ‘what ifs’ I couldn’t actually handle them as a pair of killers.

But Will and Hannibal in a light embrace dropping off the edge off the cliff into the dark sea… yeah that had a sort of beauty to it. The song sung by Siouxsie was the perfect soundtrack to this. I felt all my buttons being pushed in that scene, from beginning to end and I enjoyed it. I still feel sorry for Reba, but however much I wanted Dolarhyde redeemed I can’t wish a serial killer on her, there was truly only one way to redeem him.

Maybe it was all sorts of cheesy and obvious and indulgent, but why not, it was the end after all.

Well played Mr Fuller, I’m happy with that.

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Goodbye…

PS As an aside, I need to look at least for curiosity’s sake at  how H did here in the UK in viewing figures; it is prominent on Sky and it has always been on the channel promos/images between the shows and it has been this way for the last 2 seasons at least.

Distracted or applying evasive maneuvres

Warning, spoilers ahead for Hannibal s3 ep 12  and talk about icky stuff, so if you have a sensitive stomach best to skip this 😉

Francis? (or is it the dragon at this point? ) carrying Reba .. bound :-(

Francis? (or is it the dragon at this point? ) carrying Reba .. bound 😦 My cap… easy to guess why.

I’m ready for this to end. I’m getting tired of all the cat and mouse games and i am starting to feel with the ongoing series characters that we are running in a bit of a circle. At times during this episode i asked myself why i did like it enough to watch 3 series of it or rather what was it about similar scenes for nearly 3 years that i found interesting and now seems to grate on my nerves? When did i fall out of love with the slow, chatty, spiralling dialogue?

I think it was Reba’s normality and very human aspirations that put the whole bunch of nutters into perspective… Her and Francis, or at least his attempts at humanity. For a short amount of time we were given the hope that the gravitational pull of her love could put him on a different path as well and disrupt his own cyclical spin around a dark center. Maybe one could consider Hannibal to be the dark star pulling them all towards hell and that his force is strong enough that nobody can escape his orbit…But it is hard to lay the blame solely at his feet. In addition to his pulling force they each spin in their own dark little circles around their own axis. It’s like a mysterious constellation of poisonous  planets within a universe governed by its own twisted, crazy but inescapable laws of physics. And while at the beginning this was fun to explore for the novelty and the strange, alien quality of it all it has now become familiar and the discomfort far outweighs curiosity.

While Bedelia’s cleverness and slippery elegance  used to be fascinating now she’s revealed herself to be like a female Hannibal, minus the cannibalistic appetite. But she does for and to Will what Hannibal used to do and now does to the dragon because Will is somewhat out of reach. We see and hear the exact same questions bounced back, reinforcing Will’s confused feelings and general fuzziness of comprehension and moral balance. And she’s made the point about Hannibal only killing her if he could eat her one too many times. That particular conversation has come up again and again and again during this series and it makes you want to say:’oh, serve her up already!’.

I’m tired of Jack’s chase as i don’t feel a sound reason behind it, he wants the killer eliminated, stopped but you feel little concern or consideration for potential victims (or for the actual ones as a matter of fact), no strong sense of justice.

I never liked Alana much but she’s a real pain lately. I don’t like her fancy hairdo and her deep red pouty lips. I’ll give her points for survival, but i’d give Margot many more. And i just don’t see any purpose to her. Yes, she is holding H in his cell, but it hasn’t really stopped his actions or his influence. She doesn’t protect people from him or care about the greater good, she’s only concerned with keeping him physically away from her. And it is a cause i care little for.

But mostly, who the h**l is Will???? i felt sympathetic towards him, well, i even routed for him in series 1 when he was poor, sick, abused Will. I wondered what that kind of psychological abuse had done to him when he aimed to kill H in season 2 and then managed to get out of prison. There was a certain evolution and a dark kind of resilience of fighting back and he kept being knocked down. There was a sense of purpose to what he was doing. But this series he seems to have lost a couple of points off his IQ…. he doesn’t seem to get hints from H that are obvious to us, he seems to forgive the unforgivable and chase H around Europe with a sick kind of addiction. He tells Bedelia what she is but then keeps going back to her.. for what????? And then acts shocked when Bedelia implies Hannibal feels some kind of jealous love for him.(This was definitely also on my most-funny list of the episode as well 🙂 BF finally got that one in, ok it didn’t come from Hannibal’s own mouth, but nearly as good as, surely that must count? And there was a dizzying collective fan eye-rolling at Will’s reaction – you know like the moon rolling in the last ep? Just as spectacular 😀 ) I thought that reaction was too out of character for its own good. Nobody expected Will to get all starry eyed or something (only in fanfics 😉 ), but a little bit of empathy or some other reaction than uncomfortable surprise would have been a welcome signal that Will still had brains.

(Aside – did anyone else think the wall above in Bedelia’s office looked quite a bit like dragon wings in a cubist sort of interpretation? )

This dumbed down version of Will does not make much sense. He also seems to have taken on a very drifting kind of personality: he seems almost normal and domestic around Molly, he fights Jack but then acts without any restraint even more callously than him, he seems to fall for the webs Bedelia is spinning at each encounter, he neither listens carefully to what Hannibal says, nor does he seem to take the time and really understand his reactions. He seems to want to catch Dolarhyde and try and save him but then descends onto a path of revenge when his anger is really directed at Hannibal. Does he lash out around him because he can’t really reach Hannibal? Will seems to have become a strange sort of creature which does no longer have a strong sense of self but instead seems to take on traits from everyone who surrounds him, and not the good ones. There is a brief flash of conscience once he’s set the wheels in motion and there is again talk of the Dragon maybe being able to stop, but it is all too late (maybe it is an attempt to explain his other behaviours as impulses in range and confusion?).

It is an interesting contrast between the dragon who knows itself and has a firm purpose and sense of self and Will, who seems to be loosing himself or getting ever more confused.

The problem is i am not really buying this confused back and forth with Will and the lack of direction and conviction after season 1 and season2. Why would the Will who fought back his mind to sanity and himself out of the asylum in season 2 crumble like this now? The new family bonds just weren’t told strongly enough to explain this.

Like everyone else he seems to just be repeating a pattern of movement that is circular and has no firm purpose. And everyone just seems to indulge in ever more far fetched considerations and explanations of why this world is a confusing place where we have all sorts of instincts to which we fall prey, acting like the animals within. And there seems to be only one type of instinct with this bunch, sorry 2: kill and eat.

Or get famous, in the case of Freddie and Chilton 😉 Her t-shirts are a hoot (‘The tooth fairy is a one night stand’) as is the way she measures Will up to ‘small’. Nasty, nasty and a way too obvious pun. No need to get that bitchy dahhhlings, Hannibal is the only one who seems to be able to pull off bitchy with some class 😉

bitchyFreddie

Some things just made little practical sense and i had to shake my head at them. Hannibal and those darned articles! In which universe would that ever happen? And when Chilton turned up to rant about them i just rolled my eyes. It turns out of course it is repetitive for a purpose, we need to be reminded of his infinite vanity, thirst of fame and of the fact that Hannibal can best him, even from behind a glass wall. But it was still illogical and all to predictable. As soon as one saw Chilton ranting and furious for the lack of attention it was clear who would be the psychiatrist who would be dangled as bait in front of the Red Dragon. Oh Chilton, Chilton, how silly you are. I thought his survival instinct was better than that. Considering his biggest sin is vanity – compared to the rest of the lot –  i felt really sorry for him and his suffering, he didn’t deserve it. Which makes me despise Alana even more. And Will has sunk even further in my sympathy because of the way he used Chilton.

The whole talk about protection and the reminder the Dragon shoots first was again just an announcement in big bold letters of what would happen next, which is why i didn’t even flinch when Chilton’s ‘protection’ was gunned down in a splatter of blood (again, silly silly Chilton! you frustrate me!).

But of course it had to be him, since he is the only other male shrink in the series and one could hardly have a naked female glued to that chair… predictable much? Also, of the two who made it into the article Will would never have been the first victim as no series would eat up its main character an episode before the last one! That surely will be left for the end.

It is only one of the reasons why what happened to Chilton didn’t feel as scary to me as it seems to have been for many.

Then there were those chomped off lips! And lookie here, when they come via mail to Hannibal they are pristine.. come on! Really?   The Dragon is certainly dexterous but not even he would be able to do that… It just didn’t look believable and for a show that does human bits so well, it wasn’t good enough, it didn’t make my stomach flinch one bit. Speaking of that mail!! What possible reason can anyone give me for the fact that the packag made it to Hannibal unopened???? You telling me the scan did not show biological material? That Alana thought Hannibal deserved a prize of some sort? Why would she enjoy letting him open his own mail? No reason whatsoever other than it was the only way we could indulge (yum, eh?) in a last bit of cannibalism in this series. Fair enough, but it still doesn’t make it a sound story device.

I was glad poor Chilton survived the ordeal in some way, but that is more like sci-fi than any real possibility. Somebody with 3rd degree burns all over his body + the rest wouldn’t have survived it, and even if, in the extremely unlikely event, would never be conscious enough to say anything to anyone. Or is that supposed to be another sign of both Will and Jack’s cruelty in having the doctors keep him conscious so they could have a chat? Too much of a stretch for me to take any of it seriously.

However, there was one thing which was cleverly done. Since they already burned a body in a wheelchair they had to have a good reason to be able to do it again. And it actually made sense for the Dragon to be inspired by the fake burning of Freddie Lounds in his own actions. Ties in well with his scrapbooking hobby (he would have known about Will and Freedie’s ploy to trip Hannibal with this trick) and it is sort of homage to Hannibal again. It gave them the perfect excuse to play it out exactly like in the book. That was an instance of well done continuity.

All the incongruous bits kept switching me out of the gloom and doom atmosphere, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The scare wasn’t nearly as bad as it otherwise might have been and the gore was less stomach churning than i expected it to be. Though this episode certainly was ‘gore galore’! Some it of was more horrifying than revolting, like Dolarhyde clawing his back to bone and flesh (spine-tingly shudders) and covering that painting with his own blood.

images NBC

images NBC

Some was definitely up there with the worst of the worst in the series; of course i mean the lip smacking, er.. ripping? Triple ewwww!  But ever since that moment when Verger ate his own face i’ve gotten a sense of when the worst is coming and since i never want to have such an imagine in my mind again my head turned quicker than that flesh flew…. evidently not quite fast enough though since i still caught some of it from the corner of my eye. Still wonder how both Armitage and Esperanza managed to have their eyes open while acting it.. but maybe the flying-flesh was CGIed after? That is a comforting thought.

But the worst yuck moment came from where i least expected it… food. Reba brought Francis some soup for his flu and it was easily the most disgusting soup i’ve ever seen: greyish, murky liquid with white and pink looking bits floating at the bottom. Just remembering it is making me gag! Whoever came up with that dish really did a number on the classic chicken soup. Looked more like scrapings from the bottom of a dirty aquarium or something. Shudders! And of course it was intentional, as it came in a nice big transparent tank like container! And Francis was wobbling it about to make sure we notice the content, which i did; it certainly distracted me from looking at his masked face.

see, told you! would you eat that??? yeah, i know, guy in mask big -distraction

see, told you! would you eat that??? yeah, i know, guy in mask big -distraction

But there were gory instances which were also funny at the same time. Like Hannibal almost aspiring a piece of his meaty gift from Dolarhyde, together with his explanation that one piece would do the job just as well as two. LOL and yuck at the same time! Same with poor barbecued dr Chilton and his white teeth, which were pretty awful to look at and yet he was having a rant at Will for basically handing him over to Dolarhyde. The way Will was translating the conversation to Jack was horrendously funny. I almost felt bad for laughing at it. But as i’ve said above it was too surreal and unrealistic anyway so i guess it is ok.

Dolarhyde’s props and get ups are so unusual and surprising they also end up having at least an ironic element to them. I mean how about a panty liner as a means to cover the kidnapped doctor’s eyes?? Very…effective? LOL Makes one wonder where he got it from and what else he’s got in his home stash.. if it was from his gran, boy the quality today certainly isn’t what it used to be! Wish stuff we buy in the shop would stick like that. And i am still wondering in this context what it was that he used to gag him… but maybe better not to know? 😉 I also have to give the guy/girl who came up with that idea for the series brownie points, it is usually bind the eyes and gag the mouth with yer usual kidnappers. Not with Dolarhyde though, original to the end this one… it was stick the eyes and bind the mouth 😉 No wonder the guy gets irritated when the media does not recognise his ‘special’ talents.

I am also not entirely sure going by the book with Dolarhyde’s home dress code was the best idea for the scary impact. The silk flowing kimono and the loosely knitted cap used as a balaclava paired together were a bit strange and the contrasting effect also made me giggle quite a few times. Don’t get me wrong, Dolly in undies exudes a sheer physical force that is truly menacing and the balaclava should be frightening. And it was when he was dressed all in black in the last episode. But hiding Dolarhyde’s breath-taking and chilling facial expressions is not the best option. Behind the knit the face softens, you end up admiring the prominent shape of the nose behind it and because they have to shed more light to show some features his eyes appeared for the first time what they are, a light shade of blue’grey rather than the deep dark pits they have been under less light so far. And hiding the muscle behind the silk took some of the apparent bulk away and showed how tall and lithe he actually is. Instead of ripples of muscle you were drawn to the elegance of the movement in the arms and hands, especially when he extended them and they made the fabric flow so elegantly. Sorry, made me think of a poised geisha 🙂 I can’t help it if the man moves like a flowing elegant feline and not a stompy ape 🙂 It turned into a sort of kinky peek-a-boo get up which made you wonder what was beneath it and distracted me out of context. It just seemed as if he’d dressed for a completely different activity, if you know what i mean 😉 (Even if i wondered when that mustardy-yellow kimono had last seen a wash….).

The dragon showing off his 'art' .. i'm not showing you those shots though :-) Focus on the essentials, arms+Kimono

The dragon showing off his ‘art’ .. i’m not showing you those shots though 🙂 Focus on the essentials, arms+Kimono

But once the silky sheets and knits were off the skin tight beast was back and the face told a very scary horror story indeed, as did the few firm words in no uncertain terms. I just wasn’t scared out of my mind because once Chilton started whining in his chair that he was stuck it was clear what would happen next as they were back with the book. And everything is less scary when you know about it beforehand. Even with the insidious music doing its job of trying to get even further under your skin.

It being Chilton in the chair helped to lighten up the mood. I feel sorry for Chilton, he’s far from an exemplary human being himself, but he was likeable 🙂 Too bad his own vanity ended up being his downfall. His ebullient way makes him entertaining even in this situation, the way he tries to talk himself out of a ..erm.. sticky situation is frightening but also a bit ironic. Poor sod even brings the idea of his final punishment to the Dragon’s mind, Chilton talks of ‘burned’ and the Dragon just laps it up… eeeeeek! (flexing his fingers pleasurably while sitting in his armchair..). And when he saw himself in the pictures he was shown he was so utterly terrified (by the way, Dolarhyde’s repeated ‘lies’ ‘lies’ that were a bit Proctor-ish ).

out of sequence, he's just listening to some music, fret not ;-) (yeah, right!)

out of sequence, he’s just listening to some music, fret not 😉 (yeah, right!)

And there are other light touches even in this chilling scene, like Dolarhyde covering Chilton up with a towel and patting him reassuringly on his shoulder. These things ran chills down my back (as the book did exactly that, gave a false sense of security and maybe hope when in fact you knew Dolarhyde was going to punish him) but also made me smile. The things Dolarhyde says and the way he questions Chilton are aggressive and you can just feel we are headed for trouble, but the voice saying them is close to the deep theatre voice RA used for Proctor and partially also in his reading of Hamlet. So my brain instantly triggers flashbacks at the audio stimuli. Can’t say these mental evasive maneuvers were unwelcome 😉

Look, he's brought some ice.. it was getting hot in here

Look, he’s brought some ice.. it was getting hot in here

And although i knew what he would do next, when he dropped the kimono and the mask i just engaged in visual feasting and the fear was just something in the background. As soon as he turned the camera on the good doctor i thought: ‘ poor bugger, he’s done with and he knows it :-(‘ But it didn’t really stop me from admiring the way he slithered and crawled, like a tiger smelling his prey, over the furniture towards him. At the same time i was trying to gage the exact moment the beast would leap to look away from the bite itself, yikes!  (however mesmerising the movements, believe me , you do not want to see any caps of that and i don’t want to have anything here that would prevent me from looking at my own posts!).

my cap.. wish we could see on his face what he is thinking.. probably the point of no turning back

my cap.. wish we could see on his face what he is thinking.. probably the point of no turning back

The one i really do fear for is Reba. While all the rest have it coming for more than one reason each, she is the innocent and generous one. Unfortunately for her, there is very little left of Francis inside the Dragon… The last battle is probably done behind the mask and behind the glass in the intricate ironwork which unfortunately does not really let us see what is going on with Dolarhyde at that moment. We are left to imagine it in those instances of uncertainty and then the door is opened and the sinking feeling in your stomach tells you there will be no going back from this.

It felt strange when Dolarhyde warns Chilton to stay silent lest he kill the woman… I didn’t think that argument would really be convincing enough for Chilton, but maybe he was hoping if he showed obedience there was still hope to survive?

Maybe there would have been a chance for Reba to get away had she not sensed another presence in the room… but her repeated turning around in that direction just sealed her fate i think. And Dolarhyde was sadly not really listening to her kind words, he was too focused on the task at hand 😦

The similarities between how he brings in Reba and how he brought Chilton in i found much much scarier than everything he did to Chilton. Maybe because one couldn’t help thinking with every similar gesture that a similar fate awaited her 😦 My heart nearly stopped in pain when we saw Reba bound and gagged in his van and he patted her… reassuringly.. chills… on her head. There is maybe a flash of Francis in the way he carries her in and looks at her (which is why the cap above), at least i’d like to think/hope so… but his actions are those of the Dragon. The Dragon clearly thinks he is much more worthy of her admiration than the man and tries to hammer that point home with her. He expects awe from her too at his revelation…. And all i want is to magically get her away so she would never hear what he has to say and leave at least her illusion intact. I fear for her physical safety but at this point i can’t imagine what kind of devastation she would feel realising who/what he is. At least she can’t see the look of madness and anger on his face, though the cold and precise control certainly fills his voice and his strong grip of her chin.

I fear for what he will do to her next but this moment in itself was a moment of death already, the death of any illusion she might have had, of any positive experience she was holding on to in spite of the break up and ultimately it is the death of Francis too. His actions and his revelations have finally killed and buried his human side. Yes, hope was but a glimmer, but it is still sad when it is lost.