One more episode of the season gone, thankfully with a new story line. I really can’t say enough how glad i am to see the back of Verger and the pigs. Talk about all too many images i wish i hadn’t seen and could forget…
But at least i stuck with it for consistency sake and it also allows to sift through the process, the weekly business of the show and actually pick out the changes inserted with the new story line.
The music is more diverse or slightly more complex than it has been recently where sole percussion was predominant. It makes for a slightly less constrictive sound universe which is good, particularly with the reduced dialogue. But it does keep us firmly in the same atmosphere. It’s got more colours but it doesn’t sound fresh or different as far as i’m concerned. But it is one of the aspects i like most, it appeals to my ears and i wouldn’t want anything else to replace it.
I am getting a bit tired of the greys through… It seems to always be late autumn and winter in this show, always twilight. In the first images i really felt like saying: ‘really just a bit more light, i can’t even see his face or tell his expressions really well’. I really think they went a shade too dark. Dolarhyde is supposed to be in a public environment, in daylight. I wouldn’t change the lighting at his house, but i think a bit of contrast between the two would have been beneficial. This way it just dragged the grey into my eyes and the uniformity of the colour pallete started bothering me. Of course not helped by the fact that we no longer have Hannibal’s colourful suits to break the monotony. He’s now stuck in a grey onesie, Dolarhyde wears, if anything 😉 variations of greys and kakis and nobody else really brings any colour into the place. With Hannibal out of the picture temporarily and Bedelia (but also Margot) gone it was dark and grey. Or more like aged photography kind of faded to be fair or more true to the actual colour palette. The thing about it though is that the beauty of the image has always disturbed me given the content of the story… And it is only interesting for so long; too often, this season particularly, i have been bored with everything and looked at it almost as one looks at a design and decoration magazine. And Bedelia was such a splendid decoration 🙂 As was Margot to be fair and her fabulous clothes!
Sorry, i still don’t care a jot about Alana. I liked her more with longer hair and less conservative clothing. Other than giving Hannibal a knife to free himself i still don’t see the point of her in this series and that knife could have been brought along by anybody else. Including Hannibal’s long lost relative who i thought made for a much more compelling female character. Both her and Chilton seem to have fallen into the mundane and boring, maybe Hannibal free really did make them up their game before? The dialogue was certainly nothing to write home about and i just zoomed out and looked at the decoration in the room instead.
The double entendre jokes were a bit more icky than sexy this time, the last time i laughed i think is still with Bedelia and her oysters 🙂 The last bit of writing that i liked or thought finally clever again was actually in Digestivo where in a separation of sorts Will say to Hannibal he would no longer think of him, he would not consider where he was, he would simply banish him from his thoughts. Weird though it sounds that gave me satisfaction, as i felt i had a bit of Will from the beginnings back, who was trying to fight back and trying to extricate himself from the dark morass Hannibal had dragged him into. All the more poignant then when Jack came to find Hannibal and it turns out the latter didn’t flee but states he is right there, ready to be taken in and that they will always know where he is 🙂 In the spirit of the show i thought that was a clever response to Will’s declaration. And it did close the circle in a way as Will had been pursuing Hannibal all the way to Florence and now when he was ready to let go, Hannibal refuses to do so. Finally that bit of writing felt like it came back to the interesting dynamics in season 2 without the pretentious snorkly dialogue it had fallen into lately.
Anyway, i felt that was not a bad way to end that part of the season.
Where we pick up with the usuals is not that great. As already mentioned i don’t find the switch between Alana and Chilton interesting or effective, we’ll see what happens. I don’t understand how Hannibal would get to publish in professional journals while he has been declared insane and so escaped the death sentence or life sentence (thus sitting in this psychiatric institution). Too far fetched and so is the idea of Chilton’s book about a new killer.. not likely to happen during active investigations i would think.
Speaking of which, i don’t like Jack as much as i used to. However, this is not a massive surprise as, if they keep close to the novel in that respect, i am going to like him even less going forward. Having said that i can see why Will goes with Jack as there is a much more chemistry there with him than in his household. Unwanted, disturbing and uncomfortable, the connection is there, whereas i’m afraid the happy marriage story they spun around Will was totally unconvincing. There was more care between Will and his dogs than Will and his wife… I didn’t see in her reaction any concern about somebody you love and know will suffer. Even if it is the right thing to do, it felt almost like a neighbour was talking and not a wife. Looks like they just didn’t spend enough time on those scenes or managed to build any rapport. Maybe there will be more but this was very disappointing. In the book there is much more of a sense of struggle, of importance in his current life.
Will/Dancy is as good as ever and i was happy to see doubt about going back to what his head does, even if we know it is inevitable. At least it didn’t feel like the pull of a drug anymore. For my own i am sure temporary comfort, i am happy Will is not playing with the dark side for now. Not talking here about his reconstructions, but about how he came to justify and rationalise murder and instigate it even.
Generally, after a few episodes which had been increasingly hard on my stomach and my nerves this was light relief. Digestivo was much worse than the ending of season 2 and i was very close to dropping it as it turned very true horror and once again confirmed that when the series goes true to genre i just can’t stand it.
But ep.8. was a bit deceptively light, i suspect mainly because they had to go through a lot of restating all relationships given the time span. They still managed to ruin another dish for me and this time they took on hot chocolate. When i saw milk flowing i knew it was too good to be true and sure enough, soon the blood started dripping, ew. The irony of plastic spoons was not lost on me but i hate them for ruining melted chocolate for me 😦 It made me nearly vomit every time Chilton licked his spoon. At least i can ignore Alana to the point where i can almost blink out her complaint about drinking a piece of somebody in her beer… yuk! And there goes my hope of being free of any culinary tortures for 1 episode… At least there was no sausage in sight, thank G-d for small mercies! The reference to those in the last episode was not even funny.
And then we had all the ‘fun’ of Will’s reconstruction of Dolarhyde’s murder, including blood gushing all over the house, etc. (I didn’t much blink, which tells the sad story of how a gruesome series such as this dulls even the most acute instincts 😦 )
Accompanied once again by censorship of human form when it is non-violent and non-crime related.. siiiiighhhh. No, let me say that again SIIIIIIGH!!!! I still have to put down my thoughts about censorship and how it seems to work these days, including in this show where it is a bit on and off, probably according to the time the censors have to dedicate to an individual episode. I just don’t get it and i never will.
But, usual business aside i was eagerly anticipating the new content and the start of the new story line. Imagine my disappointment when it turned out they had actually given it all away in the trailer and in the few images of the episode made available publicly before the show was aired. Add to that the interview content and there was almost nothing left, bar a small scene. They built it up so much that i really thought the trailer would only be a tiny preview of what the episode would actually contain and not only this episode but the also next ones.
I understand that they are trying to keep the show alive, find it a new home, a new format etc, but i can’t help but feel frustrated when in their process of marketing they screw the viewing pleasure/interest for me. I almost felt like shouting ‘hey! i am still watching!’. The issue arises mostly because this is not a plot strong show, at least not this season. The show is for me almost 70% visuals, and this includes character interaction which is very visually driven and 30% dialogues, plot etc. With the Red Dragon story, the plot isn’t even an issue since once one has read the book there is little unknown about the ‘plot’ element. Since the musical universe is also sort of familiar, the strongest element of novelty are the images. Ok, it is partially my fault as well for watching the trailers, looking at the images, reading the interviews. Still, it remains unusual for so much of the actual scenes in the episode to be given away. It created false expectations for me as i was hoping to see more of how these things tied together but all we got in the end were those shreds.
I have no issue with the balance of split of plots, i never expected anything else and they made it plenty clear that the show would still mainly be about Hannibal & Will and the Red Dragon story line would just be integrated in the overall story. But really, if the time they spend developing that story line amounts to 10 min an episode as it was in this first one the total on offer will be far less than any of the feature films which have addressed it before, quite contrary to what has been discussed. Just sayin’…. I really hope there will be more in future episodes, especially of the back-story we were promised.
I was so pleasantly surprised by what i saw in the trailer and excited about it that i was really craving more.
However, based on what episode 8 showed i am not joining the pity party quite yet 🙂 Before you call me a cold-hearted b***h, hear me out 😉 A TV series has an obligation to tell a story, to draw us in, to capture our imagination. The series, the stuff on screen… NOT the interviews of cast and producers/directors, not the books and other material they are based upon. We should not be told what it is about and how to feel about it in interviews, we should actually feel it when we watch it.
Now, forget for a moment about the book and the back-story… because you haven’t seen anything of the back-story yet!
What have we seen? We’ve seen murders, of families no less, with horrible handiwork and strange obsessions (mirrors and body parts…). We know the killer’s name and how the press has called him. And we have met the killer.
We see him as an intense, physically very strong man with image issues. Image issues that seem to be concentrated more around his face and a perceived deformity (much greater than the actual visible one). We get a strong sense of obsession and isolation. He appears to be always alone, doesn’t interact with anyone. He’s extremely neat and buttoned up, tight and almost uncomfortable in a skin that feels too tight. It looks as if he is trying to contain very forcefully with order the chaos within. And there seems to be something within as we glimpse when we see him alone in his house, liberated from clothes and human constraints. There is a sense of achievement or striving for something that he idealises and a defeat as soon as he looks into the mirror and the image he sees tells him a different story of reality.
Of the previously un-seen images i liked the broken mirror aspect more, which – as we clearly see in his almost desperately frustrated eyes – still doesn’t manage to hide the faults he sees within himself.
I really liked some choices they made here, not sure if intentional or not. In the scene where we probably see the only vulnerable moment in this episode we watch him dressed in a very soft, open necked sweater and trying to pronounce sounds. It gives a much softer appearance than the buttoned up darker shirt and even the shorts he exercises in. Whereas in the other instances there is a sense of power and aggression there, it is lacking here. For me it was maybe the tiny glimpse that there is more weakness there than the acts we are told about and shown might indicate. But we are simultaneously shown how deep the aggression and the violence runs when, frustrated with his inability to speak as he wishes, he violently attacks himself. It’s startling and unsettling and you are suddenly reminded of who this person is, that he is everything but ‘normal’.
Of course the image is only enhanced by the tattoo and the strange teeth he buys and as we later find out also uses. But up until we see his internal struggle we could very well assume that it is just a crazy idea, some aspiration triggered externally. As we the viewers can ‘see’ nothing wrong with him at first glance, quite the contrary. It’s not until that moment that we understand he’s not just aspiring to become super-human in some fanatical delusion triggered by a painting, but trying to mend and change something he perceives as broken, damaged.
And while we clearly feel the sense of conflict, i would say at this stage it is more frightening than anything else. He’s obviously not achieving what he desires, in spite of tattoo and teeth; the killings are obviously not making him feel more complete and he seems to be getting more imbalanced and frustrated. Essentially i get the sense of somebody who is increasingly loosing control – not gaining some – which makes him very very dangerous. It’s clear that the mockery he sees in the papers will only escalate him.
He’s close to unhinged, not to be pitied, but to be feared.
I am not sure the scene with the film is not too early. As you may have guessed from the title it felt very rushed to me in this episode. He practically goes from the Times mag to a full body tattoo in the blink of an eye, teeth get thrown in, films get thrown in, broken mirrors, etc. It’s all a bit jumbled at times, but mostly a bit rushed. For background and empathy i think it needs to slow down some.
Unless i completely missed it, i don’t think we were told about the filming and we see him there, in home-cinema mode pretty much in the buff and we get a sense of even greater frustration, but i didn’t get a clear sense of what he was watching and certainly not about why he was unhappy with it. I also find the discussion about this in interviews confusing. The book on one hand is pretty clear, Dolarhyde is not horrified by what he sees, he is frustrated and unsatisfied with his own performance, essentially it is not good enough, it is not majestic as he expected it to be. I am not sure where the series wanted to go with the scene. It certainly went from disturbed to disturbing as he entangled himself in the bits of film with his head almost transforming into a camera itself. Visually quite a stunning metaphor for what is going on inside him and we do end up wondering which was scarier or more nightmarish, the images on the film or the ones in his head. Or would he like them to have only happened in his head? Mr A seems to indicate in interviews that Dolarhyde is disturbed by the images of himself he discovers and almost doesn’t recognise… I am not sure based on the moment this happened in the series that i am entirely convinced by that alternative idea…
While we are at the visuals i really like the environment they have created in the Dolarhyde household, or shall we call it cave? It’s filled with all kinds of clutter, feels certainly older than the rest of buildings we see from the inside and is certainly as un-glamorous as it gets, a nice contrast to the offices in the psychiatric hospital. Will’s house is successfully somewhere in the middle, spelling normality in subtle messages. (As i’ve already said, I swear it makes me feel sometimes i am watching a design show rather than a crime/horror series 😉 )
Maybe that is why the silences didn’t bother or surprise me as much. Much has been made of Dolarhyde not speaking but it didn’t feel strange at all. And really, bar Alana and Chilton who are utter chatterboxes the rest of the characters in the show are not great talkers. And both Will and H are almost more successful in communicating non-verbally. The dialogues lately have not been as exciting i felt or as clever, but in some cases fewer words were said to greater impact. But especially with Dancy and beyond the shadow of a doubt with Armitage one only needs the visuals and the background music to set the scene and then let their faces and bodies do the talking. So the silences i didn’t think were that unusual. But they were appropriate and very effective. Which is why again it felt almost as if the director was trying to rush through them at times for fear we’d get bored. Not at all! As what was communicated in those scenes was infinitely more meaningful than in the rest.
I know the exercise scenes – if we can call them that- have been much discussed, but i’m happy to say they didn’t feel gratuitous. For my part i have to say i wish the censorship would not be at work and they would have been able to film them as described in the book. But they even had to stick the man in uncomfortably tight pants to keep anything from showing too overtly – all tucked in, ouch! Shrugs… as my gran used to say: ‘the naughty thoughts are in the minds of the viewers, not in the story told’ on screen. The censors i bet have a pretty active imagination.
For my part i was more impressed with the details given by the technical crew about the filming of the scene at night, after the crimes had been committed. As the Germans say ‘Hut ab!’ for dedication and also the detail in that scene, i really really hope the fake blood was the sugar syrup type thing usually used for stage as at least that wouldn’t have tasted as awful. i think doing that in the freezing night took guts and determination. Hopefully he didn’t freeze the tips of his ears off 😉
So, the episode itself was a bit hit and miss for me and i am holding them to the promise of giving us much more not just this teaser. Well done Mr A for transforming into something so utterly different from yourself from the tips of your lashes to the tips of your toes. I almost feel like i need a massage after watching you wound so tightly…
Off to watch that film /camera scene again to try and make up my mind about what Fuller wanted to say there… And then to watch ep 9.. unspoiled! (no interviews, no trailers, no photos, no more of Mr A’s ramblings, nada, nothing!)
PS I had a good giggle at Hannibal having to use cheap plastic spoons to eat that disgusting goo… revenge is.. sweet? 😉 Except i would have gone much further and would have taken away his fancy charcoal pencil and given him crayola instead, in orange and yellow! and lined paper.. see how you get on with that Mr H 😀