Previously on Hannibal, ‘… And the Woman Clothed With the Sun’
Francis practices speech exercises in front of the broken mirror, intercut with changing license plates. He re-wires an electrical box, then takes the plastic off of a desk and turns on a laptop. Thus begins the other perspective of the episode-ending phone call. With a smooth, deep voice, he introduces himself over the phone as Brian Metcalf, Hannibal’s lawyer, but can’t hold his cool when Hannibal answers.
After his “great red dragon” pronouncement, he pictures himself in Hannibal’s office. He’s collected Hannibal’s “unfair reviews” (news clippings) over the years and would’ve been shamed by approaching him if Hannibal hadn’t “suffered the same distortions.” Imaginary Hannibal gushes, “Your speech is bent and pruned by disabilities real and imagined but your words are startling.” Francis wants to be recognized by him, like John the Baptist recognized Jesus. He wants to sit before him like the Beast and 666. “Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”* Hannibal quotes, as the Great Red Dragon roars to life.
*From The Tyger, also by William Blake.
Bedelia stands at the lectern in front of her colleagues, weaving her tale of supposed chemical brainwashing by Hannibal. Will enters as she says her true identity became the smoke and mirror, nothing more than a construct. She goes on to reference the painting behind her, Christ in Limbo by Hieronymus Bosch, describing how she was metaphorically “swallowed whole” by the Beast, the mouth of hell. Will stays after to mock her: “You didn’t lose yourself, Bedelia. You just crawled so far up his ass that you couldn’t be bothered.” They’re both Brides of Frankenstein now. How did she avoid scars? “I wasn’t myself. You were. Even when you weren’t, you were.” He hasn’t learned his lesson, going to see him, but she was with Hannibal behind the veil like Will never was. She swaggers out. Insert mic drop here.
Francis drives Reba to the zoo where a tiger is getting dental work, so she might be able to touch him. “You wanna do it?” he whispers. She smiles. Once in the room, she’s fearful. “How do I know he’s sound asleep?” “Tickle him,” he says. The vet offers to tell her what she’s touching, but she asks “D” to do it. Francis narrates over her shoulder, “The orange, so bright, it’s almost bleeding into the air around him. It’s radiant.” The orange glows as she touches him, aghast and tearful. There’s a low purr as she touches his ear. Francis can almost not contain himself as she touches the mouth, unscathed, then she lays on its belly. He crouches, watching her joy. A tear slips down her face onto the tiger.
Tyger tyger burning bright
In the forests of the night
Arabesque No 1 by Claude Debussy. Back at the Dolarhyde home, Reba mixes Francis a martini by scent, then compliments his eloquent gesture, saying nobody at work knows him at all. They think he’s mysterious. He gulps, wondering if they told her how he looks. She didn’t ask, but, yes. He slowly backs up into the dark. She tells him anyway: he has a hard, clean neatness that they like, and he’s sensitive about his face, but shouldn’t be. She finds him on the sofa, startles him by caressing his face, including his cleft lip. She kisses him, then drapes herself across his lap. He drops the glass. “I hope I didn’t shock you” she says. He swoops her quickly up into the bedroom. The dragon curls on his back as they make love. When she moves on top, he sees her as the Woman Clothed in Sun, glowing. A tear falls from his eye.
Artistic Note: This piece was written early in Debussy’s career and meant to reflect the laws of beauty in nature, a hopeful piece for these two who struggle with acceptance of their lot in life.
While she sleeps, he lays his head on her chest, then rubs his face under her hand, emboldened. Pears. Teeth. Gun. Roaring. He startles awake from a dream and finds her gone. In the light of morning, the room is full of his grandmother’s things—her wheelchair, oxygen, and housecoat. Good thing Reba can’t see, because that is not sexy. Frightened that the Dragon has devoured her in his sleep, Francis stalks through his house. The tattooed tail curls down his leg as he runs up to the attic and stands in front of the painting. The dragon roars. He runs back downstairs, relieved to find her dressed and ready to go home. Also, black underpants. Hello!
The orderly brings Hannibal the phone again, this time telling him that if he approaches the glass, she’ll mace him in the face. He thanks her by name, which is never good. What happened between last time and this?! When the switchboard puts the call through, he unscrews the receiver and jacks the line, asking the operator to dial Chilton’s office number. Claiming to be Bob Greer at Blane & Edwards publishing, he “sweet talks” the secretary into providing an address to supposedly send Chilton’s manuscript to: Will Graham.
Hannibal luxuriously licks an envelope to Bedelia. She tells Will that Hannibal sends her cards on Christian holidays and her birthday, always including recipes, a suggestive threat. “If he does end up eating you, Bedelia, you’d have it coming,” Will judges. She can’t blame him for what evolution equipped him to do. Why, Will wonders, is she such a damn lying liar? She obfuscates, she protests, claiming to have been covertly treating Hannibal by simply being cooperative. “Do no harm,” she repeats, although she did. It wasn’t he first time she lost her objectivity with a patient…
Neil Frank/Sylar flashback. He wonders what Hannibal told her, paranoid, but not without reason. He went for therapy, but ended up much worse. Care?! Pshaw! In fact, he’s pretty sure Dr Lecter knows he’s onto him and claims the phototherapy not only didn’t help, but he woke up somewhere else and nearly choked on his own tongue. She remains smug and aloof.
She tells Will that she’s under no illusions about her moral consistency with compassion. Why didn’t she just kill Hannibal? “My relationship with Hannibal is not as passionate as yours. You are here visiting an old flame. Is your wife aware of how intimately you and Hannibal know each other?“ Wayminit, how intimately DO they know each other? His harmful yet irresistible experience with Hannibal, she says, undermines his ability to think rationally.
SylarNeil explodes at her lack of pursuing something against Dr. Lecter for his shoddy treatment. She coolly tells him that she doesn’t believe him, only that he lacks insight and needs medication. “This is why Scientologists hate psychiatry,” he spits, realizing she’s just as twisted as Dr. Lecter.
What would Will do if he found a wounded bird in the grass. It’s vulnerable; he would want to help it. Her first instinct would be to crush it for its vulnerability. “A primal rejection of weakness, which is every bit as natural as the nurturing instinct,” she pronounces. Of course she wouldn’t, but she would want to. Riiiiight.
Fannibals trying to talk non-Fannibals into watching, in a nutshell.
Neil works himself into a state over his loss of free will and snaps, “This is culty and weird!” He panics, choking on his own tongue, crashing back through her glass table. She fights him to “clear his airway,” but as she reaches into his mouth, she instead pushes her hand all the way down his throat and collapses in bliss as he dies. Is that… is that even possible? *paranoid*
“One thing I learned from Hannibal is the alchemy of lies and truths. That’s how he convinced you were a killer.”
Will looks stricken. Is he not the killer he fears himself to be? She declares him capable of righteous violence out of compassion. But even cruelty requires empathy.
“The next time you have an instinct to help someone, you might consider crushing them instead. It might save you a great deal of trouble.”
Will and Hannibal analyze the carving from the Jacobi’s tree together. Hannibal contributes that it’s a Chinese character meaning, “You hit it,” a lucky sign. Will says that it’s also a mahjong tile marking the red dragon. Hannibal tells him of the Red Dragon paintings, the “nightmarish charge of demonic sexuality.” Something about these families speaks to the killer, elevating him in his growth. Will hopes to find the common factor soon, but Hannibal taunts him. Tic toc! Hannibal smiles as he pronounces the Dragon quite sane. Hannibal and Will’s reflections merge.
Francis signs in at the Brooklyn Museum (John Crane) and a docent shows him to the archive where The Great Red Dragon is kept. His excuse—he’s researching Butts (hehe!), one of Blake’s patrons. Once she opens the portfolio, he knocks her out and curls over the piece. He moans, sniffs it, rubs his face on it like the tiger, and then eats it with his horrible teeth.
As he’s reaching the end, Will signs in downstairs. Another docent shows him in, saying he’s the second person to look for the painting today. The bing of the elevator scares Francis, but he sneaks into the elevator before it closes. Will sees his shoe, stops the door. Francis stares at first, then throws him against the wall, tosses him out of the elevator, and closes the door.
In an episode without meals, Hannibal managed to bring the discomfort with a Swallowed Whole theme. Bedelia begins with comparing her experience to entering the mouth of Hell. Neil swallows his tongue, a conditional response no doubt ingrained by Hannibal so that Bedelia would be presented with the opportunity to act on her crushing instinct. Francis swallows the painting whole, which was gag-inducing. And, of course, there is a cheeky nod to Reba and Francis on the couch.
The swallowing theme extends through “mouth” imagery. Francis likens himself to the tiger, gasping as Reba encounters its mouth and survives, then decides to let her take a try at his own fearsome (to himself) mouth. Bedelia’s arm visibly plunges all the way down Neil’s throat and disappears into his mouth. Hannibal licks the envelope slowly, like he’s pre-tasting Bedelia on his dinner plate. It’s all very visceral and sensory, appealing but not, challenging our limits as always.
Interestingly, nobody calls Francis by his name. Reba calls him D, he uses only aliases to speak to others, and he believes he is becoming the Red Dragon. This perhaps speaks to Bedelia’s assertions that our truths are nothing more than constructs. I loved how both Reba and Francis appeared vulnerable and fearful, yet powerful and passionate.
Zachary Quinto made a perfect Neil Frank, believable as an innocent who was merely sculpted into bait and stripped of free will in Hannibal’s tutelage of Bedelia as a killer. And Gillian Anderson, as always, simply killed it, in every way—boasting of her closeness to Hannibal as she rocked tauntingly, but almost imperceptibly; reserved and borderline haughty with Neil; ecstatic in embracing her killer instinct. Any episode bringing Sylar and Scully into the same space is fine by me.