Sunday, August 16, 2015

RECAP: Hannibal 3x10 - Not For Eating

Quick reminder that we have Kyla Furey of Feedback Force doing weekly Hannibal recaps for us right now because she is awesome.

It is with a sigh of relief that I can tell you all that I honestly enjoyed this past week’s episode. It’s something of a return to form, despite the fact that an overly-heavy reliance on the book material is still dogging the show’s footsteps. I do think it seriously helped them that they chose some of the weirdest, most surreal sequences from the book for this episode, which gels much better with the tone of the show than the usual thriller cop-chase stuff.

Let’s start with Dolarhyde. He had a lot to do this episode, both on his own and with new love interest Reba McClane. After calling Hannibal in prison (from Hannibal’s old office, no less) and hallucinating a therapy session with his favorite psychopath*, Dolarhyde returns to his attempts to woo Reba, this time by bringing her to the zoo.

Reba, being blind, has never really had a chance to see a lot of animals. She experiences things primarily through touch, and the petting zoo selection is presumably pretty limited, so Francis offers her the chance to pet a tiger while it’s sedated for some dental work. (I don’t know what connections Francis has at the zoo that he can just invite her into a medical procedure, but whatever.)

The scene where Reba pets the tiger is pretty fantastic. The over-saturation of the color in the scene really emphasizes the texture of the fur, and Reba’s experience of feeling rather than seeing the animal. At the same time, Francis’s apparent emotional cocktail of lust and fear at the sight of her experience is a wonderful, wordless performance that gels well with the general impression Dolarhyde leaves of being totally overwhelmed by and out of control of his own emotions.

After the tiger experience, they return to Francis’s place for drinks and sex. The sex scene is up to the show’s usual standard of evocative without being too pulpy, and features a great shot of Francis’s impression of Reba as a literal painting, clothed in the flowing golden dress that is this episode’s namesake. It’s weird how this show manages to make me really interested in Dolarhyde without actually feeling at all emotionally invested in him (at least not the way I’ve become invested in Will, Hannibal, and the other characters). Not sure if that’s intentional, but it is what it is.

Dolarhyde’s last sequence involves him sneaking into an art museum posing as an academic to get a behind-the-scenes view of the actual “Great Red Dragon” Blake painting that he desperately wants to emulate. This involves a scene of him knocking out a curator and literally eating the painting.** It fits very well with the show’s general metaphor of consumption being an act of love and of becoming, and for me at least it was as creepy as it was wild and ridiculous.

He’s interrupted by Will Graham, who runs into him just as Dolarhyde is making his escape. Will doesn’t catch him, but he’s seen the killer’s face now so we’ll see how that goes.

Backing up though, Will has his own subplot for the episode, primarily involving Bedelia. In this show’s great tradition of character development unfolding in the midst of a therapy office, Will visits Bedelia and they sit across from each other in big cushy armchairs and talk about the relative experiences they each had with Hannibal. 

Bedelia brings to life the fundamental difference between her and Will - she is a kindred spirit of Hannibal, whereas Will is his reflection. Bedelia sees weakness as something to destroy. In her own way she lacks empathy, even though she can manufacture the behavior and outward appearance of it much better than most, perhaps even better than Hannibal himself. Whereas Will has an overabundance of empathy, a desire to protect and nurture that which is weak. 

This is what allowed Bedelia to kill her patient,*** whereas Will could never truly have the ‘what would happen?’ coldness of calculation that truly marks Hannibal and Bedelia both. 

Will also continues to talk to Hannibal in the episode - although unbeknownst to him, Hannibal has been secretly conniving behind his back and has found out where he lives. Together they work out some of the details of Dolarhyde’s psychosis in time for Will to show up at the museum and just miss his target. Hannibal is playing a strange game here, giving Will just enough information to give the impression that he’s not keeping information back (which obviously he is). I’m a little uncertain of Hannibal’s motivations here, but that’s not exactly a new thing.

I’m waiting for the drama between Will and Hannibal to rear its face in the remaining three episodes of the season. That has always been the heart of the series, and it’s felt a bit weird to have it so abruptly left behind. But at least this episode has teased some potential stirring of it after all, and where the Dragon might fit into this eventual pattern. I suppose we’ll see!

* As part of this sequence we see how Dolarhyde pictures himself as the Great Red Dragon, and the effects were so cheesy it was a little embarrassing. (I’m pretty sure the dragon’s wings were made of glitter fabric.) I forgive them though; they’re not exactly working with a budget surplus.

** I had to ask my husband about this, since he’s actually read the books and this seemed like such a Bryan Fuller Weirdness sort of move. But nope, that’s from the book too.

*** We actually get to see Bedelia kill the patient - Zachary Quinto playing a perfectly-justified-consider-he-was-seeing-Hannibal paranoid. It’s a bit difficult to parse, but I believe what happened was that Quinto’s character starts choking on his tongue and Bedelia hesitates, then goes to help him by trying to grab his tongue and clear his airway, but then changes her mind and literally rips off his tongue and shoves it down his throat. ...Like I said, a bit tough to parse. But definitely gruesome.

Kyla Furey is an independent game designer and writer. She is also one of the hosts of the game-analysis podcast, Feedback Force, and hosts a weekly Saturday night game livestream on Twitch TV. She enjoys the surreal and the moody in her media, hence her great love of NBC’s Hannibal. You can follow her on Twitter @Kyla_Go where she livetweets Hannibal on Saturdays at 10pm Pacific, following which, she posts delirious stream-of-consciousness reaction videos on YouTube.

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