Hannibal: ...and the Beast from the Sea

“It's tough to hold onto anything good.”

There is so much awful this week to withstand. And also painful, scary, wrong at every level and spine-tingling and it's all gift-wrapped in pure dread. Must be the 11th episode of the season with these specs. ('Roti', 'Ko No Mono') It's a clammy, sick feeling.

If you like Thomas Harris, you'll love '...and the Beast from the Sea'! More than any other single episode I've seen so far in this series, this one nicks whole chunks of dialogue from his books and insinuates it into its taut 44 minutes. (In truth, it mostly did work for me, but not all of it.) But getting back to the unsettling atmosphere, watching everyone deal with this level of stress was borderline unbearable. It's not just Hannibal who is in a cage. We have been each other's prisoner for a very long time. There were moments where it felt like time was slowed to a molasses-like creep. This juxtaposed with the pacing of the second act made the episode one of Hannibal's most subversive offerings.

I'm not fortune's fool, I'm yours.

O, Romeo, Romeo -- you're never not a puppet -- it's just that this time it's more ugly than it was before. (How is that possible?) Will goes through the ringer and when that's done he gets run over by a steamroller. You don't want me to have anything in my life that's not you. Hannibal sans person suit is as nasty as they come, isn't he? (Even Bryan Fuller called him 'A TOTAL DICK' during Saturday's broadcast.) I can't even imagine if there weren't glass between them what Will would have done after the attack on Molly and Walter occurs. It's just as clammy and just as sick to watch how far these two are from whatever they have been before that resembled nakama. At exactly this point last season, they were feasting on ortolans, sharing a bonding ritual of unparalleled proportions. And now, Hannibal doesn't care at all because incarceration. He's soured to everything in his midst. You'll have nothing but indignity and the company of the dead.

She survived the Great Red Dragon. Takes a pinch more than luck.

Okay, let's talk about the brilliance of that second act now. On first viewing, I experienced a complex set of physiological reactions that could only be attributed to fear. (I think I broke my couch springs.) When Francis puts in his teeth and pulls that stocking over his face, it sets the needle on anxiety. The following sequence of events that leads to Molly and Walter getting away is masterful metered out edginess. To make this Francis so unlike the Francis we've seen in the attic, with Reba, even in therapy with the good doctor, adds manifold layers of tension and fear to a scene where tension and fear are themselves the strands to the fabric. When Molly set off the alarm on the Jeep and Francis, without a single second of hesitation, turned the corner and just shot the shit out of every angle of the car -- it magnificently straddled the unthinkable paradox of what kind of crazy he is: methodical assassin meets unhinged madman.

Hey, is anyone home?

It's all so slippery.

Rare to get it, hard to keep it. While the scene with Walter didn't quite sit with me, I was all over the bedside conversation between Molly and Will. It furthered the history and depth of their relationship mainly by showing us a different side of Will. For all of the talk about 'I'll be different' and 'it's okay, I won't', Will is already different with her -- different with her than he is with anyone else we've ever seen him with. Gone is the wispy witty as a distraction Will of the past, he's just real as hell in her presence and it's clearly more than sand that their moorings are built on. Of course Will and Molly's bond makes the outcome of the wrath of the Dragon that much more hurtful. On the other hand, Will did survive separation from Hannibal. Furthermore, he managed, incredibly, an attachment with a spectacular woman. (I hope to god that the ways in which Hannibal tried to sully this will not endure.)

You have hubbed hell, Dr. Lecter.

I often do. He needs a badge or plaque, you guys! A few words about this latest hub. Alana's face when Hannibal was speaking to Francis was perfect. After everything she's seen and heard, it still had the capacity to shock and amaze. The Dragon is in Francis' ear and his belly -- Dr. Lecter, you really have your way with words. Words are living things, they have point of view… agenda. Other than a strobe light or straight up psychedelics, words are his best tool with which to psychic drive. The way he regards his patients, with the most effective combination of awe, amusement and encouragement adds up to incentive for the win. I've been trying for three seasons to put my finger on it, so thank you Francis Dolarhyde. With help from your inspired therapist, I see how magnificent you are.

Speaking of hubbing hell -- what in the fuck is happening here. (I strongly suspect this is all Michael Rymer's fault!)

Odds and Ends:

*How do I feel if this is the last of Reba? Quite conflicted. I want her out of harm's way but I do love what she adds to this narrative.

*Mom! Something's wrong with the dogs. How much of the fandom screamed and/or fainted when this line was uttered.

*I laughed out loud during the opening scene, especially at the patented Jack Crawford expression when he finds out what happened to the painting.

I'm not even trying to hear that.

*Brian Reitzell: How DARE you use the sad bright music when Hannibal mentions to Dolarhyde that Will has a family. (G, A, D, E -- I finally plunked it out on my piano then proceeded to sob for an hour.)

*My son told me this joke today:
What did the math book say to the psychiatrist? Do you want to hear my problems?

Odds and Ends: The Art Direction Edition

Now that's what I call field kabuki.

This whole sequence almost ended me. Also IT WAS SO PRETTY.

This is so gorgeously framed I want to weep.

The episode's inspiration.

This is a courtesy call.


Will: "He ate a painting."
Jack: "He ate it?"
Will: "He ate it up."

Will: "Jack Crawford, fisher of men, watching my cork move against the current. You got me again. Hannibal told me where to find him."

Hannibal: "Save yourself. Kill them all."

Jack: "Resentment's raising a blister in you, Will."

Alana: "Would you have told me the truth?"
Hannibal: "In my own way, I always have."

Reba: "It's OK to be confused. Spend most of our lives confused. It's rare to really figure anything out."

Hannibal: "You are almost blind to your own true feelings, no more able to express them than a scar can blush."

Hannibal: "They're listening."

Jack: "Hannibal's having his fun."

Molly: "I do blame Jack Crawford." (IT'S OKAY, MOLLY, WE ALL SORT OF DO.)

Will: "I'm just about worn out with you crazy sons of bitches."

Hannibal: "How's the wife?"

Hannibal: "When you look at her now, what do you see?"
Will: "You know what I see."

Hannibal: "The building of a new body and the othering of himself, the splitting of his personality, all seem active and deliberate. He craves change."

Hannibal: "Don't you crave change, Will?"

Oh dear.


Heather1 said...

I have a confession to make: I skipped through much of this episode, with the intention of going back and savouring it. But I haven't. The attack on Molly and her son was simply too expected. I know they are following "Red Dragon", but this is a show that has always zigged when you thought it would zag, while incorporating source material. And yes, I was dreading the attack. So, perhaps I don't want to go back because I don't want to put myself through that. But one other thing: Hannibal's visual environment has become so, literally, dark... that it's a lot of work just to figure out what's happening sometimes on screen. And I'm tired of squinting my eyes. I had thought that maybe it was simply my screen, but Heather, I look at your screen caps and I realize that no, it's not my screen. Oh dear. I love this show, but...

Heather said...

I hear you. I took 30 or so screencaps and not even all of the ones I ended up using work well because they're so dark! But I just thought oh well, if you've seen the ep, you'll get the gist. This ep was the darkest yet I think.
I know what you mean about knowing something is coming and dreading it and expecting it all the same. It's a strange line projects with source material must walk. This ep in the arc to me had the highest infusion of what's come before. I was happy to see in some ways that the underlying concept of the attack was shifted to: mother bear v. Dragon because that felt like a new twist. Before (in the films) it seemed a little random since Dolarhyde had no connection at all to Will -- that he was as much a marionette of Hannibal's as Will was.

Jess Lynde said...

Hannibal is indeed a total dick, and I do blame Jack Crawford for what happened to Will's family. A LOT. And he doesn't even seem that sorry about it! Didn't what he's doing to Will used to bother him a lot more?

I loved the scene between Will and Molly at the hospital. So weighted with a thousand mixed emotions. Even if the Red Dragon didn't finish them off, Hannibal (and Jack) sure did manage to wrench up Will's family. Hell hath no fury like a Hannibal scorned.

Isn't it funny how familiarity with the source material can be a double-edged sword? Sometimes all you really want is to see your favorite moments brought to life on screen, and you thrill to see them play out. But other times --- if they've established a pattern of changing things up with the adaptation --- devotion to the source feels too predictable and you wish they would have done things differently. I'm not familiar with the source material here, but I've had that same experience Heather1 described watching some of my other shows. It sucks.

Loved, loved, loved Alana carrying through on the toilet threat. Her confrontations with Hannibal this half season have been fantastic. Even though she really can't play the game at his level, she gets her digs in. I'm so glad Caroline Dhavernas is getting more of a chance to tap into her harder-edged side as the series winds down.

Heather said...

I feel like we're seeing the Hannibal wear and tear on Jack through his lack of empathy for Will and family.
It's like he isn't just harsh and driven anymore, he's indifferent to the consequences of bringing Will back in. There's something sad but real there. He's always leaned into denial as self-preservation and I think life has made it necessary for him to immerse himself fully in it.
Yess about Alana. I agree that she even knows she can't quite keep up but she's also aware she has the power (at the moment) and that fortifies her nonetheless.

Josie Kafka said...

Both Heathers, I completely agree. This show has gotten so dark that, before watching, I have to adjust all the lights in my living room. I would add a complaint: the score is very loud, and the dialogue is very quiet.

Jess, I found your comments on the past few episodes very interesting, as I know you were almost at the breaking point with this show. I'm still watching, but I have become oddly disengaged. I think I might miss the Will/Hannibal exchanges, or something. But the Red Dragon plot isn't doing much for me.

Although I did discover something fun. I've been rewatching Arrested Development, and my brain started to supply a narration for Hannibal in the ironic tones of AD's Ron Howard. It was hilarious.

Jess Lynde said...

Yeah, I noticed that as I've become re-engaged in the show, some of the folks who were so high on it before seem to be enjoying it less. That seemed to happen last season, too, as the show shifted between modes/tones at the halfway point. It's kind of cool that it has this ability to appeal to different audiences, but it can be a bit frustrating as it shifts from show you enjoy, to show you don't enjoy as much. It forces you to wrestle with how long you are willing to hang in through the mode you don't enjoy to see if it shifts back into the show you liked.