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Hannibal: ...and the Woman Clothed in Sun

"What we take for granted about our sense of self, everything we see, everything we remember, is nothing more than a construct of the mind."

In the middle of her lecture she is giving about her 'Harrowing of Hell' experience as Lydia Fell under the control of Hannibal Lecter (complete with the elaborate artwork of the same name as her wallpaper to back up her victimization with that theatrical flare she's so fond of), Bedelia puts her hand right on Will's shoulder to accent these words. She wants him to know that healing from Dr. Lecter is going to take a new outlook on an old flame and some serious mental gymnastics.

So, while Will seeks the company of Dr. Du Maurier in an attempt to fill in a few blanks, the Red Dragon begins therapy with Dr. Lecter (great idea!) and Francis gets a lot closer to Reba McClane because the girl can handle herself in the face of danger. Plus, Guillermo Navarro is back to shock and amaze with his special brand of kink direction and we all benefit because cinematography and art direction. And, my lord, all the metaphors are on parade in '...and the Woman Clothed in Sun'.

Orange and black stripes. The orange is so bright, it's almost bleeding into the air around him.

Good god this whole scene bled into the air around it, if you will. It's such a weird cool moment in all of the Red Dragon incarnations, and remarkably it truly works each time it's done. I marvel at how the concept itself manages to easily transmit the metaphor without being hokey or off-putting. Hannibal took it a step further with the synchronization of Reba touching the tiger's mouth and Francis grabbing his own, in response. (This Red Dragon is a lot more specifically conscious of his facial disability –real and imagined. But more on him down review.) Adding that edit made the scene like nothing I've ever seen before, it actually gave me goosebumps.

How is one murderer worthy of compassion and not another?

I've always perceived Hannibal as pushing the boundaries of what we can accept as morality, corruption, the search to fulfill our desires and the psychology behind our hidden (or overt) motivations but this arc is taking that to a new level. Maybe it's the sheer screen time afforded Francis Dolarhyde here but the painstaking unique details that make up his psyche are at once shattering, eye-opening and very challenging to dismiss outright as crazy, broken and evil. Not at all unlike the broken mirror imagery so well-placed throughout this mythology. Watching Francis climb his stairs to the attic of schizophrenia, fearing that the Dragon has now taken Reba, is so deeply upsetting because he honestly doesn't know. His shyness runs so thoroughly in him that he has to recede into the shadows of his living room when this woman who cannot see gives him a compliment. It's also a very interesting creative choice that we are now many miles (and minutes) past the last crime scene. The one that even when we last visited it, in Will's nightmare, that trick of psychic distance (vis a vis Will Graham) from the killer to us was being performed.

He stuck me in front of a light and I woke up somewhere else.

(RIP, Neal Frank, we hardly knew ye.) Hannibal's playbook is on display not once but twice this episode! Now because Bedelia is the self-declared mistress of obfuscation, we don't actually know if her repeating Miriam Lass' memory of living with Hannibal was really happening to her but the man's been known to wield a needle and some fresh-cut flowers when necessary. Seeing that wounded little bird (Zachary Quinto) in Bedelia's office try to communicate the misdeeds done to him, all likely at the hands of a bored and languorous cannibal whose entropy always descends into disorder has a different taste to it than the retelling from those who've come before but I still couldn't help but think of Will ('Roti' and the like) and the unmitigated fuckery done to him at Hannibal's hands. One thing unexpected though, the conversation between Neal and Bedelia reveals something much more truthful under the surface that Neal just can't get at. (Spectacular then that he crashes through a glass table shortly after!) She expresses that he lacks insight because it is not in his best interest to report Hannibal to the authorities. And she's right.

One thing I learned from Hannibal is the alchemy of lies and truths.

My new favorite subtitle for this show. At first glance, this looks like Bedelia's 'trust no one – especially me', except what she's telling Will is incredibly valuable. This is her armour and in her estimation, the only defense to move forward in a world that intersects with Hannibal. Her suggestion to, in essence, crush his own empathy is equally as valuable (though impossible). I think she refers to the true pathology of a sadist here, which of course Will is not but he is, however, identically different. That makes him the other side of that troubling coin, which she casually points out when she asks him if he's been to see Hannibal and of course he says yes. A quick word about obfuscation, Will, the truth is in there, you just have to know where to look.

How did you manage to walk away unscarred? I'm covered in scars.

I wasn't myself. You were. Even when you weren't, you were. Will is bracing himself, you guys. He's gathering up his armour. The only person on the planet who could advise him on this is Bedelia. She, and only she, knows experientially how harrowing his hell is. I can only assume based on what this show is capable of that Will is in for the fight of his life yet. If Francis has his way, Hannibal is going to meld with the strength of the Dragon. God help us all.

Odds and Ends:

That teaser – be still my heart. That break-in – such a commendable level of commitment there. I.E. faux uniform, a very long drive, change of license plate, speech exercises, breaking and entering and fiddling with the wireless? Did you catch the company he was infiltrating with that uniform? SureTalk Telecom, of course. Sure!

Was Bedelia lecturing to the psychiatric staff at... The Knick?

Does Francis live in a castle? WTH. So. Many. Details. To. Exploit. But here's my favorite.

When Francis listens to Reba's heartbeat. Because she has one.

As if there aren't already several dozen of visual and audible cues to dramatize his terrifying mental illness, Francis' face has now begun to take on light and darkness (where you can't even make out his face) with the changing personas he is slipping in and out of.

Did Alana miss Hannibal's copy of Notes on Nationwide Dialing circa 1955 on a recent room sweep?

Give me MurrayHill 5-9975 and make it snappy!
And finally, a short pictorial:
(Be very afraid, by the way, if I ever figure out how to make a GIF!)

I really try to hold it together while watching this show–
But this kind of shit makes it very hard.
So this is often me after a large number of this show's transitions.

Hannibal: “What particular body you currently occupy is trivial.” (Hannibal really knows how to whisper sweet-nothings in peoples’ ears.)

Hannibal: “See how magnificent you are? Did he who made the Lamb make thee?"

Will: “You hitched your star to a man commonly known as a monster. You're the Bride of Frankenstein.”
Bedelia: “We've both been his bride.”

Reba: “How do I know he's sound asleep?”
Francis: “Tickle him.”

Will: “You lied, Bedelia. You do that a lot. Why do you do that a lot?”

Bedelia: “I'm under no illusion how morally consistent my compassion has been.”

Bedelia: “Your experience of Hannibal's attention is so profoundly harmful, yet so irresistible, it undermines your ability to think rationally.”

Neal: "You know, whatever this is, whatever this is, this is why Scientologists hate psychiatry."

Neal: “No! No. This is culty and weird–”

Hannibal: “Blake's Dragon stands over a pleading woman caught in the coil of its tail. Few images in Western art radiate such a unique and nightmarish charge of demonic sexuality.”

Hannibal: “I like this Dragon, Will. I don't think he's crazy at all. I think he may be quite sane. A magnificent thing, to watch the world through his red haze.”


  1. While I haven't 'enjoyed' this season as much as the last (best of 2014), it's still been the best show of 2015 so far.

    A lot has been said about issues with realism but this show has always had one foot out of reality. It's just been dipped more into the fantasy side this season.

    Bedelia seems to be in much more control than it initially appeared. The hand down the throat seemed almost sexual. But she initially did seem genuinely concerned for his life. I love that they're keeping her loyalties and motivations relatively ambiguous.
    It's looking like Will may have to also deal with his own wounded bird by the end of the season.

    Do you think anything will come of Bedelia's line from last season:

    "Has he ever tried to persuade you to kill anybody? He will.
    And it will be somebody you love.
    And you will think it's the only choice you have."

    Considering that Bedelia was working with Hannibal at that point (as far as I remember), it's questionable what her motives were with that line.

  2. FlopHairedWuss,
    I like your style. Particularly your focus on Dr. Du Maurier. More on that in a moment but first... as for the realism thing, at times I, too, marvel at the things people point out as being a bridge too far because they so often fall into the category of logistics -- i.e. how did an 'older adult' erect a human totem pole by himself? Where people get stuck probably reveals a great deal about the way their own mind works.
    I have that line of Bedelia's written down in a document of my favorite lines just waiting (hoping) for the right time to use it in a review. I truly hope something comes of it. There aren't many loose ends in this show I find and when there are, it very deliberate.

  3. Bedelia is fascinating and absolutely transfixing. I love the way she's always so rigidly structured in both her appearance and body language, when the notion of whether she's really in control of her actions has always on the table. (Although perhaps a bit less so after this week's revelations.) I will really miss this incarnation of Gillian Anderson when the series is done.

    The eating of the priceless painting was really upsetting. Of all the stuff on this show to get upset about, it was the destruction of the painting that disturbed me the most this week (especially after seeing how carefully it was preserved and handled). Oy. What does that say about me? Perhaps I've become desensitized to the show's more macabre horror?

  4. Jess,
    Your comment about the consumed painting made me nod my head emphatically -- it really was so disturbing. In a show that frequently leaves extraordinary examples of culture not only untouchable but transcendent of this cruel world, they really did a number on the Blake. (That painting really is locked away at the Brooklyn Museum because I was going to sneak a non-flash photo of it for this review when I found out it was not on display. I wonder if they did it after Thomas Harris' book came out in 1981?) That does happen in the book and it is reasoned that he did it to try and stop the dragon from transforming him further. FWIW, I do not think you are desensitized to the gruesome nature of the show, commingled with that scene was both witnessing the grotesque desire behind a human being doing something like that in earnest AND the utter shock that someone has disgraced a piece of art in such a way.
    As for Gillian Anderson who I could talk about for hours (!), I will miss her, too. I truly cannot imagine any other actress who could have played this part with the level of complexity she contributes.

  5. I know..the painting upset me too..odd after all the deaths they show that it's the destruction of a priceless artifact that makes so upset.
    Beverly's death and Abigail's did upset me most though.
    Oh Bedelia..I love the line about Will having a more passionate relationship with Hannibal than she did. Ha. They so are the brides of Hannibal. Gillian is flawless as Bedelia.
    Great review.

  6. "Extreme acts of cruelty require a high level of empathy"
    So good ;-; I'm still dining out on it

    @FlopHairedWuss: "Has he ever tried to persuade you to kill anybody? He will.
    And it will be somebody you love.
    And you will think it's the only choice you have."
    It always sounded like Alana to me, coupled with her admirably severe look this season it feels practically telegraphed. Hannibal's threats makes it look like he'll kill her personally but that still might mean he could get Will to do it, to make it really hurt. Though it feels too outlandish even for this show, within the timespan that's left.
    Hey maybe it might've been Abigail. Hannibal did give him an out but Will thought he absolutely had to peg him down. Nah, even with a guilty conscience it's too much of a reach.


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