The countdown continues as we’re now less than one week out from the end.
Well, it’s nice to see no love was lost over the past three years.
After last episode’s bringing us up to speed and setting the scene, this week isn’t quite as hard-hitting on the story front. In turn, however, it is playing to one of the other areas that has been a strength of the series to this point – the characters and the relationships therein.
This a point probably best established right at the start, picking up where the prior episode left off with Will and Hannibal’s meeting. The meeting is, on paper at least, largely faithful to the original source material. Thanks to the first two and a half seasons of (mostly) new content, however, the exchange has a whole new level of context throughout it. Where other versions have made Lecter smug and belittling with regards to things like the signs of Will’s new family life, this time around, he acts the part of a scorned lover.
Which, of course, is somewhat intentional. The showrunners have been well aware of the ways people have read into Will and Hannibal’s relationship and have themselves played to the idea to different degrees to this point. In this particular case, however, it has an additionally interesting touch to it care of the fact that the scene itself is mostly based on Harris’s dialogue, but still is delivered in a way more in line with Fuller’s takes on the characters.
One of the biggest surprises coming from this comes care of Hannibal’s own bitter observation of the child he gave to Will – fledgling killer Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl). Through flashbacks, we get a couple of the hanging questions from season two answered, as well as get a more disturbing perspective on the ‘family’ Hannibal sought to make. Between the opening scenes of Lecter helping stage Abigail’s fake murder and later using her father’s corpse to help her understand the concept of violence as love, it’s fascinating to watch how she came around to Hannibal’s ideology where Will was able to resist.
And speaking of Hannibal and scorned lovers, I was struck by the scenes with Alana this week. When we first see her with Will, she’s actually pretty happy with where she is in life, she’s concerned for Will’s wellbeing – and she has NO trust for Hannibal. Watching her later scenes with Lecter himself, she could give him a run for his money in the scorned ex department. In her case it leads to a great bit of acting from Caroline Dhavernas as she calmly lays out she knows how to punish Lecter and make it stick, and it has me hoping she gets more bitter moments at Hannibal’s expense.
On the other side of the coin, we get to see a couple of the more positive aspects of certain characters built up in this episode as well. Following his dialogue-free introduction last time, this episode begins Dolarhyde’s relationship with blind coworker Reba (Rutina Wesley). The meeting starts off quite awkward by design, but Wesley and Armitage play the complicated relationship very well in this first episode. It really gives another aspect of Dolarhyde as a character that further shows why casting Armitage for the part was a good call on the showrunners’ part.
Meanwhile, as Will digs further into the case, we also get to see more of his connections to Molly. Like last week’s scenes with Crawford, these further establish her awareness of just how troubled Will has been, as well as her willingness to help support him in any way possible. The exchange over the phone between Hugh Dancy and Nina Arianda is a touching one after how this episode starts, and it’s nice to see at least that going right for Will, even if it is then followed by the nightmare to remind him how his family is at risk by this.
Besides these core relationships, the episode does also have some other welcome interactions. This marks the return of the infamous Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) to the series after her earlier absence. Despite her sort of ally status last season, there’s a certain amusement to being reminded that, when everything’s said and done, she’s still the same opportunistic muckraker she’s always been. A reminder made even funnier by the fact she speaks with Will as though they’re still on the best of terms, despite his reminding her of some of the lines she crossed that we didn’t see.
The end of the exchange lays the seeds for one of the upcoming storylines from the book and it will be interesting to see how the series chooses to play it out in light of one of the creative choices made back in season two.
Jack Crawford has his own meeting with Hannibal besides the two others. The result is one of those scenes that reminds of the tenuous sort of balancing act Jack has always had between his friendship with Will and his respect for his abilities. He knows full well the dangers he’s putting his friend in, but also acknowledges they get results. It’s one of those moments where he’s making sense, but it’s still kind of an awful thing to hear laid bare like that.
Finally, besides his scenes with Reba, we see more of Dolarhyde’s grip on his humanity slipping. As he watches more home movies, we see him wrestling with his own demons, and the body horror touches as, in his mind, he turns into the dragon himself, are a fascinating creative touch. One further added to with his final phone call to Lecter at the end of the episode. Hearing the growling tone as Armitage declares himself the Great Red Dragon is a strong note to end the episode on.
This arc is continuing to deliver on the promise set up by the prior episode. The plot is advancing and the cast are all getting great development from catching up as well as the advancements – incidentally, while only a small scene, Price and Zeller’s reactions to Dolarhyde targeting pets are a nice bit of levity for the episode. After some of the slower start of this season, the time management in this second half so far feels much tighter and everything is better utilized thus far.
We continue tomorrow with And the Woman Clothed In Sun (yes, the name is similar, no this isn’t a typo).
-Strong interactions among the characters
-Rutina Wesley showing a lot of promise as new addition to the cast
-As entertaining as Freddie’s return is, it mostly just seems to be there just so everyone remembers her for later
-Chilton sits out this week’s ‘Everyone Hates Hannibal’ party (…it’s a good sign I have to dig for cons this time out, huh?)