Just repeating from last time – yes, this IS a different episode. The similar titles are a bit unexpected, but that’s the way they set it up.
Though to be fair, I can also see part of why the two share that similar title. Besides the fact that all of the episodes in this arc are taking their name from the Blake paintings that have inspired Dolarhyde’s alter ego, this continues the previous episode’s work establishing the new relationship he has formed with Reba.
It’s an interesting dynamic to watch the show really get into, especially in between all the bridges Hannibal has burned for himself – where he has lost many, Reba may be the first genuine human affection Dolarhyde has received in his whole life. The result is another great turn for Richard Armitage as he wrestles between Dolarhyde’s still not dead human side and the growing Dragon within him.
One of the high points of that for this week is their own take on Dolarhyde allowing Reba to touch a sedated tiger. It’s one of those scenes each version has made it a point to keep in and for good reason – it’s a great scene in establishing their relationship. The symbolism alone, Reba’s amazement at being able to come in contact with a powerful and dangerous animal, is a strong case for making sure this scene is done well. In this regard, director Guillermo Navarro gives the scene the weight it needs as one of the episode’s high points.
This conflict, meanwhile, also leads to some of the great directorial tricks of the episode. Between his own wrestling of his personality, and his ‘head session’ from calling Hannibal – we start this episode seeing just how he accomplished it last time – we get a personification of the growing monster inside him. The vision of the Dragon itself, while showing some of its CG, honestly still looks pretty good for a television budget.
Actually, while we’re talking about Dolarhyde, there are two points I want to get out there regarding this arc as an adaptation, and this episode is really the best place to do them.
First off, I have to say, I like how the show is handling his internal conflicts at this point. In Harris’s book, a lot of what we learn about the man comes care of flashbacks, literal and just in voices, of the various abuses he suffered as a child. It’s an element of his character that’s been kind of hit or miss in the prior adaptations, given it’s the sort of thing that plays easier in a book than on film. Michael Mann did away with it entirely, though the fact he was abused was addressed by Graham. Bret Ratner’s version limits it to voiceover by an abusive grandmother voiced by Ellen Burstyn. Comparatively, I think I prefer the more abstract approach being employed here. It avoids feeling overly telegraphed or silly, while also making it pretty clear this is a deeply damaged individual.
The other thing is with regards to the climax of this episode – one of the stranger elements of Harris’s book is with regards to a scene involving the William Blake painting it takes its title from. Wrestling between his two personas, Dolarhyde takes the Dragon into himself quite literally, by devouring the actual painting.
It’s a strange moment, and one the two prior adaptations have both just omitted entirely, which makes it interesting to see Fuller decided to leave it in. In some ways, this season almost required this scene be kept in – after the earlier explorations on the idea of eating someone as providing some deeper understanding gives the decision to consume the source painting, and further become the Dragon, a lot more impact.
Wow…that’s a lot of this writeup for one character. In my defense, this IS a big episode for him.
Outside of Dolarhyde’s elements, this episode also marks the first appearance of Bedelia DuMaurier since Florence. It’s interesting to see how she has spun her time with Lecter since then – it almost seems to confirm my suspicion that the decision to have her drugged was the show’s way of addressing the infamous fate of Clarice Starling at the end of Hannibal – and now gives lectures on the experience. Even moreso after when we see Will isn’t buying a word of it. The resulting conversation is equal parts amusing and revealing in a number of ways. In part, it adds to the show’s growing tally of ‘bitter ex’ moments – with a bit of the feeling coming from both sides this time around, though Bedelia definitely hits harder with it, arguing how she was forced while Will was voluntary.
The other thrust of the conversation – the question of whether Dolarhyde can be saved or has to die, is one that will likely be revisited in the episodes to come. Bringing us back to Will’s moral conflict that’s been a big part of his character from the start, I don’t doubt the show will make this a tipping point by the end.
To her credit, her own flashbacks definitely seem to lend some credence to this claim, as we get more of a look at her infamous former patient (Zachary Quinto), and get hints that the circumstances of his death were likely another part of Lecter’s designs.
The latest of which we see starting to form this episode. Based on how this episode starts, as well as Graham seeing Dolarhyde’s face for himself, the fact Hannibal is able to trip the phones and get Will’s home address already bodes ominously for the next episode.
The end game of this plan will undoubtedly be revealed in the next episode, “…And the Beast From the Sea.”
-Some great developments for Dolarhyde and Reba this week
-Conversation between Will and Bedelia enlightening on each of their characters
-The effects not their strongest this week, though still good
-While I get the logic of the scenes, the flashbacks of Bedelia’s patient do play a little Hell on the episode’s flow