Family and the different kinds that exist has been rippling under the surface of Hannibal since season 1 with plenty of opportunity for ‘my two dads’ references and this comes into focus once again this week in “…And the Woman Clothed with the Sun.” Or rather this is a chance to explore Hannibal’s relationship with Abigail in the period of time between when he framed Will for her murder and when Hannibal did actually end her life.
The first half of this season dipped into Hannibal’s past; not too much so we feel like we know Hannibal, but enough to understand his desire to find a new Mischa through the connections he makes with people like Chiyo, Will and Abigail. The idea of family doesn’t just relate to Hannibal and instead it is a jumping off point to explore what these characters have been doing over the last three years while also reflecting the murders that are being investigated.
Francis Dolarhyde an accidental matchmaker as he has brought Will back into Hannibal’s orbit and immediately the game is afoot (oops wrong crime series) with Hannibal poking and prodding in the back of Will’s brain. He immediately gets under his skin by correctly assessing he has a child in his life by the smell of his aftershave – Hannibal tells Abigail “We have a basic affinity for our family. We can detect each other from smell alone” – and Hannibal has always been one for sniffing Will Graham. There is a touch of bitterness in Hannibal’s tone when he mentions how he gave Will a child; Freddie’s ‘murder husbands’ tag is pretty accurate when related to this conversation as Hannibal comes across as the ex who thinks they tried their hardest and was rejected nonetheless.
In an attempt to protect himself from Hannibal’s mind games Will attempts to stick to the case and only refers to him using the formal Dr Lecter (which also hurts his former friend). In fact Alana is the only one of the surviving house of horrors bunch who calls him by his first name to his face and her interactions with him continue to be dangerously playful (more on that below).
Hannibal taunts Will first with quips about whether he can see himself killing the families and then by making light of his ‘makeshift’ family and how this mirrors what their new killer is doing – “he needs a family to escape what’s inside him.’ Oh Hannibal, you are such a shitbag. Much of Hannibal’s tricks come from drawing out what a person is ashamed of and giving it legitimacy; generally this involves getting them to kill someone. We’ve seen the results of his time with Randall Tier, how he tried to push Margot into killing Mason (which she eventually did) and with Will Graham. The flashbacks to Abigail’s faked death and subsequent sessions focus on this notion of family love stripping away at the shame and hatred she feels toward her father and leaving her with an understanding of why he did those things. Using the ultimate prop to allow Abigail to exercise her demons by confronting her father, Hannibal digs up Garett Jacob Hobbs allowing Abigail to inflict the same wound on him.
This is one of two throat slashes this week; the faked Abigail one mirrors the manner in which both her father and Hannibal inflicted the real wounds and it is very intimate. Whereas Abigail’s turn with the knife is traumatic (and pretty gross) and she is left needing Hannibal’s calming hands on her head as he tells her “never be ashamed of who you are.” Hannibal’s just trying to make everyone feel good about their murderous impulses simmering beneath the surface.
Shame feeds into Francis Dolarhyde’s situation from the way he is looked upon at the dinner table in his brief flashback – maybe it is the eating with two forks thing that does it – to how he feels in the present about his hair lip and his voice. Don’t worry Francis, Hannibal is here to make you feel better about and the two get their first session at the end of the episode over the phone with Francis posing as Hannibal’s lawyer. After a week of no dialogue, Richard Armitage gets to flex his vocal muscles aside from guttural screaming and he continues to mesmerize in his performance of Dolarhyde nailing the ‘Great Red Dragon’ urges along with his crippling shyness.
Reba McClane the blind technician draws Francis out of his shell and this is the first real interaction we have seen between him and someone that isn’t a painting. She instantly likes him because he doesn’t pity her and he’s more comfortable with her because she can’t see what he wants to hide from the world. Don’t try and touch his face though Reba.
Their meet cute goes from the dark room to a bus stop which features an ad for a dental product and the “Open Wide” is so on the nose, but also pretty damn funny. Good work art department. And so much snow! It wouldn’t be Hannibal without piles and piles of snow.
Plus it leads to spectacular shots like this one:
Hannibal’s mind palace is not the only way in which they are playing with location and whereas Will’s cell felt like the walls were closing in on him, Hannibal’s has endless possibilities. From the way they transport Will and Hannibal to the crime scene to discuss the files to the use of Hannibal’s office as a space for them to discuss the case it allows for plenty of settings and costume changes.
It’s not just Hannibal who envisions himself elsewhere and when Will calls Molly he also pictures himself lying beside her chatting about the new dogs they have both taken in. Just look at how warm this setting is in comparison to the locations drained of color.
Hugh Dancy appeared in a stage production of Venus in Fur with Nina Arianda and the relationship between Will and Molly already feels very lived in. Hannibal is trying to infect this happiness (it is lovely to hear Will laugh) with suggestions of impulses and so Molly’s joke about Will having a criminal mind doesn’t go down that well. The conversation ends pleasantly, however the kind of sweat drenched nightmares which plagued Will during season 1 are back and this time he can’t blame them on encephalitis. The lid has been cracked; can Will keep those other urges under control while also successfully cracking the case?
Photographs and mirrors reflect our image, but they don’t always reveal what is really there. Photographs are a snapshot of a moment in time and the emotions expressed from that single image don’t always tell the truth. Will is looking for a connection between the two murdered families who live four states apart and the only thing he can summarize is they were happy. Will watches home videos or rather digital footage on a tablet, which is more likely to capture real sentiment over a snapshot. But these too can lie and digital is far easier to manipulate than actual film. Francis is old school with his choice of filming equipment and we see flashes of the home movie he made.
Broken mirrors distort the image, but what Francis wants to see is how he looks in his victims eyes as if he is part of them. For Will there is one person hovering behind the face of Hannibal Lecter and just as Will didn’t die in the kitchen nor did the stag.
Blood also acts as a mirror when Hannibal is staging Abigail’s death. Oh and isn’t it adorable that Hannibal doesn’t want to cut off one of Abigail’s fingers because he wants to teach her the harpsichord. Such a considerate father figure. I kid of course because isn’t an ear also important when it comes to playing instruments? Plus he was also setting the scene to frame Will, which is not a good way to treat family.
Reflections also appear on the glass of Hannibal’s cell and I can only imagine what a nightmare it is to light these scenes and avoid the crew appearing alongside the actors. But you do get stunning shots like this one and it looks like there is a specter of Hannibal leaving with Will.
While I’m on the subject of stunning let it be known that this is at least the sixth time I have yelped and clapped my hands with glee at the sight of Alana Bloom’s costuming and Christopher Haggard is killing it this season with the lady suits (Alana is so far queen of #ladysuitwatch2015).
Yucking it up with Jay Gatsby could be on the cards for Alana in this getup; a martini and cigarette holder is all that is needed to complete that look. At the same time it is a nod to Hannibal’s Italian striped attired and Alana’s sartorial choices are influenced by her former boyfriend. The last time we saw Alana chatting with Will it was far from cordial and they clearly have not kept in touch. Concern lingers with Alana taking her standard ‘worried about Will’ position and the warmth that previously existed between the pair has returned. He asks if she is still with Margot (she is) and they have a baby son, the all important Verger heir and Alana carried the baby. While Hannibal notes that Will doesn’t want children of his own because certain aspects might get passed on, Alana does not seem concerned that they will end up with a mini Mason. Just don’t let Hannibal anywhere near him.
Will asks the magic question regarding Alana’s motives in working here with Hannibal as her patient and her response is “There are only five doors between Hannibal and the outside. And I have the keys to all of them.” Control is important here as are boundaries, which Alana notes is not Hannibal’s forte. She also knows that her name is top of his kill list if he ever gets out and there is an aspect of keeping close to protect herself. Alana levels of dread when she talks with Hannibal are low and while he claimed she could never understand him, she knows him well enough to pinpoint what he fears the most and that is indignity. This scene between the pair is an interesting look at their shifting power dynamic and he never turns around to look at her in an attempt to outwit her, but she doesn’t back down either. Hannibal, you’re really missing out on an excellent suit here.
Like Mason he is crass when it comes to her relationship with Margot and once again I am amazed that they got something like “I love a good finger wagging” followed by a reference to Margot by Standards and Practices. The camera focus shifts between them as we see them both trying to psych the other out with Will as the object between them. Hannibal snarks about the “moral dignity pants” Alana has him wearing and how Will is always free from fault. He treats her like a teacher telling him off for being a bad influence on a good kid.
Alana gives no fucks to Hannibal’s petulance in this situation, it helps there is a protective wall between them even if that wall is not visible.
She threatens to take away all of his comforts and it is wonderful; “I’ll take your books. I’ll take your drawings. I’ll take your toilet. You’ll have nothing but indignity and the company of the dead.” I’m glad they have stuck with a fearless Alana (and Hannibal’s drawing of Alana last week points to this) rather than a quivering wreck, even if I am concerned that he will get an opportunity to follow through with his promise. I am also happy she is still with Margot and I hope their family unit can escape the shadow looming over every relationship on the show.
One person who has questioned Hannibal’s set up and Alana’s relationship with Hannibal considering she escaped the massacre at Muskrat Farm is Freddie Lounds. Yes Freddie is back and Tattle Crime provides an important service in letting Francis Dolarhyde see Will Graham’s face in relation to his case.
Will’s glasses! They remain off for the majority of the episode when he is interacting with those who know him and they come back on as soon as he leaves the facility.
Freddie is back with her devious methods, insinuations and as a reminder of a long ago plot to capture Hannibal. Thanks to inferences about Alana Bloom and the nickname ‘murder husbands’ Will has no time for her shit even if she is spot on when it comes to how much serial killers love to read about themselves in the press. Freddie would make a good partner in this case despite her lack of boundaries or sense of ethics. She does continue to have an excellent coat collection.
In the same way Will saw turning to Hannibal as a necessary evil, can he come to the same conclusion with Freddie before it is too late? She gets under his skin, but not into the back of his skull as Hannibal does.
The lengths we go to form and protect our families vary; the unique qualities are similar to how Hannibal discusses love with Abigail. Hannibal discusses honesty as he manipulates the shit out of everyone around him by using strong emotionally charges notions of love and family to pivot into a position of power. Francis Dolarhyde is a different kind of beast and yet Hannibal is curious enough to reach out to him and recognize his desire for a happy family. Reaching out to Dr. Lecter can give some benefits as he has experience in evading capture and he is nothing if not honest, but he also has plenty of self interests. Everyone is coming to him, some reluctantly and even though they know he is self serving there is an inevitability to it all. Hannibal will play the game and things are about to get very messy all over again.