Jeff Vlaming, Helen Shang, Bryan Fuller, Steve Lightfoot
Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Caroline Dhavernas, Laurence Fishburne, Nina Arianda, Rutina Wesley, Richard Armitage
NOTE: REVIEW CONTAINS POSSIBLE SPOILERS
“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”
That passage from Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil has been quoted so many times, in countless forms of media, it’s practically the grandfather of clichés. But here I go beating that dead horse yet again because I don’t think anything else sums up Will Graham’s predicament quite so eloquently. Francis Dolarhyde is the monster that he is currently fighting and Hannibal Lecter is the abyss that gazes into him!
Hannibal is able to provide some insights about the Tooth Fairy case, but interacting with him leaves Will Graham feeling shaken. Alana Bloom then threatens Hannibal, fearing that he might be planning something with Will in mind. Meanwhile, Francis Dolarhyde goes out seeking film for his murderous home movies. He inadvertently befriends—for lack of a better word—Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley), a blind darkroom technician. At the end, Hannibal receives a call from Dolarhyde, who tells him of his “becoming.”
I have read “Red Dragon” by Thomas Harris, so I was interested to see how much the show would change. Surprisingly, despite a few superficial changes, it’s actually following the original text quite closely (for now, anyways). I’m particularly curious to see what will become of Freddie Lounds. In “Red Dragon” Freddie is strapped to a wheelchair and burned alive by the Tooth Fairy. This was referenced in Season Two, Episode 11 when the crafty reporter fakes her death the same way. Will that happen again, only for real this time? Or will she manage to escape the series unharmed?
Reba McClane is the “woman” from this episode’s title (“And the Woman Clothed with the Sun…”) for she is Dolarhyde’s metaphorical counterpart and his polar opposite: he destroys, she nurtures. Reba had been teaching blind children until she took the job as a darkroom technician. In Revelation 12—the bible chapter that inspired the Great Red Dragon painting—it is written that the woman clothed with the sun will give birth to a male child who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” The child is commonly thought to be Jesus Christ and since Jesus defeated Satan, Satan is The Great Red Dragon. This subtly foreshadows that Reba might just be Dolarhyde’s Achilles Heel!
This week we get to know our villain a little better, meaning he actually speaks. Hannibal continuously refers to the Tooth Fairy as a “shy boy” and, like always, the good doctor is correct. Dolarhyde wallows in self-loathing due to his facial disfiguring and speech impediment—he won’t even let Reba touch him. Over time, Dolaryhyde’s intense preoccupation with his own weakness and shortcomings mutated into a psychosis. He became obsessed with power and that is why he venerates the omnipotent Red Dragon above all else.
I don’t know why, maybe it’s poor writing or perhaps it’s latent misogyny, but in many shows the wife character is typically shrill and unhelpful. That’s why it’s incredibly refreshing to see that Molly (Nina Arianda) is extremely supportive. After everything he’s been through, Will deserves something positive in his life; especially since Jack Crawford and Hannibal Lecter are more determined than ever to use him for their own purposes!
OUT OF 5
Season Three’s latter half gathers steam with “And the Woman Clothed with the Sun…” propelled forward by the chemistry and performances of its cast.
+ Great pacing
+ Eerie, poignant flashbacks
+ Riveting characterization