Thursday, 20 August 2015

Hannibal - ...And the Beast From the Sea

If last week's Hannibal demonstrated the show's wonderful ability to achieve greatness through its dialogue, this installment shows how it hits those same stratospheric heights through atmosphere and intensity. I would very happily label this excellent episode the most intense and horrifying forty-five minutes the show has put out since Mizumono; Dolarhyde's attack on the Graham household, Francis fighting himself and the Dragon, the monitored phone call between Lecter and Dolarhyde, and Will and Hannibal's final showdown in the episode's close. And the Beast From the Sea might not have reached the superbly dizzying heights of Digestivo, but that doesn't stop it from being a superlative episode in its own right. It was intense, it was thrilling, it was dark. It was Hannibal at its ultimate best.

Whilst a lot of this episode did focus on dialogue in the ways that we've come to expect from this show now, And the Beast From the Sea was dominated almost solely by Dolarhyde's attack on Molly and Walter. I can't quite pinpoint one element of this scene that made it so horrifically intense, perhaps it was simply just the combination of everything: Dolarhyde's cloaked, masked appearance; the dark, shadowy lighting; the wild sense of unpredictability that truly meant that Molly or Walter could have been killed; that electrifying soundtrack. Everything came together in this scene to create the most intense set piece the show has offered since Lecter's household in the season two finale; the fact that Molly and Walter left alive is just the icing on the cake, really. I've come to enjoy Molly's brief but satisfactory moments of screen time, and knowing what she means to Will I would be devastated should anything happen to her.

But this is one of my favourite things about Hannibal; it does not need to kill people in order to create a shocking moment. Returning to the final sequence of Mizumono even now, knowing what season three has told us, those events are still as harrowing and horrible despite the fact that three of the four victims survived. This episode didn't claim the life of any regular or even side character, yet still pulled out shock after shock to keep the narrative soaring forward at the extreme pace it is currently at. After Molly survived her attack, she states to Will that she blames Jack Crawford for this happening to her and her son, and Will agrees. But Will knew what would happen should he return to Lecter, and to some extend, so did Molly. When Will left her a few episodes ago to begin hunting the Dragon, he told Molly he would not be the same when he returned, to which Molly replied "I will". What was once a nicely emotional piece of dialogue has now been twisted into a sucker punch of fear and terror. I can only hope Molly, and Walter and Will for that matter, all make it through this alive.

But as dominating as these sequences were, we also must focus on the Dragon himself. Dolarhyde cut off his connections with Reba McClane in this episode in fear of hurting her; she takes it the wrong way, but she does not know what he does. As vicious and murderous as Francis Dolarhyde is, both Fuller in his writing and Armitage in his performance have managed to completely sell him as a sympathetic character. Despite all that we know he has done, and all he could potentially do, it is a funny kind of nice to see him finding comfort and sanctuary in his conversations with Lecter, both real and imaginary. But this is what makes it so upsetting that Lecter is prepared to manipulate Dolarhyde into killing people for him, Hannibal may also be one of few likable psychopathic serial killers, but that is merely in his charm and choice of words. His actions and motivations are what make him such a frightening individual. Will confronted Hannibal at the close of this episode, questioning his motives for leading Dolarhyde to his family. Hannibal simply asks Will if he, like himself, craves change. Does he?

Notes - 

  • "No the dogs aren't g- Are they gonna die?" was just one of many Molly lines that have warmed me to her so quickly. She's more light hearted and relaxed than anyone on this show, and it's a welcome addition. 
  • Following his informing to Dolarhyde that the FBI were listening, Alana took away Hannibal's cell-based dignities should he betray her. It seems she, like him, always keeps her promises too.
  • On that matter, "They're listening" was awfully similar to "They know". I love the way this show uses its dialogue to reflect character work.
  • Dolarhyde fighting the Dragon was a horrific ordeal to watch. The slick, fast editing cutting between him being attacked by a beast and striking himself was masterful. 
  • "You have hubbed hell, Doctor Lecter". "I often do". 

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