Friday, 7 August 2015

Hannibal - ...And the Woman Clothed with the Sun


The only issue with Hannibal taking on a brand new story arc for its final run of episodes in its final season is that each episode is now plagued with an enormous "time is running out" tone, which makes it slightly frustrating when the show comes along and puts out an episode like this. It's not as if ...And the Woman Clothed with the Sun is a bad episode, in fact it deals with human psychology extraordinarily well and is just as aesthetically pleasing as ever, but not a whole lot physically happens. Should Hannibal be heading into another season after this, this would not impact the episode as much as it did in the show's current state; there are only four episodes left now, after all. But this simultaneously works in the show's favour; the excellent Digestivo acted as a series finale half way through this season, so now Hannibal doesn't have as much to wrap up and conclude as it perhaps could have. This was an episode that understood its character and themes seamlessly, but wasn't quite sure how to move them forward.

It's going to take a while to grow accustomed to Hannibal's confinement in the cell, a feeling which, again, is plagued by the show's impending doom in four weeks time. I also sort of wish the whole Hannibal Envisioning Himself In His Office gimmick was only a one episode affair, as it was exploited brilliantly last week, but was considerably less effective here. That said, his conversation with Alana mid way through the episode was a fantastic piece of television, smartly using framing and focus to demonstrate the power levels between the pair. Alana is undeniably a changed woman since she first re-entered the equation in the middling Aperitivo, but it was nice to hear about her family life with Margo in this episode. Now that both Alana and Will have settled down with families, they have more in common than ever, an element only further solidified by Will's reconnecting with Hannibal in this episode.

Episode nine (I'm running out of ways to avoid saying this episode's irritatingly/brilliantly lengthy name) suffered mostly, I think, from unusual pacing. Until the final sequence, in which Francis Dolarhyde speaks with Hannibal over the phone as our two main psychopaths greet each other for the first time, Francis was separated from everyone else in terms of this episode's structure. We began with Will, Alana, Hannibal..etc, and then cut away to follow Francis for a while, only to return back to the main group again for the climax. Whilst it worked well in emphasising Dolarhyde's distance from the central characters, and also his distance from humanity, it gave the episode a choppy feel. Hannibal should never feel as if an episode has a structure, it should feel free and spontaneous, but here it just felt a bit too bound to formula. That's not to say, though, that Dolarhyde's scenes were affected by this; Armitage was finally given dialogue to play with tonight, and he sold it completely. His interactions with Reba McClane made for some of the episode's most intense yet emotional moments.

But, as has been the trend lately, this episode belonged to Will Graham. Both Bryan Fuller and Hugh Dancy have taken the level of depth there already was to this character and layered it even more; Will's links to a family now strengthen his connection to the case, increasing the stakes for him all physically, emotionally and psychologically. Will and Hannibal's reunion after they spent almost the entirety of last week's episode apart wasn't played to be as significant as their reunion was in episode six, but perhaps this only confirms how far Will has come since the events of Digestivo. He is indisputably a changed person and, now, one that is suffering from the separation he had from FBI work. Hopefully Will's mind frame will be something the show continues to explore this well, as it has managed to exceed even season two on that basis so far. Next week's episode should deal even more with the psychology of Francis Dolarhyde now that him and Hannibal have connected to each other, and hopefully this will extend to the other characters as well. All of this and just a bit more narrative momentum is all it will need to get Hannibal back on stellar ground like it usually is.

Notes - 

  • For this review, and the following three, I'm going to use the original paintings that the titles are based upon as the head image. These paintings get progressively stranger, so be aware of that. 
  • "I love a good finger wagging." "Yes, you do. How is Margo?" Oh, thank you Hannibal for filling in the gaps now that Mason Verger can no longer deliver those gleefully dark, sexual, innuendo ridden jokes. 
  • Freddie Lounds was back tonight! Hooray!
  • "You'll have nothing but indignity, and the company of the dead". I love how much Alana seems to understand Hannibal now. 
  • "Trust me, I'm smiling." 

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