The great Red Dragon… and the Woman clothed in sun… and the Beast from the sea
There’s always been a kind of poetry to Hannibal, from the cinematography to the editing to the score to the actors themselves. All of it is meticulous and deliberate. So what better way to show that we have moved away from the Chesapeake Ripper on to the Red Dragon then by changing episode title formats. No longer are we to focus on the meal of the week, so to speak, we are now part of William Blake’s works, and Dolarhyde’s “Becoming” and his world. A world where he isn’t actually killing people for the sake of killing. He’s transforming them.
Richard Armitage continues to shine in his role as Dolarhyde but Rutina Wesley’s performance as Reba should also be commended. Wesley was great as Tara in True Blood but at times it got a little much. This role is much more downplayed but she pulls it off. It’s largely due to Reba that we can humanise Dolarhyde (to an extent).
And the Beast from the Sea showed us how much Dolarhyde cares for Reba, choosing to distance himself from her lest the Red Dragon decides she must be done away with. For a man who has no qualms about destroying a family and bathing in their blood, feeling guilty about hurting the woman he loves is showing vulnerability that helps rounds off his character. It shouldn’t make him more likable but at the same time it kind of does. Luckily, the show reminds us that he is, in fact, evil by having him try (and fail) to kill Will’s family, Molly and William. This made the Red Dragon very unhappy and we saw the punishment that came with it.
What’s very interesting about noticing a change in title format and the overt theme of “transformation” throughout the second part of season 3 is realising how applicable it is to almost every main character. Neither Jack, Alana, Will or even Hannibal are the same. Jack and Alana have been hardened and seem to not feel so bad about wanting to see the bad guy dead. Playing strictly by the rules has not served them well after all. Will is hardened too but experience has taught him to be selective in his behaviour. He seems more methodical in his approach to his work; it’s why Hannibal repeatedly tries to rile him up by bringing up Will’s wife and step son. Hannibal has changed in that he is becoming more transparent in his needs. By trying to get Dolarhyde to kill Will’s family, he is reminding us how much he wants to be part of Will’s life. He considers Will to be his family. As he said in an earlier episode, Hannibal tried to give Will a daughter (Abigail) but we know how badly that turned out.
And the Beast from the Sea was an episode reminding us of the many transformations happening throughout the show. It showed us how experience with Hannibal has changed everyone and how they are now using it to their advantage. And though even behind bars Hannibal was still calling the shots, the next episode should be good because of Alana’s promise to take away his dignity. It’s some much needed schadenfreude.