Written by Matt Taylor
Tonight’s episode of Hannibal, “…And the Woman Clothed with the Sun,” explores familiar territory for anyone who has seen 2003’s Red Dragon (or the far superior Michael Mann film, Manhunter, from the 1980s). But, as always, Bryan Fuller takes the old Hannibal story and puts a new, fresh spin on it. While last week’s introduction to the Red Dragon was more of a slow-burn, we were thrown right into the case, as new characters and familiar faces blurred into one.
Prior to Bryan Fuller’s interpretation of these characters hitting the air, the most familiar version of the titular cannibal was one in which he advised detectives from behind a glass wall. Now, with Lecter finally behind bars, it could have been easy to turn the artsy Hannibal into a more stereotypical police procedural. But Fuller has never been that kind of show runner, and even Hannibal’s consultations feel like something we’ve never seen in any interpretation of the character. Will and Hannibal’s meetings this week felt especially dreamlike, with the seamless shift between settings showcasing both top-notch editing and a thorough understanding of both characters. Will’s struggles to keep his mind clear as he studies the gruesome acts of violence he’s been tasked with stopping are more horrifying than any other fantasy sequences the show has had this year, and much of the suspense form the episode draws not from the looming threat of another murder but the fact that Will’s sanity could slip at any moment. Honestly, I think these past two episodes have showcased series-best work from Dancy.
But, the best confrontation of the night has to belong to Alana’s talk with Hannibal. Now, I’ve made no secret of how much I love what Fuller has done with Alana this season, but I’m going to have to repeat myself. Alana has transformed from an unnecessary and underwritten love interest into a badass, completely captivating figure. In her scene with Lecter, the shift of power in their relationship is clearer than ever, with Alana making reiterating how much control she has over her lover turned prisoner. It’s great to see Alana with so much power, and Caroline Dhavernas absolutely dominates the scene. Now granted, this is Hannibal, and there’s definitely a chance that Alana will lose that power (and her life) in the coming weeks. But I’ll enjoy these moments when they last.
The Red Dragon mystery also took an interesting turn this week, with Richard Armitage continuing to impress with his brooding, largely physical work. Last week, it was his animalistic movements that won me over. But, this week, it was his terrifying voice that made a lasting impression. He made a conversation over pie one of the more suspenseful sequences of the episode, while his final lines sent chills down my spine. The Emmys have ignored Hannibal in the past, so Armitage’s inevitable snub will be particularly upsetting. I’m also curious to see what the new character Reba, played by True Blood’s Rutina Wesley, brings to the table, even though Hannibal is running the risk of having too many new characters on its plate.
Speaking of too many characters, tonight’s episode also reintroduced Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki). Now, anyone familiar with the Red Dragon storyline know that Freddie will play an important part in the coming weeks. But, again, there is a lot going on at the moment, and I hope Freddie doesn’t take up too much time in these final episodes. Still, her brief appearance in tonight’s episode was a good moment, and added some much needed humor to diffuse the bleakness of the hour. Leave it to Hannibal to squeeze a humorous penis joke in between all the blood and violence. One minor quibble though: I find it hard to believe a sleazy tabloid publication would be anywhere near as popular as Freddie’s magazine.
This may not be the first time audiences have seen the Red Dragon storyline, but this is a new side of Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal. While it’s just as scary and suspenseful as previous seasons, tonight’s episode was fueled by human drama. After two and a half seasons, Will has finally found peace, and now viewers are being forced to watch him risk losing that stability from the edge of their seats. I love the direction this season has taken, and I can’t wait to see how it all comes to an end, even if I’m afraid of what will come next.
‘And The Woman Clothed in the Sun’ Rating: 9 out of 10.