Published on August 5th, 2015 | by Vyctoria Hart0
Hannibal Season 3 Episode 9 “And The Woman Clothed With The Sun” Review
Season 3 of Hannibal continues this week with episode 9 and it’s very long title. Perhaps the woman referred to in the title is the one seen in the painting* so beloved by our villain, but we’re also about to meet a new character who is going to have a profound effect on the life of Francis Dolarhyde. But first Will has to have his ill advised meeting with Dr Lecter, which goes about as well as anyone could expect. Hannibal is displeased by Will’s refusal to use first names, his terrible aftershave and the realisation that Will has married. This especially offends his since he gave Will a child himself (referring to Abigail Hobbs). Will is unimpressed with Hannibal’s petulant routine, leading the cannibal to complain that Will “… just came here to […] get the old scent again. Why don’t you just smell yourself?” Despite his many protestations Hannibal still agrees to look at the Tooth Fairy files. The reference to Abigail then triggers a flashback to the scene of Will’s framing for her murder, all the way back in the season one finale. A fatherly Hannibal walks a fully compliant Abigail through the process, including helping her to spray the scene with her own blood. When she volunteers to give up a finger Hannibal refuses on the grounds that he wants to teach her to play the harpsichord. Later in the episode it’s also revealed that the two of them had a therapy session involving Abigail symbolically cutting the throat of her own father’s exhumed corpse. This is a very different side to Abigail Hobbs than we saw through her previous interactions with Will. At the end of season two she was shown only briefly – attacking Alana Bloom and then realising that she’s about to die. After that she was just an idealised figment of Will’s imagination. Does he know any of this? Does he realise how involved she was in faking her own death and landing him in Dr Chilton’s clutches?
Whilst Hannibal is reviewing the files Will visits with Alana. She and Margot are still together. They had a son as planned, so the Verger estate remains in their control. Despite this fabulous wealth Alana has opted to take the role of Hannibal’s keeper, not to protect Will, but to protect any other victims should he fall prey to the cannibal’s charms again. Which is looking incredibly likely since Will’s second visit to Lecter’s cell sees him envisioning the crime scene with Hannibal at his side in his imagination. Between them they deduce that the Tooth Fairy is either disfigured or believes that he is, that mirror pieces are chosen to control what is reflected and that the killer is going outside after the murder to stand naked in the moonlight. Hannibal takes the opportunity to further irritate Will on the subject of his family. He chose a wife with an existing child to avoid biological blame, clearly the secret to the Tooth Fairy’s choice of victims is how they lived rather than how they were killed. Hannibal is later rewarded for his assistance with a visit from Dr Bloom. She doesn’t trust his intentions with regard to Will and she threatens him with the thing he fears the most – indignity. It seems that Hannibal’s oddly luxurious cell set up is dependant on his good behaviour. If he acts out she’ll take all his comforts – from his books to his toilet. She likens him to a cat in his dislike for indignity, clearly she’s never owned a cat or she’d know that this sort of retaliation is going to result in the cannibalistic murderer equivalent of a crap in the middle of the carpet. Really Alana, I thought you were smarter than that.
The realisation that the Tooth Fairy is going outside leads to the discovery of a buried cat in the garden of one of the victims. Apparently it was attacked the day before the family, the same as the surviving dog. Will wants the FBI to ask veterinarians to be on the alert for further attacks on animals, but the huge distance between the two murder scenes would make it impossible to focus such a message. Will also finds the ‘Red Dragon’ mahjong symbol carved into a tree and an annoying reporter loitering at the end of the driveway. Freddie Lounds has been following Will again and intends to publish about his visit with Dr Lecter. Will regrets that she wasn’t actually killed during their ploy against Hannibal in season two, not least because she got into his hospital room during his recovery and published a photo of his temporary colostomy. She in turn thinks he should be grateful that she covered his junk with a big black box. Similarly she doesn’t regret referring to Will and Hannibal as “Murder Husbands” (the fandom nickname for the pairing), since they did run off to Europe together. A point that Will can’t really argue against. She wants the FBI to make use of her position, since she’ll be publishing either way and she knows all psychopaths love to read about themselves. We don’t really find out the answer but we do see Francis Dolarhyde reading about the investigation with the usually lurid Tattle Crime headlines.
There hasn’t been a great deal of Dolarhyde in the episode so far – beyond a very brief flashback to his unhappy childhood and an hallucination that he is growing a tail – but now we get to see a turning point in his life. He works at a company involved with analog photography and has ventured into the office of Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley – True Blood), a coworker he usually only communicates with through memos. Whilst her work space is a darkroom its immediately obvious that Reba is blind and this seems to make Dolarhyde braver than usual. He speaks for the first time since he was introduced. His clearly suffers some kind of speech impediment, presumably as a result of his cleft lip/palette, but Reba doesn’t seem to mind. Dolarhyde is looking for very specialist film to be used for nighttime photography. He claims his subject will be nocturnal animals at the zoo. The kind of film he needs is so delicate it must be processed in total darkness to avoid damage. Reba volunteers to do the work for him, jokingly guaranteeing his privacy. Given his actual subject matter Dolarhyde declines. That evening he offers her a ride home and she in turn invites inside for pie. She does most of the talking: explaining her background in training the newly blind; explaining that she likes the way he treats her without pity; and her intention to go into speech therapy as her next career. This hits a nerve and she asks to touch his face to understand his expression. He doesn’t allow this contact be assures her that he is smiling.
The episode ends with a few revelations. Will’s mind is already beginning to unravel. A happy conversation with Molly transforms into a vision of Will murdering her in the style of the Tooth Fairy. Jack visits Hannibal and reveals that he’s been screening the mail. He knew about Hannibal’s warning against investigating the Tooth Fairy but allowed it to be delivered because it would ultimately serve Jack’s own purpose. Hannibal suggests that Jack just eat Will’s brain directly from his skull instead. Finally Hannibal receives a phone call from ‘his attorney’, it’s actually Francis Dolarhyde calling to thank Dr Lecter for his interest and introduces himself as The Great Red Dragon. I know that this plot point is from the original book but it’s 2015, what kind of secure facility for the criminally insane fails to screen its incoming calls? Oh you say you’re his attorney, well in that case let me just connect you to the mass murdering cannibal, hold please! I hope Jack or Alana is at least monitoring Hannibal’s phone calls or we get some kind of explanation for this poor security in the next episode. I’m finding watching this show rather stressful at the moment! The investigative scenes really brought us back to height of season two and it’s hard to believe the Florence madness and Verger massacre actually happened. But they did happen, so I’m wary of trusting the current tack of the show. This was a great episode, well written with some great comic moments. The nod to the fandom in the Freddie Lounds scene was fun, as was the acting in that entire sequence, Lara Jean Chorostecki really knows how to make you hate a character, even when she’s right. Rutina Wesley is doing a brilliant job of portraying Reba, I’m really looking forward to seeing more of her next week. Speaking of things I’d like to see more of – heartbreakingly, the developing relationship between Hannibal and Abigail was sublimely done and very believable. Shame she’s dead goddammit! Fingerscrossed that next week is more of the same.
*pedantic art historical note – Dolarhyde has a copy of the William Blake painting “The Great Red Dragon And The Woman Clothed IN Sun” which shows the woman cowering at the feet of the dragon. Meanwhile “The Great Red Dragon And The Woman Clothed WITH The Sun” is a different painting from the same series which shows the same woman in a much more powerful position, rising up as the dragon hovers above her. It seems that next week’s episode title will refer to the IN painting so I assume that the use of the WITH title this week is intentional.