Hannibal: 309 “And The Woman Clothed With The Sun” Review
Reviewed by Lewis Hurst.
If there’s one thing Hannibal has done consistently well, it’s portraying the relationship between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. In this episode, as we saw the two reunited after three years, that came to the forefront. Hannibal has always enjoyed playing with Will’s head and of course as soon as they were reunited, the mind games started again as Hannibal seemed to be finding a way to try and get back into Will’s head as Will did his best to stay on guard and get the information he needed. It led to an enthralling scene as we saw these two great minds on opposite sides of the glass (quite literally). Hannibal felt like a caged beast, stalking his prey waiting to be released. It’s a merit on Mikkelson’s acting ability that he’s able to convey such menace despite being in a situation where he should be powerless. Mikkleson takes a different route from his predecessor Anthony Hopkins and instead of making Hannibal’s mind games more obvious, he prefer to play up Hannibal’s charm, so much that you almost believe he isn’t playing any mind games.
This episode also chose to cut in flashbacks where we learned what happened to Abigail between her last appearance in season one and her reappearance in the season two finale. This scenes provided additional context to Hannibal’s scenes with Will, as it reminds us what a mind player Hannibal is and of course reminds us how Hannibal manipulated everyone into believing Abigail was dead for several months. These scenes also showcased Hannibal’s search for a companion, a Mischa replacement as he slowly breaks down Abigail and tries to build her back up. It’s also rather telling that Hannibal calls out Will on his new “family” as it becomes very clear Hannibal intended for Will and Abigail to become his family. An interesting addition was seeing Abigail being forced to confront her father’s corpse by Hannibal, a scene that occurs in the novel Hannibal with Clarice Starling, continuing the show’s theme of adapting later material and exchanging Clarice for other characters (Will, Jack, Abigail, Alana and Miriam all have some parts of her character).
This week also saw the welcome return of Freddie Lounds, who has been conspicuous by her absence for most of this season. Freddie once again did what she did best, namely stick her nose in and make things worse for everyone by reporting news she really shouldn’t be reporting. By reporting that Will Graham is investigating the Tooth Fairy murders and seeking aid from Hannibal, she unknowingly makes Will a target of interest of to Dolarhyde leading him to contact Hannibal which can only lead to trouble for everyone.
Speaking of Dolarhyde, Richard Armitage did a fantastic job this week. Perhaps by being allowed to speak, he was more able to convey some character into his take on the character. Armitage seems to be placing more emphasis on the darker aspects of Dolarhyde, making him an imposing physical presence and an unsettling person to be around. Armitage gives a good performance and I’m interested to see how he develops the character further, but currently I’m more partial to Ralph Fiennes’s take on that character in the Red Dragon film which I felt more accurately captured to tortured soul within Dolarhyde.
Reba, played by True Blood’s Rutina Wesley, proved a great addition to the show. Reba is a pivotal character in the story of Red Dragon and in Dolarhyde’s development as a character so her portrayal, along with Armitage’s, was going to be a huge part of the show’s adaptation. If both were wrong, the adaptation would fail. Luckily Wesley brings the character to life portraying her as a kind hearted individual, but also with a tougher side she isn’t afraid to show. Previous adaptations have strayed towards making Reba more sweet and kindly so it’s a nice change of pace for Reba to have a stronger character and presence, someone who doesn’t like being treated differently because of her disability, hating everyone showing her sympathy when she just wants to be treated as a normal person. It’s a unique take on the character and one that I’m overjoyed with. Hannibal has always done an excellent job with disabilities so it’s great to see that trend continue. Just like how Will, who is heavily implied to be somewhere on the autistic spectrum or to at least have a disability extremely similar to Autism on several occasions, isn’t treated or written any differently, not letting his disability be his defining characteristic like most other shows would have done, Reba’s blindness is not all there is to her and she has a lot more to offer than just being the blind character. I greatly look forward to seeing how the show chooses to develop Reba in future episodes.
And The Woman Clothed With The Sun also continued Hannibal’s trend of being beautifully directed. Many shots held a thousand interpretations, fully embodying the “show, don’t tell” aspect of the visual medium. A particular shot that stood out was while Hannibal and Will explored a mental reconstruction of one of the attacked family’s homes, Hannibal picks up a broken piece of glass to see the Wendigo reflected in it. This single shot can have lots of interpretations of what we are meant to take away from it. My personal take is that since the Wendigo has symbolised Hannibal’s manipulation of Will, its presence in this sequence confirms that despite Will’s intentions, Hannibal is back inside Will’s head once again. The future implications of this however, are yet to be seen.
And The Woman Clothed With The Sun was another excellent episode in an already stellar season and provided an enthralling second chapter in the show’s six part adaptation of Red Dragon. With only four episodes left, it remains to be seen if the show can provide a satisfactory ending to not just the Red Dragon arc, but the show itself but my hopes remain high. And if the title of next week’s episode, And The Woman Clothed In The Sun, is anything to go by, we may be in for one of the book’s most iconic scenes next week and I look forward to seeing how the show tackles it.