Hannibal: 3.11 …And The Beast From The Sea

An innovative retelling of the Red Dragon tale brings Hannibal more to the centre…

Hannibal‘s adaptation of Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon is an interesting beast (pun intended). On one side it is beautifully delivering audiences a fascinating portrayal of madness and twisted love in Richard Armitage’s Francis Dolarhyde, to deliver a gripping psychological thriller over the final six episodes of season three. But on flipside it is not a by-the-book adaptation either. The role of Hannibal Lecter in the book is small but critical and in a show called Hannibal the focus is always going to be on the infamous Cannibal – and his twisted bromance with Will Graham.

There are always going to be some significant changes as the novel is blended with the mythology established over the last two and a half years. …And The Beast From The Sea demonstrated this more than ever. While the Tooth Fairy is the central villain at the moment it really is Hannibal and Will’s story, with Francis Dolarhyde caught up in the middle.

Two souls, alas, are dwelling in my breast and one is striving to forsake its brother.” says Hannibal, quoting Faust who so infamously made a deal with the devil. Both Francis and Will have come seeking counsel from Hannibal, one to understand the nature of what he is becoming – the Great Red Dragon, and the other to catch him. Like the master manipulator he is, Hannibal gave Francis Will’s home address, both to allow him to continue his bloody transformation into the dragon and potentially to release Will from the bonds that keep him away from Hannibal’s cell.

But goodness prevails even against the darkness and in one of the show’s most tense, thrilling moments, the Toothy Fairy comes knocking on Molly’s door. I watched with bated breath as Molly awoke just as the killer forced his way into her home, ferrying her son Walter out of his bedroom window and sneaking along the landing even as Dolarhyde was in her bedroom. We had seen the brutal results of what the Tooth Fairy could do, ‘transforming’ his victims from their simple lives and I genuinely wasn’t sure if Will’s newfound family was going to make it out alive. The Tooth Fairy coming for Molly was the climax of Red Dragon, so having it here, with two more episodes to follow, I wasn’t sure how this was going to play out.

The tension racked up further as Walter hid behind the car and Molly cowed under the porch as Dolarhyde realised they were already trying to escape. After a frantic run through the woods, they stumbled on a car on a remote highway, only for the poor driver to receive a fatal shot to the head. Nina Arianda was fantastic, demonstrating fear and determination in equal measure as she screeched away from Dolarhyde with her son in the back seat even as gun shots smashed through the car windscreen.

Hannibal’s manipulation of the situation almost cost Will everything – and still might. While Molly survived surgery for a gunshot wound, there was a moment of venomous anger from her over what had happened before she spoke to Will about returning home together. Walter too started to reject his step-father after the events of that night and the recent discovery of Will’s time in a mental asylum at the start of season two. Could the damage be too great?

I’m just about worn out with you crazy sons of bitches.” Will ranted at Hannibal at the episode’s end, ready to kill him. If Hannibal hoped to bring Will closer to him, he certainly failed.

On the Dolarhyde front, we also got the inevitable break up with Reba, which ended not in a violent manner but in a tragic whimper. In his latest call to Hannibal – as his lawyer – he agonised over unleashing the dragon upon the woman he loved and the knowledge of where Will’s family lived helped to divert his wrath away from her. But with that failure he chose not to attack but to abandon the one woman who ‘saw’ him. Revealing that he was afraid of hurting Reba was a bold move but it saved her life and she chose to send him away, however agonising that might be. It is a testament to Rutina Wesley and Armitage’s performances they we have become so invested in their relationship over the last three weeks. For her character’s sake I hope this is the end we see of Reba but fear for what will happen if it is not.

There were also many memorable scenes that brought a smile to my face. Will and Alana in Jack’s office debating the case like old times, Alan discovering that Hannibal had been talking to the Tooth Fairy and his brazen lack of denial, Jack and Alana’s attempt to listen into his conversation and Hannibal telling Dolarhyde “they’re listening” – a nice throwback to Will’s “they’re coming” – and of course the scene where Alana had his cell stripped while Hannibal lay strapped to the board, his face encased in the mask Silence Of The Lambs style.

As always, there was so much to absorb, that there are moments worthy of rewatch. Am I finding this story arc as strong as those in seasons one and two? In my heart, I don’t think season three has quite hit those highs, though the Red Dragon story is a big step closer, even if it has been twisted more around Hannibal himself then a straight adaptation of the source material. I’ll wait for the final two episodes before I measure the success of season three – and mourn the loss of Hannibal itself. Even if it goes out on a high, there will be nothing else quite like it on television to replace it.


Updated: Aug 22, 2015

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