While last week’s episode focused on supporting characters Bedelia and Francis, this week things were brought back to the core of the series. Hannibal and Will took centre stage, and while Francis was still integral to proceedings it was his effect on the Hannibal/Will relationship that was the most pertinent aspect of this week’s instalment. ‘And the Beast from the Sea’ — the 11th episode of season 3 — felt like an important episode or rather a moment in the story that defined what will likely come in the series final two episodes.
As mentioned at the top; this week was all about centralising the story. There wasn’t much time at all spent on off shoots from the main plot, the battle for Will’s soul, fought by Jack, Hannibal, Molly and indeed Francis was where our focus was drawn. I’m reluctant to include Will as a participant in that battle as he doesn’t seem to have much of a say in anything as he is so malleable to the forces around him. If Doctor Lecter is the driver of the proverbial vehicle that is HANNIBAL the show, then Will is the car itself, left to be helpless as others modify his body and inner furnishings.
“The Dragon is in your belly now”.
One of my favourite new features from these most recent run of episodes is the Hannibal/Francis conversations, the strangest of dialogues that happen between spaces, in the present but within the confines of a memory palace, one apparently shared between the two with Hannibal’s old office being the venue. It’s clever, dynamic and a great way to add some visual interest to what would normally be a straight forward phone call. Francis, being the twisted individual that he is, is constantly struggling with his feelings, his feelings for his girlfriend, Hannibal, the Dragon and himself. Hannibal seeing an opportunity to poke, prod, sculpt and mould, decides to insert himself a little more into proceedings and gives Francis the idea to go after Will’s family which sits rather well with Francis. What was most interesting here was the looks on Hannibal’s face as this exchange of words took place.
Through the storytelling device mentioned earlier, we saw Hannibal looking at himself as he spoke to Francis and the very real conflict in his eyes as he gave up Will’s family, knowing the horror that would find them. It was fascinating to watch. He really seemed to struggle with what he had just done. Maybe I am reading too much into a look but I think there was something there, something new to add to his character.
“He knows who the dragon is”.
Will is back in deep with Hannibal, he didn’t last long and with every second he spends in his presence his armour deteriorates a little more. After Will’s meeting with Francis at the end of last week’s episode, the gang (Will, Jack and Alana) come to realise that Hannibal has been pulling some of the strings, withholding information about the Tooth Fairy’s identity. But of course Hannibal won’t admit such a thing. He does admit to Will that he knows of the next family to become victims to his malice but he does refrain from openly telling Will that the family in question is his own.
Hannibal’s motive, what that it is or if he indeed has one, is always one of the more salient things that we as an audience have tried to decipher throughout the shows run. It always ends up being rather fuzzy and right now it’s no different. It could either be — in my mind — that he feels the need to break Will again, disassemble his person in order to have him back by his side or maybe this is all just an act of revenge, revenge for Will discarding him and breaking his heart.
After Francis enacts on the first step of his ritual, taking out the family dogs, he proceeds to move in on Will’s home in order to unleash the Dragon on Molly and son. Somehow, if by a sixth sense, Molly knows something is up, she cleverly and quietly, navigates her home and takes herself and her son out towards the car, slipping by Francis and his evil intentions. Ignoring the fact that she got a passerby killed while haling him down from the side of the road, it was a successful escape, making it away with just a single bullet wound.
This sequence was tense; it was scary and was a big moment for Molly and her character. This is a strong woman and it was cool to see her get some of the spotlight (moonlight). And it was a big sign of the show and the scenes success that I felt genuinely fearful for the two of them, that they both might perish. This is something that HANNIBAL might do, it wouldn’t be all that shocking, this is a show that takes risks and the fact that it always has done paid off nicely here.
“You have hubbed hell, Doctor Lecter”.
After the incident at Will’s home, Alana and Jack confront Hannibal about his actions, about knowing and talking with Francis and decide to use Hannibal to get to him. Hannibal is more than happy to play along of course; Francis is just a toy after all. Speaking of whom, Francis, distraught after failing in his latest mission, starts chastising himself, beating his own body as punishment, shown to us as if the Dragon himself was the one attacking him. All this leads to him breaking up his only relationship, afraid that this new woman in his life doesn’t threaten him, that he might hurt her and also because he probably associates his failure to kill Will’s family with the commencing of their relationship. It was a touching scene that continued to help sculpt his character beyond the monster he has become. He really is a broken soul that needs fixing and care, just not the care Hannibal is willing to provide.
With all this talk of the Dragon within him and what he is becoming, it is appearing more and more clear that the demon on his shoulder, the dragon, is actually Hannibal himself. Francis doesn’t realise as much but I suspect he will soon. What he will make of that I don’t know but for now Hannibal — as long as it suits him — continues to be on Francis’ side, deciding last minute to tell him that Jack and Alana are listening to their telephone call, that they are coming for him, helping him to get away by the skin of his teeth.
“It’s tough to hold on to anything good, it’s all so slippery”.
After the attempt on his family’s life the stakes are particularly high for Will now in his battle with the dragon. His family hangs in the balance and not just in terms of their safety but in terms of what he wants. One could get the feeling that he might end up seeing it as more of a decision whether to leave them and be with Hannibal then how to protect them from Francis. Will is a hard man to label and you can judge him all you want but it won’t get you anywhere. His relationship with Hannibal is one that defies classification. There is so much subtext here, so much history to go along with the confusion of feelings. I really wouldn’t be surprised to see Will eventually forsake his family, actually causing them harm in order to be with Hannibal. You see, I’m not sure he actually loves them, cares for perhaps, but love? I don’t know about that. They are more of a replacement, a distraction from his diseased mind and true feelings. His anger at the situation could itself be a slight of hand, trying to convince us of a conventional response to what has happened but Will is not a conventional man. Perhaps he is not so much mad at Hannibal for endangering his family as he is at himself for being so besotted and infatuated by this man that he both loves and loathes in equal measure. It’s really quite the pickle and I can’t wait to him tackle it, though knowing Will, he’ll just let it all wash over him and try to live with the result.
‘And the Beast from the Sea’ took us one step closer to the end, to everything we have been building towards. It’ s hard to tell exactly where we are going but this episode gave us more of an idea, the frame is being filled now but what the final picture will look like and who will be in it is still to be made clear. What is becoming obvious is that Francis — while dangerous — is just a pawn, a tool to be used by Hannibal against Will, the purpose of that tool is what will drive these last two episodes forward and help define how we will remember this most special of series.
SIDE NOTE: This episode at long last brought to us the first time seeing Hannibal in his infamous muzzle, after deciding his comforts getting taken away was worth messing with Jack, was worth “having his fun”. It was a nice moment and nod to the films that preceded the show.