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“He who sups with the devil needs a long spoon”

The Red Dragon chapter of the HANNIBAL story continued this week with ‘And the Woman Clothed with the Sun’, the 9th episode of the season, and an episode that gave us a closer glimpse at new villain The Tooth Fairy. It also gave us a closer look at what we can expect from Hannibal’s many relationships going forward.

The location of Hannibal’s residency may have changed, but the dynamic between he and his ‘friends’ hasn’t in the slightest. He is still able to pull strings, poke and prod at his audience, move the people around him like chess pieces on a table. Nothing is different in that regard, but this week some light was shone on his agreement with Alana, the woman now in charge of his care and indeed the entire hospital at which he is detained. “There are five rooms between Hannibal and freedom, I have the keys to all of them”.

It is made clear from their discussions this week that, as long as Hannibal behaves himself (oh, please), that he will be afforded some comforts; books, drawing equipment, a toilette etc. A pretty good deal, no doubt. Alana’s mean streak is continuing in earnest, being very careful around her detainee, careful not to be lured into any traps he is most certainly laying out for her, and making sure to put him in his place whenever she can. Reminding him that if he behaves in any way she dislikes (mostly regarding Will) he will only be left with “indignity and the company of the dead”. It’s good to see people standing up to Hannibal but it doesn’t change the fact that I would very much like to see Hannibal turn the tables on her — and then put her on his table. I don’t think there is any shame at this point being unapologetically team Hannibal. ‘Go Lecter’.

How did it feel to see him again?”

Hannibal wasn’t the only man Alana visited with this week. A very fragile Will was the subject of another one of her talks as she warned him the best she could, seeing straight away that he was in danger of being influenced yet again by the great fiend, but also knowing that is the entire point of Will’s visits with him.

Briefly mentioned was quite a big change for her character personally, not only is she still with Margot after all these years, but that they are now parents to a “Verger baby”. It’s hard not to hear that phrase without thinking of the monster that coined it, why on earth she would bring that up is beyond me.

HANNIBAL -- "...and the Woman Clothed with the Sun" Episode 309 -- Pictured: (l-r) Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, Lara Jean Chorostecki as Freddie Lounds -- (Photo by: Ian Watson/NBC)

The relationship between Jack and Hannibal has always been an interesting one, not as complex as Will and Hannibal but still intriguing. There is almost a mutual respect there, even from Lecter, but Jack might be the only core character that actually hates Hannibal. Alana doesn’t, though how she would love to. Will certainly doesn’t. What is most fascinating however, and amusing to watch, is the way in which Hannibal treats Jack. On the one hand there is the respect he has for him, but also somewhat of a contempt because of the way he has treated Will. “It would be more honest if you ate his brain right out of his skull” he told Jack this week upon the FBI man visiting him in his cell.

A sign of how well this show is put together, how well written it is and what a great performance Mads Mikkelsen gives in the title role, is how Hannibal’s threats are just as potent, just as full, from inside his cage. Jack can feel it too, his demeanour noticeably changing as the doctor stepped right up to the glass, standing mere inches away.

“I gave you a child, if you recall”.

Yes, we all remember that Hannibal. That child in question being Abigail, who returned this week after only appearing at the start of the new season as a figment of Will’s subconscious, now this time as a ghost from Hannibal’s past. We were treated to some revealing if not a little superfluous flash backs. Showing us how Hannibal faked her death among other things, “I’ll need to collect some flesh. Not a pound, only a piece”. I guess the real point of these segments was to tie into the mind games that Hannibal was now enacting on Will. Having agreed to help him catch The Tooth Fairy and after Will refused to address him by his first name, Hannibal has gotten to work making Will see things just how he would like. You see poor Will keeps finding himself resembling the killers he hunts. “Like you, Will, he needs a family to escape what’s inside him”. The Tooth Fairy, Hannibal deducts, kills families to escape the pain, the truth within. Will it seems, is not much different, finding himself a new family in order to forget Hannibal, to ignore the thing he really wants, to ignore who he really is. This all maybe true but there is no denying Hannibal is making Will see things his way, manoeuvring him around the landscape he has been creating for him. Unfortunately for Will, it was already over when he decided to return to the fray and meet his old friend. You can’t allow the devil to talk but Hannibal bewitches you with just a look. Will never stood a chance.

It seems Mr Graham is going to fall into old traps for the remainder of the season (show), as he finds himself once again becoming the man he hunts. In episodes past however he would normally only take on facets of their personalities when he was at a crime scene, when trying to uncover the truth behind their murders. But this week while rooting around the premises of a house visited by The Tooth Fairy, he found himself talking as the man himself in plain view. The cracks opened by his hunt for Hannibal may have permanently broken the walls he built to protect himself.

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Richard Armitage actually spoke for the first time this week — though not very well. It appears apart from having a facial disfigurement (deduced by Hannibal) that he is also impaired more than aesthetically. A slight speech impediment, or perhaps just a certain slowness is revealed to be part of his character, explored through a rather creepy ‘meet cute’ with a blind woman, a colleague from his professional life. In a scene reminiscing last years UNDER THE SKIN, Francis picks her up in his van from the bus station in order to take her home, ultimately being invited in for a drink. His intentions for her remained unclear, but the mystery and ambiguous nature of what might be coming made for an incredibly tense and uncomfortable scene between the two while he munched on a slice of pie. A romance, if he is capable of such thing (I doubt it), seems to be on the cards for our friendly neighbourhood Red Dragon, adding a welcome dimension to his story, becoming more than just a howling psychopath who has a thing for mirrors. Oh and he also grew a tail this week… well, not really, but it was a pretty rad visual for sure.

Towards the end of the episode, in a surprising but powerful turn of events, Francis gave Hannibal a call on the phone, declaring that he was becoming The Great Red Dragon. From the look on Hannibal’s face he wanted to burst out laughing. Such a gregarious, childish, psychopath probably doesn’t align too much with his elegant tastes.  It will be interesting to see how Hannibal plays this going forward, and how he might use it all to his advantage.

This was another tantalising episode of a show that I will miss dearly when its final curtain falls. There is nothing conventional about HANNIBAL. Not it’s characters or its structure. There really is nothing else like it, which makes it all the more special each time a new episode lands. For a show that has no traditional hero and very few ‘likeable’ characters, it’s quite remarkable that as an audience you are able to bond so strongly with the people that populate it. Hannibal is not a good guy. Obviously he is a maniac, but he is our maniac and I think we have all come to care deeply about him, even to the point of wanting to see him happy. When thinking of what ending I would like for the show, every one of them involves Hannibal winning in some way. He has almost gotten to Walter White status. An awful person, sure, but we are with him now, wherever the path might take him. Everyone else just better get out of his way.

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Film and TV Journalist Follow: @SamuelBrace Follow: @filmandtvnow