Tweetable Takeaway: Dolarhyde and Reba continue to steal “Hannibal” from Hannibal.
Airtime: Saturday at 10ET on NBC
By: Dana Leigh Brand, Contributor
I like that Hannibal is all the way to the actual Red Dragon storyline, and I love the way they’re doing it, but you know what—it definitely feels like a coda. It’s such a meaty, fully fleshed-out plot that it’s just the perfect stopping place should the story ever need to stop. So, here’s hoping they wrap it up well and don’t do any stupid cliffhanger crap.
Richard Armitage and Rutina Wesley continue to be my new favorite part of these episodes. They’re fresh without having to try too hard. Armitage and Wesley play Dolarhyde and Reba so down-to-earth without any over-exaggeration for dramatic effect. The “monster” and the pretty lady who “tames” him is such an easy thing to turn into bullshit cliché, but as far as I’m concerned, they’ve kept it both believable and sympathetic. Another thing that they’ve made perfectly creepy is Dolarhyde’s split personality between himself and the Red Dragon. Beating the crap out of oneself is way too easy to turn all Fight Club nowadays, but that scene had both pathos and repulsiveness. Getting close to Dolarhyde, who’s legit messed up as opposed to Hannibal’s manipulative weirdness, is a different kind of sympathetic than this show is used to. I like it because, again, it feels like closure. But it’s also a considerable break from the show’s usual style. On a related but irrelevant note: I know I keep mentioning the thing about Dolarhyde picking his victims through their film home movies, but I’m still waiting to see if that will ever become an issue or if it’s just a vestigial remnant from the original story that they couldn’t manage to get rid of.
Now, ostensibly, Hannibal and Will are still the main focus here, but I feel like Dolarhyde and Reba are stealing the show. At any rate, Hannibal’s motivations in this particular incarnation of the story are much clearer at this point, simply because we saw all the lead-up to Hannibal and Will’s relationship. It was fun to watch this series tease everything possible out of the tiniest allusions in the novels. But that also makes Hannibal siccing a serial killer on Will’s new-found family extra-sinister and manipulative. In all the other adaptations and incarnations, it always seemed like Hannibal was just crazy and/or resentful. In this episode it reads as a desperate ploy to win back Will’s complete devotion, or at least retaliation for leaving him in the first place. I love these kinds of messed up, super-intense, undefinable relationships in fiction, so these two are always fun to play with. As it should be: it’s these two verbally sparring and psychologically destroying each other that I’ll miss the most.
We’ve only got two episodes of this glorious little art experiment left. There’s plenty of high-action and tension to pack into those two episodes, and I’m sure a whole lot of blood. But since, again, what’s left is essentially the climax of the story, I anticipate they’ll start putting new twists on the old tale just so things aren’t 100% predictable. And, as ever, I’m excited to see how they play with it.
Dana Leigh Brand is a digitization archivist by day and a masked pop culture avenger by night. She spreads the gospel of science fiction and fantasy wherever she goes.