'Hannibal' S3E11: ...And the Beast From the Sea

★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Several people in the Hannibal fandom love shipping Will and Hannibal, but, unlike a lot of shows, the relationship between the two, although still entirely platonic, is evident. These are two characters whose subtext is an important part of the series because it affects the strained relationship between the two of them. While season 2 was essentially their honeymoon period, season 3 tested the strength of their bond. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but for Will it is an addiction to a drug-like need for understanding of his darker side that only Hannibal can grasp. And for Hannibal, the 3 year long period as a caged animal led him to loathe Will in unimaginable ways.

Flashing back to before Hannibal’s arrest, Will made it clear that he would attempt to move on, which was a promise Hannibal believed to be empty. It was only after the three-year jump that Hannibal realized that Will had moved on — a complete rejection of Hannibal, who was still thinking of him after all those years. It’s clear that Hannibal wants Will all to himself, so his command to Dolarhyde to "kill them all" was a jealousy-ridden "well, if I can’t have him, no one can." The conversation between Hannibal and Dolarhyde expanded on the overall Red Dragon metaphor, with Hannibal, of course, playing the Beast’s role in their chat. Expertly directing Dolarhyde to attack Will’s "perfect" family, you can see Hannibal perched on Dolarhyde’s shoulder like the Devil in an old cartoon.

Hannibal S3

Duality has always played a big role in Hannibal, but the theme is just so much more impactful in this season where we have a character who is almost literally two different identities while juggling two lives. Dolarhyde’s desire to be accepted and understood stems from a background that we’ll hopefully get the chance to watch unfold (it was shown in Dolarhyde’s first appearance, but was only hinted at). Now, he has both Reba and Hannibal doing this for him in a messed up metaphorical love triangle. If anything, Reba is the angel perched on Dolarhyde’s shoulder preventing him from sliding into the abyss that Hannibal is dragging him into. Perhaps out of fear of harming her or an acceptance of the inevitability of his metamorphosis, Dolarhyde ends things with Reba. For now, she’s out of his talons.

The attack on Molly and her son was easily on of the most terrifying sequences in this season. While Mason Verger’s drug trip gone wrong stands out in season 2, I’m certain that this home invasion is equivalent. While both of the Red Dragon movie adaptations focus on Will’s perspective and the fear that results from almost having lost his family, it’s far more frightening to actually experience the attack from Molly’s point of view. Luck just barely on her side, Molly was able to get away from the Red Dragon’s maw. But what also made the scene so entertaining was Molly’s aptitude and power over the situation. From having an escape plan for her son to using the car alarm as a distraction, it was delightful to see her not play a victim but a survivor.

Like a lot of series, in Hannibal, the villain-of-the-week format plays a larger metaphorical role in the psychology of the main characters at that moment. For this episode though, it seems that the main point of Dolarhyde’s attack and his rejection of Reba is referring to the lesson Hannibal is attempting to teach both Will and Dolarhyde: that being normal is overrated.


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