Hannibal Recap Episode 3.9 – …and the Woman Clothed with the Sun
Hannibal has traditionally been a solitary figure. Though he enjoys the company of others, he is usually among them rather than of them, observing from the vantage of superior refinement. He does not trust anyone with his secrets. He does not rely on others to fulfill his base desires, and seems to regard doing so as a form of weakness.
That consistent drive towards self-actualization at the expense of others makes “…and the Woman Clothed with the Sun” an unexpectedly communal pleasure. The episode is devoted almost entirely to the concept of family. Despite his finer tastes, Hannibal genuinely craves the simple intimacy that has eluded him throughout the show, and it’s perhaps the first time that we’ve seen him be truly vulnerable.
The episode begins with a reunion between Will and Hannibal, during which Hannibal immediately claims Will as family even as Will withdraws. He’s moved on, as has everyone else after three years. Will has Molly and Walter. Alana has a fantastic Beetlejuice jacket and a son with Margot. Francis Dolarhyde has been murdering families to replace the one that was denied him as a child. Hannibal, meanwhile, sits alone in prison, clinging to his dignity while waiting for phone calls from his ‘attorney.’ (Spoiler alert: His attorney is a Great Red Dragon.)
Everyone’s happiness amplifies Hannibal’s sense of personal tragedy. During season two, the plotline with Abigail Hobbs seemed more a manipulation of Will than a rescue of her. Through flashback, we finally find out how Hannibal staged Abigail’s murder in scenes that flesh out their father-daughter relationship in astonishingly affectionate detail. Hannibal mentors her like a parent. She’s his child, a creature molded in his psychological image following her rebirth through violence.
The scenes give us a keener understanding of Hannibal’s motivations and lend added weight to his betrayal. Hannibal thought he’d be able to share life with Will and Abigail, and his sense of loss is more profound than we previously realized. All the family business makes “…and the Woman Clothed with the Sun” a surprisingly bawdy episode, and Hannibal feels hurt because all of his friends seem to have forgotten him. He exposed aspects of himself that he typically keeps hidden. His friends did not reciprocate the favor.
Of course, Hannibal has strange ways of displaying affection, so if he’s lonely, he has only himself to blame. He ate his sister and killed Abigail. He also believes that love and death are intertwined. He may have Will’s interests at heart, but that’s seldom remains the case for very long. He’s an unusually high-risk lover.
However, it does cast some doubt over his intentions as we enter the season’s final few episodes. Alana assumes that Hannibal is playing a game designed to hurt Will, but “…and the Woman Clothed with Sun” suggests that Hannibal’s actions may be sincere. If anything, Jack is the villain of the episode, acknowledging his callous manipulation of Will while dangling him as bait in front of the Tooth Fairy. Only Hannibal seems to recognize the danger and he may not do anything to stop it.
That’s the trouble. Hannibal may desire a family, but he still loves to play his games and Francis Dolarhyde’s quest to become the Great Red Dragon is the kind of self-realization that Hannibal adores. If Will is going to push him away, it may not be long before the doctor succumbs to the temptation of another student.
It helps that Richard Armitage is playing Dolarhyde like a scarred youth searching for a parent. He’s childlike in the sense that his emotional development is incomplete, and there’s a strange mix of innocence and menace in his interactions with Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley). She can hear his pain, and her kindness offers a healthier road to evolution.
Unfortunately, she may not have enough time to guide Dolarhyde through the transformation. Freddie Lounds (Laura Jean Chorostecki) has told the Dragon that Will is getting closer, and on Hannibal, people can only be born through violence.
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