‘…And The Woman Clothed In The Sun’ completes the two-part introduction to Hannibal’s final arc, the tale of the fearsome Tooth Fairy, Francis Dolarhyde. As far as Hannibal episodes go, this one was a little unfocused but filled with excellent moments from the mildly amusing, to the worrisome, to the exhilarating. Will’s mental image of the Tooth Fairy is slowly sharpening but there is a price to be paid for that additional clarity; Will must once again tangle with Hannibal Lecter, whose feelings towards him seem ambivalent at best. The new dynamic between the two men lacks the spark that marked their often ponderous conversations in the first season; instead, in its place is an incredible tension and well-disguised anger. The episode takes us all over the place – alternating between the past and present, while continuing in the series’ well-established tradition to cheerfully crossing back and forth across the line dividing sanity and madness. We return to familiar scenes but are now given additional context; the first ‘death’ of Abigail Hobbs and Hannibal’s decision on the night of ‘Mizumono’. The episode sheds some light on Hannibal’s state of mind and what might motivate his actions in the near future, but there is also sufficient plot progression to spare us forty straight minutes of hallucination and cryptic psycho-babble.
The episode’s focus on Hannibal is especially interesting given how one would expect Dolarhyde to begin taking over the screen time since the bulk of Hannibal’s part in this story has now been completed. The episode seems to be establishing Hannibal’s resentment towards the other characters: first there is Alana and the power she holds over him and the way she taunts him with the possibility to enduring indignities but it doesn’t end there. Even Will, whose attention Hannibal seems to be desperate for, refuses to speak to Hannibal on a first term basis but even more agonizing is the fact that Will has moved on, that is enjoying a happy, fulfilling life without Hannibal. Hannibal’s comment about how he gave Will a daughter might seem like a cruel jibe on the surface, given that Hannibal killed Abigail in front of Will’s eyes but really, there was also some degree of emotional agony in those words, a confusion that Will would forsake the bond he and Hannibal shared and the life they could have had, in favour of this new woman and child. If this all seems like the ruminations of a jilted ex-lover, it seems that that implication was intentional; Freddie Lounds even refers to the pair as murder husbands later in the episode, a term Bryan Fuller first used to describe the bond that Will and Hannibal share. As with all break-ups, things do get messy between the former pair and soon we have Hannibal making catty comments as the two explore the finer details of the case. Two particular points of interest arise: that Will is at his profiling best when he is with Hannibal and that Will might have subconsciously picked his wife Molly because he is afraid of passing his inner issues via genetic lines. The former doesn’t really come as a surprise; Will has shown us that his job as a profiler requires him to time and again confront that darkness within him that allows him to understand and empathize with some of the absolute worst elements of human society and it is only logical that Hannibal would be able to draw that aspect of him out. The notion that Will is afraid of being biologically responsible for creating another Will Graham or, heavens forbid, another Hannibal Lecter, seems a strange one. Wouldn’t it be more logical to fret over whether or not his various psychological traumas would affect his ability to be a good father even to his stepson?
Hannibal’s jibes and attempts to sneaking back into Will’s psyche become crueller and crueller, all the more so because of the truth to them but Will isn’t the only one Hannibal intends to tango with. It is clear that Hannibal intends to extend his influence past his little cell and it seems that he has the ability to do so via four agents that he either can influence or directly control. Alana Bloom might not realize it, but she isn’t making the wisest move by taunting Hannibal and while she has become somewhat resistant to his manipulative methods, even going so far as to understand some critical aspects of his psyche in turn, her extreme dislike of her patient leads her to act in somewhat predictable ways. Likewise, both Will Graham and Jack Crawford, men who know Hannibal well enough to not be blatantly manipulated, are still being steered towards certain actions. Jack knew very well that Will did not want to get involved but not only did he personally request Will to do so, he even let Hannibal’s letter through to Will. Hannibal has seen through this instantly and knows that Jack has some misgivings about it and proceeds to pick at them when he can. His final agent though, is his most potent; Francis Dolarhyde chooses to reveal himself to Hannibal Lecter, not in terms of his identity, which he sees as transient and unimportant, but rather in terms of his true identity. His declaration of becoming a great red dragon at the episode’s end was chilling not because of the words themselves but because of the way Armitage captured the character’s utter insanity. Dolarhyde is the most susceptible to Hannibal’s influence; he even welcomes it and given that Hannibal himself is safe from any backlash from Dolarhyde, he can freely direct and then discard the man as he sees fit. Suddenly, Hannibal’s ability to make good on his promise to Alana increased tenfold.
The episode gets its name from the second part of the painting that Dolarhyde is obsessed with – William Blake’s “The Great Red Dragon And The Woman Clothed In The Sun” and as such finishes introducing us to the key elements of Francis’ character. He is a shy boy, as Hannibal declares, perhaps far too conscious of both his speech impediment and physical disfigurement but if Will is right in thinking that Dolarhyde chooses his victims because they are happy, then perhaps that’s a sign that he himself had an unhappy childhood. There are times when he doesn’t really seem all that violent but there is always a sense of menace surrounding him regardless. The character of Reba McClane is an interesting partner for Dolarhyde – she is blind so she cannot see his physical defect and as a former speech therapist, she is unlikely to be overly concerned by his speech impediment. It is interesting that she feels attracted to him because she doesn’t feel pity from him – yet, pity is often the by-product of sympathy and if anything, Dolarhyde’s inability to feel that should be a red flag more than anything else. Of course, no one really expects their co-worker to be a serial killer and Reba’s point about pity feeling like spit on her cheek is well taken, especially by Dolarhyde who probably encounters a fair bit of disdain and pity. It seems clear that nice as Reba is, she cannot hope to supress the Red Dragon burgeoning from Dolarhyde but it will nevertheless be interesting to see how the conflict between Francis’ dual natures plays out.