With Francis Dolarhyde established as the villain of the piece, and Hannibal Lecter almost having taken over Jack Crawford’s role as the investigator of the Tooth Fairy’s family murders, all the roles in Hannibal have been reversed; all save that of Will Graham, who still finds himself stricken with the ability to put himself in the mind of the killer. And Dolarhyde, unlike Hannibal, has no redeeming features; he isn’t, as Alana described Hannibal, not mad but something other; Dolaryde is mad, is a monster (even imagines himself physically transforming into one); so for Will, the experience of being in his head is even less tolerable.
Not that it’s any fun for Dolarhyde. We see him practicing his speech, trying to overcome the disability of his cleft lip; tapping into a phone line; making his side of the telephone conversation he had with Hannibal last week; imagining a meeting between the two, and hallucinating his transformation into the Great Red Dragon. (Tons of Blake references here, obviously – why couldn’t he have imagined himself transforming into one of Blake’s less harmful creatures, like The Ghost of a Flea?) Dolarhyde, then, is plain crackers, and Hannibal should be able to bend him to do his will.
But what of Hannibal’s former psychiatrist, Bedelia Du Maurier? (We’ll take her any way we can get her if it means more of Gillian Anderson). Will attends a lecture by Du Maurier, who is quoting Dante and peddling the fiction that Hannibal had brainwashed her. Will, not a bit taken in, calls her The Bride of Frankenstein, and the two discuss their experiences with Hannibal (as you would). She reveals that Hannibal sends her cards on Christian holidays and her birthday – ‘and he always includes a recipe’. She questions Will’s rationality, confesses to a lack of objectivity where Hannibal is concerned, and argues that her rejection of weakness is just as powerful a motivation as Will’s urge to protect the vulnerable.
Du Maurier’s treatment of her patient Neal (Zachary Quinto) led to his death, but was this from her instinct to save, or to destroy? ‘The next time you have an urge to help someone, you might consider crushing them instead’ she tells Will.’ So much for the principle ‘first do no harm’.
Dolarhyde takes blind McClane to the zoo to touch a sleeping tiger (“Tiger, Tiger, burning bright…”), is fascinated by their interaction, and they go back to his place, listen to Debussy and spend the night together. He experiences more hallucinations, wakes to find her gone, and worries that she may have found his shrine to the Great Red Dragon.
Hannibal gets a call from his lawyer, but disconnects it and gets the operator to find him a number for Will Graham. When Will visits with the clue of a Chinese symbol found at the scene of the Tooth Fairy murders, Hannibal is able to tell him that it represents the Red Dragon, and for the first time the two discuss Blake and the sexual significance of the Red Dragon painting.
Dolarhyde visits the Brooklyn Museum, signing in as John Crane, to study the original of Blake’s watercolour painting; he kills the curator, eats the painting, and escapes after struggling with Will, who has also arrived to study the painting.
So, the two main protagonists have come face to face; and in a conventional cop show, the end would be near. But this is anything but, and Hannibal’s influence will yet add twists to the tale.
The character we learn most about in this episode, though, is Du Maurier; in describing her instinct to destroy weakness, in demonstrating the way she killed Neal, we’ve seen her as she really is, perhaps for the first time. When she stepped behind the veil with Hannibal, it wasn’t a long step for her. Du Maurier’s as crazy, in her way, as he is. (We still would, though, know what we mean?)
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