What Are You Becoming – Hannibal 3×09 Review [SPOILERville!!!]

Let’s get a move on. It’s already week 2 of the new chronology. We are now on to episode 9 of Hannibal season 3, and already two thirds into the Red Dragon story arc. After starting episode 9 of Hannibal season 3 with such a bang, I was curious whether both the show and Armitage in particular could keep up the expectations that had been created in 3×08 – a three-year jump in time had been successfully navigated, the Tooth Fairy had been introduced, and Hannibal and Will are established in their new environments. With my focus clearly on the Red Dragon narrative I was hoping to get to Dolarhyde’s back story, and to see the hunt for the Red Dragon start. Too bad that I have to watch the rest of the show, too 😉 because I am now getting the parts that make me feel squeamish – and bored. For instance the Abigail storyline at the beginning of the show. Yes, I had to look away. 

After watching my second episode of Hannibal I am still unclear on what I am actually watching? Is this a horror show or a psychological drama? My squeamish inability to look at the blood-letting courtesy of Abigail might point to the former, as does the visualization of the Tooth Fairy’s crime further into the episode through Will’s imagination. But there is plenty of psychology in this. Oh, really??? *doh*  And my lack of knowledge of the previous seasons and episodes is of course now biting me in the arse. What looks like a lot of boring interludes, is in fact the psychological drama that keeps Will (and other characters) tethered to Lecter. A lot of it reminds me of theatre dialogues, focussed on the conversation, pared back on action – which I do find very attractive. But with my lack of back story, it is often lost on me and turns out to bore me. I found myself impatiently waiting for Dolarhyde’s next entrance in the plot most of the time, and overall the episode left me disappointed because I subjectively felt there was not enough Armitage eye candy Dolarhyde in there.

Dialogue and Speech

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Brush your teeth, kids! The oral hygiene ad glows sinisterly

And yet, I did get a few jokes and witticisms. “I love a good finger wagging”, says Alana to Lecter, who pointedly answers “You do. [Pause] How’s Margot?” I had to laugh out loud despite my poor background knowledge and only after a second’s delay, when the implications became clear. While Dolarhyde’s dialogues are directly lifted from the literary original, the dialogue between Lecter and others stems from the naughty minds of the Hannibal writers, I presume, and little gems like that – very easy to miss in passing – make the show really good, adding a layer of sophistication by demanding the audience not just to watch, but to listen. Granted, occasionally the innuendo is unmissable – such as feisty Freddie Lounds countering Will’s complaint about her sneaking a photo of him in hospital and printing it: “I covered your junk with a box. A big black box.” But it lightens the show up for me, subtle, sledgehammer or in-between. Equally, little gems in the background reward the observant viewer with unexpected humour – such as the advert for dental hygiene on the bus shelter where Dolarhyde picks up Reba.

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“Ride with me – for my pleasure.” Eh, you added an unnecessary conjunction there, Dolly, luv!

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I’ll meet you in the dark room anytime, Dolly

Moving on to the bits that *really* interested me – Dolarhyde, what else – let’s stay with the topic of speech first. In episode 3×09 we hear Dolarhyde speak (properly) for the first time. Armitage did not disappoint. He gets the speech impediment across in an extremely subtle and convincing way. I do not have any reliable experience with speech impediments, but to me it sounded believable, and not overemphasized. The troublesome sibilants are discernible, but his speech is still recognizable. What grated with me was – forgive me, dear American friends – the accent. I fully understand that Dolarhyde is American, therefore he speaks American. But Mr Brit Actor’s rhotic pronunciation of the letter/sound R just makes my toe nails curl. Get used to it, Guylty. The man is set for a career in the US. – Yeah. Alright. But: Appeal to all American producers: Can you please cast the man as the baddie? And allow him to keep his British accent? Purlease!!!? The iconic line “Ride with me – for my pleasure”, another example of funny innuendo, lost some of its attractiveness on that score. That line is not going to make an appearance as my iPhone ring-tone any time soon. But well, I expect to get used to it, over time.

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Table manners?

In terms of plot, while there was way too little Dolarhyde, we got a glimpse of his childhood. Dolarhyde’s childhood as the only child among many old people in his grandmother’s old people’s home (?) showed us young Francis at the dinner table – and then inserting grown-up Dolarhyde in the same setting. Grandma was sufficiently snide, and the unattractive, support-stockinged legs under the table added to the simmering feeling of repulsion. It was only a short scene, but we can already make out that Francis’s childhood was unusual, to say the least. I suppose we will get to see more of this as the story progresses. The first glimpse was rather short, imo. But maybe Fuller et al. do not want to prematurely evoke too much compassion for Dolarhyde?

What Are You Becoming?

That was basically all that was *entirely* new in terms of settings and scenes in episode 9 to expect Dolarhyde in. Much to my disappointment the scenes involving Armitage had already been spoilt by individual glimpses via this week’s and/or season trailers/film stills. This is, of course, a crux that cannot be avoided by the film makers – trailers are meant to tease, and therefore they provide a preview of the future episodes’ content. The set-up in the scene of Dolarhyde watching his murder footage therefore did not come as a surprise – the (half-?)naked compulsive killer sitting beside a film projector, scrutinizing his performance. The sexual implications – or shall we say “autoerotic titillation” – were handled very discreetly; a moan, a silhouette, the head thrown back. The book is less shy: “Now, watching in the parlor of his grandparents’ house, Dolarhyde was covered with a sheen of sweat. His thick tongue ran out constantly, the scar on his upper lip wet and shiny, and he moaned as he stimulated himself.”

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Dolarhyde spasming

But what was extraordinary in this scene was the way Armitage acts the battle between the Red Dragon inhabiting Dolarhyde’s body, and Dolarhyde’s pain (and reluctance?) at being inhabited. Once again, Armitage masterfully employs his body to convey emotion. Watching the footage, Dolarhyde is seized in pain/lust, his claw-like hands involuntarily tensing, reminiscent of the contracted hand musculature of cerebral palsy sufferers. This is clearly Dolarhyde the man, and not the beast (yet). That becomes clear when he suddenly transforms, his back straight, a mad, dead glint in his eyes, still in pain, but inhabited by an alien force. The details of the scene were stunning – the tendons of Armitage’s neck standing out in terrifically aesthetic symmetry (very reminiscent of the Blake painting of the Red Dragon), the claw seizing over his shoulder, even the cries of pain.  A painful transformation, not just mentally, but physically, in the contortions of the body, and a scene that evokes massive compassion in me for Dolarhyde.

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Great Dragon, emerged (Warning: left nipple alert)

I had the impression he was not volunteering for the transformation but that his body was taken over by the Red Dragon against his will. He was fighting the beast, rather than welcoming it. What are you becoming, Francis??? In any case, this was a powerful performance with very deliberate choices on how to portray the process of Dolarhyde being physically inhabited by the Red Dragon. Supposedly, the dragon tail that snakes behind Dolarhyde’s back at the end of this scene, is meant to be the visual representation of the Red Dragon. Unfortunately I found this little fantasy element a little bit too “fantastic” (I laughed out loud) but I suppose it fits with the stag imagery that has previously been used on Hannibal.

The body language that Armitage has invented for Dolarhyde is consistent and consistently well executed. It’s in the little details, such as the delay and deliberateness of his movements in the canteen scene where Dolarhyde reads the Tattler and touches the image of Will. The hand gesture when he wipes the ink off his finger is freakily delicate – or delicately freaky? It’s another manifestation of Dolarhyde’s otherness, his weird, almost subliminal reverence, and Armitage has a way of bringing it across with nuance and sensitivity.

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Enter Reba McClane

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Shadowy gentleman, Mr D

In terms of serving fangirl desires, the then following first encounter between Dolarhyde and Reba ticked many boxes, and started on a nerdy high for me (a close-up of the developing process), although the appearance of the nervous eye lash flutters on Dolarhyde as he enters the room disappointed me. Cute on any other chaRActer. On Dolarhyde, who has been so efficiently and believably characterized in his insecurity by a rigid posture, it seemed inconsistent. And the voice – so deep, so rough, so croaky, so not-Armitage. *pouts*  Ok, snap out of it, Guylty – this is not a fluffy, chocolate-voiced alpha but a dark and dangerous killer. On the plus side, the half darkness suits Dolly extremely well, as does the tight t-shirt that was a welcome change from the high-fitting, buttoned-up collar and other nerd uniforms. Superficialities aside, more superb acting here with Dolly’s body language taking Harris’s details on board – the insecurity of Dolarhyde who habitually tries to hide his hare’s lip by crossing his arms over his chest and placing his thumb over his lip. The most touching moment is when Dolly realizes that Reba is blind – that he can let his guard (and his thumb) down because she won’t be able to judge his appearance or his facial deformity. Beautifully done by Armitage. And by Rutina Wesley, who is pretty and calm in her first appearance as Reba.

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Scary Dolarhyde pulls it off with Reba

She nicely holds her own against Armitage – not an easy feat when paired with a character that is portrayed with such a wide range of differing emotions. She manages to convey the warmth, intelligence, confidence and humanity of Reba – the contrast to Dolarhyde could not be starker (and in some ways I thought the makers of Hannibal were driving the contrast home a little bit too much, from the way the two characters are styled to the actual choice of actors and the way they use their voice. The glow of Reba’s dark skin vs. Dolarhyde’s pale ghostlyness; her white top and cardigan vs. Dolarhyde’s dark anorak; the eloquence of the blind woman vs. Dolarhyde’s communication through grunts; her floating movements vs. his mechanical moves; her sophistication vs. his rough unculturedness…) It all climaxes when Reba eventually reaches out to touch Dolarhyde’s face. The expressions that run over Armitage’s face are descriptive, evocative. It’s just a split second, but they’re all there and they act like a visualized stream of consciousness: From initial alarm and fear that the woman will see him (with her hands) for what he is, to the wonder of the realization that she poses no threat but actually offers warmth. Dolarhyde appears to be acutely alive for one moment – has he felt the redemption and escape that Reba represents? But the next second he is back to his slo-mo rigidity, back behind his armour, captured by the dark influence of the Red Dragon who is poisoning his thoughts with suggestions of mutilation. The master of micro-acting delivers another lesson. And it’s over so fast, you almost miss it.

Some Gripes

Reba supposedly does not have the benefit of seeing this – and yet I am surprised she doesn’t sense the darkness and danger that emanates from the animal that she has invited to her table. The grunts, the shovelling of food and the noisy eating are one thing. But the grunting and his monosyllabic communication is really scary to the point of getting lost in overemphasis. In that sense I did not buy Reba’s trust, especially when Dolarhyde reassures her that he is smiling: You can hear in his voice that he is not. Or is he creepily smiling inside, considering to bite off her fingers?

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The episode ends on the transition to the next part of the game: Dolarhyde gets in touch with Lecter, asking for his attention and his favour. So far, so good, although I think the show did not do well in changing the original method of communication – via letter – to a phone call. “Your lawyer wants to talk to you…” – yeah right, as if calls aren’t vetted and anybody can simply dial Lecter’s number for a bit of phone sex eh chit chat. So, ugh – no. No. I didn’t buy the emotions that were conveyed in the conversation, with Dolarhyde starting the conversation strong and confident, then deteriorating to an appealing, emotional, down-right weak whine. That, to me, was not consistent with Dolarhyde’s confidence and desire to be acknowledged by Lecter, and neither did it fit with his self-awareness in terms of his speech problems – phone calls to the master when hampered by a speech impediment? Unlikely.309 2

As for the very last lines – “Tell me, what are you becoming?”  “The — Great — Red — DRAGON!” (in husky, over-articulated, extra-pathetic voice) – well, oh *fuck*! And I said that out loud. That was corny and overdone, and entirely unnecessary when one has such a great voice actor on hand. For a show that has some great details, consistently convincing actors and witty dialogue, that was out of line. Subtlety is something else.

But let’s keep an open mind. The post-mortem for episode 3×10 has just been released. Eh – forgive me, but doesn’t a *post*-mortem occur after the event? What’s with releasing this pre-air date??? And in between the talk we get to see plenty of Dolly-Reba action. 3×10 promises to be a feast for the sensitivities. Prepare to be touched and scared. [Contains major spoilers but fantastic visuals]

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45 thoughts on “What Are You Becoming – Hannibal 3×09 Review [SPOILERville!!!]

  1. Gut analysiert! Danke! Aber ist es nicht so, dass er krampfhaft versucht zu lächeln? Weil er gerne würde und es verlernt oder nie gelernt hat? Ich sehe da auch viel Unsicherheit im frühkindlich traumatisierten Dolly. Vielleicht “liest” Reba seine Reaktion ja eher so?


    • Fürs Erkennen des Lächelns auf dem nur halb sichtbaren Gesicht war es zu dunkel. Ich habe mich da auf mein Gehör verlassen, genau wie Reba das muss – und ich kann beim besten Willen kein Lächeln in seiner Stimme hören. Klar, vielleicht will er, allein schon weil es ihn amüsiert, dass Reba ihm gerade den Nachtisch (in Form ihrer Finger) serviert. Da bleibt die Serie allerdings wesentlich vieldeutiger als das Buch.
      Mir ist jedenfalls klar, dass Armitage (und die Serienmacher) da eine ganz klare Strategie verfolgen, uns mit Dolly im Dunklen zu lassen. Klar, das gehört dazu, wenn man die Zuschauer bei der Stange halten will.


  2. Loads to think about, or not 😉 I’ve decided 4 times i about enough as i kept fast forwarding through most of it, this is not something i actually enjoy watching that many times. This is why in the end i was a bit tired and missed writing about the film watching scene. Ie about the one point you picked up too, that image of his throat and neck and shoulders straining.. amazing! The rest was a bit too scare for me and not new in a way as it was a repeat of the actions from the first episode where he was struggling physically with the transformation. I guess they will come back to the theme again and again, so i focused on the neck bit 🙂
    The auto-erotic titillation got on my nerves because there was actually quite a bit of it, particularily in the sense that it was repeated several times across the episode and i had misunderstood Fuller in terms of what he meant to show. You’d have to be blind to miss it i think really. Anyway the insistence on this makes it easy for me to detach from the character actually more and more rather than finding more sympathy. They are rubbing in the murders and their brutality a bit too much; more so because they didn’t do so with Hannibal before actually. We used to get a picture of death if you will but not quite so much repetitive pictures of the act.
    I didn’t mention that phone call because it was just bleh, a silly idea as you say too. They screen correspondence as Jack makes clear but they don’t screen calls? Duh. An the emphasis on the great red dragon was just silly. I thought the tail image was much more effective and actually more in line with the outlandish aesthetics and visualisations of the series. This was gratuitous and again just one more aspect of making Dolarhyde a bit silly himself too, unnecessarily.
    As to the trust me i’m smiling i always wondered, even in the book how she trusted him there? Even in the book it is very clear he is not smiling. Not in a smiling towards her kind of way in any case; in the book he has some very very dark thoughts and i actually though they depicted exactly that perfectly in the end.
    However i thought she too had some moments of apprehension, when he is so silent and them keeps talking almost as if to reassure herself too and override the instincts or the funny feeling in the air. You can see it on her face. I guess we don’t really know what she feels because they don’t show her face and i feel not only his tone is off but also the gesture, he actually really grips her hand very firmly. I’d be uncomfortable in that grip. I agree with you in any case, i don’t hear a smile either.
    I also agree on the subtle changes in his face and eyes in that moment, so scared and then changed when he stops her hand. But that 1 moment of terror as she reaches out is amazing.
    I agree about the tshirt 😉 and that sports jacket he wears with an open neck is nice too.
    Oh and that dainty gesture of wiping the tip of his finger, yess 🙂 I struggled to described why i liked it so much but you nailed it.
    I’m not as bored with the rest because i still like Will but there is too much filler which is a shame when they could have done so much more with Dolarhyde. I am starting to doubt how much we will actually get of that long promised background and so on.
    I think i’m still going to try and stay away from videos and images until i see the next one, it worked well for this ep, i was much more engaged, if for no other reason that i am more excited about what they might show me of him, even if in the end it is much too little.


    • Lots to get back to on this – I’ll go through one by one.
      The flashback scenes of the Tooth Fairy murders – I have to admit I didn’t really find that so bad. Partly because they are always “filtered” through strange effects, like broken glass, or the flickering film projector. To me they look like those snapshots thoughts that run through your mind. At least that’s the way it works for me – I memory presents itself to me in the shape of a visual, almost like a gif. Sometimes in brutal clarity, sometimes in foggy vagueness. In that sense I find the recurring re-visits of the mirror-eyed female victims an effective cinematographic device. Mind you, original it is not. But they are short enough for me not to get annoyed by them. They help me understand what is currently going on in Dolarhyde’s mind. But I take you word for it that that is inconsistent with the way memory has previously been represented in Hannibal.
      The phone call vs. letter – I have to mince my words on that. Won’t say more about it here (because that would be spoilers) but suffice to say it becomes clear in 3×10 how Dolly pulls the phone call off. Dragon’s tail – nah, still not my cuppa. They took great care to model it off the Blake painting, I know that, but it just looked like a big plastic prop to me, not an organic part of Dolarhyde/Red Dragon.
      Dolarhyde “trust me I am smiling” – I concede that we may actually be too fixated on the book. I have to remind myself that the show is “based on” Red Dragon. That means it deviates and interprets the original book but does not have to follow it faithfully. Maybe that is what is the case here. And fair enough – it’s a constant push and pull as regards the feeling that Fuller et al want to evoke in the audience. They are really playing with us, making us feel compassion and repulsion for Dolarhyde in equal measure. The ambiguity keeps us interested. If he was a clear-cut baddie, it would be much less interesting to watch his story unfold.
      As regards the backstory/childhood of Dolly – well, it was an essential part of the book imo, but see above… They may decide to cut that short. It’s a two-sided blade: On the one hand the childhood backstory was what really made me feel empathy and even sympathy for Dolarhyde. And at the same time that was one of the things I criticized about the book – the cheap trick of explaining murderous madness through childhood trauma. Somewhat overused and almost anachronistic. Maybe they want to avoid that? We’ll have to see how much of Little Dolly will be revealed in further episodes.

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      • oh apparently Fuller tweeted after the show that D is indeed thinking of chomping on her fingers in that scene, so just as per book. Makes sense 😉 (Can’t believe i’m actually associating sense with something like that! :-D)
        Yes, it is the childhood that make me sympathise so i hope they will show some though it would be equally hard to watch, poor kid 😦
        Ah with the flashbacks i don’t mean the ones D has, which are indeed only garbled flashes, i mean the detailed extended ones Will has of the same. Which is why to me it is all the same if D or Will think of the murder, it is the same and for my stomach and mind they showed that poor women and what he did to her extensively and horribly. Honestly i close my eyes and that image flashes instantly on my retina 😦 Hopefully they’ll give us a break with that in the future episodes as i’ve had more than i can take of it. It has the strange but predictable result of me feeling much more sorry for Will than for D. I feel uncomfortable with the circle of negative feelings it creates for me, it scares me and depresses me and then my – probably defensive – reactions are anger and disgust. But it might just be like that for me and i don’t feel the need to actually ‘like’ Dolarhyde in any way, not even physically. I’ll stop myself from watching it more than twice in any case as the negativity only increases at repeat watching and there is no point in getting upset about this.


        • Oh, I see – yes, the Will imaginations are harder to digest. Tbh they do not really bother me that much, though. I find the Lecter stuff so much worse. Not sure why that is – it’s equally horrendous, I am witness to the crimes in both instances.
          Thankfully, I have not had any reaction like you describe. But I have to say that I regularly turn away when scenes pop up on screen that I find repulsive. I do not allow those images to enter my brain because the circle of negativity, as you call it, is just not something I am willing to enter.
          As for liking Dolarhyde – I am afraid I do have that compulsion. It’s that empathy thing, trying to find the good in everyone, and believing against better judgment that evil can be stopped by lavishing love on the person who is about to commit evil. Naive. Silly. Simplistic. It probably also has something to do with the fact that Dolarhyde looks a little bit like this actor I like…

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          • Yes if he looked amenable for a second i’d fall for it too. It’s just those crazy hard eyes, brrr 😉 And i’m afraid i’ve watched a lifetime worth of crime drama and don’t look for the good in perps anymore, i just want them caught and punished :-p For me to pity them they have to be vulnerable, suffer at the hands of others etc. If it wasn’t for Will i never would have made it past s1ep1 i suspect. Now he pushes all my protective buttons :-p D may yet do it, but not just yet. I see why this role but it still is at the bottom of the pile of my human interest. Everything that drives his participation in the series is not of particular interest to me, it generally isn’t the kind of TV i watch or would want to watch more of or would want to see more of with him. Massiv im Fernsehbusiness da zu sein ist nicht etwas was mich besonders motiviert. Ich mag Fernsehen wie hier lieber. Ich seh da als positives nur das extra Geld das kommen wurde, die Art von Serien bringt mir wenig. Ich denke nicht das ich voreingenommen bin, ich hab generell einen anderen Geschmack for Fernsehen; ich finde seine Leistung toll, ich denke mir nur mit solchem Talent gibt es Tausend Rollen in denen ich ihn gern sehen wurde 🙂 Wie zB dieser Macbeth trailer gerade da muss ich immer wieder denken, ach Mensch…. Wenn schon Schrott dann lieber Guy ;-)))


            • I suppose I am working a lot from the book – knowing Dolly’s backstory really helps finding empathy for him. Plus – all of Hannibal is really new for me. I didn’t sit through the previous seasons/episodes, so I am still fascinated with the premise and aesthetics of the show.
              As for why this role at all – yeah, I am not sure it was “necessary” to take on a character in a show of this genre. An actor must work, and must push his own boundaries. Psychological depth can be found in many other roles, of course. But maybe it was a case of “this is a show by a well-known, respected showrunner, and I have nothing else on”? Whatever, I do not really want to criticize his role choice. It’s his business. I am, as always, fascinated by his acting prowess. And if I am honest, I am also quite happy to have my own boundaries pushed.


              • Ich mein das nicht negativ. Und ohne H hätte ich mir irgendwas aus dem Horror Genre wohl nicht angesehen. Na ja bis auf Exorcist was ich auch kenne. Ich hab mir ja das Ganze schon vor R angesehen weil es anders war. Und ich erkenne auch die Guten Sachen dabei insbesondere Bild und Sound. Werde aber nie ins andere Extrem gehen und auch nicht die weniger Guten- meiner Meinung nach nur- Aspekte sehen die wir schon erwähnten wie Gewaltglorifizierung, oft schwache Erzählungsntwicklund und in S3 auch oft schlechter script. Ich habe dieses Jahr hier wenigstens 3 serien gesehen alles UK Produktionen die weitaus stärkere Stories erzählt haben und die besser geschrieben waren. Ich würde es gern haben wenn er sich beides offen lasst.Ist aber heutzutage sicher sehr kompliziert. Aber von der Vielfalt und Qualität der Rollen ist wahrscheinlich am interessantesten einen Fuss in beides zu haben. Aber leider ist das Business doof es ist entweder hier oder da. Ich finde als Wiedereinstieg in Fernsehserien war das ne gute Wahl weil ihn die Rolle gefordert hat und es ungewöhnlich hohe Produktionsqualitat gab.Ich wage es zu sagen ohne r war deren S 3 ein totaler Flop gewesen. Man muss nur die Teile sehen die nicht mit ihm sehen… schlafeinflossend. Ich hoffe nur die richtigen Leute schauen zu und denken jetzt endlich: wir haben diese furchtbar komplizierte Rolle und jetzt wissen wir wen wir brauchen! Und hoffentlich sind auch Stories mit Substanz und nicht nur Aestatik dabei. Ich finde jedenfalls die B Cleary Geschichte faszinierend und sehr erzahlenswert. Solche wahre Geschichten menschlichen Irrtums und der Vorurteile müssen erzählt werden finde ich.


  3. ah sorry, the voice and accent 😉 The voice sounded familiar to me but then i haven’t heard him live that much or in so many things and my strongest memory is of the voice live and he did sound quite gruff at times last summer 😉 The accent gives me knee-jerk reactions to and a stupid and un-logical fear that he may start to sound like this in real life too. I hope that won’t be the case 🙂 And however silly it sounds i too would rather he retain some shred of Britishness that will make him sound closer or still familiar. It is all just an emotional reaction 😉 but i know how you’re feeling.
    In this case i am ok with it as i don’t really want to feel any attachment to Dolarhyde and this helps. And i’m ok with feeling respect for his work but being repulsed by the character.

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    • Well, judging by the fact that good old Richard sounds his old self, accent-wise, in the post-mortems, I think we can rest assured that the accent is only confined to his roles. I found the American accent believable (but hey, I am neither native-speaker nor familiar with it at all – let’s hear what our American sisters-in-RA have to say about that). The voice, OTOH, to me is completely not Armitage. As much as I dislike it, it is testament to both RA’s capabilities as well as his comprehensive portrayal of Dolarhyde to give him a sound of his own.

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          • yep, he’s obviously dealing with it better than i am 🙂 I hope i’ll be intact after it and won’t have these images parked in my mind for longer. I normally have a lot of other things on the plate that i see live at least but at the moment mostly watching TV. Thankfully the GBBO has started and cake is always a relief 😉 Seriously, it was one thing watching the series alongside other TV watching and forgetting about it as soon as the ep ended. But the preoccupation with it in this level of detail because of R is something else and i’m not used having dark thoughts 50% of the time on my mind, then reading more dark thoughts, seeing same images and so on. How people manage to inhabit this world for such extended periods of time is beyond me really. I’m looking forward to getting to the end of it and seeing the sun again.


            • IDK, the level of obsessive, attentive watching for me only applies to Armitage’s scenes, and I ruthlessly skim over the rest of the stuff because I know it would make me feel sick. That’s probably not what was intended, and I am aware that I am missing a certain level of interaction with the show, but it is all I am willing and able to give. Nonetheless, I am also looking forward to less dark material from my favourite actor. Unnfortunately it doesn’t look as if that particular wish will be fulfilled…

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  4. Great review Guylty! KatharineD referred to my viewing as “Hannibal lite” after I told her what I was doing and that’s exactly what it is. 😉 I have absolutely no interest in the other characters apart from Reba, or the backstory – the little I’ve seen hasn’t made me change my mind – and I avoid the icky bits like the plague. Icky doesn’t just refer to the gore either, the implication is enough for me. When Will was told his face would be cut without anaesthesia in the recap at the start of episode 8, my stomach rolled. I’m such a wuss!
    So I am watching Richard’s scenes only, to see what he does with the Dolarhyde character, and have found that I’ve been able to pick up a lot from reading fan and media reviews anyway, so my “lite” viewing is suiting me perfectly for the time being. 🙂

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    • You know, Mezzy, I think your way of watching is absolutely fine. The development of Dolarhyde is a story in itself, and even though I am watching the whole shebang, half the references and implications are lost on me. I might as well fast-forward and concentrate on that which interests me. Especially as there is *always* at least one scene in an episode that utterly repulses me. The scene at the start of 3×08 you mention was one of the instances where I had to FF, too. It turns my stomach just to think of it.
      And many thanks to Richard at this point: I am soooo glad you are a squeamish wuss, too, Richard, and refused to act any such scenes. Really suits my purposes…


  5. I liked the eyelash flutters! Lol. I did love the first footage in the darkroom, too… the film rolling back and forth with the creepy sound really set the mood! And did you see the small smile he had at the end of the scene, when Reba said privacy was guaranteed if she developed the film? Mmmm hmmm that Mr. D has his sexy moments. Then he turns around and slurps pie and the moment fades. LOL.

    I did something because I’m an obsessed person with an abnormally keen interest in all this… starting with the dark room scene, plugged in my earbuds and closed my eyes without looking at any of the visual cues that we have (which are tremendously eye-opening and certainly frightening at times in term of Dolarhyde’s facial expressions) so as to experience these early meetings with Mr. D as Reba would. When I did that, the only things that were a bit ominous in the dark room were the long pauses, but I suppose that not every pause must be a an ominous pause, especially if her only background knowledge of this guy is from other coworkers who have told her he has the facial scar and is quiet and shy. Honestly, he sounds really sweet. And continues to sound sweet when he invites her to ride with him, and at her house when he stumbles over asking her how long she’s worked at their company. Even the grunted answers after she’s offended him are not necessarily threatening if she has no reason to suspect he’s a psychopath! And granted, while watching his face leading up to the “Trust me, I’m smiling” line, I was absolutely chilled and almost panicky on her behalf, believing it to be one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen and heard… but after listening to him for several minutes with my eyes closed, it didn’t sound half so scary. Just a tad off-balanced, maybe, but in her shoes maybe I’d write that off as him recovering from me touching on a sore subject then reaching out to touch a face and maybe a scar that he considers disfiguring.

    My reaction to the “The Great. Red. DRAGON!” line was different. I think it was intentionally over-the-top, but wasn’t the dragon tail more of the same? He’s clearly deep into this delusion at certain moments. I do agree that a suspension of disbelief is necessary for the phone call to happen in the first place, for the reasons you cited… he’s so self-conscious about his speech, so would he get up the nerve to speak aloud to Hannibal? And how would he ever get past even the most dense receptionist? LOL. But forgetting all that for a moment, and accepting that the phone call would happen… I think his voice transforming into the dragon at the end was very fitting. It’s just one of those things that happens when you’re Francis Dolarhyde. =)

    Liked by 1 person

    • This was an interesting exercise jh! I still found Dolarhyde rather menacing tbh, the pauses too, probably because after watching a few times the visuals are firmly in my head, and because of the ominous soundtrack in the van scene and at Reba’s house. I thought I picked up an upward inflection on the first syllable of “smiling” in the “trust me” line – it seemed to me to be almost one of surprise? wonder? that Francis actually found himself capable of a smile.


      • Yeah, it’s a bit hard to ignore what we’ve seen and to ignore the scary music. But I still thought he sounded reasonably sweet, with the exception of the “Trust me, I’m smiling” line which was definitely “off” no matter which way you cut it. Still, if she was predisposed to trust him, she could write it off as his discomfort with being touched and with her conversation topic. =)

        Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, don’t get me wrong. I loooove the eye lash flutters. So cutesy cute, and really one of those little tics that are so effective in conveying the inner workings of a character’s mind. I guess I am overfamiliar with RA’s acting tricks, and here it just looked like an “Armitagism” to me, out of tune with Dolarhyde’s rigidity. Everything about Dolarhyde is always so slo-mo, so straight, so robotic, so angular, that the quick flutter of fluffy eyelashes seemed out of place. To me. And I felt that way despite the fact that most of the time I want to just grab Dolly and give him a bear hug, to soothe him and tell him it’s alright, he can be who he is without becoming a monster and without murdering families.
      I loved your experiment, J. Incidentally I did it, too, on a much smaller scale, only for the scene in Reba’s house, because I wanted to hear whether I could detect the smile in his words. I think it is a fabulous idea to experience the scenes between Dolarhyde and Reba through sound only. It should give us a greater insight into Reba. (I wonder whether they experimented with that themselves when they filmed the show. Probably a useful exercize for Rutina Wesley.) Your explanations sound logical – of course Reba may feel some fear, too, but she is suppressing it because she knows that her lack of sight hampers her picture, and she is used to dealing with the insecurity of lacking sight.
      I have to admit that I did not catch the transformation of Dolarhyde’s voice into the voice of the Red Dragon at all. An oversight, and lack of sensitivity on my part. It has all become clear to me now that I have seen 3×10 and it lessens the corniness. A bit.


    • i can’t believe i missed the lashes.. i mean i saw them but missed the flutter 😦 This crappy 20inch TV is clearly not up to the job, especially with the darkness.. sigh…
      I will definitely listen to those scenes again as you suggested. Oh and i too saw the smile at the end and thought wow… i guess because he’s been so stiff and stark and intense that smile really dazzles 🙂 Too bad she can’t see it 🙂
      But yeah the pie slurping…. poor sod, maybe he’s never tasted home made cherry pie before? (i have so gone to the other extreme and am looking for excuses 😉 )


  6. Totally with you on Abigail Hobbs. Ick / whatever. Also on the whole question of why doesn’t Reba pick up on more. I think people who are blind compensate with their other senses, no? She should have heard some of his weird behaviors, if I can hear them and I am watching him. I guess the fact that she appreciates his lack of empathy weighs importantly for that character. On the “r” — it was occasionally in evidence last summer on stage, there were “r”s in Proctor’s speech that were not the north English pronunciation he was pursuing (esp when he said “morning”). I always notice it because I struggle with pronouncing other Rs than the one I grew up speaking, and so I actually found that sympathetic. Yeah, Armitage, you’re getting it! I think, though, that whatever he’s doing in his mouth to reproduce the accent is affecting tone production in other ways. His voice is so much less resonant when he’s pretending to be American (both in Into the Storm and in this piece). Hopefully he’ll relax soon and get into it. But so much progress in this role. re: sophisticated innuendo. Huh. To me it’s always sledgehammery, but then, to me, how something is said is centrally important, so I probably pay way more attention to words (and less to visuals, for obvious reasons) than the average viewer.

    re the predatory behavior, grunting, other strange behaviors, etc. — I think he is already much more deeply living within his delusion than we necessarily realize. If you met a person on the street who behaved that way, you would immediately think there was something wrong. There’s just a “benefit of the doubt” effect at work here because this is a tv show and we know Armitage isn’t mentally ill (or assume so, anyway). So it seems put on. But if you ever met a paranoid schizophrenic, even one on meds, there are behaviors that can’t be controlled, muscle movements, eye movements, involuntary noises, you would notice right away that something was off, and I think that is what Armitage is trying to do here (read in light of his statement that he read books on the behaviors of “psychopaths” and given that his first step to creating a character is always the physical one). Francis is just barely holding it together and his gestures reveal that.


    • Hm, reading your last paragraph I wonder whether I phrased my review wrong. I don’t think that the grunting and the involuntary movement that Armitage puts on are out of place at all. They are absolutely necessary for Dolarhyde, and consistent with how mental illness can manifest itself physically. It’s really well done on his part, and so much so that I can say that I am not *hearing” Armitage the actor at all. It’s all Dolarhyde, a completely different person than Armitage, who neither looks nor sounds like the actor who portrays Dolarhyde. My gripe is more about the amount of grunting that was put into the script. I get that Dolarhyde grunts his approval rather than say “yes” and expose his speech impediment with the S sound. I am just thinking that a “mh-mh” sound would’ve done the trick and had come across less animalistic. But once again: I am too fixated with the book. This Dolarhyde is a slightly different one. Some of his behaviours are overemphasized, on purpose, by the writers, and fair enough.
      Great point are the resonance of his voice when speaking with Dolarhyde’s American accent. That may become even clearer when we hear him speak more – once again there wasn’t really that much speech in this episode. I also wonder whether some of the lack of resonance can be ascribed to that piece of plastic that Armitage stuck inside his mouth, to help him voice that speech impediment? He certainly does not use his belly to resonate his voice, it sounds more as if it comes from the back of his throat. There is less gravitas in that, it’s flat at times, despite the underlying growl and huskyness.


  7. Thanks for a terrific analysis Guylty. I’ve read Red Dragon so know the story and I’m only watching Hannibal for Dolarhyde, his back story and Reba, the other characters just bore me more than anything. I looked away during most of Abigail’s scenes but was unaffected by the scenes of Dolarhyde’s murder houses. RA’s tortured twisting while watching his ‘film’ was well done by him but the tail was unexpected although I think it fits in with what I’ve seen so far in the way the programs are styled. I liked the wiping of the finger bit, I thought it was very well acted and showed how alone and in his own world D is, even when in a meal room with other people, he’s stuck in his own mind. Strangely I wanted to go and sit with him and engage him if that were possible ;o) Two things really irked me. I liked the dark room scene except the plums bothered me. In the book Reba is chatty and offers him a plum and I think that works. In Hannibal he asks her for one almost immediately which to me seems wrong, I just don’t think he would ask for one or even necessarily notice plums in a darkened room and not when he’s in close quarters with another person, especially a female and one he becomes almost instantly fixated on. Apart from telling her who he was when entering the room I don’t think he’d initiate speaking for something as trivial as a plum. I think they used her looking for the bowl to show him she was blind but it would have worked if she’d done the offering. It just bugged me. The second thing that didn’t feel right was him scoffing down Reba’s pie like an animal. We see a scene from his childhood at the table, of him sitting up properly and I assume eating with manners and again with him in the same position as an adult. Then in Reba’s house he turns feral with someone sitting opposite him? even though she’s blind he’s so completely self concious I cannot believe that he would eat like that, I don’t think he would eat like that anywhere where there are others or even by himself. I think he’s still living by grandma’s rules to a certain extent and I think the way he eats would be an uber sensitive thing for him. I can understand him trying to hide his mouth by putting his head down but I see him as being very careful with how he transfers food to it. Similarly I thought his phone call to Hannibal was out of character, he wouldn’t speak to him, they should have stuck to the letter, it was silly but didn’t bother me like the plums and the pie ;o) I think the look on Reba’s face did change from confident to uncertain when D grabbed her hand hard in the ‘trust me …I’m smiling scene’ to me she seemed to detect something to be wary of but the scene ended there so we can assume she lets it go. I really like this actress as Reba and I think she and RA work well together. xx


    • No, he asks for the plum in the book, too (Chapter 29).

      Maybe plums are not trivial for him? 😉
      When he was a child the cook (the only person who was nice to him) sometimes brought him a plum. Maybe he remembers that.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I am with you on watching Hannibal for Dolarhyde’s story. Having read the book really helps in the sense that I am kind of primed for the Dolarhyde arc. I mentally tune out – and am certainly not as observant – when the action switches to the other characters. That also helps me digest the indegistable bits that come my way… Lecter continues to repel me, but I admit to warming towards Will. His scenes are becoming more interesting to me.
      Your observations of Dolarhyde in the canteen are really good. “It showed how alone and in his own world D is, even when in a meal room with other people, he’s stuck in his own mind.” – stuck in his own mind. Spot on!
      Re. the darkroom scene and the plums. I think what you argue makes perfect sense. Here’s how it goes in the book from the moment the light in the darkroom is switched on: ~~~ Dolarhyde pressed his knuckle under his nose, put on his thoughtful expression and waited for the light. The lights came on. She stood by the door smiling in his approximate direction. Her eyes made small random movements behind the closed
      lids.He saw her white cane propped in the corner. He took his hand away from his face and smiled.
      “Do you think I could have a plum?” he said. There were several on the counter where she had been sitting.” ~~~ So in the book Dolarhyde understands that Reba is blind because he notices her random eye movements and then her white cane. The plums, interestingly, he asks for himself. I suppose they could’ve just left them out completely and gone for the white cane as the clue that she is blind… Maybe they’ll be used again?
      The “feral” eating habits – yes, I thought that was slightly too much, too, and not quite in sync with this character that seems controlled in those ways that he *can* control (not referring to his body language otherwise, but presumably he knows how to eat in a civilized manner…). Perhaps this is just to make us understand that Dolarhyde has let his guard down – at least when it comes to how he *looks* and *acts*. Reba is blind – she cannot see him and his manners – ergo he does not have to hide his real self…
      Yep, Rutina and Armitage work very well together. She really is well-matched with him, and I look forward to seeing how she navigates the upcoming sensitive scenes that develop between her character and Dolarhyde.


  8. Au, au, au, au … Dieser blöde Witz mit dem “good finger wagging” – ich hab’s nach dem (gefühlt) zehnten Lesen endlich gepeilt.

    Deine Gedanken zu dieser Folge sind wieder sehr interessant.
    Der Anruf bei Lecter – autsch. Unglaubwürdig.
    Und dann: “Great. Red. DRAGON!” Äh, ja. Hoffentlich hat’s jetzt auch der letzte Zuschauer kapiert.

    Ich habe mit Hannibal ein Problem.
    Nein, nicht das übliche. Im Gegenteil: Ich dachte, dass Hannibal für mich unterhaltsam sein könnte, aber 3×08 hat mich eines anderen belehrt, und 3×09 hat daran nichts geändert. Die Dolarhyde-Geschichte scheint sehenswert zu sein, wenn da nicht noch mehr unglaubwürdige Klopse wie der Anruf folgen, aber der Rest … Langweilig. Überkandidelt. Deko wie aus einem Kostümfilm. Gähn.

    Ich schlage eine Petition vor: Die Dolarhyde-Storyline zusammengeschnitten auf DVD, einzeln erhältlich, ohne das ganze andere Geblubber.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Also, auch wenn ich die Folgen bisher interessant fand (und sie sich auch immer interessanter entwickeln), würde ich sofort deine Petition unterschreiben. “Dolarhyde” statt “Hannibal”. Wenn wir schon dabei sind, könnten wir doch eigentlich gleich eine ganze Serie in Auftrag geben.


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