[SPOILERS for those of you who are watching Hannibal on UK TV]
Ok, I am done with all the extolling of Richard Armitage’s craft. It is established – he portrays Dolly magnificently, the body acting is fantastic, and American accent and terrible voice or not, the whole package is just 100 percent on. So let’s get down to the fangirl review because boy, 3×10 is something for the fangirl heart. And possibly the bits a bit lower.
Possibly? No, definitely. Romantic gestures, initiation, sex, intimacy. I could leave it at this, and you would all know what I mean. This episode delivered on everything that those of us who are familiar with the book
and with Armitage as a dreamboat were hoping for. The episode consisted mainly of Dolarhyde, starting off with a really long intro. It seemed longer to me than usual, but no doubt that was only due to the fact that it was all about Dolly. If an intro is meant to set the mood, well, then this one did. Dolarhyde practicing his speech in front of the mirror in his attic. In underpants. Yes, always a welcome sight. The half-light in the attic scenes suits the Armitage face so well – and hides the hare’s lip nicely. On that note: The makers of the show really have been very kind to Dolarhyde. Is that because Armitage’s handsomeness is virtually impossible to tone down, or is it because they really do want us to fall for him, for the killer? In any case, I went a bit mad on the old screen caps there, and seeing that I have them, I might as well include them in a slide show at the bottom of the post.
The Telephone Conversation
The episode proper picks up where 3×09 left off – the telephone call between Dolarhyde and Lecter. It took me a moment to make sense of what I was seeing: Dolarhyde changing number plates on his van, driving through the night, breaking into an office. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Now, that’s how they get around the issue of contacting Lecter via phone. Alright, I take back what I wrote in my 3×09 review, namely that it is improbable that Dolarhyde will just ring the reception of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane (or whatever the asylum is called) and happily ask to be put through to Lecter. I suppose, it is all technically possible to break into the lawyer’s office in order to hook up to his phone line and circumvent caller ID issues. However, I am still not really convinced about Dolly turning out to be a computer whiz – and to take such a big risk. Honestly, I still think the letter scenario would have been better, down to the fact that it gets intercepted. But ok, the disbelief has to be suspended in order to serve the story arc that connects Will and Lecter as the collaborators on the hunt for the Red Dragon. I’ll cease and desist from now on.
And that also applies to my other criticism of the final scene in the previous episode – where I found Dolarhyde’s overemphasized pronunciation of “The — great — red — DRAGON” rather comical. It only occurred to me in 3×10 that what we had been given at the end of 3×09 was a shorter cut of a longer scene. Just a teaser, not even in the correct sequence.
Note to self: Exclude next episode teasers from future reviews! Because the extended phone call scene made much more sense than the teaser cut, and I only noticed now that there was a progression of emphasis in the sentence – in the sense that Dolarhyde becomes the Red Dragon as he is voicing the three words, the transformation finishing on the last word. The transfer from Dolarhyde sitting in the lawyer’s office to the imagined scenario of Dolarhyde and Lecter chatting in a more intimate setting was cleverly done, cinematographically. And the appearance of the Red Dragon, spreading his wings and being all fire and magnificence, was a nice culmination. I think the whole OTT fantasy element has finally ground me down, and I accepted it as a figment of Dolarhyde’s imagination. Maybe it also helped that I saw Armitage’s face on the Dragon creature…
The Tiger Scene
The tiger scene had been eagerly awaited – although I have to say once again that in hindsight it is a huge pity that we already knew the set-up of the scene from stills that had been released as teasers. Nonetheless, the scene was nicely transitioned into – with a slow build-up via Dolarhyde and Reba arriving in the van, and Reba wondering what a winter trip to the zoo is all about. Dolarhyde’s pleading face was already quite heart-breaking – , but no preparation for the intensity he showed once they were in the operating theatre with the tiger. I loved the double-meaning that was constructed with words and with images in this scene. All the things he says, sounded as if they meant something else than the context they were said in – it was as if two different people were speaking through Dolarhyde. The same words, but different meanings. “If you want, you can touch him. Do you want to do it?” That was Dolly asking to be touched. He describes the tiger “It’s radiant”, but he looks at her, noticing *her* radiance.
As Reba touches the tiger, it is Dolarhyde who feels the touch. Dolarhyde is almost human, for the first time. The way he stares at Reba is freaky, of course, an intensity that was brought across amazingly well by Armitage (his hand on his mouth a very Armitagean gesture). The whole scene was beautifully done – not entirely un-scary, but very romantic, not least because of the music with the romantic piano tinkling (which incidentally reminded me of the Jane Campion film The Piano, which has a slightly similar “beauty and the beast” theme…).
At Home with the Dolarhydes
The tinkling piano music led on to the next scene set in Dolarhyde’s house, and it’s nice, quiet, hopeful, sweet and classy vibe contrasted interestingly with the old-fashioned, dark, slightly sinister interior of the old house. The light and dark in the house was used to great effect, shadows on Dolarhyde’s face veering between hiding his deformity and emphasising his distrust, as well as giving him shelter and hiding him. I loved how he literally retreated into the shadow when Reba started telling him how his co-workers see him. Moreover, this provided a nice transition to the
much-anticipated sofa scene. The show puts a slightly different spin on it by omitting Dolarhyde switching on the projector to watch his footage of the Sherman murders for stimulation – or distraction?
Let me remind you how this scene works in the book:
Reba McClane stirs on the couch. She sets her glass on the floor. Dolarhyde feels a weight and warmth. She has rested her head on his thigh. The nape of her neck is pale and the movie light plays on it. He sits very still, moves only his thumb to stop the film, back it up. On the screen, Mrs. Sherman poses before the mirror in the hat. She turns to the camera and smiles.
You see me now, yes
That’s how you feel to see me, yes
Do you feel me now? yes
Dolarhyde is trembling. His trousers are mashing him so hard. He feels heat. He feels warm breath through the cloth. Reba has made a discovery. Convulsively his thumb works the switch.
You see me now, yes
That’s how you feel to see me, yes
Do you feel this? yes
Reba has unzipped his trousers.
A stab of fear in him; he has never been erect before in the presence of a living woman. He is the Dragon, he doesn’t have to be afraid.
Busy fingers spring him free.
Do you feel me now? yes
Do you feel this yes
You do I know it yes
Your heart is loud yes
He must keep his hands off Reba’s neck. Keep them off. The women saw them in the van. His hand is squeezing the arm of the couch. His fingers pop through the upholstery.
Your heart is loud yes
And fluttering now
It’s fluttering now
It’s trying to get out yes
And now it’s quick and light and quicker and light and…
Reba rests her head on his thigh and turns her gleaming cheek to him. She runs her hand inside his shirt and rests it warm on his chest.
“I hope I didn’t shock you,” she said.
Ehm, so, that was not oral sex, according to Bryan Fuller. Right. And I guess this (right) is not representative of a climax, either. And yes, the action moves on – it was only the book that made clear to me what it meant when Dolly put his hand on Reba’s chest – a sign that he isn’t finished yet. And thus he promptly lifts her into his arms and carries her upstairs to a bed.
In Bed with a Kitten
The sex scene was very network television friendly, focussing on the tattoo (which I wasn’t too sure of – I felt this was Dolarhyde having sex, not the Red Dragon, but well, one doesn’t come without the other, in both senses of the words). Reitzell’s music didn’t quite do it for me here – the switch to some sort of generic electro pop grated with me, especially after the romantic classiness of Debussy (btw – lifted straight from the book!). But essentially, the mechanics of the sex were not really important
*coughs* yeah, right, again, but the symbolism inserted in the scene was beautiful – Dolarhyde seeing Reba as the Woman Clothed With the Sun, with Rutina Wesley literally acting the painting; snapshot visions of pearls floating, a gun pointing, the moon… “Images. Baroque pearls flying through the friendly dark. A Very pistol he had fired at the moon. A great firework he saw in Hong Kong called The Dragon Sows His Pearls.”
But the real tear-jerker scene came after the climax when Dolarhyde wakes to look at the woman next to him, who has wreaked a profound change in him. Man, that is where I cried, not during the tiger scene, but here. Punches straight into the guts, verbatim, straight from my notes: “Oh god, the way he puts his head on her chest, the caress, damn, that is heart breaking – but always also slightly scary. Is he listening to her heart to make sure she’s alive or is he listening because he loves?” He is little Francis, cuddling up to the mother he never had, looking for the human touch, the connection, the warmth, and the security that is a side-effect of love – whether to a mother or a lover. These particular cuddles, without kisses, just feeling with the face, the hands, and listening to her heart-beat, reminded me strongly of my children as toddlers, searching for the reassurance the close-ness to a parent brings. Although extremely intimate, this was not sexual, but simply full of love, hope. In Dolly’s case possibly also with a soupcon of intense creepiness. The script did very well in including this scene in the story, and in allowing a lot of time on this quiet, calm moment because besides the superficial post-coital intimacy, for me it also alluded to Dolarhyde’s back story.
And yeah, ok, it also fits really nicely with fan girl fantasies, let’s admit that.
Ok, let’s interrupt here for one moment for a scene that was not necessary but that I screencapped just for the reflection of light on skin:
Phew, I am slightly out of breath here. I am adding a new kink to my list of freakish fetishes. 1. armpits, 2. Adonis belt, 3. flanks.
But the feast continued with Dolly looking for Reba in the attic, fearing the Red Dragon had taken her, and then jogging through the house to find her ready to go home. So well done, this scene. The stiffness (no double-entendre intended here) of Dolarhyde when Reba touches him, is so well-played. His fear that the Red Dragon will become jealous, and demand Reba as a sacrifice, so clearly written on Dolarhyde’s face, his eyes, his posture. It’s absolutely tangible that the man has been touched (double-entendre now intended *ahem*) by Reba and that his symbiosis with the Red Dragon has been compromised by this. Side-note: Is it just me who had to laugh at the set styling and how the wooden carvings on the ceiling in Dolly’s living room are back-lit in a way that makes them look like a gaping mouth (see right)? The beast, ready to swallow Dolarhyde and Reba? If so, total kudos! (I should ask Fuller or DLC if that was intended.)
I kind of thought that this was it for Dolly in episode 3×10, but boy, no, the makers really played ball with our now established sympathy for Dolly. Cos next we went to the Brooklyn Museum with him. I had certain recollections of Lucas North or Porter going on a secret mission, Dolarhyde being on undercover agent business, under an assumed identity. And yes, I laughed out loud when I saw that he signed in as “John Crane”. Nice touch, I hope that name came from you, Richard! Once again a completely different body language for Dolarhyde in this scene – very assured, much more fluid.
Acting-wise, the high-point of the episode came when Dolarhyde is finally alone with the watercolour. This was amazing to watch. I loved his reaction to seeing the original painting, the drawing in of breath, almost inhaling the painting, the leaning back of the head, the step back in reverence. And yeeeeeeeeeeeeeees – he pulled off the glove with his teeth. OMG, I literally screamed and I had butterflies in my stomach! Guy and Lucas, right there. I could hardly contain my excitement over this when I watched the scene for the first time.
Go back into your box, fan girl, this is serious business!
I thought it was very well-played that Dolarhyde is so tactile. He loves to use his hands, he feels with and through his hands, touching paper, touching this painting, absorbing something through his finger tips, treating it with care, showing how precious it is. There was reverence in his careful touching, but even more so when he is feeling the painting with his face. That was genius – so completely outside of what we would do with an object. We do this with children and animals, feeling the soft fluff of hair on a baby’s head with our face, but he does it to an inanimate object – because it is not inanimate for him, it is the dragon, alive and precious, to be adored. This made it so clear, and it was a goosepimple moment against better judgment.
And then *whambam* the surprising eating of it. The frenzied, climactic, moaning imbibing of the painting. This is craziness personified, intense, scary, unreachable. I was right there with Dolarhyde, I could feel the excitement, the climactic ecstasy of the moment.
And boy, was that a coitus interruptus when Will appeared on the scene. Dammit, Graham, I would have flung you against a wall myself, if you had walked in on some sexy time with my favourite beast! The scary moment when Will notices Dolarhyde in the lift and he turns around to stare at him – now that was a subliminal connection, established in the gaze.
Holy macaroni! This was definitely the best of all three Red Dragon episodes yet. Sure, the amount of screen time Dolly received here, makes sure that there is plenty of opportunity for getting into Dolarhyde’s mind. Even though I understand the tricks the makers of the show are using to get me to soften up to the villain – the slow camera movements that add a feeling of calm and soothing, the surprising gentleness and emotionality of Dolarhyde with Reba, the beautiful music in those scenes, the warmer tones of the scenes where Dolly is going all romantic – I can hardly resist the pull of that tragic character. It is becoming easier to distinguish between Dolarhyde and the Red Dragon – and to feel for the man while condemning the beast. And hoping against hope that there is a way out for him, and that “the love of a good woman” will veer him off the path to destruction.
In the wider context of the show, I am further warming to Will. He is the only “normal” main character in this. Although I really enjoyed Gillian Anderson’s turn as Bedelia du Maurier in this, I am slightly lost as to what exactly is up with her. She appears detached, patronizing, unblinking, somnambulistic, more or less dead to me. How come she is not implicated in Lecter’s Italian crimes, and runs free? The scene with Zachary Quinto (Neil?) was another look away-moment. Was she crushing the weakness? – In terms of cinematography I really liked the conversation scene between Will and Lecter. When Lecter describes the Blake painting to Will – it exudes “a unique and nightmarish charge of demonish sexuality” – he is exactly describing what Dolarhyde is or is aspiring to. And the lighting in this scene was so clever: Yes, Lecter is standing over the lit-up drawer through which his visitors can pass him things, but it translates to that classic hell-fire, lighting from below, that makes him look even more sinister than he is. Nicely done.
All in all, a gripping episode that ends on a fantastic cliffhanger. Where is Dolly? Will Will catch him? And what is the Red Dragon’s next move? I eagerly await the next episode. In the meantime, I will watch the “fangirl cut” aka my slide show on endless loop.
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