Re-Watching Hannibal 3/Red Dragon: (Not) Such a Sweet Man [Part 4]

With all those events and news the last few days I have been unable to get on with the Hannibal Rewatch. With RDC5 looming in three days’ time *eeeek*, it’s high time I get to the fourth instalment. Today I am going to look at the fourth episode of the Red Dragon story arc – which is 3×11 in the entire season.

We are now getting to see truly scary, mad Francis. And what a tour de force for Armitage. He plays conflict so well! “The dragon and I were one – but not anymore, since her.” With my OTP strong in mind, these kind of lines stood out to me, as did the whole relationship fiasco in this episode. We are at the point here where Francis *could* possibly be changed by the power of love. Alas, he is not – but instead falls for the whisperings by much esteemed Dr Lecter. However, that was one of the moments where Richard did what he does inimitably well – he wreaks a complete change when he Lecter suggests that Francis doesn’t have to sacrifice Reba, but since he is the Dragon himself, he can give someone else to the deity within. Richard’s physical acting = top notch. From the cowering, hapless, blubbering mess who doesn’t know what to do, he switches within a millisecond into a confident, clever, perfidious creep. Masterful!

The lighting – although generally annoyingly dark – has one advantage: The few things that we *do* see, stand out even more. Note how in this scene – which is predominantly talking and no action – the light *always* keeps Francis’ cleft lip illuminated. Other details stand out – like the tiniest of catchlights that is visible at some point of the conversation with Lecter. No whites to be seen, the whole eye seems to consist of pupil, and is lifeless and indistinct in its darkness. Except for that catchlight – a glimmer of humanity in a monster, a creature of horror?

A pin prick of light… Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde in Hannibal 3×11

And yes, the nerd in me is definitely getting her money’s worth. From lighting to camera equipment – oh, it is so easy to make Guylty happy. Even when Francis is handling a flim projector, not a camera, Guylty gets all excited. It’s not just the hardware. It’s also the soft – touch!!!! There is just something in how Armitage handles items, the way he carefully touches and manipulates them, that have me rapt. You could say that that gets me hotter more interested than the inevitable denouement of Francis’ relationship with Reba. Ok, only almost. After all, I do like a bit of old-fashioned romance.

The following creepy thwarted murder scene was classic horror scenario – and set in a lodge no less. Except that Richard here was the baddie, no doubt, and the creepiness of this scene is certainly also amplified by the mask he pulls only half way over his face. The way Francis screams in frustration as his shots in the driveway miss the car and Molly drives off – creepiness factor 100!!! And hooray – here is a female who acts sensibly and cleverly. And despite strangely considering myself on Francis’ side, I was glad Molly and son escaped here.

Not least because that gives the showrunners the opportunity to give us Francis in undies again. *coughs* The scene is hard to watch – maybe because Richard is just too realistic here. Gosh, I hated seeing him hurting himself. Yes, yes, I know, it was acted. And it wasn’t Richard, it was Francis. But you know what I mean – it’s bound to have hurt, throwing himself on the floor like that. It does make me wonder how that was for Richard – how to get your mind into the schizophrenia of the character, and to go so far that you are actually hurting yourself? If Richard can eat paper, does that mean he can also beat himself up?

… or NO undies????

And can we please appreciate the fact that Armitage apparently did the exercise without any help. He can do a handstand like that – I’m deeply impressed. I am!

Sorry, frantic screencapping ensued, which you can probably appreciate, and the player menu was still in view… Player menu? Which player menu??? I only see *corrrrrr*

I marvel at how Armitage manages to distinguish between the various personas that inhabit Francis. There is a softness and helplessness to his tone when he tells Reba that he is at his wit’s end. And when, standing up, she hugs the sitting Francis, once again we see the frightened little boy, holding on to his mummy, because the bullies in school are threatening him. “Help me please.” All of which Reba can’t see – does she not sense any of this? NO, she is too caught up in being rejected, unfortunately. (And a little aside here: It didn’t annoy me so much the first time around, but as time has gone on, I am more peeved by the old trope of “it’s all because mummy”. Another instance of bashing the (absent) female in order to explain the guilt of the male. I accept that that comes from a literary source that is now “vintage” – the book by Harris was published in 1981. But yeah, it’s time that film and TV started reflecting a more gender-neutral society and stopped bashing women.)

The goodbye scene nevertheless is heartbreakingly sad, from a harsh opener – designed to hurt Reba – straight to crying, uncertainty and despair. What does he actually say to her? I had trouble understanding that bit “I’m afraid I will burn you? Turn you?” If he is not as strong as the dragon, she will die – and what a message of love that is…

So there, that’s episode 3×11. If you want to read what I thought about it three and a half years ago, check my old review HERE.

And since I took this screen cap, I am going to give you a gratuitous Dolly shot:

“She called me a sweet man” … heartbreaking, really!



11 thoughts on “Re-Watching Hannibal 3/Red Dragon: (Not) Such a Sweet Man [Part 4]

  1. watched it a few days ago, did love the complete change from terror of hurting to Reba to cold calculation when Lecter told him to go after Molly and son
    I found the way , when they were drinking from the old style cocktail glasses interesting and he held the glass so delicately! when everything else he does is so heavy

    Liked by 2 people

    • That is just the thing – Richard *always* pays attention to such details. And he totally gets it right. I remember seeing such subtle changes even in Berlin Station, when he had to switch between Daniel Miller and Trevor Price. He really is a fabulous actor, and it is a privilege to see him in roles where he can show what he has got.

      Liked by 5 people

      • absolutely! Another such scene in Berlin Station (season 1) is when he seduces Claudia and he’s all sweet and dorky right until the moment when she closes the door and cant see him any more. …then he instantly becomes cold and calculating as if someone flipped the switch.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Standard spy mode, however when he jokingly says ‘that’s not very German’ when she pleads that she is running late he sounds genuinely interested, or is it RA peeking through?

          Liked by 2 people

        • Good point. Yes, he really makes that distinction clear – not by sledgehammer, he is subtle. But it is noticeable. It’s these little details from which it becomes clear that he is a great actor.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, there are the scenes where Francis is driving the van and he looks just like a tired ordinary man, yawning, rubbing his eyes, and he glances away, I think at a newspaper article about Will, and then like quicksilver his eyes and rigid body are infused with menace and determination – truly great acting

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Up to this point Francis has been portrayed as an extremely disciplined careful planner who is obsessed with shedding his inadequacies and transforming himself into the powerful figure of his fantasies. His meticulous plans have been sidetracked by the unexpected entrance of Reba into his life. The intimacy he has shared with Reba causes him to be faced with a dilemma now. His two desires have become incompatible and he is now faced with the fear of sacrificing the love he craves for the powerful metamorphosis that dominates his aspirations.
    He is distressed at the thought that the Dragon wants Reba and his “Do you know how easily she would tear?” (comment to Hannibal) made me think immediately he meant those awful teeth and what damage they were capable of. After he fails to provide the Dragon with Will’s family as substitute for Reba, the Dragon literally beats him back into submission. I was really impressed with how this “self punishment” scene was choreographed. The way Francis is throwing himself around and getting back up to take more abuse must have been physically exhausting to film. (It reminded me of Thorin vs Azog in that floating ice fight.) What stamina he must have. RA does a brilliant performance of full on schizophrenic as Francis’ already fragile psyche is becoming brutally unhinged.
    So the Dragon wins this round and Francis realizes that in order to protect Reba he will have to let her go….but doing so is torture. The despair he projects in his fear and confusion turns on a dime from suspicion and cold rejection. The tenderness in his voice when he tells her “I’m afraid I’ll hurt you” contrasts the cold “”I can’t be with you”. The inner struggle is real here and I can’t help but wonder that if Reba had the ability to see the desperation and fear on Francis’ face, how it would have impacted the way she handled his rejection of their relationship. This scene really highlights RA’s ability to deliver such an impressive array of emotions with facial expressions and body language. (again I can’t help but be reminded of his stunning performance of the schizophrenia of Thorin in his gold sickness paranoia) He is at once heartbreakingly vulnerable and cold-hearted frightening. I am in awe of his acting in this episode.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Something really bugs me every time I see the scene in the house: why doesn’t Molly climb out of
    the window and flee with her son instead of staying. Why?

    RA is so cool and chillingly relentless in the house. Unstoppable like the Terminator – and he looks so hot in that jacket. The scream of frustration when Molly and her son get away has recognisable RA notes. Arrghmatigage (come to think of it, he would make a wonderful pirate!)

    I noticed the colours in the dark room this time (must be your influence Guylty!). The bright red surrounding the dragon contrasting with its opposite, green, near Reba.

    I’m curious about why he has been tied up so often in his roles, Ricky Deeming in George Gently, Guy several times, John Porter, even in the Hobbit (with the other dwarves) and Claude Becker. It happens so often it makes me suspect it’s Armitage’s suggestion but perhaps its the director’s choice because he looks so good in chains. There is something masochistic, an erotic self-flagellation, in the beautiful suffering which chimes with Francis beating himself up ( although I can’t remember if this scene is in the book) and I get this impression too in the poses he does transforming into the Red Dragon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m very (very) slowly making progress in my viewing of this show and am about halfway through this episode (he and Reba just broke up). So I won’t read too much of the commentary or the comments. Just wanted to let you know that although I let you down in watching simultaneously with everyone else, I have been watching in my few moments of downtime. And oh! G! Thank you a million times for suggesting this! RA’s power as an actor is amazing me. There have been times when I’ve forgotten to breathe, such as when he was watching Reba feel the sleeping tiger. How was this man not nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe?! Truly one of the most egregious snubs of the modern TV age, and I don’t say that purely because of my crush.

    Have you seen “On the Waterfront”? There is a scene when Brando is flirting with Eva Marie Saint, and he’s taken one of her gloves. He puts it on his own hand, plays with it, takes it off. It’s so subtle and beautiful, a masterclass in physical acting. I would without question put RA on the same level of ability to convey so much with his physical acting. He is indeed breathtaking and we owe him awe! I’ve long been planning a “glove scene” in my TV series, when RA’s character is going to be playing with a glove belonging to the heroine, and it’s good to know that my confidence in his abilities is not misplaced. (And now, with extreme reluctance, I return to work before I can even finish the episode.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, LoLo, you didn’t let anyone down re. the rewatch. I only offered the opportunity to rewatch, that was all. There was no obligation. And with Red Dragon Con looming, you can see now why I settled for Hannibal. It (still) isn’t my favourite show, but Francis Dolarhyde is definitely one of RA’s Top 3 characters. Playing the madness and the damaged human must have been difficult. And he did it so convincingly. That character is so definitely not RA. Yet he comes across as 100% authentic and real. The tiger scene – those little but intense gestures, the hand on mouth, the stare, the moving in – simply genius. And yes, I am wondering too why RA hasn’t been recognised yet with some serious awards. (Well, I think it’s not because of *his* performance, but it is because the shows he has been in, have either been niche – Hannibal – or bad – Berlin Station…)
      I have not seen Waterfront, but I must look it up. Glove scenes are very welcome in the RArmy, not least because RA seems to tease us all the time by taking off the gloves with his teeth. I’ve seen him do that in 4 shows so far, and I am really wondering whether it is coincidence or some kind of in-joke between him and us…


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