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?
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?
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!
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: