[Review] - Hannibal, Season 3 Episode 11, "And The Beast From The Sea"

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Television.
Here is all the proof you need that Bryan Fuller is the right man to have been helming Hannibal all this time: it took them 37 episodes to get Hannibal into the mask, and when they did, they drew no undue attention to it, and it lasted less than a minute. The iconic nature of the image is such that anyone else would have made it a much bigger deal. It would have been the focus of advertising, there would have been a build up to it. Hell, we might have even been treated to a montage of it being made, the liquid plastic being poured into a mold in some Chinese factory, and shipped to the Baltimore State Hospital. Not so here. Here, it is, then it was, because this show has significantly more important things to do than linger on a notion.

These last five episodes, I've been struggling with the possibility that the Red Dragon storyline is wasting these characters. Week to week, everyone seems to have less to do, Jack and Alana especially. I was beginning to think it was because, to this point, everything was original, and thus the writers had to invent things for the characters to do, whereas now they are coasting by on the events of the novel. Events are preordained. Which is not why I fell in love with this show. At all. Sadly, this episode confirmed those suspicions by being the best episode of the Red Dragon storyline thus far, and accomplished this task by being mostly original material. Or at least, original elaborations.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that often hug hell.

Let us talk first about peril, and about the inexactness of the world "enough." To say that something is "enough" has multiple connotations. It can mean minimal (they met enough of the expectations to pass), or it can mean excessive (enough is enough). You can have more than enough of something, in which case you are exceeding even a gluttony, and you can fail to thank someone enough, which is wholly inadequate. So I'm going to use the word enough in a sentence, and it's going to have two meanings, and I'm going to explain them both. We know Molly and Willy enough to fear for them in this episode. The two meanings I mean to convey through this use of the word enough are as follows: What little we know and have seen of Molly and Willy during the Red Dragon storyline, that when Hannibal instructs Dolarhyde to go after them, he feel genuine fear for their lives. However, we don't know them all that well. Willy had only a couple scenes in episode 7 and we've only seen Molly twice since her introduction. The majority of our feelings for these characters are actually the vicarious feelings we're experiencing through Will, whose own affections are informed, not explored.

So, we know just enough about them to fear for them, but we only know enough about them to be afraid, to co-experience their peril, but not to feel it rage in the gut. I've felt that feeling on this show before. Multiple times this season alone, and with Jack each time. I said, haven't I, that I thought for sure Jack's time had come. That the all over certainty for his fate manifested as terror and sadness, and that state of true, unmolested and genuine peril was part of how you know this show is success. You don't come to love a character as much as that by chance or manipulation. That is the sort of affection drawn from real interaction. I feared for Jack, and I braced myself for grief. And in both instances, Jack was safe, and I was left with a greater sense of appreciation for what I had, and an even greater sense of peril for the character afterwards, because the voice in my head kept taunting me, "if not now, when?"

This goes back to what I have said prior, about being cheated out of a season arc where we get to experience Will falling in love with Molly rather than simply being told that it is true. Because we don't care for them. To us, they honestly occupy a place above one-off character, and below recurring. I care more for Price and Zellers than I do for Molly and Willy, if only because of the amount of exposure I've had to them. This episode's handling of what is really a minor piece of the novel was a brilliant approach, and a much needed step away from the source material and a refocusing on the characters. However, it felt like the product of thinking that Molly and Willy are more cherished characters. Which they would be, had we had half a season getting to know them specifically. As it stands, we experience their peril more through Will's perspective. Which, to be fair, is a valid perspective, and a valid direction for the episode to take. Instead of empathizing with Molly, we empathize with Will's empathy for Molly. The actions aren't actions Dolarhyde takes against Molly, they are actions Hannibal takes against Will, through Dolarhyde. And since Hannibal and Will are our perspective characters, we can accept that.

I kind of understand now why last week felt the need to rush through so much of the explicit novel material. It was because the writers had set this episode aside as a kind of seventh inning stretch. We've had three episodes straight that have been very true to the source material, and not always with the best result. This episode managed to step between the lines, and took a minor and uneventful moment in the novel, and expand greatly upon it. By taking Dolarhyde directly to Will's house, to have him directly and personally assault, it personalizes the criminal and the investigator, something that the source material is devoid of. Will and Dolarhyde are utterly impersonal i the novel, and the one time when Dolarhyde becomes aware of Will, he vents that frustration upon Freddie Lounds. Since the show already made use of that sequence last season, this is a superior alternative. Now, Will has a vested interest in catching Dolarhyde, one not wrapped up in professional curiosity. His family cannot be safe so long as Dolarhyde is out there. That capturing him also impotizes Hannibal is icing on the cake.

Hannibal has long been a tester. Since the beginning, his every action as served one of a select few needs: to satisfy his hunger, to preserve his freedom, or to satisfy his curiosity. He was a master manipulator, and often found ways to achieve all three. But when his hunger was sated, his curiosity reigned supreme. He'd nick and prod and push people, to see how they'd react. He give them the knife and see if they stabbed themselves or someone else. Now that he's in prison, and his freedom isn't an option, and his hunger has been suppressed, as he has left is to push against the glass. He's a bored cat in a carry-on case. He's reaching his claws through the bars as far as he can reach and swatting as hard as he can. On the surface, it might seem odd that he's willing to so glaringly and obviously take action that he knows will trace back to him, and knows will result in punishment. But Hannibal never took an action without planning nine steps ahead. Which is why there is no look of regret in his eyes above that mask. No scorn for Alana for following through. We cannot forget that, while giving Dolarhyde Will's address seems petty, this is all according to a larger plan of Hannibal's. He wouldn't have given up his books, and his toilet, without it being a means to an end.

There are two episodes left. The end is nigh.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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