SPOILERS: Shades of Past Characters – Perry’s Comments on Hannibal S.3 Ep. 10

It took a while, but we finally got our episode of The Red Dragon arc on Hannibal that focused almost entirely on Francis Dolarhyde ( with a slight detour for Bedelia – but even that made oblique references to the current serial killer). It’s been worth the wait. And for Armitage watchers, we also got a glimpse, small tells, of other characters we love – well, I love. Lucas North was there at the computer screen and messing with digital equipment; John Standring was clomping around, gracelessly, Wall Street Pete was there, too. I think I spotted Guy of Gisborne, lurking in Hannibal’s office and at the zoo, resentful of the vet taking Reba’s attention. Even short haired, Paul Andrews showed up for some nookie.

The opening scenes, in which Dolarhyde and Hannibal imagine a face to face meeting, sitting opposite one another in that all too familiar patient/doctor set design and have a session, was something I never expected.. There’s only one reality – it’s a phone call – but there are three separate fantasy or mind palace views – Hannibal and Dolarhyde each imagine, but in addition, Dolarhyde, who is already becoming  and splitting, looks on, circling the pair in chairs, examining with his chilling intensity. This is a way of looking that Armitage is continually calling on, bending down to be eye to eye with his new teeth in Ep. 8, bringing the clippings and newspapers up to his eyes, and in this episode, examining the Blake original, putting himself an eyelash away from Reba multiple times.

source for all screenshots

In response to Dolarhyde’s revelation that he is becoming The Great Red Dragon, Hannibal as we would expect, needs no clue or research to identify the source, immediately asking did he who made the lamb make thee? – a quote from William Blake’s poem, Tyger, Tyger from Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. ( also referred to here – and it all happened as I imagined). In counterpoint to fearless, potent Tyger, Tyger, is Blake’s  Little Lamb, depicting softness, innocence, goodness, Christ.

The pre-credit scene ends dramatically, with Dolarhyde morphing into a fiery and fearsome dragon, wings fully extended – whose vision was it? Perhaps both Hannibal’s who will help Francis become, and Francis’s own vision, as he thinks he’s getting closer to a fully formed beast.


Innocence and experience, vulnerability and strength, show up a few times in this episode, starting with the Francis/Hannibal meeting, and moving on to the scenes when Francis takes Reba to touch, feel, smell, see the tiger at the zoo. The episode leaves it open to us to decide whether Dolarhyde gets the idea of the tiger from Hannibal. It’s not likely, but I think the writers threw in the Blake  reference as a sort of foreshadowing.

The Tiger scene had its highs and lows for me. For some reason, I thought Francis’s poetic description of the tiger’s orange color, almost bleeding orange  into the air, rang as a false note for me. He’s talking more, but are these things he would say? The scene was lit so that most of it looked to be in black and white, while the tiger itself was a glowing orange, and unfortunately, it looked pretty fake.


But there was nothing fake about Reba’s examination of the tiger, as she stroked it and followed its lines, ultimately laying her head on its body and letting loose a tear. Dolarhyde  is watching  ever so closely, both literally and figuratively. As Reba touched and Francis watched and moved, undulating up and down, it was a balletic  pas de deux, A really wonderful scene that had me re-watching a number of times.

And no, I didn’t need anyone in an interview to tell me that Francis was imagining himself under Reba’s hands – and then she gets to the teeth and Francis has a moment of panic and, I guess, restraint given what his dragon part might have been thinking. The scene reinforces the tiger/lamb analogy, which is always fun to discover  on one’s own.

(But can someone tell me why Francis changed out New York license plates for Maryland plates?)

Next scene at Francis’s house with Reba expertly making martinis ( well, not dry enough for me), threw me off a little. Does Francis Dolarhyde strike you as someone who makes himself a martini at the end of a hard day, complete with olives? Yet, I noticed the gin bottle was only 1/3 full and the vermouth had also been used prior – and this small detail irritated me.

As they talk and drink, Reba begins to describe what she’s heard about how Francis’s face looks, and he creepily backs into the dark, obscuring his face to us, and winds up sitting on the other side of the room. I think this was done for suspenseful effect, but I didn’t really get that.

And then the love scenes begin – first, a quick and dirty foray into oral sex, as Reba makes the first ( and only necessary) move, and then, when he’s done, he grabs her roughly, menacingly, to begin with, and then sweeps her up into his arms and stomps out of the room up to the bedroom.

I think it was no accident that Armitage’s movements in this part of the scene, as he carried Reba out of the room, so vividly called to mind old monster flicks, like The Bride of Frankenstein and a bunch of others. There was nothing graceful about his movements here. The monster carrying off the maiden. The Bride of Frankenstein theme comes back later, when Will speaks with Bedelia about her relationship with Hannibal.

The bedroom scene was a winner in my book. As with the tiger, it was a sort of threesome. Many of the camera angles focused on the red Dragon tattoo, which Reba, caressed and stroked, giving the impression that the dragon was her partner, as though she were having sex with the devil – or as Hannibal later puts it, one of the most erotic versions in art of demonic sex – and then the scene would switch to a front imagine of Francis, clean and hairless – he too, inexperienced and innocent. I thought it started out a little slow, and not that erotic, but it heated up. Each successive viewing got hotter than the last.

Francis then fantasizes or dreams that Reba is the Woman clothed in the sun. Ruta Wesley is absolutely stunning in this incarnation, not quite angelic, but in a golden dress that speaks of orange bleeding into the air, all of which again reprises the recurring Blake themes of innocence and evil.

As Reba sleeps, Francis, looks again, closes in on her, and almost like Reba with the tiger, he puts his hand to the swell of her breast,  he lays his head on her takes her hand in his,  he ends with a tear – all very gently, maybe a little suspenseful if one doesn’t know how it ends -but all I was thinking was  Girl, Richard Armitage is stroking you – wake the hell up, don’t miss this.

He has a bout with the red dragon, and then, rushing downstairs in his briefs, offers to take her home.

The entire love scene scenario met my expectations – which have been tempered by other sex scenes in the show.

There’s a diversion when Will confronts Bedelia in her office – they are face to face in chairs, as usual, and they have a conversation mostly about who was under Hannibal’s spell more. One can read this scene in many ways, but what I got from it most sharply, was Bedelia’s warning to Will, that maybe the next time he sees a vulnerable creature, instead of trying to help it, he will crush it, and avoid a lot of aggravation for everyone, especially himself. Bedeilia is warning Will about how to handle Francis Dolarhyde.

I’m skipping the part about Bedelia and her patient. I don’t understand it completely, and will need further flashbacks to fill in the story. But really, anything Bedelia is worth watching – so this episode was a gem, since there were so few other characters involved except the one I wanted to see,

In another, slightly unrealistic scene, Hannibal and Will discuss the serial killer, as Will shows Hannibal the character carved into the tree at the Leeds’ house. Hannibal identifies it as a Chinese luck symbol meaning hit it, as in gambling, making the win. I asked myself, especially when Will also states it’s a mahjong image for The Red Dragon, doesn’t Will wonder why Hannibal didn’t bring that reference up as well? Of course he would know it, and Hannibal spends much more time discussing Blake and the Red Dragon than he does the good luck symbol. This is what Hannibal wants to talk about. It remains to be seem whether Will puts this together and figures out that Hannibal is in contact with serial killer/Red Dragon.

The final scenes are a gift to the audience, because it doesn’t happen that way in the book. Francis goes to the Brooklyn Museum ( yay! childhood museum) where he gets access to the original Blake piece, and, after knocking out the curator, he examines it closely, and then eats it. ( So Mr. Armitage, maybe jellyfish was not the strangest thing you ever ate). The scene sped by, but the reason became obvious – surprise! Will Graham also comes to Brooklyn to see the original watercolor.

This makes no sense. He could have obtained the same Time Magazine Dolarhyde did. There’s simply no reasonable explanation for Will Graham to need to see the print in person, nor would he assume that Dolarhyde would be there.

I don’t mind,  It was a gift to the fans for the two to meet, and under those circumstances. Francis tries to get away quietly and quickly, but Will spots his very big shoes in the elevator – they are eye to eye – Francis has read about Will, and Will recognizes the facial deformity – and then Francis lifts him up like a stuffed animal, knocks Will against the elevator wall, and tosses him out. He could kill him instantly – but he doesn’t.

And there it ends.

I so enjoyed this episode. I thought Richard Armitage was just superb in every way, but especially,  how he inhabits Dolarhyde and shows the character’s efforts at trying tenderness, but in a gruff, clumsy, unsure way, as though something horrific is roiling below, and it is. Repeated watching required less fast-forward than usual. Richard Armitage looked pretty good to me in most of the scenes – all of the scenes – I like the wardrobe, I like the briefs, I like the voice. I’m only okay with the American accent.

And then there was those extra Easter Eggs or shout outs mentioned here which gave me a personal thrill.

So, it gets better and better each week and I’m already blue that it’s half over.

15 thoughts on “SPOILERS: Shades of Past Characters – Perry’s Comments on Hannibal S.3 Ep. 10

  1. I thought maybe Will went to the museum with a mind to question the staff whether anyone had shown specific interest in the Blake painting and maybe get a list of names to track down- since it wasn’t often on display anyone interested might have to make an appointment or sign in. Any significance in the name John Crane? If there was it passed me by… I hadn’t thought of it that way… as a “gift to the fans” for Will and FD to have an encounter, but yeah, it really was! And so it was for Hannibal and Dolarhyde to sit across from one another. I fully agree… it was a superb episode in my book, further developing the sympathetic Dolarhyde aspect, but never letting the viewer become too comfortable.


    • John? Richard Armitage has played so many characters named John that it’s a bit of a fan joke, when we don’t know the name of a new character, whether it will be John. John Thornton, John Standring, John Porter, John Bateman, John Proctor and some would say Iain Macalwain ( John in Gaelic, I think).
      It’s true, that, just as Francis seems wary and suspicious, tense, even when he’s trying not to, I as a viewer am also, never relaxed.


    • About Will’s trip to the museum – that may be the rationale, but a phone call or fax from the FBI would have sufficed. and the coincidence of them being there the same day made me suspend disbelief – which you need to do with this show anyway.


    • LOL. It reminded me afterwards of a young adult experience I had. I was sneaking a cigarette in my room, which was next to my big brother’s room ( I stole his cigarette) and when I heard him come in, I quickly tossed the butt – which I thought was out, in the trash can and pretended to be asleep. In a short while, he came bursting in my room, picked up the garbage pail, which was alight in flames! opened the window and threw it out of the window ( there was a garden beneath) – and all the time, I lay there on my back, pretending to sleep. Not too successfully, I would add.

      Liked by 1 person

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