SPOILERS: A Looming Figure: Hannibal: S.3 Ep.12, The Number of the Beast is 666

FD &ChiltonScreen Shot 2015-08-21 at 9.25.08 PM
This week I kept away from all pre-Hannibal hype and just let myself sit down and enjoy the episode. And that, I did. I was into all parts, without the usual impatience when Richard Armitage was not on screen.

There were some great lines in this episode, by all characters, as well as the now obligatory biblical, philosophical, psychological blister rubbing.

I will admit to laughing out loud on occasion – loudest after one line by Richard Armitage. Remember when Thorin Oakenshield, called Smaug a slug? This time,  The Dragon calls someone a slug.  When these things happen, I always wonder whether Richard Armitage gets the joke, too,  or whether he even suggested the dialogue.

In one of the two excellent scenes between Will Graham and Bedelia, Will asks Bedelia outright, “Do you think Hannibal is in love with me?” The conversation that ensued, in which the two define love and come up with an affirmative answer, was so satisfying to me. Both of their scenes together were beautifully written, with dialogue delivered in a slightly less thespian-ish way than we usually hear from Hannibal and – well just about anyone.

In another scene, when the team is together, allegedly setting Will up as bait, courtesy of Freddie Lounds – but really Chilton turns out to be the bait – Will Graham describes the Tooth Fairy for Freddie Lounds, as ugly ( along with a lot of other insulting adjectives, insane, impotent – all to infuriate the Dragon)  Conversely, last week, Francis Dolarhyde suggested that Will Graham was not good looking. I mean, Bryan Fuller, really, how you play with us describing two pretty stunning specimens as ugly.
This man, for sure, can’t be ugly.(the one on the right)
Still GorgeousScreen Shot 2015-08-21 at 9.33.33 PM

The episode was fast moving, scary and suspenseful. The FBI and friends are trying to close in on The Red Dragon. The running metaphor of fishing for the quarry, utilized in all seasons, especially Season 2, appears here, too. (last week’s description of Jack Crawford as a fisher of men, this week, Will tells Jack he’s dangling him [ Will] to catch a bigger fish). At some point, I need to think about the distinction made between the good guys fishing and the bad guys hunting.

They intend to use Will as bait and to get The Dragon’s attention.Will, Freddie Lounds and Frederick Chilton work together to formulate an article taunting and belittling The Tooth Fairy. Through Chilton’s psychological profile, which is assumed to be accurate, we finally learn a little more about what caused Dolarhyde’s pathology. But Will embellishes and mischaracterizes Chilton’s assessment for Freddie Lounds, ratching it up several notches, accusing the Tooth Fairy of being ugly and impotent, and insane. Freddie, who’s been selling T-shirts saying  The Tooth Fairy is a One Night Stand,  the height of bad taste, goes along.

Angry, focused Will’s expression tells us that he  switches gears a bit,  when Chilton says Dolarhyde was, the child of a nightmare.  He takes on a pensive and empathetic look – maybe paving the way for that bit of plot where he thinks he can save Dolarhyde. But all in all, he’s pretty pissed off.

There’s a scene with Jack Crawford and Hannibal in which they beat to death the biblical metaphor, from Revelations, about the wrath of the  lamb and the lion, also indirectly referencing Blake’s comparison of a big cat and lamb, where they conclude together, that Hannibal is the devil, not the Dragon, that Will is the lamb turning into a lion, and that Jack Crawford, then, is G-d. Hannibal reminds Jack that gods all demand sacrifice – all  references to Will’s current state and potential future, or lack of one.

I for one, had to look up the whole lamb/lion things, as my knowledge of The Bible is a bit limited. This scene was like more of the ponderous talky stff between two characters.

The scene cuts to a shot of Francis with the Tattle Crime article meant to taunt and humiliate him.

Next thing we know, a smug Frederick Chilton is yanked out of his limo by an unseen person, just milliseconds after we see blood spurt from his two FBI escorts’ heads – another Dolarhyde head shot.

Richard Armitage, as Francis Dolarhyde, is frightening as hell, ensconced in his old mansion with Chilton as a trembling, pissing hostage. Wearing his huge kimono, looming over the sitting figure of Chilton, with his stocking mask and deep, deep gravelly voice – he offers up a blanket for comfort, and then proceeds to scare the bejeezus out of Chilton and me. In part of the scene, Armitage is but a blur in the distance, sitting on the edge of his sofa, as we see Chilton in the foreground, bound to a wheelchair.   FD plays with Chilton a little, challenging him for berating him in the press, until Chilton reveals that it was a set up, and Will Graham was behind it.

Now, Chilton is helpless with the embodiment of The Red Dragon. This is a departure from the book, since it was a male Freddie Lounds who was kidnapped by FD, and suffered a cruel fate, but in the series, Freddie had her go at being bait, and it seems to me, Chilton, in this version, is the more obvious choice.

But, I was thinking as I watched, if they changed this – what else might they change? I can’t rely on the book to set me on the plot path. Had I realized this last week, I might have gotten more out of the scene where Dolarhyde hunts Molly and Walter. Meanwhile, now I’m worried, because,at just the critical moment, the doorbell rings and Reba has arrived.

Chilton observes silently, as he watches the encounter between man and woman take place. It doesn’t seem like Reba’s extraordinary senses kick in that there’s another person in the room. There should have been smells in the room for her to detect – like sweat and fear, and maybe some spirits of ammonia. But she does detect some sort of change in Francis – who is alternately bewildered, menacing, and in an odd way pleased that she’s come around.

This scene is frightening because, as I mentioned there have been plot changes and anything could happen. But it doesn’t. Reba says her piece, reminding FD that she, too has cripple’s anger (not very PC), and he lets her go.

Dolarhyde reveals his face to Chilton, ( quite a gorgeous shot of Armitage – see above) and The Red Dragon takes over, as Dolarhyde strips and pays homage to the Blake painting.MagnificntScreen Shot 2015-08-21 at 9.33.43 PM

Back his briefs, He then forces Chilton to watch slides, demanding of Chilton whether what he sees is art – starting with Blake’s work and moving on to the closest, longest screen shots of Dolarhyde’s murder scenes, and surveillance of Molly, and ending with the shot of Chilton and Will taken for The Tattler.

The Dragon, giving some hope for survival to Chilton, films him giving a statement about the power of The Red Dragon, none of which we see until the FBI is reviewing the tape.

But we do see the gory and frankly, disgusting scene of The Dragon biting off Chilton’s lips amid screams. But The Dragon dragon spits the lip out, unlike Hannibal, who later eats it.

Then later, Dolarhyde gives Chilton a canister of ice, because he’s going to need it.francis-dolarhyde-holding-the-thermos-my-edit-22aug2015
source taken from Clematis on Tumblr.

The fact is that Richard Armitage is terrifying as The Great Dragon. He recedes into the background and then looms large over Chilton coming ever closer, touching him, almost caressing him, with his lowest register, harsh Dragon voice, looking weird and almost unworldly in his oversized kimono and black mask. At times, his speech and gestures are pure Shakespearean, Lear-like, to me, He is in control – no wavering or soul searching here. Most of us know what’s going to happen.  The lip biting scene is Hannibal at it’s goriest – but it happens rather quickly.

There’s also a sexual component to these scenes, due partly to Armitage’s touching of Chilton, and partly to the scene where Dolarhyde drops the kimono and reveals his naked Red Dragon self, for the first time to another person, the tattoo fully shown against the projector light.

With the possible exception of John Standring, I think this is the only role and these are some of the best scenes, where Richard Armitage’s height – his bigness has been maximized, rather than supressed.

The heaviness of this scene switches, due to some lighter, but classical music, something depicting a picnic or some outdoor, gentile activity   ( I’ll find out what it is later) to Hannibal’s cell, as Alana brings him a padded envelope that is shown going through the steps of a prison search – so they never saw the lips?  One has to suspend disbelief as Alana passes the envelope to Hannibal, who opens it and finds two lips and a note. Alana’s shock is incredible – that with at all that scrutiny, the ears came as a surprise.

The note, sent by Francis, appears to be in Richard Armitage’s own hand.note Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 9.38.38 PM

A projector of sorts is at work again, as the FBI team watch the video shot by the Red Dragon. As Chilton recites what he is told, and images of the prior crimes flash in the background, he ends with a chilling, clinical description of what The Red Dragon has in store for Will, evoking terror for Will – and then they and we see the back of the Red Dragon, his tattooed skin in full glory, as he moves through the light to bite off Chilton’s lips.

Later Will and Bedelia have another session, in which she questions whether Will might have expected, anticipated or initiated, Chiltons’s end. As Bedelia talks about lighting the flame, behind the seated figures, we see scrim-like close ups of a lighted match, the pouring of liquid over Chilton, and the ultimate conflagration, as Chilton is sent rolling in a fully alight wheelchair. This was much more effective, I think, then just watching Dolarhyde set Chilton afire.

Thus, so far, Richard Armitage, playing a monster serial killer, has managed to get away with nothing more being shown than a couple of unseen long-distance head shots to kill, and biting off a guy’s lips. And still, he is gloriously terrifying in these last episodes.

But what of next week? The Red Dragon has Reba and at least for now, Dolarhyde, her lover, isn’t the one there.

How will this end, I wonder? I know that Dolarhyde will lose, but what of Reba – the most normal character in the series? Will The Red Dragon take anyone down with him? And an even more pressing question – will this series end with the escape of Hannibal, which I think might have to include the death of Alana.

I mourn for all. I mourn for me and for us. This Armitage summer is almost over.


4 thoughts on “SPOILERS: A Looming Figure: Hannibal: S.3 Ep.12, The Number of the Beast is 666

  1. Yes, Richard was terrifying and very convincing. I liked the moment when Chilton asked (paraphrasing) “did you burn me?” and the Red Dragon starts saying “burn” over and over as if he just got a new idea. Very funny in the creepy Hannibal sort of way.

    I think Reba will be ok, but probably not Alana. But only Hannibal can kill Alana so he would have to escape. Let’s see. Can’t wait.


  2. I can’t wait, either. I noticed the “burn” line the second or third time around. Richard Armitage was really terrifying. What a performance! And Raul was excellent as well, in a different way.


  3. Armitage completely owned it. And as much as I regret that they are using the source material only rather lightly, it means that the ending is left completely open, for now. I have absolutely no idea how this is going to play out. Whether Dolarhyde gets the ending he received in the book, or whether Fuller et al are going to shock us with another deviation from the original. Well, just imagine, though, it could leave room for a Dolarhyde spin-off… Nah, just kidding…


  4. Glad you had so much fun with it.. oh well maybe fun isn’t the right word 😉 But yes Esperanza and Armitage did something splendid with that scene! If it wasn’t for the last bit/bite i’d be rewatching it but 2nd time round really disturbed me a bit too much. I liked all the lines and the tone and shifts in mood though i felt very sorry for Chilton trying so hard and failing to find an out. But i was more scared for Reba and glad she escaped.. temporarily only as it turned out 😦 I didn’t clock the similarities with the Chilton kidnapping until the 2nd time round but them it hit me like a brick… i’m so afraid for her.
    It was hard to see ever fewer glimpses of Francis… I hope in the end it will be him not the Dragon in some way, i really wish him to be able to find back to himself somehow. And Reba to be safe.
    I really like the fact the ending is unpredictable, it will make for interesting viewing for all of us.
    For me a lot was a bit deja vu in this in some scenes, but maybe i am just ready for all of it to end, it feels also because it is getting tense and tenser that it is time to finish. Also because sadly it has nowhere left to go for Dolarhyde …
    But i also got so much more out of it than i ever thought i would! I never imagined RA would be quite so spectacular and incredibly frightening!


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