[Sorry. Couldn’t resist, since I’m overtaken with the conjunction between promo for Urban and the Shed Crew, starring Richard Armitage as Chop, and the Hannibal Finale, The Wrath of the Lamb – anyway, chop and Hannibal, , all goes together. Meat is back on the menu.]
The Hannibal Finale episode was a success for me, mostly as a Richard Armitage fan – my only reason for starting the series. Yet even despite my frequent criticism of series episodes and parts of this season, I got a kick out of the show for its many layers, innovation and beauty, ponderous though some of it was. Thus collaterally, I was invested in the finale. I like how it ended.
I’m going to keep away from most of the layers, biblical symbolism and psychological relationship stuff for now.
It ended the only way it could – which seems a ridiculous statement for anything Hannibal. But it isn’t so, because the hope that Hannibal would reach a 4th season, meant that Hannibal and Will had to live. This is one of the pitfalls of all the external, but insider information we get from producers and show runners and actors. This meant Hannibal had to escape. Nothing else made sense to me. That they probably do live was hinted at by Bryan Fuller, who pointed out, in case one missed it, that there were three place settings at the Bedalia dinner shown after the credits.
Bryan Fuller also stated in some interviews that Mads and Hugh came up with the escape plot idea. Good thing they’re actors and not cops, or even script writers, because it was a most hare-brained, morally questionable, frankly incredible plot device.
After Francis Dolarhyde assaults Will in his motel room and they have a chat during which Will suggests that The Red Dragon ought to “change” Hannibal Lechter – (read, kill into that), Will pitches a plan to Jack that they use Hannibal as bait to lure out Dolarhyde, and then kill them both. The plan is to fake a Hannibal escape so he can meet with Francis Dolarhyde. Apparently, they still don’t realize that Hannibal is unkillable.
They also don’t believe, that although Jack thought only an idiot would be drawn out with such a ruse, Francis Dolarhyde was no idiot.
Hannibal is no idiot either, and it was clear from his second conversation with Will that he didn’t trust Will, or the plan, but he went along anyway. An opportunity, perhaps, not just to escape, but to manage to kill, and maybe eat, yet another patient was worth the risk. Will’s motives, on the other hand, were not as clear, though apprehending Dolarhyde was essential to his future.
Hannibal and Will’s earlier conversation – the good-bye, that wasn’t – the drop the mic scene, moved me a little – believe it or not. I actually felt a little sad for Hannibal’s rejection, and his final loss of relevance, with the Red Dragon supposedly dead.
Will, of course, is forced to come back to Hannibal. So, maybe not a break-up after all.
At this point, the episode resembled an unrequited romantic tale.
It was fun to try and figure out what Will was really planning. Was it the scheme he presented to Jack, and later Hannibal, or did he have another outcome in mind? It’s been a given in this series that if anyone kills Hannibal Lechter, it has to be Will Graham, something Jack Crawford believes, so why go along with a plan for a long distance execution by a sniper?
Throughout the episode there was dialogue underscoring Will’s conflicted position, such that even as viewers we couldn’t trust him or his motives. For that matter, the motives and plans of all four men were hazy and contradictory.
From Romance, the episode switched into Action Movie/Heist/Prison Break mode. Francis Dolarhyde, single handedly ambushes the Hannibal convoy, shooting cops in a drive-by, using a stolen police car, and sets up a crash. Through Will’s and Hannibal’s eyes, we see large, misty figure, who dispatches the FBI escorts with characteristic head shots, then checks to see whether Will and Hannibal are Ok. They are, so he takes off in his police car.
Richard Armitage, in the scene, evoked shades of Lucas North, but also, for me, it referenced The Terminator. I’ll be back. He didn’t have much to do in this scene, though his march from the police car into the van, gun drawn, calm and collected, was the highlight.
Now, Hannibal and Will freed, the episode draws on male buddy movies, as Hannibal swings around a police car, nonchalantly dumping the bodies, pulls up in front of Will, and asks, Going my way? And of course, Will gets in and the two ride off.
If it weren’t for the murdered FBI agents, I could believe that Will and Dolarhyde concocted the scheme.
Hannibal and Will find themselves isolated in Hannibal’s lair, high up on a rocky cliff, getting ready to enjoy some wine and whatever. Hannibal has dropped his prison jumpsuit and is in a natty sporty outfit. number.
Will more or less discloses that he intends to watch the Red Dragon change Hannibal, and suggests that Dolarhyde is watching them right now. And he was – because a bullet through the window hits Hannibal right in the gut and he goes down.
Dolarhyde crashes in through the window, gun in hand, again, a huge dark, menacing figure, and warns Will not to move or run. I can catch you. He lets Will stand on the sidelines sipping wine.
For me, this was good and something I didn’t expect – a scene with all three actors, Hugh Dancy Mads Mikkelsen and Richard Armitage.
I was on the edge of my seat wondering how this would play out. It was a given that Francis Dolarhyde would die. But how, and what else?
As he sets up his camera, Dolarhyde, calmly explains that he’s going to film Lechter’s death, and will enjoy watching it, but not as much as doing it. Lechter tries some of his wordplay and therapy on Dolarhyde – but he’s having no part of it.
And then, as Dolarhyde, who usually favors a gun, take from his pocket some sort of short sharp instrument – a knife, maybe, it reminded me of a ninja thing, Will goes for his gun and Dolarhyde, who has the same good peripheral vision as Richard Armitage, sees this from the corner of his eye, and viciously attacks Will by jamming the weapon into his face and literally lifting him off the ground.
Is Will following the plan to kill Dolarhyde first and kill Hannibal himself, or is he unable and unwilling for Hannibal to be killed.
Will pulls the weapon out of his cheek, and gores Francis in the leg ( reminding me of poor Thorin). Dolarhyde’s screams were blood curdling.
And then the final fight scene begins in earnest – and it was a great one. (At least I thought it was a great one until Bryan Fuller told me otherwise – but more of that later).
The scene seems to be in slow motion.
Hannibal is not so badly wounded it seems, and he joins into the fight. Like a pair of wolves against a bear, it’s two against one as the bear uses his size and strength to throw off his attackers, and the wolves use their teeth, or in this case sharp instruments ( a handy hatchet) to butcher the bear.
At one point, a dazed Will sees Dolarhyde with his dragon wings, and the scene is interspersed with the scenes of Dolarhyde watching his house burn, burning his scrap book, the print of the Red Dragon and generally surrounded in fire. (I See Fire could’ve been the soundtrack.)
Now Hannibal and Will are working in concert, until finally Hannibal jumps on the back of the wounded beast and goes for the throat kill, while Will stabs at the bear’s exposed body.
Richard Armitage was brutal and extraordinary in the fight, but his death scene was fabulously glorious, as, he spreads his wings, is on bended knee, until he finally falls over, his blood forming the shape of Dragon wings around him.
Blood was spurting everywhere, the most, through Dolarhyde’s throat as Hannibal bit into him.
According to Hannibal people, this scene used more fake blood than other on TV. It surpassed an episode of – can you believe it, Frasier? ( I think it was the Frasier episode involving a dead seal – a classic farce)
I watched this scene over and over – a really exciting, brutal fight scene. A good solid slaughter. That is, until I read Bryan Fuller’s description of the scene, mentioning that he didn’t have the luxury time or budget to film a close-up of Richard Armitage in the scene – there were many of Hugh and Mads – so he had to resort to inserting earlier footage of Dolarhyde setting fire to his house.Fuller also stated that the scene was shot in less than half the time as the Season 2 bloody finale. ( 10 hours vs. 22, I think).
TMI. I liked the scene and I’m sort of resentful that Fuller chose to point out more of its weaknesses than its strength, as though apologizing for why he couldn’t do better – a CYA move.
Hannibal and Will embrace at the edge of the cliff, bloodied and wounded. This is all I wanted for you, Will, Hannibal says – yeah, to join me and kill together – Murder Husbands after all.
There ensues a homoerotic scene, with no words, just the music of Siouxie Sioux’s Love Crime as the two embrace, and Will pulls them both off the cliff.
In the end, it had to be Will who killed Hannibal after all. Can’t live with him: Can’t live without him.
As the credits role, we see Bedelia, elegantly dressed, poised at a dinner table, with a roasted leg of something special as the main course, and then a shot of her sitting at the head of the table, with one leg amputated thigh high.
I’m guessing that Fannibals were satisfied with the ending. It gave them everything they wanted. Will and Hannibal together again, their love out in the open, so to speak, and the hope of more to come.
I don’t know how it could have ended otherwise.
Richard Armitage was as moving, frightening, pitiful as ever as Francis Dolarhyde – but he had less challenging work on an emotional level than in previous episodes. Physicality, I would say, was most of where he shone.
The episode begins where last week’s left off. Dolarhyde as Reba in his house and he puts her through exercises to find the key on a thong around his neck, and find her way to the door using her unsighted skills. ( A key around his neck – yes, Thorin – but it comes right out of the novel).
His manner towards Reba is threatening, almost emotionless, but not violent. In a suspenseful twist, Reba chooses to try and escape instead of locking the door as instructed, and Dolarhyde pops up on the other side of the door. Whoa.
I thought Ruta Wesley was outstanding in this scene as the terrified Reba, as she trembled and crouched, wide-eyed as she worried what Francis would do. Her quiet, shivering terror was almost understated.
It turns out, not only is Richard Armitage a fabulous actor, but so is Francis Dolarhyde. He acts tormented and woeful, as he tells her, it’s all over for him, that he can’t watch her burn and they should go together, as he douses the room with gasoline and lights a match.
Reba, having been trained by Dolarhyde to find the key around his neck and find her way out, escapes and is able to report that The Red Dragon is dead.
But he’s not dead. In one of those campy lab scenes, the techs and FBI go through their analysis of, not only the victim, who is not Dolarhyde, but also a parody recap of how Dolarhyde trained Reba, and acted his fake torment, so she could get out of the fire thinking he was dead.
In case we didn’t get it ourselves.
I’ve said it before, but I love how in this role, Richard Armitage’s largeness, and he is made to look larger, is played up instead of being suppressed by camera angles, slouching and leaning.
From the get go of learning that Richard Armitage was going to play this role on this series, I firmly believed that it was a smart, great, worthy career move – horror and blood aside, and I think that came to pass.
Francis Dolarhyde/The Red Dragon, is, in my opinion, his best filmed performance to date. I didn’t see his John Proctor live but I did see the digital version. I’m tilting on the fence here as to which I think was best – his best work ever. I’m leaning towards Dolarhyde, but everything about the roles and opportunities are so different, I’m delighted he has both to his credit.
The man just keeps learning and getting better and better. I just know some other, really meaty work is going to come his way. He elevates every role he assumes.
Congratulations, Richard Armitage on making one of the best career choices to date.