A Sashurai’s Review: Hannibal – Season 3×09 (The art of becoming requires a collect call to the devil)

Hanni 3x09

Clandestine thoughts burrow to the surface between those who seek to understand and the rest who understand too well. In gaining insight on the Toothfairy killer, Will begins to show more signs of distress and rigidity with the second family’s murders all while Hannibal injects his serum of truth and honesty through his triangle of conversations between those he attempted to murder last season. In the midst of the Toothfairy’s vested interest in the blind co-worker, Reba, Hannibal also recalls his nurturing of Abigail before the fateful night he murdered her.

For the first half the episode, it felt like the old scenes bubbling back to the surface where Will and Hannibal share thoughts and expertise on the case at hand. What surprised me yet again was the continued use of Abigail’s character, this time giving us an in depth look at how he kept her alive during season 2. The remainder of the episode wisely focused on more of Francis’s daily routine, this time introducing Reba who has taken an interest in him as well. What felt overused was each characters need to return to Hannibal and offer their own relevant theories on his current stature and their own changes in life. Will and Hannibal alone should be the only two interacting. Truth is I’m no longer interested in what Hannibal thinks of Jack or Dr. Bloom. He’s isolated and I have yet to truly feel that on this second half of the season. Still, tonight’s episode proved to continue moving elements forward in a fresh pace as well as re-introduce absent characters like Freddie who will likely meet her end in this season as per story rules.

Hannibal and Will share the opening scene discussing both past events and the subject of the Toothfairy, which Hannibal agrees to assist. Peppered throughout the plot are flashbacks to when Hannibal used a willing Abigail to fake her murder, confront her dead father, and prepare for Will’s arrival the night she died. Meanwhile, Francis meets a fellow blind co-worker named Reba and becomes infatuated with her. Dr. Bloom tells Will that she carried Margot’s child and they had a son. Both Jack and Dr. Bloom speak with Hannibal about his role in helping Will which lead to nothing more than personal gloating on their part. Will relives the Toothfairy’s encounter with the second family and finds only parcel clues along with nightmares of becoming the killer himself. Freddie Lounds returns and attempts to convince Will to use her as a communication medium for the Toothfairy, but Will refuses. In the final scene, Hannibal receives a phone-call from the Toothfairy revealing he is becoming the Great Red Dragon.

Familiar Hannibal cliché’s are rampant that I both like and feel should continue being displayed. Most notably are his keen sense of smell and admiration for what’s taking place. What seems to be lacking is the premise that even though he’s locked up, he’s still very much in control of the conversations that take place. He doesn’t get that with Dr. Bloom and Jack which I feel makes him seem less of a threat. Jack really should be reduced to the minor role he has in the Red Dragon storyline and quite honestly, it should be Chilton goading Hannibal, not Dr. Bloom. She’s has more star power and is technically more appropriate given their history, but at the same time, she’s rooted in some strange alignment that I can’t tell if she’s adversely a good or quasi-evil character. If there was more substance to her I’d be all for an intellectual showdown between her and Hannibal, but that’s not what this season is about anymore, at least not between those two. Even the point to mention she carried the Verger child seemed a bit left field and no longer relevant to the storyline. I’d like to see Hannibal’s conversations stay with Will alone to keep the relationship between the two focused and eccentric. They match up the best and it’s not optimal to keep Hannibal running around the psyche’s of several characters.

The flashbacks with Abigail were interesting to witness but I also felt, as an Abigail fan, that this is just more twisting of the knife. He continued to instruct her and the art of facing one’s dead parent(s) with their corpse in play. It was a great nod to the third book’s moment when he does the same thing for Clarice. It shows how much he still cared for Abigail and right up until the end, she really thought they would leave together making her death that much more heart-wrenching. It’s just disappointing that she was always under his spell and never broke loose of it, even in Will’s mind that he built her from after the fact.

Francis and Reba’s scenes were about as typical as any film’s establishment of a killer trying to seem a peaceful person to others. What is unique and always has been is how that’s interpreted through a blind person who can’t see, literally the man Francis is. It’s what drew him to her and will eventually blossom into something chaotic but serene at the same time. Rutina Wesley joins the cast as Reba, I haven’t spotted her since her days on True Blood, so it’ll be a switch to see how she manages the docile Reba.

Will’s descent is running along as bumpy as it can be. They’re hitting on the right beats and making sure that he’s slipping in all the right ways. The scenes with Hannibal from different mental environments are always a standing joy to watch and even with Hannibal’s help we can still tell he’s holding back real pivotal information since after all, he’s just a spectator. If there’s one thing he can do is manipulate the right chess pieces to do the most damage and Will is still his pawn, but now he has a knight in the Red Dragon to move around as well.

FAVORITE MOMENT

Hannibal’s flashbacks with Abigail. I don’t know if they were filmed back then but either way for me it’s fun to watch the in-between moments that originally left us wondering how Hannibal does certain things. In this case, how he managed to keep Abigail hidden and protected that whole season while doing what he did. It really does drag that knowing she never gets to survive makes her growth in those flashback rather meaningless. Still, Hannibal did care in his own psychotic way for her.

CHARACTER MVP

Hannibal had a lot to juggle but I think he did an excellent job considering how many personalities he had to deal with. His silent stare during Dr. Bloom’s rant with telling him his fear is indignity was shot very well. We know Hannibal is capable of dealing with any situation he’s up against, but for a short moment you can tell he’s not particularly fond of being called out on any fear whatsoever. He’s stone-faced at the right times and for the moment it’s easy to lose sight and see him as the sympathetic villain even as he reminds Jack that he should have eaten Will’s brain, another doppelganger seen from the third novel.

ENDING THOUGHTS

I’ll be honest, I kept forgetting Freddie’s role in the Red Dragon plot and now that I remember, I’ll be very sad when Francis kills her. It’s a 34 year old spoiler, but they’re already piling on her tabloid personality so we’ll forget she was very humanizing for a short while back in the day.

I don’t buy that Francis could just pretend to be Hannibal’s lawyer, but that does make it easier to digest rather than Hannibal’s reading between the lines in certain columns of newspapers. I rather like how those went down because it shows the ingenuity of both killers and their ability to dialogue. Here, we just get a simple phone call. A little too simple in my opinion.

Will Hannibal and Will share that epic moment when they converse about how Hannibal was caught and Will tells Hannibal that his disadvantages were that he’s insane? Probably not, considering Hannibal gave himself up. I’d like there to be something there Will can use to keep a leg up on Hannibal’s brilliance, but I’ll understand if they can’t weave that conversation into this season. Shame. This Hannibal’s facial reaction would be equally priceless and the others.

OVERALL SCORE

8 out of 10. Good pacing and though I thought they would keep Francis out of the episode entirely, it was good they got him in with those scenes of Reba to establish the human side of him. All the beats were good and the flashbacks with Abigail reminded us how things got to this point with both Hannibal and Will. The dreams and hallucinations remain classic and inventive, even the reflection of Hannibal’s deer-human self was still creepy as ever. I’d like once for Will to interact with that character in dialogue, but that’s probably asking for too much. Hannibal and Francis are now speaking to each other and it’s just a matter of time before Hannibal begins playing his real game, so there’s a lot to look forward to. Just please stop twisting the knife on us. Abigail is gone, we need to move on. Thanks for reading.

No more words

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