Bryan Fuller delivers yet another wonderful episode, this one mostly focusing on Dolarhyde and his growing relationship with Reba and his internal battle with his feelings and the Dragon from within.
It goes without saying how brilliant Richard Armitage is in this role, bringing just the right amount of nuance to his performance to show us exactly how tortured and damaged Francis is, yet never straying from the fact that yes, Francis is a serial killer. As I mentioned before it is hard to balance out the empathetic and sympathetic aspects of someone who is murdering families in the more gruesome ways, but when done right it can become something beautiful, which is precisely what Richard manages to capture with his performance as Francis Dolarhyde. Here, in this episode, we see more of his humanity, brought forth with his relationship with Reba. Their interaction is very intimate and sensual, from the moment when Francis takes her on a date to the zoo to pet a tiger (an emotional experience for her, and an important moment of symbolism for him as well) to taking her back home with him (an emotional and almost religious experience for him since it is, we're assuming, his first sexual experience with a
One of my favorite aspects about Reba is how she is comfortable with her sexuality. She doesn't allow her blindness to hinder her sensuality, nor does she allow others to define who she is because of it. It's why she's attracted to Francis in the first place. So it makes sense that she would be the one to initiate the first move.
The sex scene itself was tastefully done, and when I said it was an emotional religious experience for Francis, I wasn't kidding because he then envisions Reba clothed in golden light atop of him. That is how he sees her, and he actually sheds tears from seeing this vision of her. It was such a beautiful moment. When he panics after a nightmare he senses that the Dragon wants Reba to be his next victim, but he finds himself at odds since he has begun to really care for Reba, so he tries to defy the Dragon with this urge and despite only temporarily silencing that voice, he knows it won't last. The moment he clings to her and goes to take her home, he looks around, almost like he knows the Dragon is watching them, watching her.
It's why he ends up eating the original Red Dragon painting, to tame the beast and take control. That entire ending sequence alone was quite intense, seeing him actually eating the painting in such an animalistic manner, with unhinging his jaw and practically tearing it apart and munching on it like it was a goddamn chocolate bar, to the moment Will Graham is appearing at the museum and they finally cross paths. It leads to much anticipation of what will happen in the next remaining episodes, especially now that Will has a face to put the name and the nature of the heinous crimes he's investigating, and how Francis will fill knowing that he will be recognized.
Another scene I wanted to talk about was at the beginning, when we see the phone call Francis makes to Hannibal from his perspective. The visual imagery alone was magnificent, but the moment that Francis hears Hannibal's voice and realizing that he's finally talking to him was absolutely beautiful, because you can see him completely fanboying the fuck out. It's pretty much the best representation of "Senpai has noticed me!" you'll ever get from this show, because that is pretty much the extent of their entire conversation. Francis wants to be noticed, he wanted to be noticed by Hannibal, tells him he has admired his work and admires him. I found it kind of adorable, really, despite how the conversation is supposed to be about one serial killer admiring another serial killer.
I find myself at odds with that, really. Francis is a murderer and yet I find him quite adorable in many ways, from moments like the one he shares with Hannibal to his relationship with Reba, which is a testament to Richard because only he can find a balance of finding that humanity and tragedy within someone like Dolarhyde. Also to the show itself, because we don't see how Francis does these crimes, only the aftermath and how Will profiles them.
Moving on from Francis, this episode gave us more insight to what happened with Bedelia, which I found rather interesting. She didn't kill, but that instinct is inside of her, where she found euphoria in the experience of potentially being someone who could kill another living creature. Plus, she got away with being with a cannibalistic murderer like Hannibal, and it's fascinating when she talks to Will about their differences, with each other along with their relationship with Hannibal.
I gotta say, Bryan makes no attempts to mask the intentions on displaying how personal and intimate the relationship between Will and Hannibal is. Some will consider this deliberate fanservice, which perhaps some of it is, but I consider the relationship between Will and Hannibal to be very intentional. They were very close with each other, and there is a romance between them, just not one most people were expecting. And I like how everyone on the show is aware of the hold that Hannibal has on Will, and how Will has affected Hannibal in a profound manner. It's a fascinating relationship that is recognized for being unhealthy yet irresistible, as Bedelia coins it.
I also liked the implication that even though Will couldn't save Hannibal, he could possibly have a chance to save Francis Dolarhyde.
Overall, this episode was such a delight in many ways, and it proves just how grand this show is and how its cancellation is just a huge kick in the gut.