I think this is one of the most intense and heartbreaking episodes of this season.
Dolarhyde having major internal conflict over his feelings about Reba versus appeasing the Dragon was one of the best things about this episode. We see the humanity within Francis, when he's talking about Reba he has such an emotional response, he doesn't understand how he feels this way about a living woman and how she feels that way about him, but it's evident that when the Dragon wanted her to be his next victim he refused. He was scared, he doesn't want to hurt her. Of course by conversing this with Hannibal, and we know how Hannibal likes to play people like a piece on a chessboard. So when he advises Francis to redirect that urge elsewhere, Francis is visibly collected as he understands what this means. He can try to trick the Dragon, feed that hunger. But when he fails to accomplish this, he has a brutal "fight" with the Dragon. That scene in particular was very well-done, a brilliant way of capturing the visual representation of him fighting with himself and his own demons. It's such an arresting scene to watch because we know that Francis is doing these things himself, but actually having the scenes cut between him beating himself up and then seeing the actual physical presence of what he sees as the Dragon, it's was just really brilliantly done by both Richard (for the physicality of the scene) and the Hannibal crew (as always for their beautiful work).
Which leads us to the heartbreaking scene between Francis and Reba. Just, ouch, my heart. We know the reason why Francis has to break things off with Reba, he doesn't want to hurt her and knows that this is for her own safety, but there is no proper way for him to convey these reasons to her. She could tell he was distressed about something, but ultimately it ended in such a heartbreaking way. Really though, it's impressive that we feel this amount of investment with them even though it's only been two episodes showing that growing relationship, and it's all due to the performances and the amount of chemistry Richard and Rutina have on the screen.
With the rest of the episode, it was also quite intense, with Francis being redirected onto Will's family. That entire sequence was absolutely chilling and creepy, even though I knew that they would get away it left me on pins and needles just watching that scene play out. Also, kudos to Molly for being quick and smart, outsmarting Francis and just having that intuition and instinct that something was definitely wrong. But what followed after was just as heartbreaking, with Will and his worries, his talk with his stepson, then later with Molly. This was definitely a personal attack, not just from Francis, but from Hannibal as well. It's fascinating since Hannibal deliberately wants Will back into the fold with him, not with another family that he will soon go back to after Francis is caught. But with him. Just everything surrounding that whole relationship between these two is kind of irresistible, despite the fact that it's quite, you know, destructive and unhealthy in so many ways. At the same time, however, with only two episodes left it makes you wonder how things are going to play between Will and Hannibal. It really makes me wish/pray/hope for another season or movie for Bryan Fuller to further explore what he wanted and planned to with that relationship, something he says has been in the books but hasn't yet been in any of the adaptations. /continues to hope for this to become reality
Other things from the episode:
** I liked that after he warned Dolarhyde that the FBI was listening into their phone call, we finally get to see Hannibal in not just the straitjacket but also in the infamous mask. Also, Alana keeping her promise to take away everything from his cell, including the toilet. But it makes me nervous as to her fate. She delivered on her promise, I would assume he will as well.
** The dogs are okay. That's all that matters.
** Richard Armitage did that handstand by himself. He also hit himself quite hard during that fight scene. He is so dedicated to his work, I cannot.
I am continually amazed by this show, especially with how they've been handling the Red Dragon storyline. I know I've mostly been praising Richard for his performance with these reviews, but with each episode that passes can you really blame me? Just everything he does with his performance is utterly captivating. ♥