In Hannibal's 3.10, it's getting late, but Tooth Fairies are night owls, and Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) takes his pedo-van to Maryland on a pilgrimage to Hannibal's old, plastic-shrouded office. Within, he jumps wires in the telephony before unwrapping and starting up Hannibal's old computer, perhaps surprisingly, not claimed by law enforcement as a part of the investigation into his… everything. Via technology, Dolarhyde is announced as Byron Metcalfe, Hannibal's ersatz lawyer but his real, true Number One Fan.
(Welcome to a truly awful job. At least crime scene cleaners know that they're improving the feng shui, scrubbing the auras, making the horrible just a little bit better. But think about having to preserve that atmosphere of yuck, inviolate, carefully maintaing the lair of a supervillain against moth and water damage in anticipation of his returns… someday.)
Anyway, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) answers the call with receptivity that earns Dolarhyde's very best growl. Nicknames can be so cruel and misleading, the killers agree. Dolarhyde seems to be aiming towards a king-is-dead, long-live-the-king kind of coronation as the top Beast, and Dr. Lecter approves, as he always does of a worthy challenger. But as we've seen, Hannibal can make people think powerful things using just his voice. When Dolarhyde, with Hannibal's assistance, fully envisions himself as the flaming dragon on the rocky mount, I almost had to raise a lighter and a forefinger-pinky salute, because it was so metal and bad-ass. Yay!
I've also enjoyed how these remote phone conversations are visually assembled together in imagined space. Whether between hotel-bound Will and Molly in the casualness of the Graham cabin's bedroom last week, or in the now-familiar bookended chairs in Hannibal's office, letting the characters actually interact is a treat beyond watching them emote into plastic mouthpieces.
Dr. Bedelia DuMaurier (Gillian Anderson) is lecturing in front of a group of nodding, reputably academic-looking heads, stepping from behind the podium—not done in most mic'd up situations, but demonstrating she has no fear of this room. All one's self, she asserts, is a construct of the mind (to be dismantled by repeeated overwriting and strong drugs). But her bit about being swallowed by the beast tips that she knows there's something deeper, more primal than mentation underneath this “mind” to which she's so apparently devoted. She throws a gloss of Dante on it for the punters, but here's Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) to remind her she's a liar, and ask, well he never gets to what he wants to ask beyond, “How'd you manage to walk away unscarred? I'm covered in scars.” Good point. She's acting superior and know-it-all-y, as usual, tells Will to make an appointment. That's petty, Bedelia, because your house is as glass as the shattered table in your office.
If you meet someone online, and they ask if you want to go pet a tiger, you might have doubts. But Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley) is extremely daring, and Dolarhyde is beyond himself as he sees her stroking the sedated big cat, brave enough even to caress the animal after feeling the tips of his huge teeth. She drapes across his purring form, and Dolarhyde appears lost in wonder. She could, perhaps, even accept him.
Back at his place, the antique-filled old family home, the music's playing and she's making martinis, calming him about his insecurities, draping across him and then… well, I can't say, but she's very sweet about her forwardness. When things get intimately bestial, he envisions her as Blake's Woman. He seems at peace with his head on her heart. But then come other visions, of falling teeth and falling pearls, the barrel of a gun, and the moon. He almost forgot. The time is nigh. The dragon is calling, and he has to get her out of there.
We see Hannibal's routine of interaction at a distance. He puts a gum wrapper in the telephone's mouthpiece, perhaps to rough up his voice, but calls Dr. Chilton's office to get an address. Apparently, these people aren't aware of Hannibal's distinctive accent, nor does the hospital staff observe him during calls. Dr. Chilton has an assistant who'll give up Will Graham's contact info for “sending a manuscript.” About this scenario, enough is wrong that I'll just take it as a necessary speedbump on the road to Will getting the letter he'd later burn.
Will did make an appointment with Bedelia, who I'd thought just tossed off that remark. Hannibal keeps in correspondence with her at holidays, her birthday, and always with recipes, which is charming in its way. She's obviously in practice again and in Baltimore, as if Italy were a blip that never happened, and as if a woman victimized (as she says she was) by Hannibal would want to stay nearby. Pro tip: don't use the therapist who claims her mind was broken by a serial-killing monster. It's a real physician-heal-thyself situation. Anyway, there must be a white paper on chair angles as affecting the efficacy of therapy, because 180° is an ironclad rule among Baltimore's shrinks. What happens if they're at 120° or even 70º, immediate insanity?
Hey, speaking of the profoundly disturbed, here's the Neal Frank (Zachary Quinto) dead-patient hunk we've been anticipating since the season premiere! Finally, someone with a nose for trouble crosses Hannibal's path. Of course, this is a post-mortem flashback, but it's still refreshing to see someone know what he's being told is just wrong and that Hannibal's behavior and Bedelia's belie words of caring or health. Dr. DuMaurier, with her so-precise verbal phrasing, doesn't give any credence to Frank's worsening problems or the weird seizure Hannibal's treatment caused that made Frank almost swallow his tongue. She just keeps deflecting. She's doing it again with Will.
Diversion and redirection. As she says, she obfuscates. In the theraputic role, she acts as if she's just a mirror, objectively reflecting back what's true, tightly smug as she distorts it into the funhouse version. She admits how much she prefers strength to weakness, but she wouldn't crush a wounded baby bird, oh, no. Still, she'll tolerate, even cling to someone who does it for her, in front of her. It's the principle of passive evil, only she's admitting how not-passive she is. Because on the inside, she's cheering.
We'll see her trying to get to clear Neal Frank's airway, digging far down his throat when he has another tongue-swallowing seizure. This follows his final outburst of what can only be termed sensibility. Let me also say, for a woman who had to go to med school for her degree and serve some sort of clinical residency, too, Bedelia's fainting-couch squeamishness is hard to buy. Then again, sometimes accomplishing what one has been working so persistently and deviously to acheive—the undermining of Neal Frank's sanity as she tries to convinve him he's the one with a problem—creates a joy in its completion that's so absolute as to be exhausting. There she lies in the afterglow of her petit mort and his actual mort.
She throws Will a bone, too, by saying that he isn't the killer Hannibal made him out to be. I hope we knew that, but it's nice to see how much Will wants to believe. And then, I guess, as part of her admitted “alchemy of lies and truth,” she follows up with another stinkbomb, saying acts of extreme cruelty require deep empathy. I just don't think that's so, though it's so much less seductive for dramatic purposes. I think not giving a tin s**t is more the kind of attitude that's demonstrated, such extreme alienation from empathy with their victims that killers might as well be fingerpainting with ketchup and spitting out half-eaten chicken tenders.
Anyway, I enjoyed it when, earlier, Will called Bedelia on her crap, and plotwise, I'm not sure how booking chair-time with helps him with the Tooth Fairy case at all. But I'm quite happy to get to see this entire bloody scene in completeness at last. You made sense, Neal Frank, and in Hannibal's world, that puts your life on borrowed time.
Back at the hospital for the criminally insane, Will reviews the carving he found with Hannibal (something case-related!), who recognizes it as a gambler's lucky sign in Chinese. Will knows that, but points out that it's the red dragon from a Mah Jong tile. Only now, perhaps realizing the game is unfolding, and always happiest playing both sides, Hannibal unleashes the William Blake reference, expressing admiration for the dragon, enjoyment in his not-insane “becoming.” This whole red dragon thing has really added some spice to the tedium of occupying even Hannibal's palatial memory palace. New input is delicious.
Dolarhyde has arrived to meet a woman from the paintings area of the Brooklyn Museum to see a watercolor not on public display, “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed In Sun.” This is one of over a hundred variations of watercolors, including “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed With the Sun” from last week's episode, that Blake was commissioned to paint for the book of Revelation in an illustrated Bible. As soon as the original is unveiled, Dolarhyde neck-chops the woman to get the watercolor from the plastic and sniff it. Then, we get a lovely view of his crazy fanged-out teeth as he begins eating it. Art and explanations aside, it's sympathetic magic, just like Hannibal's.
Will arrives to see the painting, too, and coincidence is a fine thing, because his spidey-sense tells him the man passing behind him in the elevator to the archives is…hmmm. He forces the door open to be recognized by Dolarhyde, thrown against the elevator's wall and ceiling and then pitched out onto the floor. He can't recover before Dolarhyde's gone.
We got to see a lot of the great red dragon and the golden woman, so here's the watercolor of “The Great Red Dragon and the Beast from the Sea.” What does it convey to you about next week's episode?
Clare Toohey is a daytripper through genre gutters and appreciator of satiny garments. Aside from editing The M.O. and site wrangling here, she freelances as an editor, writes short, surreal crime fiction, blogs at Women of Mystery, and tweets @clare2e.