In Hannibal's 3.11 “And the Beast From the Sea,” Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) discovers his best crime-stopping asset is the durability of his masochism. For a moment, I thought he'd really blame Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) in some way that cost more than blunt words, but he seems resigned to being used this way, at least as long as the full moon and the Tooth Fairy loom. We also finally get to see Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) strapped onto the hand truck and in the iconic mask—admit it, you've waited almost 3 whole seasons for it. Yay!
When Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) gets one of his telephone therapy sessions, he expresses perturbation in the way he and The Great Red Dragon he's destined to become are diverging in their aims since his relationship with The Woman, Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley). Dolarhyde's also fascinated by his newfound ability to be turned on by sex with a partner who's alive. Hannibal, pot-stirrer that he is, says Dolarhyde shouldn't worry about losing Reba by sacrificing her to TGRD, because Dolarhyde can have her as long as he wants, even risk loving her, if he gets a scapegoat. Why, that fuzzy-faced, pointed-chin Will Graham has a family. Baaah. Hannibal's favorite spectator sport is manipulating humans into choosing whether they're predators or prey, and then setting up situations where they'll have to act upon it.
The reconstituted Scooby team of Jack, Will, and Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) frankly discuss the feasibility of getting the conflicted Tooth Fairy to kill himself, certainly before he can eat any more irreplaceable art. Well, perhaps they could manage that were they even half as cordially ruthless as Hannibal, or had they devoted the time he has to making it a specialty.
Pounding surf beneath the waxing moon and the sight of Dolarhyde carving the dragon into a tree reminds us the time is nigh.
As the moon seems to wheel in the heavens, Dolarhyde seems to grow wings. I've really loved all these unapologetically huge visual transformations of his. Back at the old family manse, while Reba relaxes on his lap with more cocktails, Dolarhyde studies sound-less film… of the Graham house. It's so much fun having him watch it while Reba's thinks it's an ordinary nature film.
But then, the Graham dogs get poisoned—boo!—and Molly (Nina Arianda) feels like crap because she didn't make their from-scratch food like Will would do if he weren't busy playing Chesapeake chum (and I mean the shark-bait kind) with Hannibal. With the pooches at the vet, she and son Walter (Gabriel Browning Rodriguez) are unprotected.
Of course, Hannibal's digs at the state hospital have a moonroof, and as he's bathed in its cool, pale light, Will stands in the comparative gloom of his inability to comprehend deadly double entendres. Meanwhile, The Great Red Dragon has his janky teeth and killing togs ready for action. He picks the cabin's lock as Molly gets up to investigate a bad feeling. She gets her son out of the house with careful instructions, and TGRD arrives to her empty bedroom. Two empty bedrooms.
She has slipped out and and hides beneath the balcony. Usually people this far out in the country at least have varmint rifles (and didn't Will have a shotgun at his Maryland farmhouse?), but maybe it's all stashed in the gun safe, because Molly only gathers her son to her before setting off the car alarm. TGRD distracts himself with trying to shoot it.
Once the mother and son run to the road, she almost gets killed trying to stop a car. The unfortunate driver does meet that fate, and she takes over behind the wheel with TGRD in pursuit on foot. But let no one tell you aiming at a moving target over a changing distance while in motion oneself is difficult, because TGRD takes a chunk out of her as they escape. That was a cinch for him, but the poor servant must dread the consequence of failing in his divinely-ordained timeline.
As Molly undegoes surgery, Will's stepson isn't coping all that well either, but his excuse is being eleven. Still, everyone's baser instinct under stress is to take it out on the softie, so he gives Will the pointy-end about needing to kill their attacker. After all, the boy has learned from the tabloid TattleCrime that Will's done it before.
Back with the (institutionalized) criminally insane, Alana has twigged to Hannibal's lawyer gambit. Together with Jack, she obliquely threatens Hannibal's toilet privileges again. I'm with her! Jack orders Hannibal to stall Dolarhyde on the line when he next calls—but really, Jack, you know Hannibal isn't the obedient kind, no matter how authoritatively resonant and firm the baritone. The sympathetic doctor assents to listening to an upset killer, perhaps even long enough for the call to be traced. It's good fun for him either way. Win-win, as long as someone loses.
Due to the night's failures, Dolarhyde's physical strength is being sapped and the dragon rebels against him, Fight Club style, slashing and pummeling him to exhaustion. Something drastic will be required to keep the internal peace. Someone that it will hurt Dolarhyde to sacrifice. Reba knew what it was like to see the light before she went blind, so maybe she'll understand what he'd have to do to her. Torn, Dolarhyde visits the darkroom to break up with her to keep her safe. She's upset but keeps her composure. But it will be surprising if TGRD inside lets it end that easily.
The distraught Dolarhyde calls Hannibal, who else? And as he pours out his conflict, with Jack and Alana on the party line, Hannibal pulls one of his famous phone pranks. Like he told the killer Hobbs that “They're coming” in Season 1, he tells Dolarhyde “They're listening” now. Such a scamp! They find Dolarhyde's phone set-up in Hannibal's office and it looks like another dead end for the geeks, who've had very little to do this season.
As Hannibal's bookshelves are being punitively emptied and his luxuries dismantled, he's now strapped to a stand-up rolling cart with a face mask I think he could still spit through. Alana's also having the toilet removed, as vowed, but I wonder whether she boarded up the moonroof. Also, this might be part of Hannibal's plan. He knows her well enough to know what she'd do when crossed. Perhaps all the drawing and visitors dilute Hannibal's focus when he really needs to be thinking on a single, tough problem. Nothing like having nothing else to concentrate the mind on one creative outlet, and that is, his triumphant escape.
Back at the hospital, a bedridden Molly and Will are having an intimate conversation about how much they resent Jack and how they've both changed, despite their wishes. Will confesses to her that Hannibal put the Tooth Fairy up to the attack. She has a bit of the Will-gift, too, because she confesses she knew it was the Tooth Fairy coming for them, as soon as she knew about the TattleCrime article. I really like how natural and open their relationship seems. It's unlike what happens with the rest of the characters involved, who are constantly scheming and posturing and manipulating. But this good thing is damaged, so Will goes dutifully and angrily to try to end this story.
Hannibal is relaxed and deflecting blame, just as Bedelia always does. Ah, educated monsters. It's not me who's nuts, but those faces in the madding crowd…mwa-ha-ha. Still, the doctor's insouciance as he admits to passing on Will's home address to TGRD, followed up with a polite inquiry as to Molly's health and well-being made me forgive some of the pomposity. To me, far more menacing than the intellectual profundity are these moments of breeziness.
I also enjoyed the way Hannibal lays out his trenchant analysis of TGRD, once again at the bartered price of Will's exposed feelings. Will is strong in this way. He can walk around as an open emotional wound without closing himself off in self-defense or dying of the misery. Will's not allowed to hide any of his anguish from Hannibal, but if he emotes enough to fog the plexiglass between them, and lets Hannibal's exquisitely sensitive nose get a deep whiff of the torment, why, he'll earn a boon. And that boon is insight.
Next week, “The Number of the Beast is 666,” and we'll see if Will can make anything of this latest epiphany, or if another pound of his emotional flesh will be required to feed the cannibal in return for a new clue.
Clare Toohey is a daytripper through genre gutters and appreciator of lunation. 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.