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Hannibal – And the Beast from the Sea Review

"A smartly crafted episode"

As I touched on in last week’s review, there is an imbalance within Hannibal during this Red Dragon story. It’s an imbalance that was bound to appear, and one that Bryan Fuller and his team couldn’t prevent from occurring. Naturally, since we are already deeply invested in Will and Hannibal, their relationship, and their relationships with the rest of the show’s main cast, the show works best when it is focusing on developing those relationships further than when it is delving into the romantic proclivities of Frances Dolarhyde.

But when the show links Dolarhyde’s actions and their consequences to bear on Will and his relationship with Hannibal, that is when things finally get interesting. While I still don’t particularly feel anything but disgust and anger toward the Red Dragon (and don’t particularly care for Reba at all, since we barely know her), his role as a pawn within Hannibal’s quest to win Will back makes him far more interesting than the reasons behind his psychosis or his murderous intent. Knowing that Dolarhyde is now acting under the orders of Hannibal makes him a far more effective villain than when he was simply acting on his own.

Similarly, until this week, Molly and Wally existed more as constructs than as characters (although both were far more likeable than the Red Dragon, simply due to their proximity to Will- and, of course, because they weren’t killing people). We liked them because they were important to Will, but they didn’t serve much purpose as characters beyond that. Now that they too have become elements of Hannibal’s manipulation (and that Molly is smart enough to realize that playing games with Hannibal Lecter might be more than she bargained for in this marriage), both characters have become more entwined within the fabric of the show’s rich tapestry. Both now matter beyond their roles as stand-ins for Will’s “normal life.”

HANNIBAL -- "...and the Beast from the Sea" Episode 311 -- Pictured: Nina Arianda as Molly Graham -- (Photo by: Sophie Giraud/NBC)
HANNIBAL — “…and the Beast from the Sea” Episode 311 — Pictured: Nina Arianda as Molly Graham — (Photo by: Sophie Giraud/NBC)

This is a story that has already been told three times in two different mediums, but what Fuller is doing with it is new and mercifully different. With the other versions, Hannibal’s manipulations of the Red Dragon are aimed at punishing Will, the man responsible for his capture. In those stories, Hannibal is trying to prove to Will that while he may have won round one, there is nothing that can prevent Hannibal from winning any other battle that comes, regardless of his imprisonment. Here, there is such a deep connection between Will and Hannibal that there is much more at stake.

As Bedelia warned Will last week, Hannibal’s pull on him is far more potent than he thinks. And Will has willingly walked right back into the lion’s den without a second thought. Hannibal is playing with everyone in the story, but most of all he is playing with Will. He loves Will. He needs Will. And whether or not Will can admit it to himself, the feeling and the need is mutual. Yes, he has been able to make a life outside of the thrall of Hannibal, but Will is far more susceptible to Hannibal than he is willing to admit. And that is where the stakes are in this chess match. Hannibal has proven that he can control Will- mentally, emotionally, and physically. He can manipulate those Will loves and put them in danger, just to make sure that Will doesn’t leave him this time. It’s far more terrifying than anything the Red Dragon can dish out- Hannibal knows what he wants, and everything he does or does not do is done with one purpose: get Will back.

And the scary thing is that it is working. There are only two episodes left in the series, and Will is back in Hannibal’s clutches. Hannibal willingly gave up everything in his cell (even his toilet) to make sure that Will would be pushed into confronting him. We all know by now that everything Hannibal does is for a reason. He let Alana discover his deceit about the lawyer’s calls and he purposefully warned Dolarhyde that the FBI was listening to their calls to ensure that he would strike Molly and Wally. The major mystery of these final two episode isn’t whether or not Dolarhyde will be stopped. Rather, it is whether or not Will will be able to escape this final confrontation with Hannibal Lecter intact.

HANNIBAL -- "...and the Beast from the Sea" Episode 311 -- Pictured: (l-r) Nina Arianda as Molly Graham, Hugh Dancy as Will Graham -- (Photo by: Ian Watson/NBC)
HANNIBAL — “…and the Beast from the Sea” Episode 311 — Pictured: (l-r) Nina Arianda as Molly Graham, Hugh Dancy as Will Graham — (Photo by: Ian Watson/NBC)

Final Thoughts:

— That last scene between Hannibal and Will was a thing of beauty. From Hannibal’s calm and cool “How’s your wife?” to Will’s barely contained rage (an emotion we haven’t seen very often from the empathetic man), every beat was perfectly presented by Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen. I’ll miss those moments most of all when the show comes to an end.

— Say what you will about Hannibal, but the man is absolutely brilliant at the manipulation of others. If it weren’t so terrifying, I would be impressed.

— Molly is pretty darn resourceful. I’m completely impressed by her now.

— I’m liking Jack Crawford less and less as this season goes on. He was willing to sacrifice Will completely for this case. Although, I suppose that means his fear at allowing Clarice Starling to get tangled up with Hannibal down the road is genuine.

  • Great moments between Will and Hannibal
  • Molly now a multi-layered character
  • Arc now focused almost solely on the Will-Hannibal relationship
  • Could do with less Frances and Reba scenes

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About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeaniusIsMe on Twitter.

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