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Hannibal is such an amazing series. While it may be best remembered (by the few of us who has taken this interesting journey over the past three years) for creating art out of the grotesque, the show is just as skilled at handling episodes that rely on building and tearing down character relationships, that use dialogue to shed light on just who these people are and what they are capable of, without even delving into a murder mystery. “And the Woman Clothed in the Sun” was one such episode, where we were finally given insight into who Bedelia is as both a therapist and a person, and we were allowed a glimpse behind the darkness of the Great Red Dragon to see he has a bit of a soft underbelly.
I have been a fan of Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of Bedelia since her first appearance, and I have enjoyed how Bryan Fuller and the writing staff has resisted giving us a deep dive into her psyche until now. The question of who she really is and how culpable she was in Hannibal’s actions over the years they have known each other has been an intriguing question to mull over, particularly during the Florence storyline. There were many hints that Bedelia knew more and was more involved in Hannibal’s actions than we ever knew, and her interesting conversation with Will more or less confirmed that Bedelia has a great deal of blood on her hands. And, unlike poor Will, whose first thought is always toward helping a thing in need, Bedelia’s is to crush it.
It would be easy to say that Bedelia’s more base instincts are the result of years spent in the company of Hannibal, and that the same fate may have awaited Will should he have continued down his previous path with Hannibal (I think we can safely say that Alana certainly would have ended up like Bedelia, if she hasn’t already), but the “little bird” conversation is the key to both of their relationships with Dr. Lecter. Bedelia states that she has always had a darkness inside of her, a darkness that Hannibal was drawn to. She was a willing participant in their twisted doctor-patient relationship. And, while she would never openly admit it (and, as we saw in the episode, has not publicly done so), she was complicit in his crimes. Hannibal nurtured that darkness, that drive to crush, becoming the vessel for it and allowing Bedelia to participate in great acts of violence against the weak without getting her hands dirty. It was only when she got actual blood on her hands in Florence that the relationship finally crumbled, since it broke the tenuous divide between observing from afar and participating in the crimes that allowed her to separate herself from her inaction.
Now Will, the empath whose first instinct is always to help, was never going to beat Hannibal from the inside. Unlike Bedelia who had a clear line in the sand (and didn’t worry as much about her compromised morality), Will’s relationship with Hannibal hinged on the need to help him. And Hannibal, who enjoys playing with his food and with the minds of those he deems worthy, found the ying to his yang and set about destroying him to build him back stronger and darker. As Bedelia told Will, the have both been the Bride of Hannibal’s Frankenstein, and both emerged with scars. But the difference is that Will still has that desire to help, the desire to protect, and needs to save Hannibal in some dark way (even if he refuses to admit it to himself). There is a twisted love there, a love that didn’t exist between Bedelia and Hannibal (who used each other and, save for Hannibal’s promise to one day eat Bedelia, have let each other go). Bedelia may be openly denying her role in Hannibal’s tour of Italy, but she is spot-on in her assessment of Will: he hasn’t learned his lesson and he did miss Hannibal that much. Going beyond the veil to see the true monster inside should have changed Will as it did Bedelia, but instead it has made him even more noble- a trait that will not help him in Hannibal’s eyes.
This week also gave us a bit more insight into the Great Red Dragon, and what may become his Achilles heel- Reba McClane. Last week, I said I wasn’t sold on Reba, but after “And the Woman Clothed in the Sun,” I’m certainly on board with her character. She’s more no-nonsense than I remember her being in both the book and film, and there’s a nice hard edge to her that I appreciate. She lends an air of humanity to Francis that needs to be there for the Red Dragon to work. There must be an internal conflict within the character to make us invest (a crazy guy who kills families can be a great villain, but what makes a really amazing one is layers of humanity among the supernatural). I find I am a great deal more invested in this arc now that we have seen how Francis responds to human emotion. With only three more episodes left in the series, I’m excited to see how it all plays out.
— Nothing more foreboding than Hannibal calling and getting access to Will’s phone number and address (which, from his card to Bedelia, it appears he didn’t have when he sent Will the note earlier this season).
— It appears that getting burned by Hannibal makes people stone cold. First Alana and now Bedelia. While it makes both woman much more interesting- so see how tough they have become in light of their escape from Hannibal, it also makes Will all the more special, as he has retained his warmth and humanity.
— Great work by Zachary Quinto as Bedelia’s unfortunate patient. I’m still unsure if she was responsible for his death, or if it was indeed Hannibal.