Hannibal: Season Three…And the Beast from the Sea

[These last reviews of the Red Dragon arc were originally published after the end of the series in 2015. I’ve edited these  reviews to reflect new thoughts and information.]

The last episode I reviewed was about the different character’s perceptions, as has been the theme for most of the series., but this episode is about Agency, how each of the characters have it, take it, and/or employ it. Agency is the ability to affect change over the environment by one’s actions. One can affect change oneself or use proxies to do so.

We pick up the narrative where we left off in the last episode.

Graham is outlining the situation for Crawford. Crawford is incredulous that Dollarhyde ate a painting. Graham surmises that Hannibal knows who Dollarhyde is, and that he was once a patient. He’s only half wrong. Dollarhyde is Hannibal’s current patient through secret phone calls, after Dollarhyde masquerades as Hannibal’s lawyer. We flashback (not really) to Hannibal telling Dollarhyde to save himself by attacking Will and his family. This is about Dollarhyde taking and using agency, regarding his relationship with Hannibal, the Red Dragon, and Reba, but he is also Hannibal’s proxy.

Look Ahead At The Red Dragon.  GIF | Gfycat

Hannibal is using Dollarhyde to get back at Will for rejecting him. Lecter does, as Bedelia states later,  have agency in the world, even though he is locked away. The difference is that she attributes this agency to the wrong person. She thinks the person executing Hannibal’s agency is Will Graham, when its really Dollarhyde. This is Hannibal, once again, playing his old game of I love you/I want to hurt you! Will may be tired of it, but Hannibal always finds this game amusing (except when Will enacts this particular game against him.)

Oh yeah, the flashbacks aren’t actually flashbacks. They’re conversations that Lecter had/is having, with Dollarhyde, over the phone, but are imagined from Lecter’s point of view, and usually from inside what he calls his mind vault. Being given Lecter’s POV is often done without any warning for the audience, an effect with which I’m not entirely comfortable, as nobody really wants to be in Lecter’s head, and is probably equally disconcerting for people who are “first watchers” of this series.

Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde and Rutina Wesley as Reba ...

As the next full moon approaches, Reba and Dee (as she calls him), spend some quality time together. I don’t see a whole lot of chemistry in their relationship, (that’s just my inability to see romance between characters, in general), but these are both very good actors, who convince me that they’re in the beginning stages of a relationship. Dollarhyde wants to, but can’t let the Red Dragon go, not even for Reba’s sake, not even as he fears for her. While she cuddles with him on the sofa, he watches home movies of his next possible target, Molly and Wally.

Will’s wife is at the vet because the dogs are sick. She doesn’t understand that the Red Dragon always kills the pets  first. I know this from reading the books, but she believes she poisoned the dogs with some  food from China, because that was a thing going around in the news at the time this show was written, and Fuller, who absolutely loves dogs, was so incensed by that, that he put it in the script.

Top 30 Molly Foster Graham GIFs | Find the best GIF on Gfycat

Graham goes to Lecter to beg for the identity of the Red Dragon, but Lecter would rather tease him. This is one of the quietest, and most sinister arguments, I’ve ever heard, conducted almost entirely in sharp whispers. This may also be the reason I can’t  understand what the hell is going on. I managed to get around this by remembering to turn on the captions.

Dollarhyde tries to murder  Will’s family, hunting them through their house, and injuring Molly. Both she and Wally survive, but Will, naturally, feels incredibly guilty about what happened. He has a conversation with Wally, about the killer’s mental illness, which forces him to divulge the time he spent in a psychiatric hospital. The conversation does not go well. Incidentally, we don’t see or hear from either of these characters again, and no end is written for Molly, as Will seemingly forgets all about her.  Make of that what you will because the fans certainly did.

and the woman clothed in the sun | Tumblr

Will, incensed, confronts Lecter, who readily  admits to giving Dollarhyde Will’s home address. Crawford, and Alana threaten Lecter into cooperating with Crawford’s scheme to capture Dollarhyde using drop boxes.

Because he failed to kill Will’s family, Dollarhyde imagines himself getting beaten by the Red Dragon. Reba walks in on him just after this event, and there’s a very tense moment where he is probably contemplating killing her, as he has not quite come back to himself, and the Red Dragon, having been deprived of the other kill, wants to be satisfied.

Fans of Interracial Romance - Movies & TV: Hannibal - Rutina ...

This scares Francis because he genuinely cares about Reba, and in an effort to be proactive, to save her from himself,  shows up at Reba’s job and breaks up with her, saying that he’s afraid he might hurt her. Reba, not knowing or even suspecting any of this, (she is a true innocent), is understandably angry, and tells him to get out. It looks bad no matter what he does. From her point of view, they slept together a few  times, and now he suddenly doesn’t want to be with her, having given no indication  that he’s no longer interested.

These are both fine actors, who really sell this scene. I am touched by their conversation, (even though I hate romance movies). I suddenly realize that Francis isn’t as much afraid of hurting her, as he is also afraid of being in love, and being loved. In the flashback sequence with Lecter, he talks about how she makes him feel, and believes himself to be completely unworthy of the level of happiness he feels with her, or her desire for him. Love can be terrifying, especially for someone unused to giving or receiving it, and who has some deep self esteem issues due to child abuse.

I would also like to commend the show for showing an inter-racial relationship as if its no big deal. I like it that the show treats the characters, especially the women, like people, and doesn’t feel the need to change the dialogue to reflect the  character’s race or gender. The same dialogue spoken by a White man in the movie, is the exact same dialogue that’s spoken by a Black man or a White woman on the show. In fact the only major recurring  characters to remain unchanged are Graham, Lecter and Dollarhyde.

Francis watching Reba touch the tiger/the beast in Hannibal 3.10 ...

Dollarhyde calls Lecter, not knowing that their conversation is being overheard. Lecter gives him a quick warning, because that’s the kind of shit he does, and afterwards is duly punished. Alana keeps her word to him, by having all of his amenities taken away, including his toilet seat. He also gets restraints and the famous Lecter mask, first seen in Silence of the Lambs, (but was also seen on Will Graham in the second season).

Will talks to Molly at the hospital and she nominally forgives him for what happened to her. She’s not really blaming him, but yeah, she’s still pretty pissed that the man Will was hunting, tried to kill her, and her son. Will then goes to see Lecter in his new accommodationless accommodations. The story is not over. Normally, after the attack on Will’s family, the films end with the restoration of the status quo, and Dollarhyde dead, but Fuller has a lot more story to tell.

This is one of television’s strengths. It has the ability to tell complicated, interwoven, long form stories that cannot be done in a two hour movie. It has the ability to flesh out characters and plot in a way that’s more difficult on the big screen, (unless the movie is totally dedicated to a specific person or subject.)

Latest Hannibal 3 X 09 GIFs | Gfycat

On TV, the writers can create a tapestry of a story, using multiple threads, and deeper characterization, and I think this is where TV has really gained momentum as a  storytelling medium, especially in the last ten years. TV didn’t always take full advantage of its serial nature. In fact it always tried to do what movies did, but in  less time, as it would try to wrap up it’s mini- stories in the space of 45 or 50 minutes. Fortunately, its starting to break away from this model somewhat, and watching a series requires a certain level of dedication, if a viewer wants to understand the entire story.

None of that however, is going to help the casual viewer to understand whats going on in this show. I love this show, but this level of complexity, always just slightly out of grasp, may be the reason this is the show’s last season. You know there’s more depth to the show then you understand, but its ten o’clock in the evening, your mind is gone, and there’s a lot of urgent whispering that requires you to turn on the captions, so you can find out just what the Hell is being said.

Hannibal Season Three: The Great Red Dragon

Amazon.com: Red Dragon (Hannibal Lecter Series) (9780425228227 ...

We have conculded with the portion of the Hannibal/Will Graham story that began in season one, when they first met over the body of Abigail  Hobbs, and ending with the capture/surrender to the authorities of Hannibal Lecter. This is one of the first episodes that doesn’t have a reference to food or dining in its title.

The story has moved forward three years, to begin  The Red Dragon storyline, from the book of the same name, along with two films, one from 1986, titled Manhunter, starring Brian Cox as Hannibal, and the other directed by Brett Ratner in 2002,  starring Edward Norton. This last part of the season follows the book, and the two films, closely enough, with Will Graham coming out of retirement to catch a serial killer called  The Tooth Fairy, or as he calls himself, The Red Dragon. But there is also a lot of new stuff added as we find out what the other characters have been doing.

Hannibal "The Great Red Dragon" Season 3 Episode 8 | TV Equals

Alana Bloom  has become the Administrator of the asylum which houses Hannibal Lecter. As she says, she is holding all the keys, and has him exactly where where she wants him. She was the surrogate mother to her and Margot’s son,  who is also the heir to  the Verger fortune, and she lives with Margot, who we don’t get to see this season. Jack Crawford is still doing his thing at the Criminal Minds Bureau, and has not remarried after the death of his wife.

Crawford’s old forensic team, (Price and Zeller), have  moved on, achieved promotions, and gone their separate ways, and we don’t learn anything new about him. Chilton stepped down from his position at the hospital to become a true crime author. He wrote a bestselling book that  absolved Hannibal of responsibility for his murders, which Hannibal rebuts in a popular psychiatric journal, just to spite him.

Hannibal: "The Great Red Dragon" Review - IGN

We do get to see Hannibal too, and when we first meet him, he is sharing some Blood Pudding with Chilton as they discuss their past together. Hannibal has entered a state of mind where he has zero fucks to give about being a cannibal, as he cheerfully needles both Chilton and Alana about how he adulterated the foods and beverages he gave them.

Chilton then Hannibal by claiming that he is old news, and that nobody wants to hear about him anymore, because a new star has risen, The Tooth Fairy, so named because he likes to bite his victims. If you’ll remember, that is a callback to a speech, that Alana was giving to Will’s profiling class, in the first season.

Hannibal recap: The Great Red Dragon | EW.com

The greatest change has been to Will Graham’s life. He has moved on from Lecter and married  a woman named Molly, with a son, Wally. The three of them live on a farm with their stray dogs, while Will fixes boat motors, and tries to ignore any news of The Tooth Fairy. After the Tooth Fairy’s latest killing, Jack Crawford  shows up to pull Will back in, desperate for his help in capturing  him. Molly doesn’t like this, but realizes that Crawford will take Will anyway.

Crawford makes the same futile promise to Molly that he made to Alana several years ago, that he would keep Will safe, so he has not learned from that time period, it seems. But Molly relents, actually encouraging Will to leave his family, and go help Crawford. Crawford hands Will a letter from Lecter, who has been writing to him regularly. Wil lreads it and the press clipping of Dollarhyde’s most recent muder ,and burns both in the fireplace.

Hannibal Season 3, Episode 8 Recap: "The Great Red Dragon" | Collider

And I just want to talk about this moment, because one of my biggest pet peeves, in a lot of series and shows, is the depiction of wives and mothers. They are often depicted as clingy and disapproving of their husband’s work, especially in crime and cop stories. The movie version of Molly is exactly like that, but it is a cliche I’ve seen across a lot of media, so its very refreshing to see that Molly understands Will’s talent, knows the good he has done, and knows that he is saving lives, and encourages him to do so. Its very refreshing to see her give her approval here, rather than nag him for leaving her, or endangering himself.

 

We get to do a profiling walk-through with Will, as he tours the home of The Tooth Fairy’s latest victims, the Leeds. I just want to point out one more time that this is not anything like the way actual profiling gets done. Profilers rarely get to visit the actual crime scenes and touch stuff. They normally work from photographs and investigative reports.

I find it difficult to believe that Will can do any profiling since he never turns on any lights in the house. For some reason, Hollywood has decided that profiling needs to dramatized by having it be done in darkened rooms, with flashlights, since this is the exact approach that was used in the movie.

Behold the Great Red Dragon! : “Hannibal” Season 3, Episode 8 ...

Price and Zeller return after a long hiatus from the series. Price’s character is now an agent, and Graham, Zeller, and Price  pick up their dynamic right where they left off in their forensic investigation of the Leeds’ homicide. Price and Zeller had long gotten used to Graham’s interruptions of their analysis with insights into the killer’s mind.

Unlike the police procedural versions of the  first and second season, we spend a not inconsiderable amount of time in the presence of The Tooth Fairy, aka The Red Dragon, aka Francis Dollarhyde. Fuller doesn’t dwell on showing Francis committing his crimes, focusing instead on Francis’ mental illness, motivations, and private life. The end result is not the  sensationalism of the murders, but the mindset of the perpetrator, resulting in the profile of a man who, as Will Graham says, with his usual level of empathy, later in the season, was not a freak, so much as a man with a freak on his back.

SEASON 3 EPISODE 8: "THE GREAT RED DRAGON"Francis Dolarhyde's ...

 

We are introduced to Francis, and I’m assuming this scene is set sometime around, or just before, the time that Hannibal was captured,  as Francis sits in the cafeteria at his job, contemplating an issue of Time magazine, in which there is an article about Blake’s painting of The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun. He is so enamored of the painting that he gets one of the paintings tattooed on his back. He also has a great deal of admiration for Hannibal  Lecter, and  like a lot of serial killers in movies, has a murder scrapbook filled with press clippings of his and Hannibal’s murders.

As we will discuss in a later post, the Red Dragon painting is actually a series of watercolor paintings, based on Blake’s images from the Biblical Book of Revelations. This has the effect of bringing a religious element into the discussion of this season.

francis 'the great red dragon' dolarhyde | Tumblr

 

The reason we know this scene happened several years ago, is that it takes about that long for someone to get the kind of full body tattoo, that’s displayed on Francis’ back, at the end of this scene. Tattoos of that size, with such photo realistic detail, are often called “Full Suit” or “Body Suit” tattoos, and can take upwards of a 100 hours to finish, especially if the recipient has never had experience with tattoos before.

Francis then has a set of specially made dentures that are copies of his grandmother’s dentures. In the book, he simply used his grandmother’s old dentures, and they were ill fitting. This is definitely  giving me some Psycho/Norman Bates vibes. According to the book, (and only shown in some of the episodes), his grandmother was emotionally and physically abusive, and one could argue, she was sexually abusive as well, as she regularly threatened his manhood, for urinating in bed. We learn this during a scene where Francis hallucinates in her voice, which is also a callback to the movie Psycho, with Norman’s mother berating him in a voiceover. All of this has to be put in the perspective of serial killing, as two of the markers for it is childhood abuse, and bedwetting.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_killer#Development

After Will does his walkthrough of the crime scene, he feels he’s not in the correct mindset to be able to solve the crime. He thinks he needs Lecter to help him get there, and tells Crawford he’s going to see him at the Hospital. Crawford agrees.

At the end of the episode is  Hannibal’s  long hoped for reunion with the man Freddy Lounds referred to as his Murder-Husband. This too is a callback to the last episode of the first season, when Hannibal approached Will’s cell, after he was falsely arrested for the murder of Abigail Hobbs, as the same melancholy music plays in the background.

Hugh Dancy Hints To When 'Hannibal' Could Return

ehl Irs GIF | Gfycat

 

Hannibal Season Three: Dolce

I know its been a while since I posted a Hannibal review. I promise I’m not neglecting what I’d said I’d do with this show, which was do in depth reviews of all three seasons, which are currently available to stream on Amazon Prime. Here’s my review of Dolce, which is episode six of season three.

In the sixth episode of this season, we see the long awaited reunion between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham, and naturally, by the end of the episode, the two of them try to kill each other, because that’s just  how  they are.

Jack Crawford and Will Graham meet at Pazzi’s gruesome murder scene for the first time since last season. It turns out that this was always the plan between the two of them. We had been led to believe that Will had simply run off to be with Hannibal, but it turns out, that Will went to Europe to find him, while Jack could follow later, and by a different route, so that the two of them would not appear to be in tandem. At their meeting, Will asks Jack why he didn’t kill Hannibal, and Jack says he was saving him for Will.

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Throughout this entire series, Will has been a hound caught between two masters. Earlier in season one, Hannibal referred to Will as Jack Crawford’s  hound, and this is an apt description, because Will has the instincts of one, Lecter and Jack sent him out to do their bidding, and often fought over their possession of him. At one point Jack just comes right out and asks if Will is his man, or is he Hannibal’s, and Will had to think about that for a minute, as he neatly sidestepped that question.

When viewed from one angle, Will’s actions make no sense, but if you take into account that Jack Crawford and Hannibal represent opposing sides of who he is, and what he wants: stability, justice, and order, or mayhem, lawlessness, and the freedom to do what he will, then it is understandable why Will is torn. If Lecter is coded as a satanic figure, then Jack is God, or at least Will’s better angel, (in fact, Jack says as much to Lecter, in a later episode), and naturally, Lecter exists in opposition to all that Jack represents. Does Will want to serve, or be served? Hannibal’s power, and ability to flout authority, is intoxicating to a part of Will’s personality, and he seems to constantly be at war, not just with Hannibal, but that part of himself.

Hannibal is severely injured after his fight with Jack Crawford, and limps his way back to his quarters, where Bedelia has already crafted an excuse for her dalliance with him in Rome. She tells him she is preparing for his eventual capture, and wonders if he is drawing his enemies to him. If he, in fact, wants to be caught. One of the biggest movie tropes about serial killers is that they secretly want to be caught, because if they don’t, how can they have their egos fed by becoming famous? How can they be known if no one knows who they are?

 

In the movie Seven, the killer turns himself in to the police at the end of the movie, for this exact reason. How are people to know his grand plan and admire it, if he doesn’t get caught. There is a real life basis for this common movie trope. For example,  mass killers often leave manifestos for why they kill, because they want to be known and admired, and on occasion a serial killer has tried to insinuate themselves  into their own investigation, by contacting the detectives involved, as in the Son of Sam investigation. But largely, the idea that serial killers want to be caught, is a myth.

Gillian Anderson is excellent this episode as Bedelia. Her performance is just one of the highlights. Up to now, she has appeared to be Hannibal’s prisoner, she is with him because of the constant underlying threat that he will kill her. In a sense she is keeping her enemy close to her, because its better for her to know exactly where he is than to be free, and not know where he is, or what he’s doing, which is an issue that will come into play later in the season, between Will and Hannibal.

But Bedelia is going to need to explain to the authorities why she stayed with him, She comes up with the excuse that she was out of her mind, with the same drug cocktail Hannibal used to subdue Miriam Lass, (in season 2), so she genuinely believed herself to be Lydia Fell, the wife of the man Hannibal is impersonating, Norman Fell. Hannibal admires her cleverness, and the two of them agree to support each other’s stories.

When Hannibal leaves, Bedelia shoots up her special cocktail, and is found first by Chiyo. Bedelia seems to be one of those people who develops a semi-adversarial relationship, with everyone she meets, and Chiyoh is no exception. Probably because Bedelia is one of those characters that seemingly every TV show must have, that person who speaks uncomfortable truths to the other characters.

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Then Will and Jack encounter Bedelia, in Hannibal’s apartments, and she already has her answers ready. Jack and Will are not buying any of her story, but I can’t tell if the police inspector does. There’s definitely some kind of “frission”, or attraction, going on between the two of them. One of the more amusing scenes is watching Bedelia’s interaction with  Jack and Will. Gillian Anderson, always brings her A game to every project, she looks like she’s having a helluva lot of fun, and that entire scene is hilarious to watch, as Bedelia drunkenly slurs her way through the initial interview, and its one of the few scenes of genuine humor, in the series.

Hannibal doesn’t leave Rome. Instead he makes his way to the Uffizzi Gallery, to view Boticelli’s Primavera, which I talked about in my review of the second episode of the season, titled Primavera. For some reason he is obsessed with this panting. He had a arranged one of his murders to resemble the painting, many years ago, before he left Italy. Here we see him drawing another representation of the painting but replacing the faces of the angel, Zephpyrus, and the nymph Chloris, with the faces of Will Graham, and Bedelia, his two closest “associates”.

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Will’s unexpected presence is a source of unmitigated happiness to Hannibal, and he almost loses his chill, telling Will, in a somewhat poetic manner, how much he missed him, and how overjoyed he is to see him again, (for Hannibal, this is practically gushing), even though he had the chance to see him when the two of them were running around in the catacombs, in an earlier episode, but admittedly that was before Will, supposedly,  forgave him. The two of them leave the Gallery together, and Will, feeling some type of way again, pulls out a knife and tries to stab Hannibal. I’m unsure if he was trying to incapacitate him, to capture him, or if the stabbing was revenge for Hannibal stabbing him last season, or just general assholery on Will’s part. Chiyo, sitting on a nearby roof, shoots Will through the shoulder. Since she only kills under the most dire of circumstances, as she did in Lithuania, she would not have killed Will, but she would not allow him to harm Hannibal, either.

Hannibal is, naturally, completely unperturbed by Will trying to kill him, because what’s a little homicide among friends?. He takes Will back to some rented rooms, and minsters to his woulds, before deciding (and I don’t know if this is revenge for Will trying to kill him, or general asssholery on his part), to eat Will’s brain. Notice how he takes the opportunity ,while dressing Will’s wounds, to give him a warm hug, since Will is in far too much pain to fight back, or try to stab him again.

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Now, let’s be clear here, Hannibal does love Will, but he still wants to eat him.  He wants to be with Will, but Will is still dangerous to him. One of the many philosophies behind human cannibalism (outside of desperation) is the idea that eating someone is a way of keeping that person close, so that they can never leave. This was the motivation behind the serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. Either that, or he believes he will gain Will’s power and energy through consumption. Normally Hannibal’s reasons for eating others is because he has nothing but contempt for them, so treats them like food.

In the meantime, the police have allowed Jack Crawford to leave, urging him to go back to America, which, of course, Jack doesn’t do. How he manages to find Will and Hannibal is carefully not mentioned, but in a funny moment he encounters Chiyo in the elevator of Hannibal’s building. She either knows who he is, or senses he is a cop, or is just generally cagey, but she manages to avoid his, too close,  attention, although they each sneak suspicious glances at the other.

This entire time we keep switching back and forth between Italy and America where Mason, Alana, and Margot, have been plotting to capture Hannibal, so that Mason can cook and eat him. Alana’s and Margot’s relationship is revealed in this episode, along with Mason’s plans to have a Verger baby with his sister, to be carried by Alana.

We’ll talk more about that particular trio in the next post.

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Jack makes his way to Hannibal’s rented apartments, (I’m unclear how he found them, but he was following Will, at the time). Jack gets there, not just in time to watch Hannibal begin his meal of Will Graham, but to be ambushed by Hannibal,  taken prisoner, and made to watch the ordeal, which he vehemently protests, to no avail. Will’s face gets attacked a to this season, for some reason. I think somewhere in there is a statement about the actors prettiness. He is  more attractive than previous actors who played Will Graham, who looked a little more  like Will’s  working class roots.

Hannibal’s feast is interrupted by the Florentine police, who found the apartment by following Jack, in the hope that Jack (and Will) would lead them to Hannibal, having been suspicious of Jack’s motivations, for visiting their city, right from the beginning. They are still in the employ of Mason Verger actually, and they kidnap Will and Hannibal, and send them to the Verger’s Muskrat Farm, for the reward money. They attempt to kill Jack, but Chiyoh, hiding out on a nearby rooftop, assassinates them. Jack is freed by Chiyoh, after arguing that he just wants to go home, and in exchange for telling her where Will and Lecter were taken.Can I just add that Chiyoh is a total bad ass who is not to be trifled with, and that she really should have just had her own show?

Will and Lecter are taken to Muskrat Farm, and trussed like prized birds, while Mason gloats over his victory.

One of the things we haven’t talked about much in the series is the subject of Classism. Particularly the class differences between Will and Hannibal, and Hannibal and everyone else. Its especially important considering Hannibal’s philosophy about  the people he kills, and his attitude towards Will. One of Hannibal’s guiding philosophies is to “Eat the Rude.” so we get lots of instances where Hannibal kills and consumes people he believes were disrespectful to him. And not just to him, he kills and eats one of Abigail Hobbes friends, after seeing her be rude to her own mother.

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I am a firm believer that at least part of Hannibal’s motivations for killing and consuming his victims is because of class prejudice. Hannibal’s family was once Lithuanian nobility, and while it may not be a major factor, I certainly think it  informs his feeling of entitlement to respect. he doesn’t feel he needs to earn respect. He thinks he should be given respect by dint of having been born, and all beings should recognize his inherent superiority. When looked at from this standpoint, it is unsurprising that Hannibal would kill (and even eat) those he considered less than, because that is entirely in keeping, with the proletariat philosophy, that the wealthy are parasites, who prey on society.

Next episode however, the tables have been turned, as Hannibal is the one about to be eaten. Mason Verger has Hannibal exactly where he wants him, to exact his revenge for what Hannibal did to him, over a year ago. Unfortunately he has captured Will as well, and we’ll find out just how far Hannibal is willing to go to save them both from an ironic fate.

 

Movies Normalize the Harming of Black Bodies

Questioning Authorial Intent

I think it’s time we started discussing a writer’s intention in creating marginalized characters. It doesn’t particularly matter to me whether its done consciously or unconsciously, but we need to speak about how writers treat their characters of color, LGBTQ characters, and female characters.

The TV and movie industries have always been controlled primarily by white male writers. They write  women characters  according to what they think women are actually like, or wish they were and we have to be willing to admit that there are more than a few writers out there who fantasize about how they would like to treat women, and realize their fantasies through the characters they create. It’s also an industry made up of a lot of straight men, who have always been prone to homophobia, and who have  written gay characters the way they see them, or wanted them to be seen. And yes, in some cases they fantasize about these characters being  punished for being who they are. (This is something that has been well documented about women, and  Gay characters in movies. See: “The Celluloid Closet”, and documentaries on female characters in slasher films.)

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We have all become aware  of the unnecessary rape scenes of female characters, and the Kill Your Gays Trope, where the writers punish and kill women  for being  sexually forward, and the gay characters who lead tragic lives, only to die horribly. The same dynamic  seems to be at work for Black characters too, and the reason why may be the unconscious, (or hell, sometimes very conscious), racial resentment of White writers, who feel forced to include these characters in their work.

I’m not advocating that no Black characters ever be punished or killed, but I am questioning the intentions of the writers who do this, and I wonder if, like the OP above, if it’s resentment at having to include characters of color. More and more often, White writers are being called on to be inclusive beyond white, straight, able bodied, men, and some of them might feel some type of way about that.

Hollywood and TV have a long history of depicting White men bullying, torturing, and gunning down “the other”.  Is it any wonder that it is primarily White men who are the main perpetrators of mass acts of violence against women, (The Ecole Polytechnique Massacre) , gay and transgender, (The Pulse Nightclub Shooting), Blacks, (Charleston Church Shooting), Jews (The Synagogue Shooting), Muslims, (Christchurch),  and others too numerous to mention. (This is not including regular acts of police brutality against people of color, and hate crimes against immigrants, and Jewish people.)

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What is new in Pop culture is an influx of Black characters being written by white writers, who think they’re being inclusive, but  who have not done their due diligence on racial issues, or Black culture. Sometimes, I’m seeing characters of color get bullied, tortured, punished, or killed in the narrative by White characters, some of whom are meant to be heroes, and I’m starting to believe that White characters  are stand ins for the writer’s own racial resentment. These characters get to do the kinds of things to Black characters that the writers, whether consciously or not, would like to do themselves, which is sometimes telling off, or hurting, or punishing “The Other”.

I have written before about how Black characters have been traditionally created in the white imagination, often associated with crime, murder, and sexual brutality, (That’s about how racial ideas in the real world get reflected in pop culture). I’m now talking about a different iteration of this theme, and I’m going to use the MCU  as an example, because this is where I first noticed it.

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The series The Defenders, is an amalgamation of the other Netflix series in the MCU,  Luke Cage, Daredevil, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones, (all of which have since been canceled). In the one season of The Defenders, there are approximately two Black men, one of whom is a villain. There’s a scene where he is being tortured by Daredevil and Iron Fist, while the other team members stand around and debate this tactic. What you have is a team of superheroes torturing a Black man for information, and this is being shown as okay, even though real world specialists on this issue, have clearly stated that torture does not work as a tactic for getting information.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/we-rsquo-ve-known-for-400-years-that-torture-doesn-rsquo-t-work/

The prevalence of torture, committed by ostensibly good guys, in movies and TV shows, also accounts for the dramatic rise in  the public’s belief in torture as a real world tactic that  Americans should use in the fight against anyone who is considered “a bad guy”. Since Black men are stereotypically  associated with crime…well, you see where this is going.

 

And this isn’t limited to The Defenders, because Jessica Jones contains the scene of the unceremonious killing of the only  Black woman in the show, and Jessica’s disregard for the life of the only other Black character on the show has been duly  noted.  The Punisher, Iron Fist, and Daredevil are all known for showing their White protagonists beating up, torturing,  and killing whole squads of men of color. I mentioned, in a previous post, how Iron Fist had a nasty problem with beating up young Black men, without asking questions first. Even Spiderman tries to get in on the action by trying to intimidate a Black man he needs information from. (That he fails to intimidate him isn’t the point. The point is that he tried it, and that that was his first, go-to, move.) For the record, none of these supposedly heroic characters limit themselves to torturing only Black men. All men of color are fair game, as evidenced by the sheer number of Asian bodies Daredevil mows down, in any season.

Image result for captain America Winter Soldier gifs/sitwell

Many of the MCU movies have such moments. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, you have another man of color being tortured for information by Captain America,  Black Widow, and Falcon. In Captain America Civil War you have a scene where Rhodey, Tony’s Black sidekick is injured by Vision, but Tony punishes Falcon,  for an incident that he was not responsible for. In Iron Man 3, Tony threatens the man he thinks is the Mandarin, by brandishing a gun at him to get information. To be absolutely honest, heroic characters of any race often get in on the torture of villains in the MCU. In the movie Black Panther, a movie written by a Black man, there are scenes of T’Challa beating up a villain  for information.

Primarily, this is about the use of torture by any “superhero “, towards men of color. These characters are all still  written by white men, and all these supposedly “good people”  end up harming or torturing men of color. (To be absolutely fair “good guys’ torturing “bad guys” is a problem across most, if not all, superhero comic books, but in the movies, these bad guys have a tendency to be men of color.)

https://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2018/04/racist-moments-in-comic-book-history/

We know racism is real. That is not a matter for debate. We also know that people, in the fandoms surrounding these movies, regularly engage in racist thoughts and actions regarding characters of color, and show a great deal of resentment and hatred for them. What I am questioning here is the idea that, somehow, writers of  Fantasy  TV and movies are somehow exempt from racial resentment because …well, they’re creators, I guess.

And just because the hero committing the torture is Black, that does not make the situation exempt from this criticism, as these are Black characters as interpreted through the lens of  White writers. White writers create these characters, making them say and do whatever they want, including voice their own racial resentments, as what happened with Nick Spencer’s  version of Falcon as Captain America. Nick Spencer wrote a parody version of SJWs, and later Sam Wilson, who had been written as a voice of reason, apologized to Steve Rogers for ever having been like them. A Black man apologizes to a White man for ever having been a passionate activist!

https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/captain-america-sam-wilson-nick-spencer-controversy/

Over and over again, White audiences (which this sort entertainment is primarily written for) are subjected to the concept that its okay for good (ie. White) men to beat up on, and/or torture, Black men.  Vigilantism. Is it any wonder that there’s is so little  empathy for Black characters in movies and TV, (The Racial Empathy Gap), or that White people are quick to make excuses for White men’s violent aggression against Black men.

The most recent case of real life vigilantism was when Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, and it was Trayvon who was painted as a villain who deserved to be shot by the innocent Zimmerman, who was just trying to protect his neighborhood. This is how such vigilantism plays out in the real world. How is what happened to Trayvon different from a scene in Iron Fist or Daredevil, which are shows about fine upstanding White men, who just want to protect their neighborhoods.

White America has always told such stories, which often resulted in the beatings and lynchings of Black Americans, when White men take it upon themselves to protect against Black criminality. Two of the overwhelming messages in Pop culture, (books, movies, and TV shows), for decades, is that vigilantism is a perfectly acceptable response to criminality, and that Black men are  the criminals, who deserve whatever violence is meted out to them by White men.

There is a connection between the normalization of brutality against marginalized bodies onscreen, and White male brutality agaonst “the other” in the real world. One of these is a reflection of the other, but which of these, remains the question. And what is served by showing audiences image after image of White heroes willing to do their worst to marginalized others?

Hannibal Season Three: Contorno (5)

Yes, I’m still writing these. I’m not finished. We are  coming up on the initial episodes of the third season, that I wrote reviews for, which were part of the Red Dragon arc. I’m going to rewrite those reviews in light of my new viewpoints.

When the season first aired, I wasn’t particularly interested in the first half. Like a lot of people, I stopped watching after the second season, and didn’t pick up the show again until the middle of season three, when the Red Dragon arc began. I missed all the stuff about Chiyoh, how Hannibal left Bedelia, and how Lecter was captured by Mason Verger, which in hindsight, was probably the most dramatic part of the season, as it reunites him with two of the people he most wronged last season, Alana and Mason Verger. That may have been the reason why some of the last part of the season was baffling to me. But I’m about to go through the process of re-reading those reviews, and see if my current thoughts line up with what I said back then.

 

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This episode begins with three separate threads, and ends with all those threads converging on Hannibal’s location. This starts out as one of those quiet episodes that you don’t think will have much relevance and is merely setup for the next, after all Contorno means side dish. But side dishes can be very filling too, and this was a satisfying episode.

Will Graham has left Lithuania with Chiyo in tow, both of them headed to Florence by train, where Hannibal is holed up with Bedelia. Chiyo and Will discuss what they will do when they finally reach Florence. Will says something that alarms Chiyo, and she pushes him off the train. She has  appointed herself to be Hannibal’s protector, since she no longer guards his prisoner, and doesn’t seem to bear him any ill will for having put her in such a position. I do remember being initially confused as to why Will kept trying to kill Hannibal, even after he supposedly forgave him for killing Abigail. Chiyoh’s understanding of Will is very direct. She states that Will is afraid he will become like Hannibal, which means, of course, that Chiyoh knows exactly what Hannibal is, and seemingly doesn’t mind.

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Chiyoh seems utterly devoted to Lecter, which is something I have a problem with because you have this submissive Asian woman, this stereotype, following around, and protecting, a White male serial killer. Certainly she is deadly, but she is so passive in her interactions that she almost seems like she’s asleep. The most active thing she does is killing, so maybe she’s as much like Hannibal as Will , and that’s the reason she understands Will so well. I do wish the series had played that up more than it did, and established her as someone who, like Will, is trying hard to resist becoming like Hannibal, because this is not something made explicitly clear, and its also something which is at odds with how we are first introduced to her. When we first met her ,she had managed to resist killing Hannibal’s prisoner for years, but once Will sets her free by killing the prisoner himself, she is shooting people left and right, on Hannibal’s behalf.

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Jack Crawford makes his way to Florence as well, where he releases his wife’s ashes into the river, and  relinquishes his wedding ring. Its as if, in the hunt for Hannibal, he is divesting himself of everything that makes him Jack Crawford. Jack is a straigt up “manhunter” now, with no distractions, and he is on the path of vengeance, something that wouldn’t be condoned in polite society, (or by his late wife), and he doesn’t want any vestiges of his old life, or the man he used to be, to interfere in that mission. He meets Reinaldo Pazzi, who tries to talk him into arresting Hannibal with him, but Jack demurs. He doesn’t want Hannibal arrested. He wants him dead.

Hannibal, heeding Bedelia’s warning that he is being hunted, is waiting for all these people to arrive, so he can get all this killing done. He knows Pazzi, Jack, and Will, are closing in on him.  Of the three men, Will is the one of which he is least certain, but then Will has always been a wild card for Hannibal, and difficult for him to predict his actions. Will could just as easily come into the situation and help him, as try to kill him.

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Alana Bloom proves to the audience why she is who she is, as she figures out where Hannibal is, using “psychology”. She knows Hannibal  better than most, and uses her intimate knowledge of his tastes and habits to determine that he is in Florence, tracking him through Bedelia’s purchases of fine goods. In the meantime, it appears that Bedelia is trying to get caught, or get help ,or something. She makes a purchase, and then, wearing a very distinctive outfit, goes to the train station, so she can be caught on the station’s cameras. She wants someone, somewhere, to notice her. She is either asking for help, or concocting an alibi.

Mason Verger, having discovered where Hannibal lays his hat, puts out a bounty on him, which Pazzi accepts. Its illegal for a  member of law enforcement to take money in exchange for an arrest, (even in Italy), so Pazzi doesn’t inform any of his colleagues that he has found the Beast of Florence. Mason gives Pazzi instructions on how to collect the bounty. He must provide a fingerprint as proof that its Hannibal, and Pazzi meets with Hannibal to trick him into giving one. Hannibal kills Pazzi by gutting him and stringing him up outside a window, the way one of Pazzi’s ancestors was killed during the Medici era.

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This particular scene is from the sequel to Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, in which Clarice Starling has tracked Hannibal to Italy attempting to capture him. In fact, some of the dialogue between Chiyoh and Will Graham,  is taken directly from that book. There are also several parallels, in the next two episodes, of scenes from the book, only with Will Graham and Jack in place of  Starling.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pazzi_conspiracy

Most of the conspirators were soon caught and summarily executed; five, including Francesco de’ Pazzi and Salviati, were hanged from the windows of the Palazzo della Signoria.[2]:140 Jacopo de’ Pazzi, head of the family, escaped from Florence but was caught and brought back. He was tortured, then hanged from the Palazzo della Signoria next to the decomposing corpse of Salviati. 

Pazzi is the descendant of one of the most notorious Italian families of the Renaissance. His ancestor, Francesco de’ Pazzi, was hanged during something called The Pazzi Conspiracy, in which a plot was contrived by several individuals, to assassinate Lorenzo and Giuliano de Medici. There are parallels to this story of people converging  to assassinate Hannibal, and there will be parallels to this history later in the series, as Jack, Will, Alana, and Frederick Chilton come together to take out both  Hannibal Lecter and The Red Dragon.

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Hannibal’s killing of Pazzi is interrupted by Jack Crawford, who followed Pazzi to their meeting, and there is a continuation of that fight that Jack lost in season two. Only this time, Hannibal gets his ass kicked, because Jack came prepared to fight dirty, and gives Hannibal no quarter. This is the first time we’ve really seen Hannibal  fighting for his life and on the defensive like this.. All the other times when we had seen him in danger, it was usually because of a stealth attack. Hannibal barely survives by using the disemboweled body of Pazzi to break his fall out of a window. Thoroughly chastened, Hannibal limps off to lick his wounds. He knows its just a matter of time before he gets caught, and that all he’s doing is postponing the inevitable, but he is determined to go down fighting.

Hannibal Season Three: Apertivo

Apertivo, is  a beverage, usually wine,  that’s consumed before eating a meal, to clear the palette, and stimulate the appetite. This episode is  prelude to the  meal to come that is season three.

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In this episode, there’s not a lot of plot, but there is a lot of maneuvering, as the various players state their goals, and move themselves into position to resume the chase for Hannibal Lecter, who is living in exile in Florence, with Bedelia Du Maurier. Its not that nothing of consequence occurs during this episode, but we’ve spent the first three episodes of the season finding out where Hannibal and Will are, and what they’ve been doing, and this is our chance to find out who survived the Red Dinner, and  see what they have been doing since that night.

In a flashback, we see Crawford in the hospital next to his wife, Bella, who is dying of cancer. Just before she dies, she admonishes him for nearly getting killed, saying that unlike her he can stop what’s killing him, his obsession with the Chesapeake Ripper.Will Graham has gone home, back to fixing boat motors. The most startling change in the aftermath of The Red Dinner however, is Alana Bloom, who has become Mason Verger’s new therapist. Frederick Chilton encounters Alana when he visits Mason in an attempt to scheme the capture of Hannibal, but Mason rejects him, in favor of hiring  Alana. We start with Chilton and Mason Verger in a face off, as Mason takes off his mask, and Chilton removes his makeup, both of them showing off  facial scars received as a result of Lecter’s machinations.

You can see that Alana has undergone some radical emotional change, since her last encounter with Hannibal, when she was pushed out of a window by Abigail. Alana was as significantly changed by the events of that night as much as Will,  and Hannibal (who of course claims that he was not.) Alana is on a mission of revenge, but she goes about it in such a subtle manner that it’s difficult to tell what her plans are exactly, until she comes right out and states to Mason Verger that she is there to offer her services in capturing Hannibal. Mason is his usual vile self, making sexual jokes and asides to her, although I think he says these things to see how she will react to them. When she shows no reaction, (Alana has far more pressing concerns than Mason’s bullshit), we don’t see him talk that way to her again.

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This is also when Alana first meets Margot Verger, and you can immediately see that Margot is smitten  by her. Until now, we’ve been given no idea that Alana might be bisexual. Later, we see that the two of them have developed a romance, and are  working together to defeat Mason. The reason I find Alana so fascinating is that her survival of that night at Hannibal’s has really scarred her on an emotional level, to the point where her entire demeanor has changed, and she seems entirely unlike the woman we met in the first season.

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Alana has hardened. She is cool, blunt, and  pragmatic. She certainly seems less warm and motherly than she was three years ago. She is more calculating. This isn’t just the trauma of  having been thrown from a window by Hannibal’s protege. She is reacting to the final loss of Abigail ,a young woman she couldn’t save, the shame and guilt at not having listened to Will’s warning about getting close to Lecter, and whatever shame and guilt she felt as a result of having fallen for Lecter’s ruse that he loved her, and  the fact that he had been feeding her the bodies of his victims.

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Alana also dresses differently from the first and second seasons. Where before she wore pretty feminine wrap dresses, she now wears boldly patterned pants suits, with high collared coats and jackets, as an expression of power. In fact, she dresses the way Margot used to dress. What’s interesting is that Margot begins to dress in a more relaxed and casual manner than when we first met her, and I think it’s because her relationship with Alana has opened her  in a way she couldn’t express before. Remember when we first met Margot she wore a very severe wardrobe with high collars in stark colors, as a kind of armor against her brother.  In other words, Alana is good for her.

 

As usual though, no matter how progressive  male  showrunners believe themselves to be, they almost always fall into some of the same traps regarding female characters, by neglecting relationships between women on their shows. Often there’s just a lone female character, and when there’s more than one, the women are often in adversarial relationships with each other. This is starting to change as shows begin to hire more women writers and showrunners. I’m glad to see the show has moved away from that dynamic in the third season. We only just met Margot halfway through season two,  so don’t know enough about her other than she is a woman who knows what she wants, and has no problem making it known, and she makes it clear ,she wants Alana.

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In flashback we see Crawford visit Will Graham at his home and ask Will why he contacted Lecter to warn him that the police were coming that night. Will Confesses that he did it because Hannibal was his friend, and that he wanted to leave with him, but couldn’t. It is interesting that he and Hannibal, as far apart as they are, are emotionally sitting in the same place, regretting their actions towards each other, and missing one another terribly while  both of them are engaged in a semi-contentious relationship with a close friend.

Chilton, still scheming, goes to Crawford to ask for his help in capturing Lecter, after his rejection by Mason. Crawford tell him that he is officially out of the business of  chasing Hannibal. He says he has had enough and only wants to tend to his wife in her last days. We later find out that this is a lie, and that he has hatched a plan for Will to lure Hannibal out of hiding, so they can kill him. Or rather say, he has decided to follow Will to Hannibal. Chilton has come to the party too late, because all the key players have already formed their personal Hannibal Recapture teams.

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Eventually, Bella dies, and Crawford is enraged to find that Hannibal has sent him a condolence card. Will Graham attends the funeral and Crawford tries to talk him out of the plan to capture Hannibal. He warns Will that he will probably be killed. But Will is determined (for a number of reasons) and sets out on a boat to Florence. How does he know where Hannibal is? He simply knows Hannibal. Both Chilton and Alana are aware that Will can lead them to Lecter, but it is only Chilton who mentions this to Jack ,who follows Will to Europe. Alana elects to find out on her own, rather than attempt talking to Will again, as the last time they spoke, he rejected her.

Essentially this episode is about a bunch of horribly scarred and vengeful people teaming up to hunt down the man who did this to them before he skipped town. Its almost as if they had learned nothing from their previous inability to capture Hannibal. Later, these same scheming tactics will be in used at the tail end of the season in an attempt to not only capture the Red Dragon, but destroy Hannibal Lecter, once and for all.

Hannibal Season Three: Ep. 2 – Primavera

In the last episode, we got caught up with Hannibal’s activities since the night of the Red Dinner. In this episode, we find out what Will Graham has been doing, as one of the survivors of that night.

All throughout season two, we’ve been getting strong “hints and allegations” that Hannibal and Will have an intense (and dangerous) attraction to each other. This season the subtext has definitely become text, as it’s flat-out stated by both of them, what feelings they have for each other, and exactly how far into the abyss Will Graham fell, in his efforts to bring Hannibal to justice. At the beginning of this season, Will sets out to find and re-engage with Hannibal again, seemingly not having learned his lesson from that night.

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We open almost immediately after the Red Dinner, with Will in the hospital recovering from his wounds, reliving the events of that night, and  imagining that Abigail has survived. Actually this imagining of her isn’t any different from his previous thoughts about Abigail. Will has an idealized view of Abigail, as the perfect daughter and companion, an image that Hannibal well knew, and used against him. In the real world,  he and Abigail weren’t  that close, and she certainly didn’t feel about him the way he felt about her, although since this Abigail argues with, and castigates him for his actions last season, this is probably a much truer version of her than we’ve seen from Will before.

This is something a lot of fans of the show forget. That Will and Abigail didn’t interact that much in the real world, beyond season one, and on those occasions when they were together, she was just as unforthcoming, duplicitous, and manipulative with Will, as she was with everyone else, so I was immediately suspect of this image of her. And the show  plays coy with the idea that she survived that night, until near the end of the episode.

One of the  clues, that maybe she didn’t survive, is that Abigail asks Will questions about things she couldn’t possibly know about, unless Hannibal discussed these things with her, and  I don’t believe he did. Also notice that Abigail wears the same hunting jacket that Will has imagined her wearing before, but in a dried blood color,  we’ve never seen. Her body language, and attitude, are the same as when he imagined talking with her, when he was in prison last season.

So keep in mind that Abigail did not survive that night, and Will’s discussions with her, are just Will castigating himself for being stupid.

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Will also has an image of the stag, for the last time, as it dies on Hannibal’s kitchen floor.  The Stag doesn’t represent Hannibal, (as he knows Hannibal isn’t dead), and when Will is hunting for Hannibal in Europe, the Stag  is reborn. There has been a lot of discussion about what the Stag means, but my theory is that this is an avatar of  Will. This isn’t the RavenStag, which is an avatar of Hannibal the Killer. This is just The Stag that Will imagines whenever the darker side of his nature begins to assert itself.

Will  has an image of himself, and Abigail, drowning in a lake of blood. I’ve written before, that images of drowning represent  someone’s belief that they have gotten in over the heads, or into a situation that has overwhelmed them, or that they can’t control. Bedelia has such dreams in the last episode. These dreams of drowning are Will’s though, and are tied to the knowledge that he totally underestimated Hannibal’s will to survive, and his spiteful nature.

Will’s hallucinations and images are jumbled with Hannibal’s images of the breaking teacup, that reverses itself, and becomes un-shattered. I think  this represents Will, and the reversal of its breakage represents the turning back of time, and the resurrection of their previous relationship, which is something Hannibal deeply misses, even in his anger at Will’s betrayal. It’s something that Will longs for too, as he deeply regrets the decisions he made leading up to the night Abigail died. So both men are in the same place emotionally, saddened. missing each other, and regretting what they did to each other.

Will sets out in his boat to look for Hannibal in Europe, based on conversations had during Will’s therapy sessions. On arrival, eight months later, still accompanied by the ghost of Abigail, he goes to the Norman Chapel in Palermo, Italy that Hannibal mentioned, and finds a murder investigation in progress.

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The Norman Chapel  is an actual place, which is also part of Hannibal’s Memory Palace. It’s  real, although, the skeleton on the floor isn’t actually there. That was placed in post-production by Fuller, and i think it indicates indicates Hannibal’s placation to Will. It is an image of Hannibal’s forgiveness, or perhaps, he is praying to Will for forgiveness..



One of the images of Hannibal’s forgiveness is the Vetruvian Man origami from the first episode, and the mutilation sculpture of Dimmond’s body by Hannibal. He folded Dimmond’s body into the shape of a heart, pierced it with upside down swords, and placed it in the Chapel’s foyer. Will doesn’t actually get to see the body, though. He is met at the Chapel by a Rinaldo Pazzi, a detective in the city, who has been reading of Will’s attempts to capture The Chesapeake Ripper. Pazzi shows WIll a photograph of the crime scene, and believes it is linked to Will’s arrival in the city.

Image result for the body heart/hannibals

Pazzi believes that Dimmond was killed by a serial killer that he calls Il Mostro, who managed to escape capture many years ago, by framing another man for his murders. He believes Il mostro, and The Chesapeake Ripper, are one and  the same, and that Il Mostro left Dimmond’s body as a message for Will, which it is. After learning from Bedelia that Will is still alive, and has traveled to Italy to find him, Will is much on his mind. Even if Hannibal may not recognize his feelings as a form of love, Bedelia does. (I mentioned in season one, that every show needs a truth-teller, a person who sees things more clearly than the main character/s around whom the story revolves. Bedelia’s role is to say what the outsider (us, the viewer) has observed.)

https://www.keen.com/articles/tarot/3-of-swords-tarot-card

Pazzi recalls the case that set him against Il Mostro. He found the bodies of two people designed to emulate the 1482 painting, La Primavera by Boticelli, which hangs in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Primavera or Allegory of Spring by Sandro Botticelli

http://www.uffizi.org/artworks/la-primavera-allegory-of-spring-by-sandro-botticelli/

Hannibal was obsessed with the painting. Sitting for hours, and drawing the painting over and over, and his last murder in Italy was a reenactment of Zephyrus chasing Flora (to the right in the painting). Pazzi recognizes Hannibal’s style in the killings of the Chesapeake Ripper and believes Hannibal has returned to Italy. He thinks Will may have some insight into Il Mostro’s nature.

https://hannibalfannibals.com/2015/06/17/hannibal-the-history-of-il-mostro-fact-vs-fiction/

But Will is not helpful, as he grapples with his darker self. Will is torn between wanting to join Hannibal, and wanting to capture him. Whenever he feels he is getting too emotionally involved, too close to Hannibal, he becomes afraid that he will lose himself, (hence his dreams about drowning), and feeling a need to reassert his better self (as an agent of the law), he  tries to capture him instead. He seems to go through this cycle of longing and destruction at least twice a season.

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Observe that while contemplating Hannibal’s crime scene, Will doesn’t use his pendulum system to ease into the killer’s mindset. He knows Hannibal so well that he doesn’t need it, and he seamlessly moves back and forth between his own mind, and Hannibal’s. He hallucinates (or dreams) of the Dimmond heart, and in one of this series most grotesque scenes, it comes to life, unfolds itself into the shape of the Stag, and stalks him across the chapel floor. My theory is that this is the rebirth of Will’s murderous avatar. Just being in a place Hannibal has been, has awakened the darker parts of his nature, a part of himself he thought was destroyed that night in Hannibal’s kitchen, when Abigail died.

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Will and Pazzi descend into the catacombs underneath the Chapel. Will is searching for Hannibal, believing he can feel him nearby. Will warns Pazzi to not be so trusting, because he may harm him. Will knows that his distress will attract Hannibal and killing Pazzi might bring draw him for sure. And Hannibal is there, so he hears Will’s quiet assertion that he is forgiven. But what is Will forgiving him for? Running away and leaving him? Trying to kill him? Killing Abigail? All three? Does it matter?

 

Of Note:

Will’s mention of the church ceiling falling in is something mentioned by Hannibal, in the movie Silence of the Lambs, where he says he likes to collect church collapses.

Abigail stares at one of the priests in the chapel, and he stares back as if he can see her, as if he can see this dark spectre following Will around.

 

Posts & Articles

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2015/10/the-moral-universe-of-hannibal

http://www.vulture.com/2013/06/seitz-on-hannibal-its-a-dream-and-it-hurts.html

http://www.vulture.com/2015/08/hannibal-redefined-how-we-tell-stories-on-tv.html

Hannibal Season Three: Antipasto

Hi!

This is me beginning season three of my Hannibal re-watch. For some reason, during the time of its airing, there was a huge drop off in critical analysis for this show, after season two. I was hard pressed to find anything on the third season. (If you got a rec’, holla at me.) For some reason, most reviews stopped at the Season Two finale, and I sort of understand why, but still, there’s a whole ‘nother season after that, that none of the reviewers seemed to care about. I actually liked season three, although I do have to (somewhat shamefully) confess to blowing off the first five, or six episodes, when they aired, and having to go back to watch them later. Where here’s where I make up for that

In season three, we begin the Hannibal and Red Dragon arc of the books. The first two seasons were Bryan Fuller’s version of a pre-quel to The Red dragon, when Will and Hannibal first met. Between the season two finale, and the Red Dragon half of the third season, Fuller managed to squeeze in the primary  plot of the book, Hannibal aka Mason Verger’s Revenge.
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There will be lots of call backs to specific dialogues in the books, and some Silence of the Lamb references, throughout the entire season. But since the DeLaurentis didn’t have the rights to Silence of the Lambs, (and the show got canceled), we never got a chance to meet Fuller’s version of Clarice Starling, Well the rights to Silence of the Lambs reverts back to the DeLaurentis this August, and Fuller, who is now the showrunner for American Gods, along with the Martha DeLaurentis, has been in talks with  Mads Mikkelson, and Hugh Dancy about returning for a fourth season. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this happens.

Hannibal Season 4 Needs to Happen: Here’s Why

At the end of season two, Hannibal took down everyone during what’s now called The Red Dinner, or for the more pretentious among us, Le Diner Rouge. Everyone who knew Hannibal, and converged on his home, left there in an ambulance. Will, Jack, Alana, Abigail… Of the four, its Abigail who dies from her injuries. The others make a comeback this season to try to recapture Hannibal.

Season three picks up with Hannibal, in black leather, riding through the streets of Paris on a motorbike, which is never how I pictured him from the first seasons. He is stalking a new victim, Roman Fell, a Library Curator from Italy, whose identity he plans to adopt as his own. There are flashbacks to the direct aftermath of The Red Dinner, we go with Hannibal to Florence, Italy, we get answers on how Bedelia and Hannibal ended up on that plane together, and about what hold he seemed to have over her.

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After leaving the House of Blood, Hannibal heads to Bedelia’s  home/office, to shower. Bedelia, who had just been called in by Jack Crawford to testify against Hannibal in preparation for his intended capture, assumes that its safe for her to drop in.  She discovers Hannibal in her shower, and in a classic pulpy, film noir, image, she holds a pistol on him when he steps out. He manages to talk her down, but really, she  could have done what no one else in the show seemed capable of doing, except she’s suffering from the same problem that WIll Graham seems to suffer from. Fascination. 

Every time Will  Graham had an opportunity to pop a cap in Hannibal’s ass, he hesitated, or wasn’t really serious about it, (to be fair, the first time it happened, Jack shot him), because there’s just something about Hannibal that made him not really want to. Bedelia does the same thing here, putting down her weapon and listening to whatever Lecter has to say. I  never completely understood why these people listened to Lecter, because I’m not impressed by the things he says. But then I’m immune to a lot of  things real-life evil people say to me, so I do struggle to understand the motivations behind why people in these narratives always listen to any  villain’s self-serving bullshit.

Bedelia, having gotten the Jedi treatment from Hannibal, flees with him to Europe. Now to be fair, one of the reasons he has such a hold over her, is just plain fear. A year or so ago, he sent a patient to her that she killed. It wasn’t entirely her fault, but Hannibal’s argument to her, was that it looked deliberate. Hannibal sent her a patient who was unstable, paranoid, and violent. When the patient (played by Zachary Quinto aka Spock) loss control, he had a seizure (it’s implied that this was something subliminally implanted in him by Hannibal, and is a direct callback to the scene in Silence of the Lambs when Hannibal makes “Multiple Miggs” eat his own tongue.) Bedelia, thinking she was helping him, tried to grab his tongue with her hand (something you are NOT supposed to do) and she killed him instead. Hannibal has been holding that death over her head for some time now.

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There’s also this: she was granted immunity by Jack Crawford in exchange for any testimony against Hannibal. Perhaps, since she believed since Jack was dead, that the  immunity he had granted wouldn’t be honored, and she’d still be held accountable. So she sort of owes Hannibal a debt for not telling on her. There’s fascination, and her own fear for her future, but there’s also plain ol’ fear of Hannibal. She is terrified of him the entire time she’s with him in Italy, but that terror doesn’t exactly spur her to leave him. (I’ll have more on this in a moment.) Perhaps there’s also the fear that he could easily track her down, and she’d never know when or where he’d be. It may be her idea of keeping her enemy close. And they are close. But I wouldn’t ever call them friends. Or even frenemies.

They are very, very close, though I don’t believe they have slept together. There are scenes of Hannibal helping her out of her clothes, and scenes where they’re half naked together, and even a scene where Hannibal washes her hair, but I never got the sense they were lovers. I think Bedelia is too terrified of Hannibal to be his lover, and Hannibal only really loves Will Graham, for which Bedelia is not a substitute. Although he greatly admires Bedelia, and is charmed by her intelligence and beauty, I believe he merely covets her, and you can see that he lacks the level of respect for her, that he’s displayed towards Will. I think it’s because of her lack of killer instinct.

Will can, and does, kill people, without hesitation when the mood takes him. There’s a deep well of darkness in him, that Hannibal has been trying to access, since he first saw Will in action waaay back in episode one, when Will took down Garrett Jacob Hobbes, without breaking a sweat. He greatly admires Will’s cool ability to kill without remorse, even with his empathy disorder, and Bedelia simply doesn’t have that in her. She lacks both Will’s levels of darkness and his, paradoxical, empathy.

She and Hannibal first travel to Paris where Hannibal stalks,  kills and eats Dr. Roman Fell, a curator for a Museum in Florence, and his wife. While staking out Dr. Fell, he encounters Anthony Dimmond who, I feel, is totally mackin’ on Hannibal, at this point. There’s no other way to see that scene except as a flirtation. I have no idea how Hannibal sees it. Anthony used to be a TA for Dr. Fell, and claims to  dislike him. Bedelia and Hannibal travel  to Florence, as Dr. Roman Fell, and his wife Lydia, where he assumes Dr. Fell’s position, as a guest lecturer on Dante, at the Library.

Dr. Fell’s name might be a reference to Bishop John Fell, who is  mentioned in The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde, when one of the characters remarks that he doesn’t like Mr. Hyde. This same man is also the subject of a nursery rhyme of the same name called I Do Not Like Thee Dr. Fell. This is basically the theme of the first third of the episode as at least two people claim to dislike Dr. Roman (an anagram of Norman) Fell. (This is  an example of Fuller’s very dry literary humor.)

http://www.rhymes.org.uk/a32-i-do-not-like-thee-doctor-fell.htm

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Throughout all of this, we are treated to flashbacks of Abel Gideon (The Man Who Would Liked To Have  Been The Chesapeake Ripper) being forced to eat himself, as Hannibal slowly takes him apart, limb from limb. In an especially horrific touch, he feeds Gideon snails, acorns and wine, then feeds parts of Gideon’s body to more  snails, to make the snails  taste like Gideon, and then makes him eat those. How snails take on the flavor of whatever they eat is a recurring theme in the first three episodes. Gideon snarks at Hannibal about his future, and warns that Hannibal will soon become a hunted man. He  refers to Hannibal as  the personification of the Devil, paralleling the discussion about Dante that appears afterward.

At a party in Florence, Hannibal and Bedelia dance, and Hannibal is accosted by one of the one of the library’s professors, Professor Sogliato, who hates Dr. Fell because he is a foreigner, and who questions his knowledge of medieval Italian history. Lecter, who loves to play to a crowd whenever possible, dazzles everyone with his ability to speak fluent Italian,  by quoting Dante’s first sonnet. Dante’s first sonnet by the way is the basis of La Vita Nuova (The New Life), which is also the basis of the operetta by Patrick Cassidy, called Vide Cor Meum, which is the central musical theme in the movie Hannibal. Bedelia tries to distract Sogliato by requesting a dance, but that man has already signed his own death warrant, by questioning  Hannibal’s credentials in a public place. We learned from his reactions to  Alana and Chilton, in season two,  that Hannibal dislikes having his credentials second-guessed.

After the party, Bedelia dreams she is drowning in her bath. People being submerged in water is a recurring theme throughout the entire series. Whenever a character is feeling overwhelmed, or trapped, they often dream of being submerged in water, while unable to move, or help themselves. Both Will and Alana have had this recurring dream. In the first season, Will was struggling to hold on to his sanity, as he also suffered from encephalitis.  In season two, he struggled to hold on to his sense of who he was, as he got closer  to capturing Hannibal. Alana experienced this same sensation when she entered a romantic relationship with Hannibal and began to realize he was not who he seemed. That Bedelia is having this dream now, means  she is losing herself in Hannibal’s world, and is struggling not to be overwhelmed. Hannibal just seems to have this effect on people.

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       – Drowning in a dream is  about struggling to survive as a person, so it applies to your identity as it is dealing with relationship with other people, but also with your own internal world of instincts, body activities and needs. This is about being or feeling overwhelmed by something.

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Bedelia is in the habit of shopping at Vera Dal, and making the exact same purchase, once a week. There has been a lot of speculation about her actions in Florence, but I think the consensus that was reached, is that she knows people are looking for Lecter, and maybe her, and is trying to be found. At one point, she goes to a train station, not to escape, but to be seen on the station’s camera, just in case anyone is looking for her. I believe she’s trying, to be rescued. Notice how her Vera Dal bag is carefully turned towards the camera above her, and she makes sure to turn her face up to it. She has to be subtle about this, because she knows Hannibal is planning to eat her and if she is too blatant, in her attempts to leave,  he will kill her that much sooner. She escaped his intentions before by fleeing, but knows he won’t let her get away with that a second time.

I just want to point out that while in Florence, Bedelia’s hair, makeup, and outfits are on point. She was always a well-dressed woman, but in all her scenes, her costuming is absolutely superb.

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Lecter encounters Anthony Dimmond again, and invites him to dinner with him, and his wife. He doesn’t tell Dimmond who he’s impersonating, but invites him to one of Dr. Fell’s lectures, as well. At dinner, we find that Hannibal has been treating Bedelia to some very specific foods, much as he did with Abel Gideon. Lots of Oysters, snails, and other types of invertebrates, as Bedelia sadly jokes, that she’s trying not to eat anything with a central nervous system, because her husband wants her to taste a certain way. So yeah, they both know he was planning to kill and eat her, at some, unspecified,  point. Dimmond mentions that the Romans used to do the same thing to the animals they would eat, but  thinks Bedelia is flirting with him, perhaps suggesting a three-way. Meanwhile, Hannibal watches all this, with a great deal of amusement.

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Until this season, we’ve gotten only glimpses of Hannibal’s sense of humor. We know he has a very dry one because of the things he’s said in preceding seasons, but we rarely got a look at him actively making jokes, or reacting with happiness or glee. This season we get to see a Hannibal that is much freer in his display of emotions. He tells Bedelia that he has removed his person suit. Especially after he gets captured midway through the season, when he just has a very  “I Really Don’t Give A Fuck” attitude about the entire situation. This season Mads Mikkelsen appears to be having a great time all season.

After discovering that Hannibal is posing as Dr. Fell, Dimmond tries to blackmail Hannibal. Its an interesting discussion, as Lecter asks if  Dimmond is trying to fold him into some new shape. We never learn what their deal is because Lecter kills him in the apartment, in front of Bedelia. Bedelia was already terrified for Dimmond when he had dinner with them. When Dimmond shows up at Hannibal’s lecture, she runs back to the apartment, packs a suitcase, and attempts to escape, but Lecter and Dimmond show up before she can get out the door. This is the first time we’ve really seen Bedelia lose her carefully designed composure since making the decision to accompany Lecter to Europe. What it shows is a woman in the grip of extreme terror. Earlier, Lecter walked past her and touched her on the shoulder, when Dimmond walked into the lecture hall and that seemed to galvanize her. She is ready to run.

Lecter bashes Dimmond’s over the head as Bedelia watches. Before he breaks Dimmond’s neck,  Lecter asks if she is observing or participating, and reaches the conclusion, based on the fact that she knew what was coming, yet did nothing to prevent it, (including warning Dimmond to stay away) that what she is doing is participation. After this we see Bedelia in tears as she contemplates that this is her possible future. This is why she is not Will Graham’s substitute. She makes no pretense of her ability to handle watching Hannibal do this. In Hannibal’s mind she has no instinct to kill, despite her big talk to Will about it, later in the season. Will would not have tried to run. Will would’ve tried to kill Hannibal, or just taken it in stride, as he did when he watched Hannibal make Mason Verger cut off his own face.

Later, we find that Lecter has folded Dimmond into an interesting new shape, (just as he joked to him earlier) as he travels by train to the  Norman Cathedral in Palermo. During his trip, he folds a paper image of Michaelangelo’s Vitruvian Man into the shape of a heart, while thinking about Will Graham. ( I spoke about this in a previous post on how Will is Hannibal’s perfect man.) Will is very much in Hannibal’s thoughts after Dimmond’s death. He wonders if Will is still alive, and is in a pensive mood while on the train to Palermo.

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He places Dimmond’s body on display in the middle of the Norman Chapel over the image of death that is inscribed in the floor. He has folded Dimmond’s body into the shape of a heart, and pierced it with three upraised swords, like the Three of Swords from the tarot.

The Three of Swords represents rejection, sadness, loneliness, heartbreak, betrayal, separation and grief. Such events feel so painful because they are unexpected. However, the Three of Swords often serves as a warning sign to show when one or more of these are possible. By preparing for this difficult event, the emotional blow can be minimised or even prevented entirely.

https://www.biddytarot.com/tarot-card-meanings/minor-arcana/suit-of-swords/three-of-swords/

I don’t know if he knows that Will is alive. I think he suspects it, but  Hannibal often does things just to see what will happen, or just to artistically express himself, and this could be one of those times. If the display is meant for Will, then it’s Hannibal’s psychotic version of an apology to him, saying that he forgives Will for hurting him, and misses him.

 

 

So, this episode was entirely from Lecter’s point of view. The next episode will be about what happened  directly after the “Diner Rouge”, from Will Graham’s  point of view.

Note:

Since the airing of American gods, I’m hoping these reviews of Hannibal helps people to look more deeply into the meanings and expressions in that American Gods. As I said, in my reviews of that show, Fuller loves to put meaning into everything you will see on the screen, and that almost  nothing you see is accidental. Every image, name, and line of dialogue is, at the very least, some type of in-joke, if not foreshadowing for some later event, or an illustration of the episode’s theme. So if you are a literary student, or history major, you will find all manner of easter eggs in his work.

On Tumblr: Hannibal Meta

*Yes, I’m still fascinated by this show, its characters, and its meanings. I hope some of you guys are just as interested, so here’s some Hannibal meta, that showed up on my dashboard, from when the show was at its peak. This might  spur some of you to re- watch certain episodes with a fresh perspective.
Remember Bedelia’s statement, later in the first season, about Hannibal’s careful facade and that she could catch glimpses of the real man through his human suit. This is important because Hannibal has been wearing this “person suit” from the moment Will first met him.
From: hannibalsbattlebot

On the surface, Will telling Hannibal “I don’t find you that interesting” seems unbelievably rude. Ah, we think, Hannibal must find Will special if he puts up with that. But, this early on Hannibal has only shown Will his mask, his human suit. To most people, the facade is interesting enough. That’s the point. All the trappings were put there by Hannibal to distract everyone from his real self. When Will is not impressed by this smoke screen, he has passed an important test.

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*This is an essay about Hannibal’s ability to feel. I would say that yes, he does have emotions, but I would argue they are somewhat truncated, not as fully developed as they should be in a grown man, as he rarely, if ever expends emotion on anyone other than Will or himself.

It’s not that Hannibal’s emotions are fake, (although I believe in some cases they are), but when we do see him showing emotions towards others, I think that he’s simply going through the motions,  pretending to care about Jack, or Alana, for example, and when he does have genuine emotions for others, like Abigail and Will, it’s only in relation to how close/useful that person is to himself.He certainly has emotions when it comes to something directly affecting him, but something that directly affects others, not so much.

In other words, Hannibal lacks empathy.

From: slayerangels

”Will loves Hannibal because he doesn’t have emotions and so Will can be himself around him because he can’t pick up feelings from Hannibal with his empathy disorder.”

I’ve seen this idea a few times and it’s baffling. Here’s a list of reasons why that’s wrong:

1. Hannibal has emotions. Many emotions. His emotions are not fake. He shows emotions when people aren’t even observing him or in the same room. He was upset at what happened to Margot after Will left the room. He was upset that Bella died and was crying over it by himself in Italy. He moped around about Will in Italy the entire time. He missed Will so much in Sorbet he was fidgeting around and clearly upset about it. He was mad that Gideon was calling himself the Ripper. He gets super annoyed at rude people. These are all emotions.

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2. Will can “read” the Ripper enough to know which crimes scenes are his and which aren’t and also give a history about his childhood to Jack. Will can also “read” the copycat. Hannibal is the Ripper and the copycat. So, Will can read Hannibal. Which is why Hannibal got super defensive about Will in Season 1 and framed him and put him in prison. Because he knew Will would find him out eventually.

3. Will can “seduce” and “deceive” Hannibal in S2 because he can empathize with him or “understand” him. Hannibal says this directly and Will agrees.

4. Hannibal and Will share a memory palace. Will goes to places he has been to “read” him, just like he does at crime scenes. Will knows Hannibal “intimately” as he says himself. If he likes being around him because he doesn’t “pick up” things from his empathy, then that makes no sense.

5. Will doesn’t automatically know who a killer is, even if he’s investigating their crimes. Tobias is a prime example. Hannibal realized Tobias was a killer immediately, Will didn’t. Another example would be Abigail. Hannibal knew she was a killer before Will did. If anything Hannibal has more insight into people than Will does. That doesn’t mean he has less empathy than Will, it means he has the same amount or more. “I can’t turn it off anymore than you can” Hannibal says to Will in Aperitif. When Hannibal was doing Will’s job in S2 for Jack he got the job done, he figured out who the killer was and why he was killing and exactly where he was, he just didn’t tell all that info to Jack because he wanted to go kill him first. Hannibal can in fact do Will’s job and he helps Will do his job better, “Will has never been more effective than he is with you inside his head”. Hannibal knows all about the Shrike enough to help Will figure out who the Shrike really is, right from the beginning of the show. “He had to show me a negative so that I could see the positive, that crime scene was practically gift wrapped.” My point being that just because Will doesn’t know Hannibal is the Ripper for a while (about 3 months) doesn’t mean that he can’t “read” Hannibal’s emotions. His empathy disorder doesn’t make him psychic and it isn’t supernatural.

I get it’s hard to understand why Will didn’t realize Hannibal was in love with him, but this is no explanation. It negates the entire show. Other explanations should be entertained. Will knows that Hannibal is very sad over him, “He sent us his broken heart” and he knows that the key to understand him is love, “No one can be fully aware of another human being unless we love them” and he knows he can take advantage of Hannibal’s feelings for him, “You’d only do that if I’d rejected you.” So, taking all that into account, the explanation that he just didn’t want to fully believe it, he was lying to himself, or wanted it confirmed by Bedelia (because he was afraid Hannibal loved her or because he believed she would know more than anyone else), or some combination of those is the most likely.

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*I loved this particular meta. I have yet to start reviewing season 3, so  haven’t discussed Will’s mind pendulum  yet.

From: silkysimpona

Will’s Mind Pendulum

Has anyone else noticed the difference between Will analyzing Hannibal’s crime scene and Will analyzing someone else’s crime scene?

When he investigates the Leeds murder in The Great Red Dragon, his mind pendulum makes an appearance for the first time in season 3.

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The pendulum is a way for Will to get into the murder empathy mindset, but it also represents a physical barrier between him and the subject he wants to analyze. In essence, it establishes a defensive barrier between his sense of self and his sense of the killer’s self, keeping them completely separate from each other. The stronger the pendulum, the stronger his sense of self.

Compare this to his analysis of the Hannibal’s crime scene in Primavera. Here, Will doesn’t use a pendulum. There is just a brief blur in and blur out to signify his entrance into Hannibal’s state of mind.

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At this point, his mind is so intertwined with Hannibal’s that he doesn’t need the physical act of the pendulum to get him into the correct mindset. His sense of self is already almost entirely wrapped up and muddled up with Hannibal’s. Not only does he not need to use his pendulum in this moment, he probably can’t use his pendulum to put up a mental barrier between them. They’re already conjoined after all.

In Dolce, Will says to Hannibal, “You and I have begun to blur.” I think it’s pretty neat that they were able to illustrate that with the simple absence of a pendulum effect.

 

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*This essay is about something I touched on in an earlier essay, regarding how Alana changed after her relationship with Hannibal, how she became, in the third season, harder and colder, in reaction to having known him. It also points out some interesting details about Margot.
thatlightsaberlesbian

You know what I really fucking love about Marlana? (everything)

No but really, aside from everything, one specific thing that I love about them is that they had equally interesting but “opposite” wardrobe changes as their characters developed.

Alana started out with the wrap dresses, which were usually not layered with anything, and then by season 3 she was wearing three piece suits. She armored up. Did she abandon femininity? Hell no. But she still, finally, after implicitly trusting Jack, Hannibal, and Will and being betrayed in that trust by literally all of them, learned to protect herself. She withdrew her trust and the physical armor of the suits reflected that change nicely. (One could also argue that she consciously or unconsciously was imitating Hannibal.)

Margot, on the other hand, started out with these incredibly stiff and layered outfits. Her hair buns were sleek and severe, and her lipstick reflected that. Need I say anything about the shoulder pads–designed to make her appear larger, more intimidating? Yes, Margot was protecting herself with these layers of clothing, I don’t think anyone failed to pick up on that. And then she meets Alana. And she makes this switch to softer clothing choices, and hairstyles, and makeup. But only with her.

I find this to be really awesome because both of these wardrobe choices were incredibly well-thought-through. Both of them accurately reflected the development each of them was going through. And that’s really cool because a lot of the time in media you see more masculine girls lauded for becoming more feminine in coming-of-age stories, or by contrast, feminine girls who become more masculine to redeem themselves (e.g. Regina George in Mean Girls). And what I love about Marlana is that there’s none of that, because both of their transformations were intensely personal and reflected what they personally were going through.

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*This one is about the loneliness of both Will and Hannibal.

bu0nanotte
Do you ache for him?For me, these two scenes effectively sum up just how alone Hannibal and Will are without each other. We see Will desperately attempting to focus all his attention on fixing a boat motor, a problem we heard Hannibal refer to as ‘easy’ to solve in season one. The simplicity of this creates a stark contrast in relation to Will’s current state of mind regarding his feelings for Hannibal, confirmed through the series of flashbacks we see. Will is not entirely haunted by the fact that Hannibal gutted him; he is haunted by the fact that Hannibal left him. We see flashbacks of Hannibal holding Will, followed by Will falling to the ground and Hannibal bending over him. These are not the typical flashbacks generally associated with people suffering from post-traumatic stress; these flashbacks are rooted in Will’s heartbreak over the fact that Hannibal left him.

In relation to Hannibal, we see him sat in a chair, pensive as he stares ahead. This in itself is unusual as we usually see Hannibal busying himself with something or other. Again this serves to elucidate just how barren his existence is without Will. This also confirms how much Will has changed him, given that the Hannibal we met in season one was entirely self-reliant and self-serving. I believe there was a void in Hannibal’s life, an ache he couldn’t quite identify or pinpoint. Will filled that void. Independence and the isolation associated with it was something Hannibal was used to and previously drew comfort from. Now there is no comfort in his isolation. He and Will quickly realise and accept just how empty, how devoid of purpose their lives are without each other, testament of the vicious mutual co-dependency they each fostered.

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Ooh, I really enjoyed this one, which outlines the various ways that people respond to threatening behavior, and specifically to how Hannibal responds to Will.

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I just noticed a dynamic between these guys that I’d never quite put together before: in precise contrast to what Will thinks he wants, he will always fail to follow through on a lethal confrontation with Hannibal if (and only if) Hannibal makes a show of rolling over for him.
Bear with me for a sec because this is kind of fascinating: a while ago, I read a book called On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. The author Dave Grossman proposed a theory which jives with a lot of stuff I learned in anthropology classes, but he has a particularly pithy way of describing it. Between animals of the same species, he says, the choices of behavior in a confrontation aren’t as simple as the “fight or flight” choice we usually talk about.

Grossman calls his model “fight, flight, posture, or submit.” This model takes into account a common trait among most animals (including humans): members of the same species almost never jump immediately to the ‘fight’ option in a confrontation. Doing so would result in needless deaths, particularly among younger individuals who haven’t yet learned to defend themselves, and then to eventual depopulation and extinction.

Instead, animals tend to begin confrontations by posturing – by making a show of their superiority in an attempt to make the other party back down. If, during the posturing phase, it becomes clear that the individuals are fairly evenly matched, they are likely to start a physical fight in order to establish dominance, while still avoiding lethal attacks if possible.

However, if it becomes clear during the posturing phase that one of the individuals is definitely strong enough to defeat the other one, the weaker opponent will do one of two things: flee or submit. I’ll just quote the book here:

“Submission is a surprisingly common response, usually taking the form of fawning and exposing some vulnerable portion of the anatomy to the victor, in the instinctive knowledge that the opponent will not kill or further harm one of its own kind once it has surrendered.”

So, now that we’ve got all that context out of the way, let’s talk about Will and Hannibal!

Keep reading
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*Here’s a more scholarly approach to why the show, Hannibal, is the way it is, and what that means to the larger culture.

White Collar Cannibal: the Gentrified Grotesque in NBC’s Hannibal

The Strain Season 2 – First Born

Okay, this is my last review for a couple of episodes because I’m going to be reviewing other stuff. It doesn’t  matter too much as the show, even though its season has been shortened by a couple of episodes, still insists on meandering its way towards the plot. I think I can skip at least a couple of episodes, as nothing important is likely to happen. I don’t dislike this season  exactly, but everything that was most annoying about the last season, is pretty much still happening, only with slightly quicker editing.

I was really hoping, with it’s emphasis on Quinlan and Gus that I wouldn’t need to look at either Zach or Kelly during this episode, but the show decided to torture me anyway by opening with a completely unnecessary scene of Zach and Kelly hanging out.

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In the last episode, I noped out before the scene where The Master infected Zach with a single worm.The writers seemed to consider that some sort of cliffhanger (not realizing we don’t give a shit what happens to Zach) and left that scene until now, where we find that Zach is fine. Well, at least we got the two of them out of the way. We don’t see them for the rest of the episode.

Setrakian finds the Occido Lumen has been stolen. Fet’s conclusion, jumped into with both feet and a yahooo, is that Quinlan did it. Well he’s not wrong. Quinlan and Eph did it, so that Eph could trade Zach for the Lumen. And this is yet another reason why the writers need several good punches to their necks. Eph clearly  and succinctly outlines to Quinlan, why giving the Lumen to the Master, is a bad idea.  He could be dooming the entire human race if he does so, but decides to go along with his plan anyway because he’s a parent, he loves his boy, blah, blah, blah. Honestly, if Eph isn’t the most irritating white male protagonist I’ve ever seen in a show, I don’t know who is. I’m guessing he’s meant to be unlikable.

Quin gets some backstory outlining how he was found by an old witch woman and given civilized behavior, in an effort to fulfill the prophecy that he would one day kill the Master. The Master, discovering his existence, traps Quin and the old woman in a cave. She feeds herself to Quin before he can starve, and become too weak to fight the Master, when he returns.

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Its nice to see Eph and Quinlan bonding like this (NOT!). Quin has no patience for Eph’s general foolery. Yeah, Quin doesn’t like Eph very much either. I quite understand.

Plot is  still dawdling along despite having only 7 episodes left.

We go to Gus’ circumstances as he and Angel try to hide his mother from the local security patrols who are going from building to building looking for vampires, I guess. I’d have more to say about this but I was distracted by all the garbage strewn throughout the halls of Gus’ apartment building. I kept wondering if it looked like that before the apocalypse, and if not, when did the apartment dwellers find time to leave all this loose trash all over the building. Its just a tiny thing, but it strikes me as some white middle-class set designer’s idea of extreme poverty. Lots of trash everywhere.

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Gus is successful at letting his mother get away, but he and Angel get conscripted by the local police to do patrols. Actually, that isn’t a bad idea. The guy who conscripts them says it doesn’t make any sense to have able-bodied men just sitting in jail, when they could be out fighting the plague. Its heartless, but sensible.

Eph makes a deal to exchange the Lumen for Zach at a neutral meeting place. Eph is so dumb that he takes the real book with him trusting that the Master is going to live up to his end of the bargain. Setrakian and Fet track the book to the meeting place.

Glowing red eyeballs on the vampires still make me laugh, tho’!

All these forces converge at the meeting, and the show keeps teasing us with  wonderful ideas, like an infected SEAL Team, that we will never get a show about. Naturally, the Master betrays Eph. That was to be expected. (Just not by Eph.) All the vampires get poisoned when Setrakian, bad-ass that he is, sets off several silver grenades. He even manages to poison the Master enough to slow him down long enough for Quin to chop off his head. So the master appears to be dead, but since its only the third episode and I did read the books, I’m pretty sure he’s not, as most of his worms got away. And we’ve seen him switch bodies before, so…

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So really, it was just an okay episode. Not bad, but nothing really great.I liked all the Quinlan stuff because that’s always cool. Ephraim Goodweather is an annoying idiot that needs a good face-punching. Setrakian continues to be OG, while Fet, Gus, and Angel are his smaller, less intelligent, backup gangstas. Zach needs to be burned in effigy, thereby exorcising him from the show. And no Palmer, Eichorst or Dutch, so that’s in the plus column. I hope this episode isn’t as good as the show gets though.

 

From Dusk Til Dawn Season 3 – Head Games; La Reina

The last season of From Dusk till Dawn was not my favorite, although it wasn’t bad. It was certainly one of the best vampire shows on TV at the time, and that includes American Horror Story. The story is generally cohesive, with most of the episodes remaining on point. When a plotline is introduced, it usually gets resolved, characters often have clear cut goals, and so does the season. (The characters have goals, but since all of their goals are in opposition to one another, characters can often get derailed by somebody else’s plans.)

 The biggest drawback is the acting. It just skirts the edge of camp in a lot of scenes, and in some scenes,  it’s just full on awful. So, there needs to be some consistency there. I’m still largely unimpressed by the actress who plays Satanica. She’s such a lite-weight compared to the bodacious Salma Hayek. It’s really hard to top Salma, so she partially gets a pass, but it’s distracting because I keep wondering what Salma would’ve done with the role. 


There are a few women in the cast, and the show has moved alway from some of the misogyny of the first season, although I still have trouble watching the women get treated as violently as the men. The one mitigating factor is the women are every bit as ruthless and violent as the men, after all, most of them are vampires. My second biggest drawback was Richie and Seth spent most of the last season separated and/or fighting with each other and I hated that. The good news is that in the last episode they were back fighting together, so maybe we can get some great brotherly action this season. The action scenes are cool but I still think there should be more of them. The talking scenes aren’t wasted though. This is one of those shows where you have to pay close attention to what people are saying because a lot of the plot is defined/sharpened in he conversations.

Seriously, though. This show does not get enough love and that’s if people even know what station it’s on, (El Rey).The good news is that it’s on Netflix, so some of y’all can catch up.

Kate’s clear goal last season was to save her brother Scott from his vampirism, which didn’t work out, as she got turned into a vampire, or something like it, when the special blood , from the Sante Sangre, seeped into her wounds.  The leader of the Culebras, Carlos, still had plans for Richie’s, and Scott’s, futures, but appeared to be defeated when Richie and Seth  dismembered his body, and sent him  to the four corners of the world. Everyone was on the trail of the Sante Sangre, the Blood Well. It’s like an oil well, only full of blood which acts like catnip for the Culebras (and turned Kate into one of them). Freddie, the ranger who was hunting the Geckos from the first season, is now a Peacekeeper, working with the Culebras to protect their territory,though he is still human. 

Like Supernatural the show’s focus is  on family. There are a lot of parallels between Richie and Seth, and Kate and her adopted brother, Scott,  who was also turned into a vampire at the end of season one, along with Richie. Kate gets in bed with some fairly awful people, (but Seth and Richie grow to like her, and stop underestimating her dedication to saving her brother.) Seth spends almost the entirety of season two separated from Richie, and indulging in hard drugs, because he’s disgusted at Richie being a vampire, and angry because he feels Richie chose Satanica over him. The two of them are set to forgive/reunite, when an old friend of their family refuses to do a job without both of them, then gives both of them a good talking to, and shames them into working together.

The season premiere introduces a new menace after Carlos’ defeat, and takes place about six months after the least season ended. The SkullKeeper, Calavera, is a demon from Xibablba (Hell) ,who takes the skulls of Culebras and makes them his meat puppets. His possession of said drones is suitably gorey, as he  just reaches into the person’s head and tears out the skull. When the Nine Lords of the Culebras become aware of his existence, they task Seth and Richie to find and destroy him. The SkullKeeper wants revenge on the Nine Lords for imprisoning him in the dungeons underneath The Titty Twister. Thanks to Carlos last act,  blowing up the bar, The SkullKeeper and all of the other demonic prisoners were released. A vampire named Brasa, with a burning hand is introduced, and he uses Calavera to destroy the Nine Lords, and succeeds.

By the end of the episode, Calavera is defeated by Seth and Richie and it’s awesome watching the two of them fighting  again, but  eight of the nine lords are dead, and there’s a new queen, Kate, gunning for Satanica. The true villain is established as Brasa, an enemy of all the Culebras. He helped free Calaveras, and  appears to be the worshiper of someone who looks like Kate, who is wearing bad eye makeup, and talking like a supervillain .

In the second episode, Demon Kate makes a play for Satanica, who has retired from the world of the Culebras, but is still being worshipped as a deity by them. DemonKate doesn’t like that. She follows Seth and Richie to Kate’s underground fight club, where the guys try to convince Satanica to come back and help her people. DemonKate and Brasa, have been roaming up and down the Culebras territory burning up all her worshippers. Satanica, who has found new love after breaking it  off with Richie, has to take down a Xibalban warrior that Kate sent to kill her. In return Kate kills her girlfriend. I knew that girl was deadmeat as soon as I found out Kate was in love with her. Even in the most diverse fantasy apparently the rule is  still “Kill your gays!” I should be mad about it but I’m too tired. I liked that character. She was gutsy.

It may sound like I dislike Satanica too, but I don’t really. I’m having difficulty getting past that actress but I like the character. She’s actually very well written and Hispanic creators don’t seem to have a problem writing female characters with agency. From the beginning of the series, Satanica made her thoughts known, and put in motion her plans to escape her enslavement by drafting Richie to her cause. From the beginning, it was always Satanica who was in charge of their relationship, creating the various game plans to win her freedom. As Richie became more certain of his powers, he had to fight to convince her  his plans were worth listening to. In the second season, a lot of the plot was driven by Satanica’s decisions, and she’s the one who made  the final decision to leave Richie, and retire from the field of play. 

This season is being driven by three women, whatever Kate has become, the last surviving Lord, who gives Richie and Seth their orders, and now Satanica. We are reminded of just how bad ass Satanica is, when she singlehandedly defeats the Xibalban warrior, after Kate incapacitates Richie. Seth and Richie then manage to convince her to come out of retirement.  These scenes are interspersed with scenes of Freddy, along with his female companion, hunting Brasa.  


 It gets complicated but I like the mythology of the show. I think I’ve mentioned before that a lot of the vampire mythology is based on Mexican vampires and gods, and some it is just wholly made up stuff. The understanding behind the mythology has evolved since the first season, slowly revealing various beliefs, lore, and artifacts, and what part the Gecko brothers have to play in all of it.

The show has also evolved beyond women as eye candy on the show. I like seeing so many bad ass Latinas onscreen, most of them are exceptionally good at kicking ass, or are just terrifying, or powerful, in their own right. They have agency, make decisions, and affect the plot, and it’s nice to see the occasional Afro-Latina, in the mix too.

I like the evolution of Seth and Richie’s relationship. If you’re looking for another brotherly relationship, but one that’s less claustrophobic than The Winchesters, then the Gecko brothers are it. They do low-key love each other, and although I  don’t like it when they fight, the two of them often have clear-cut reasons for punching each other. Richie is a vampire now, and Seth is still human. Richie occasionally mentions to Seth how he’s going to live forever, trying to convince Seth to become a vampire, but he has never tried to change his brother against his will. It’s subtly played but you can tell that Seth, the older brother, is often disgusted by what Richie has become, sometimes he’s eye-rollingly exasperated by it too. He makes it clear to Richie that he doesn’t want to be a vampire and manages to do that without belittling or demeaning his brother.  He doesn’t like that his brother is a Culebra , but he’s still there for Richie when he needs him. For example, there’s a scene where Richie goes back to his office, puts on a smoking jacket, and picks up a cigar. Seth rolls his eyes and gives his little brother a “what the hell are you doing? “look, but says nothing. He’s gotten used to Richie being weird over the years. 


 And yes, they fight every bit as well as the Winchesters, often sharing weapons, and synchronizing themselves during a fight. They always know where their brother is, and what he’s doing in a fight, something that comes from years of fighting side by side. Richie is smarter and more philosophical than Seth, who mostly leads with his emotions. But that’s okay, as Seth isn’t actually evil. He knows the difference between good and bad, and strives to do good, where Richie can sometimes be lead astray, into philosophically sound ideas, that require evil acts. Yes, Seth thinks Richie is evil, but he appears to be becoming a lot less judgmental about it. This is his little brother. He gets a pass. 

So this show has more pros than cons, and looks set to become an exceptional show, that everyone is ignoring, in favor of watching The Strain, which has not improved even half as much as this one in three seasons. It has a concrete mythology, plenty of action and gore, interesting family relationships, and character consistency. The plots are intricate and not dumb, arising as they do out of the various characters quests for power, love, freedom, or just money.

Stay tuned next week when I’ll try to find time to review another couple of episodes, and let you know  how it’s developing.

(ETA: Wow! Don’t those photos make you the least bit curious about what the hell those scenes were about?)

The Strain Season 3 – Bad White

This second episode shows a tightening of the script just a bit. Since the show has fewer episodes this season, if the writers want to wrap as much of it up as possible before the season ends, they have to jettison a lot of extraneous plotlines. This episode didn’t involve a whole lot of movement, so much as a whole lot of maneuvering, which is to be expected in a second episode, as various characters lay out goals or aims, and move into positions to achieve them. It’s a little slow in that we are still dealing with the fallout of last season, but we have got movement on the nature of certain people’s goals, and the layout for this season.

Ephraim Goodweather : Has got homework in the form of trying to steal the Occido Lumen from Setrakian, so he can exchange it for his son. For the first time he and Quinlan meet and it’s kind of awesome. Quinlan sees right through Eph’s bullshit almost right away. He is not fooled for a moment, although Eph is able to distract him, by throwing his suspicions back at him. This is one of the most well written scenes I’ve seen on the show. It was actually fun to watch. 


I still don’t like Ephraim, but he’s a much more interesting character, now that I understand these purposefully built flaws. Eph is an alcoholic. With that comes a host of recriminations and bad decision making skills. Eph is frustrating to me exactly because of his weaknesses, and I don’t think the viewer is meant to like, or identify, with him. He genuinely loves his child, although I’m still not sure what he feels for Kelly as that’s never made clear. Kelly is a cipher, anyway.

As it stands, Eph is really, truly alone in the show. He doesn’t have anyone in particular to attach himself to, now that Zack is gone, and Nora is dead. Note: there’s a brief conversation had by Setrakian and Eph about Nora, so at least they remember she existed, which is more than I can say for some shows, where the characters simply move on without remembering one of their comrades has died.


I’m looking forward to more interactions between Quinlan and Eph, as that relationship looks explosive. (I do like what I see developing between Fet and Quinlan, which looks like they have more in common with each other, as they’re both warriors, to-the -manner, born.) Eph and Quinlan are either gonna fall in love, or try to kill each other, they are such different men. Quinlan is a very controlled, self contained, thousands of years old vampire, with clear goals, and little patience with human messiness. Eph, is a weak willed alcoholic, with no clear goals for his life, but has deep emotional ties, and is smart as a mf. This can only end in tears and betrayal, or bro-hugs, as far as I’m concerned.

Dutch: What is it with women being named Dutch in TV shows? Why is this a popular name suddenly? Anyway we get some Dutch action as she throws in with a group of old, but thoroughly useless, hacker friends, who are trying to ride ou the current wave of what they believe to be merely urban discontent, by stealing stuff from rich people. Their way of handling this is by breaking into rich people’s homes, and buildings they believe are abandoned. Now they know about “the plague”, as its called, but I’m not entirely certain they understand its nature, or if they do, they don’t care. In fact, the leader seems to think it was caused by overpopulation, and that its some kind of reset button for the human species. He’s not exactly wrong, but he ain’t right either. 

You can tell by the artfully torn pants and watch cap, that this guy is a rebel.

Dutch does try to warn them about how dangerous it is, but they just poo- poo her concerns as Dutch being hysterical. Consequently, they all die, when they break into a high-rise, and get waylaid by the vampires, which I saw coming as soon as they laid out their plans. Dutch, who thanx to Fet, has definitely  been “born again hard”, is one of the only ones to survive, decides this is not the group for her, and coldly leaves them to their own devices, after beheading their worm infected leader, which is some of the coolest shit I’ve seen her do, since the beginning of the series. You can tell the plot has been tightened up because all the things that just  happened would’ve taken seven episodes of the last season, watching Dutch dither around, until she felt like leaving. This all happens in about fifteen minutes and we get some nice vampire action too.

Zack and Kelly: Unfortunately, we also get some Zach and Kelly scenes, but the upside here is that these scenes  would’ve taken to the middle of last season before. Now that Zack has his mom, he’s been whining about  seeing his dad, and being just as snarky, and disrespectful to her, as he was to Eph, so at least his lack of character remains consistent. I’m never gonna like this actor, who is conistently awful. He finally gets to see what type of creature his mom actually is when he catches her feeding on another child, and tries to make a break for it. I don’t know what the outcome was for this scene, (other than he didn’t escape, ), because I noped the fuck out of watching any more of it. I was ready to move on. I really don’t care about Zack even half as much as Ephraim does.


Vasiliy Fet: Gets his ashes hauled. This show should avoid any and all love scenes, as they are, every one of them, entirely cliche. I don’t know who his new woman is, or even if she’s staying, but she didn’t make a great impression on me, becasue I’m not particularly interested in watching people hooking up during the apocalypse, although I guess that’s what’s happening. The city is going to Hell, and people are short on food and medicine, but the bars are still open apparently. See, it’s scenes like that that confuse people into thinking maybe the apocalypse isn’t so bad. For every scene of people enduring hardship and danger, we then get a scene of people who seem to be just living it up, as if nothing were happening. My expectation would be that the streets would be thoroughly empty at night, and full of people running around during the day, because no vampires can go out then. The show seems to have this a little backwards,with everyone running around at night (or like Set and Fet, just casually walking around), and off the streets in the daytime. 

The budget is so low for this show that they keep reusing the same helicopter shot, and an overview of the city with a few fires in the distance. I wished this network cared enough about this show to give it a budget, instead of trying to do such an epic idea on the cheap.

Eldridge Palmer: Has discovered that Setrakian has been using vampire goo to extend his life and is desperate to get his hands on it, so we’ve gone back to this character’s original motivations from season one. This goo, called The White, is distilled from vampire worms, and Palmer has funded a laboratory, to figure it out, but experiences a setback when the lab leader quits.  Palmer goes to Set, to plead for The White, in exchange for taking himself off the playing field. Set turns him down, explaining to Fet later, that The White is only given to very special and specific people, in exchange for their service against the vampires, and it only extends life, not immortalizes, as Palmer seems to think. Eichorst,the smug little maggot that he is, gets to smirk at Palmer a lot, but otherwise doesn’t get much done in this episode. He does mention the blood factories he intends to set up later, and that they need to increase the number of people to sign up to have their blood typed. Why?


I feel like this  plotline is a mistake and can be taken out of play. It serves no purpose other than to make Eichorst appear more diabolical, otherwise he doesn’t have much to do. It doesn’t serve the vampires much as they seem to have very little trouble procuring meals, (what with humans just wandering around like there’s no danger), and I don’t see how this helps The Master, because he doesn’t either. In fact there’s not much purpose in The Feelers, although they’re interesting to watch. 

Overall, not a bad episode, but not good either, just like the first one. Stay tuned next week when I may or may not review the next one, because there’s going to be interesting new shows airing.

The Strain Season 3: NY Strong

So, I watched the first episode of season three and I can’t say I was impressed. I didnt hate it, but it wasn’t exactly memorable either. The show picks up very close to where it left off in the season two finale, when Eph’s vampirized wife, Kelly, finally kidnapped her son, Zach, and killed Nora. Setrakian finally managed to gain The Occido Lumen, and we had no idea where Gus went.

Eph is, predictably, getting drunk and waiting at his home for Kelly and Zach to drop by. We know this because he has a nightmare that Zach has been turned into a vampire and he has to shoot him. Its a very harrowing dream and this is one of the few times I actually felt for Eph. I want to snark about how it’ll be the last time I have feelings for Eph, beyond wanting to punch him in the throat, but I’m gonna let it go because he’s discovered snark and  actually made me laugh during the following scene.

Setrakian has a voice-over about the sitrep in NY. Its been 23 days, the plague has spread to other cities, and we get some shots of people running about, some fires, and military vehicles, and personnel. Its good that the military has gotten involved but they have their own agenda which doesn’t seem to involve wiping out the vampires, but only containing them.

The Navy Seals are working with Fet, who is their guide around the underground places of NY. I think that’s an excellent use for him, and he is still one of my favorite characters, but he doesn’t work-work with them. He’s  in contact with the Seals by radio, so you know they’re expendable. Like a lot of military personnel in movies they are overconfident. They do make a point of stating that they should be careful not to get any fluids on them, as the fluids from the vampires contain the worm infection, but none of them are wearing contamination gear, even though there’s fluid flying all over the place, when they shoot the vampires.

So, its especially eye-rolling watching Eph get into a fistfight with one of the vampires later in the episode. If you’re trying not to get infected with the worms, fist-fighting the vampires is not the way to stay uninfected. (Yet, Eph does remain so.) Eph fighting in an abandoned parking garage, while trying to steal gas, is one of the better action scenes in this episode, though. He spends a lot of time running around alone as if he were daring the vampires to attack him. Anyway between running about gathering up supplies, and drinking, he works on his bio-weapon against the vampires, a bio-weapon which is beginning to be less effective as the vampires evolve into something else.

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I would prefer that he worked out some kind of inoculation against the infection, instead. That seems like it would be easier to accomplish than killing the vampires one by one, or making them sick. Perhaps a combination of both, so that when they bite people, the people don’t become infected, and make the vampire sick too, but I’m not writing this show, so that idea is gonna die in its infancy.

The show is still taking a pretty casual attitude towards the apocalypse, even though the season has been shortened to just ten episodes. On the other hand, this particular episode was fairly tight, there wasn’t a lot of filler, and we didn’t have to spend any time on Dutch’s boring-ass social problems. We’re introduced to the characters again, find out where they are and get some idea of the problems that will beset them at some point during the season. The trailers for the rest of the season look great, but I have it on good authority that the next two episodes are just as casual in their approach as usual.

We got to see Kelly and Zach interacting. Yes, Zach is still awful, so there’s some consistency there. Now that’s he’s with his Mom, he’s begun whining about his Dad, but at least there’s less of him. Eventually, Eph does get a visit from Kelly, who tries to bargain with him for The Occido Lumen in exchange for their son. There’s a brief appearance by Eichorst baiting a Navy Seals team into following him into an abandoned church, which I could see was a trap as soon as Fet mentioned that it was an abandoned church.

Setrakian and Quinlan teamed up at the end of season two and we get some scenes of Setrakian reading The Lumen and talking about how we aren’t going to get any action scenes out of him this season because he’s got reading to do, while Quinlan looks on impatiently. Quinlan goes to visit the vampire authorities in order to have something to do in this episode. I still think its hilarious how everyone else is deathly afraid of the authorities, but Quin acts like he’s having a friendly conversation with his uncles, or something. He’s totally not scared of them.

The councilwoman, Ferraldo is as spunky as ever. She seems to care deeply about her city and is trying really hard to convince people outside of it, that it needs to be saved. If only politicians acted like her in the real world.  I could’ve done without some of the jingoistic dialogue and cheer-leading by the citizens of NY yelling “NY Strong!” at each other. That was deeply cheesy and they sounded like NY cavemen.

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A lot of information is imparted during the episode, while almost none of it is shown. Its mostly characters talking about how bad things are. This plague is supposed to be a countrywide thing but the show only seems to have enough budget to show snippets of the carnage, and I wish we could get a better overview of what was going on in other cities. We see some fires in the distance and there are lots of sirens. So basically, a louder, smokier version of present day NY city.

One way the show conveyed how dire things have become is when Eph goes to trade medicine for food on the streets. The quarantine of NY mostly just caused a supply shortage, so the citizens have set up a brisk trade market of supplies.

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Gus is back home and trying desperately to save his  mother from her vampiric condition. Even going so far as to give her his own blood. He can’t save her and he knows it, but he tries anyway. He’s as devastated by his loss as Eph and I wished the writers had shown more of that last season. As it stands, Eph barely mentions the death of Nora.

Well, with a shorter season, the plot will have to move forward, and we won’t have much time to watch Gus trying to feed his mom for five episodes, or Setrakian reading until episode nine.

So, while not a bad episode, the show really has not changed too much from the rather casual management of the apocalypse of last season either. The action scenes are always well done, when we can get them, but once again, the acting and dialogue need some help. At least there’s a lot less Zach, and that is a blessing.

Penny Dreadful Series Three Finale (?)

The Penny Dreadful season finale consisted of a two episode arc titled Perpetual Night and The Blessed Dark. I’m still not sure how I feel about this season or the finale. I’m still processing the ending. It appears that  Lily’s and Vanessa’s stories are truly over. I’d love to see more of Kaetenay in the future and we still never got to meet Mr. Hyde. Basically the other character’s  stories aren’t over and I’d love to see their conclusion, but I’m told this is the last episode for the series. I really don’t want to believe that. It sees so abrupt, with so many threads left dangling. I believe the show could endure without Eva green because the other characters are all very compelling, but we can only hope that the PTB will see it that way.

Also, this season felt  shortened. Wasn’t there supposed to be twelve or thirteen episodes? The season seemed to be moving at the usual leisurely pace of a twelve episode season, when suddenly Vanessa is throwing herself on Dracula, the world is ending, and then she’s dead and everything is back to normal, only without her. I’m not satisfied with the explanation given by the shows writer that basically he meant to do that. I think there much more to the story than that. The show ended much too abruptly, and even introduced brand new characters I’d love to see more of, like Seward, and Jeckyll.

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In the previous episode, titled Ebb Tide, Vanessa discovered the shocking truth about Dracula. She confronted him but eventually surrendered to him, bringing about a kind of vampire Apocalypse, but only  in London, which is where we begin the finale. This isn’t  the most fascinating episode, or even the most interesting event, although I was reluctant to believe Vanessa would do such a thing. No, the most fascinating  event turned out to be Lily’s and Dorian’s story, and the dynamic between Kaetenay and Ethan. I also had finally decided that I liked Catriona, who turned out to be a total bad ass, and I hope there is a next season because I’d like to know who she is, where she came from and if the Mummy storyline will be introduced through her and Lyle, because I’d watch the Hell out of that.

Perpetual Night and Blessed Dark are fairly straightforward episodes, though. I wont recap them, just cover the highlights because there’s not a whole lot of plot. Even during the finale, the show manage to keep that same leisurely tone, as if wasnt about to end in 90 minutes.

Ethan , Kaetenay and Malcolm arrive in London and find  the entire city fogbound, people getting sick from some kind of plague, (from the mal aria), and that Dracula’s minions are roaming the streets as they please, taking whom they will, just like the prophecies stated.The highlight is when Ethan wolfs out among a bunch of minions and is  joined by Kaetenay, who is also a werewolf. Apparentl,  Ethan didn’t know this. Kaetenay says he kept it a secret from his own family even. Well, I’d kind of speculated about  what happened between them. Kaetenay was the one who turned E. into a werewolf.

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Victor sets Lily free after the two of them have a heartfelt discussion about why he shouldn’t obliterate her memories of who she was, and why she did what she did. She harbors a lot of rage for about her dead daughter, the things she felt she had to do for her, and her daughter to survive, because of the life restrictions placed on women at that time. I never thought Lily’s anger or reasons were illegitimate ones. Hell, I was angry for her. Hell, the British trampled every culture and continent they encountered. She wasn’t the only person getting shafted by Englishmen, at that time. I just didn’t think that slaughtering them, one by one,  was the answer to that particular dilemma.  I don’t care how mad you are, that’s a lot of killing.

John, the Creature, witnesses the death of his son. He’s implored by his wife to take him to Victor to be resurrected, but John refuses, and buries his son at sea. That story felt truncated too. In an ideal world there’d be a fourth season where John had made a different choice.

Hyde confronts Victor about not using the formula on Lily and informs him that his father has just died. He is Lord Hyde now, having inherited his fathers titles and estates. We never got to see Hyde at all, and the funny thing is, this finale is something of a surprise to the actor as well, because in some earlier interviews he mentioned the conventional makeup used to create him.

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The three men are still looking for Vanessa, when Dr. Seward comes calling. She takes them to Bedlam where she has imprisoned Renfield. They need to find Dracula’s whereabouts, so  Seward hypnotizes Renfield into giving up the location.

Dorian goes back to his home and kicks out Lily’s army of women. When Justine refuses to leave, he kills her. Lily discovers her broken body on the floor of the ballroom, and after saying goodbye to both of them, decides to leave Dorian, which I thought was a fitting response. They’ve got no more to offer each other. He betrayed her to Victor, and killed her girl, after claiming she bored him, although I really think he thought she would decide to stay with him. Once again, because of his ennui and cynicism, Dorian ends up alone and I gots no sympathy for him.

The Five; Seward, Kaetenay, Malcolm, Ethan, and Catriona, arrive at Dracula’s lair, where there’s a long drawn out battle with Dracula’s minions. I’d like to point out the fight choreography is great here, as Catriona gets in some really nice stunts, and Drac’s minions have some great body movement. I’d like to believe Cat’s not entirely human, and it would’ve been nice to find out what she was, and if Dracula, or Amenhotep, had something  to do with that. Ethan finds his way down a long hall to a room full of candles, (which is something I always find especially funny. Who takes the time to light all these tiny damn candles?). He finds Vanessa, who convinces him that the only way to stop the end of the world is to kill her, so he shoots her. Everything stops. The minions all stop, the sun comes out and Dracula simply flies away. Why wasn’t he killed?

Episode 309

Later , everything goes back to normal, as London cleans its streets, the group bury Vanessa, and all go their own ways.Its cute and touching to see Victor grabbing and hugging Ethan, like a little brother. I’m still mad at him for being a dick to Lily, so it’s not that cute. I’m not gonna be shipping these two anytime soon.Later, Ethan, who has nothing to go back home for, decides to stay home with Malcolm, who is the closest thing he has to family now. That’s fitting.

The world spins on without Vanessa being miserable in the middle of it, and the series ends with waaay too many dangling plotlines and characters , we will never get to see.

Oh well…

 

Penny Dreadful : Episodes 5&6.

“Everybody Wants To Rule The World” – Tears for Fears

This World is Our Hell:

Last week, we learned a lot about Ethan and Hecate, as the two of them trudged through the desert to reach his homestead. Ethan’s plan is to go back home, confront, and possibly, kill his father.

Ethan and Hecate get to know each other as they slowly dehydrate but that doesn’t stop them from having sex. In fact, I’m not surprised they did. The entire time they’ve been together, Hecate has been telling Ethan what a wonderful creature he is, and how they will take over the world, or something. This is much more believable coming from Hecate, than it is from Lily, who we didn’t get to see in this episode. Unlike with Lily,  I’m actually afraid of what Hecate might do.

It also appears as if Ethan is slowly coming around to Hecate’s way of thinking, on this issue, as he stops protesting, and side-eyeing her. Maybe she’s just worn him down, or he’s starting to like her, or he’s just pretending to care about what she says. It’s hard to tell with Ethan, as he likes to play his tenderest emotions close to his vest.

The two of them are  still being pursued by Rusk and his men, most of whom get killed when Hecate works some arcane magic to call snakes out of the sand to attack them.  During the chaos, Kaetenay gets bitten while trying to steal the posse’s horses,  and things do not look good for him. He and Sir Malcolm make a getaway, but it’s not clean.

Malcolm eventually meets up with Hecate and Ethan, who are on their last legs and about to die, but all of them are apprehended by Ethan’s father’s men. It turns out that Kaetenay is an Apache, one of fiercest and most rebellious tribes, during the time period before they were mostly wiped out. There’s no love for Kaetenay, in this crew, so Ethan tells them to abandon him in the desert. I’m not sure if Ethan is doing this to spare Kaetenay’s life, if he knows Kaetenay will be alright and come rescue him, or if he really doesn’t care.  Again it’s hard to say what Ethan knows, but I’m inclined to believe that he knows Kaetenay will come for him.

Earlier, Kaetenay  outlined to Malcolm, Ethan’s great sin, which was aiding in the massacre of his tribe and family. I’m still unsure if Ethan was cursed at the time this happened, or if it was something Kaetenay did to him afterward, which would be incredibly ironic. Cursing the man who massacred his family to murder any other people he comes in contact with, (including his own family), sounds like the sort of vindictive , horrible, yet mordantly funny thing, Kaetenay might do. His sense of humor is very odd. At any rate, Ethan must have killed scores of people in his, relatively young, life.

At Ethan’s home, Malcolm and Ethan’s father have words. Malcolm is not greatly impressed by the man, although they seem to have much in common. I think the difference is that Malcolm, as hard headed as he is, eventually learns when he fucks up, and Ethan’s dad, not so much. Dad still insists on making the same mistakes he made before, hoping for a different outcome. As evidenced by his actions when he tells Ethan why he insisted on bringing him home.

In the movie Seven, one of the detectives mentions something called “Forced Atonement”.” It’s when you regret your sins but not because you love God. It’s because you have a gun to your head.” That’s what I thought about when Ethan’s father held a gun to Ethan’s head to make him beg God for forgiveness, and make atonement for what he thinks is Ethan’s great sin, killing his wife and daughter, Ethan’s mother and sister. He says he wants Ethan to pay for what he did, but I’m still not sure what threatening Ethan is going to accomplish.

It really would be interesting to find out that the Apache they let go in the desert is the person who is indirectly responsible for what happened to Ethan’s family, which doesn’t bode well, for the relationship between John and Vanessa. This show likes to mirror characters, and if the relationship between Ethan and Kaetenay is a mirror of the one between Vanessa and John, then there is some hard  news for us viewers, later.

On a side note, we watch as Victor and Henry work on his serum together. Their goal is to get the effects of the serum to be permanent. So far, we’ve seen no sign of Mr. Hyde, but we have seen some startling and disturbing glimpses of Henry’s rage at the world, and how it’s treated him, at the bigotry of the English, and the disregard of his father. This is a man with a deep well of rage, and from time to time, he can’t seem to keep it underneath. Is he already taking the serum , or is this leading up to him taking it, or being given it by Victor?  This also unclear. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if Victor did such a thing. Twice now we’ve seen him admonish Henry for displaying his anger. Testing the serum out on Henry isn’t something that’s out of bounds for him.

 

No Beast So Fierce:

So far, Hecate and Ethan want to rule the world, with Kaetenay  and Malcolm trying to nip that in the bud. Lily and her charge, Justine, want to rule the world with Dorian. Satan tried but lost his bid, but that’s okay because Dracula has put in his application to rule the world  with Vanessa. Who the hell even knows what Henry wants and John  just wants to take care of his family.

Dr. Sweet and Renfield:

Renfield is still giving Dracula  regular updates on what Vanessa has been telling Dr. Seward, including her last session, in which she found out his name, for which he is being rewarded by being made Dracula’s favorite. Dracula now knows that Vanessa knows his name. My thoughts while watching this scene: Dracula has got them (bishies) in check.  A mere twitch of his fingertips is enough to have his followers, minions, (or whatever) groveling on the floor in front of him. Now, that is control!

Vanessa and Lyle:

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Unfortunately ,this seems to be the last we will be seeing of Lyle, as Vanessa catches up with him just before his expedition to Cairo, something he says isn’t strictly voluntary on his part. Vanessa asks him for the name of someone who knows as much about the occult as he does, and this is how Catriona Hartdegan, a new female character and Thanatologist, is introduced, for this season. (Note that famous Egyptian name that Lyle drops before his departure.)

Vanessa goes to see Cate at her fencing lesson, to ask her to investigate Dracula’s name. Cate is definitely a modern woman, bold and snarky. I’m not sure I like her just yet, as she seems very brittle and scratchy, so far. She’s not unlikable, just skritchy. I think one test of whether or not I’ll like her, is how well she gets along with Vanessa, who seems intrigued by her, and how well she handles the situation with Dracula.  I also think its important to learn whether or not she can shoot a gun.  In other words, is she as bad-ass as she likes to think she is, and does she have Vanessa’s back.

Lily, Justine, Dorian:

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“No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity. But I know none, and therefore am no beast.” -Shakespeare

Oh boy, do I have a lot to say about these relationships this week. Now I’m intrigued by the introduction of Lily’s little girl and I’ve decided I’ll call her by her name this week, Justine. Things are definitely heating up between these three, but not in the way you might think, which does not bode well for either Lily, or Justine. I have decided to apply the above quote to Justine and Ethan, although it could apply to just about any of the characters in this episode.

Somebody gon’ die!

Lily has begun to draw up her army. They are mostly prostitutes, and other fallen women, whom English society has disdained as worthless. They’ve been gathering, mostly quietly, at Dorian’s estate and learning from Lily how best to gut and stab their male clients. I watched Lily’s demonstration on Dorian, and I think Lily forgot to factor in that there would be arterial blood spray, if you cut someone from the front. (You really want to do that kind of shit off to the side, or from behind, where the blood wouldn’t hit you.)

Anyway, her biggest problem isn’t that she is teaching incorrect murder classes, but that Justine, who has pledged herself to Lily, has pledged herself to Lily alone. When its time for Justine to demonstrate on Dorian, Lily can barely restrain Justine from cutting his throat. I think Dorian not dying would be a surprise to all of them. He doesn’t actually look scared but he does look nervous. Either he hasn’t told Lily what he is or he’s worried about how little control he has over these women. I’m guessing, the latter.

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At any rate, its not Lily who is the wild card in this scenario, it’s Justine, who will take orders from  no man, including Dorian. Justine basically looks him in the eye,  and tells him to fuck off, something I’m pretty sure Dorian isn’t used to from women he’s  actively sleeping with. At any rate, the future doesn’t look good for Justine. Dorian killed Angelique just for finding out what he was. If Justine can’t be controlled by him, in his own house, then she has a very short future. And if he kills Justine, then he can forget about having a happy relationship with Lily.

Victor and Henry:

The two have finally gotten the serum to work. Victor makes plans to kidnap Lily so he can administer it to her. Henry, long ago, sussed out the real reason Victor is obsessed with saving her. Victor is that creepy stalker, who believes he’s a nice guy.

John:

There’s a little of John’s situation this episode as he goes to visit his family. His son is suffering from some disease and is very sickly. When his wife leaves him alone, John sneaks down from the attic to see him. John manages to give the child a single hug before the boy wakes up  to see a strange man, who looks suspiciously like his father, standing over his bed, and begins to scream. Its heartbreaking to think that this is the only opportunity John will have to touch his child.

 

Victor and Lily

All that happens is Victor gets captured at Dorian’s house. The only reason Justine doesn’t kill him is because of the amount of control Lily has over her, and Lily’s mercy. She warns him not to try it again, or he’ll be killed.

Hecate, Talbot, Malcolm 

 

The set piece of the episode is the final dinner and shootout at the Talbot corral. Everyone is calmly sitting and eating dinner as if guns weren’t being brandished a couple of hours earlier. Guns get brandished again when Rusk asks Hecate what she is, knowing what she did to his men with the snakes, and she reveals her true face to every one at the table. That’s some next level shit to everyone, as the room  immediately erupts in gunfire. We get to see Ethan’s gunfighter skills come into play and Hecate gets taken down by a bullet from Papa Talbot. No future Queen of the Earth for her, I guess.

Talbot barricades himself and his men in the chapel where he’d earlier threatened Ethan, but Kaetenay, who simply refuses to die, comes through, in the cut. With the two biggest influences in his life dead, Ethan is free to leave with Malcolm and Kaetenay. The all need to return to England NOW! because Vanessa is falling further into Dracula’s clutches.

Vanessa and Dr. Sweet

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After a visit with Dr. Seward, who urges her to mend fences with her friends, Vanessa goes to see Dr. Sweet, who goads her into talking about her problems with him. He is still sweet?talking her, with his opinions about creatures of darkness, and loneliness. He seems surprised that she has turned up to see him because he thought all his hard work in wooing her had been wasted.

A lot of the things Sweet tells her are about himself, and she seems, on some level, to understand this because they end up having sex in the exhibit. Yeah, this does not look good. All evening long, Sweet seems as if he’s on the verge of telling Vanessa his real name, but keeps thinking better of it. Shit is gonna hit that fan when that happens.Vanessa: betrayed yet again!

Obviously, Vanessa cannot be left alone to choose her own friends, and must needs adult supervision.

Let’s hope Ethan reaches her quickly before something horrible happens.

 

Of Note:

It’s interesting that Dracula, despite his nefarious purposes, really seems to actually love Vanessa. His behavior towards her is so incredibly convincing, as Dr. Sweet, that even I occasionally forget what he is. I know he’s probably lying to her quite a lot, but I still can’t help but feel a great deal of sympathy for his evil ass. This a testament to the skills of the writer and the actor. (Plus, it doesnt hurt that that actor is really really hawwt!)

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