Written by Matthew Taylor
Last week’s episode of Hannibal was a rare misstep for the typically phenomenal series. It essentially amounted to 40 minutes of buildup, with too short a climax. The same certainly can’t be said for tonight’s episode: “…And the Beast From the Sea” was a return to form for the show, providing audience’s with a number of suspenseful moments and a whole lot of payoff.
As we inch towards the final episode, it’s starting to look like all bets are off as Bryan Fuller made some slight deviations from the cinematic interpretations of these stories. This week, Molly and Walter were turned into pawns in the chess match between Will and Hannibal, while Francis Dolarhyde continues lose control to his murderous alter ego. These two subplots eventually cross paths in a fabulous sequence that stands as one of the most suspenseful scenes of the series. With minimal dialogue and high stakes, the Red Dragon’s latest attempt at murder was beautifully directed and unpredictable, slowly ratcheting up the tension before reaching it’s fast-paced finale. This ten-minute sequence single-handedly made up for last week’s excessive filler.
But that wasn’t the only good scene this week. Dolarhyde’s inner conflict with the Red Dragon was represented in a surprisingly brutal moment where he, quite literally, gets into a fight with himself. Putting aside the relatively cheesy effects employed to represent the Dragon, the sequence was as disturbing and absorbing as we’ve come to expect from this series. Richard Armitrage also continues to impress with his work, specifically the way he believably presents the two sides to his personality through physicality and vocals. While his character isn’t as developed as I’d like, his performance is mesmerizing and elevates the series. Whether he’s eating a painting, doing handstands or trying to kill an innocent family, Armitrage is always frightening in the part and remains the highlight of every episode.
What doesn’t work about the Red Dragon is his love story (if you could even call it that). Armitrage and his costar, Rutina Wesley, aren’t to blame at all for this subplot not working out, but the relationship between Dolarhyde and Reba feels tacked on when it should be integral to the story. It’s hard to believe that anyone would fall for someone like Dolarhyde, who is clearly troubled, and while Wesley tries her hardest to make the character’s actions believable, the writing just isn’t strong enough. Similarly, Will’s relationship with his stepson feels underdeveloped. It’s refreshing to see a new, less tortured side of Will, but a major scene shared with his stepson lacked the necessary emotional impact.
But aside from a few problems, the writing on Hannibal was still quite impressive this week. The way the show is merging its many characters is fascinating, and pays tribute to the original story while still implementing a handful of surprises. Watching Hannibal manipulate Dolarhyde to hurt Will adds a new dimension to their already twisted relationship, with the two characters being more openly hostel to each other than ever before. The show also seems to be moving to a gruesome finale that will, hopefully, be as shocking as last season’s blood soaked finale. I knew that Molly and Walter would eventually be put in danger, but I would have guessed that particular development would come at the end of the season. Instead, that particular subplot arrived quickly and with minimal warning, making it hard to guess what could possibly come next for these characters. Additionally, viewers have to wonder about how Alana, Bedelia and Jack will ultimately figure in to the resolution of the Red Dragon’s story arc. Fuller clearly isn’t following the original story template anymore, and we’re all better off for it.
It’s nice to know that last week’s episode was just a simple blunder, and that Hannibal is back on a winning streak. As we get closer to what will most likely be the final hour of this terrific drama, it’s refreshing to see Fuller deviate from the storyline we’ve seen before and do something new and exciting with these characters. Hannibal is more suspenseful than ever, and if the end of this week’s episode is any indication, it’s only going to get crazier.
…And the Beast From the Sea: 8 out of 10.