Hannibal: “…And the Woman Clothed in Sun” Review

hannibal season 3

As we pointed out a couple weeks ago, there’s a bit of confusion regarding the titles of a few of Blake’s paintings in the source material. No, it’s not the same title as last week. This week we spend a lot of time with Bedelia and Reba, two contrasting women who are clothed with and in the celestial radiation of their serial killer men. Will’s still on the trail of the Tooth Fairy, and Hannibal’s up to something. So let’s dive in, shall we?

Scariness and spoilers below, as well as some violence, mild gore, and general Hannibal-ness.

hannibal season 3 tigerWe begin with Francis Dolarhyde impersonating Hannibal’s lawyer in order to get a call to him in his cell. Hannibal easily slips back into psychiatrist mode, clearly enjoying getting a first-hand look into the mind of the Tooth Fairy. Yes, Dolarhyde believes Hannibal is both the master and a peer. He later takes Reba to go “see” a tiger; she’s never seen one before, and he’s got a friend who has one knocked out to get a tooth fixed. She asks him to describe it to her, and he mentions that the orange is absolutely radiant. There’s a clear parallel between the beastly tiger and the beast within Dolarhyde, and as Reba runs her hands over the tigers ears and teeth, he gasps.

Reba comes back to his house, makes some martinis, and puts the moves on him. I’d be totally rooting for her if Dolarhyde wasn’t a serial killer. The show does a good job of showing just how able Reba is, and the fact that she’s cast as the sexual instigator is great. She woos him, stops when she worries that she doesn’t have his consent, but he wholeheartedly responds by picking her up in his arms and carrying her to the bedroom for lots of “terrific” lovemaking. We don’t often get to see disabled characters as sexual beings, let alone as sexually forward beings, and I’m quite pleased the show handled it well.

hannibal season 3 zachary quintoMeanwhile, Will goes to see Bedelia. She’s giving a lecture on how her psychological self deteriorated as a result of Hannibal’s manipulations. Afterward, he calls her on her bullshit and his banter actually makes me laugh. Bedelia brushes him off by telling him to make an appointment, so that’s what he does. We learn something closer to the truth about Bedelia, that she’s a fantastic liar (something she learned from Hannibal) and that she’s clearly cut from the same cloth as him. Wills instincts are to help the vulnerable, hers are to destroy them (“crush them” is the phrase she uses). Her first patient who died (hello, Zachary Quinto!) came to her from a recommendation from Hannibal. He was dissatisfied with his treatment and knew something nefarious was up. He starts to figure out that Bedelia is no better than Hannibal when he begins to choke. Bedelia’s shocked and momentarily paralyzed before she tries to help him clear his airway by sticking her whole arm down his throat. Whoops? Not really, I don’t think.

Will visits Hannibal for insight, and Hannibal is just mostly amused at Will. The clock is ticking: Hannibal reminds Will that there are only eleven days until the next full moon. Will goes to the Brooklyn Museum to see the original Blake watercolor masterpiece, but discovers that Dolarhyde has already been there. Dolarhyde booked an appointment to see the original under the name “John Crane”. He then knocks out the curator and eats the painting. Yes, eats it, probably hoping to consume it in order to become it. Will interrupts him as Dolarhyde attempts to exit through the elevator. He picks Will up and throws him out as the doors close. Clearly all those pullups are paying off, this guy has tremendous physical strength.

The most striking element of this episode is the parallel between Bedelia and Reba. Bedelia, wearing black now, is only playing the part of the innocent and victimized woman. She’s acting like the “woman clothed in/with the sun”, but she’s naturally just as beastly as the murderous men. Reba, on the other hand, seems to be the real deal. She’s innocent and honest, enamored by Dolarhyde. More to the point, she gets all the literal “woman radiating light” imagery in this episode.

woman clothed with the sun wikicommons

From Facundus Beatus, via wikicommons

In the Book of Revelation, the Red Dragon lies in wait while a woman clothed with the sun is in labor. He plans to eat her child, but at the last moment her son is caught up to Heaven by God and she flees to a place prepared for her in the wilderness. Then a war breaks out in Heaven between the angels and Michael and the Dragon, and the Dragon is cast down to earth. The Dragon hunts for the woman, but the woman is saved, so the Dragon swears to wage war against the woman’s descendants. In Christian theology it’s generally accepted that the Dragon is Satan and the woman is the Virgin Mary. When we hold up Bedelia and Reba to usual Virgin Mary stereotypes, we get all kinds of interesting implications. Bedelia is the blonde, white, familiar face, constantly playing at being meek and humble. On the surface, she’s everything we’ve come to expect from typical Western depictions of the Virgin Mary. But below the surface her character is none of these things; she’s just as much a beast as Dolarhyde. Reba, on the other hand, is Black, blind, and sexually forward. Casting her as the true Mary figure inverts stereotypes while harnessing other typical Marian character traits, like innocence, compassion, and honesty. It’s progressive, and I’m impressed. If Reba’s the woman clothed in sun, it makes me wonder if Bedelia is the other woman from Revelation, the one for whom things don’t work out so well. Only a few more episodes to find out!

Episode Tally:
Tigers: one
Paintings eaten by Richard Armitage: one
Actual sentences said by Richard Armitage: Many! Handfuls! Wow!

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