A Visit to William Blake’s Fearful Symmetry

The first two episodes of the Red Dragon arc on Hannibal – “The Great Red Dragon” “And the Woman Clothed with the Sun…” – are named after a single William Blake painting. Since I’ve missed a week of posting, I decided to go ahead and treat this pair of episodes as a whole for this post.

When I made the “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun” cocktail for my #BoldlyBecoming entry, I was more focused on the aesthetic of the entire look. That drink is based on the painting Dolarhyde chooses for his tattoo, the one with the full back image of the dragon standing over the prone woman. “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun,” on the other hand, depicts the dragon flying above the woman who is crouched in a ready stance with arms outstretched and golden light shining from her magnificently.

Francis Dolarhyde sees himself as separate and otherworldly. Even in his quieter moments in the books, he is clearly a dangerous figure seeking a sense of domination in his life. Reba throws him off his guard a little because she is the one person who can not only sense his humanity, but has the patience and interest to look for it. This isn’t some Disney scenario where a woman’s love is enough to “tame the beast” or make him un-crazy or whatever – it’s not that kind of fairy tale. However, Reba’s part in the Red Dragon arc has always been interesting to me because she is a positive, confident figure whose light is almost alarming to a Francis who seems insistent on lurking in the shadows. But I digress, we’re here to discuss cocktails.

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Hannibal Episode 9 - Reviews Roundup - 1

Continuing my roundup of Hannibal reviews that discuss Richard Armitage/ Francis Dolarhyde. For my previous Hannibal reviews roundup click here, here, and here.  

Episode 9 - Woman Clothed with the Sun. Reviews roundup  Part 1 

Warning - includes spoilers

  • Slant Magazine  - The way Francis utters “Mrs. McClane” from his van, garbling it yet determined to verbally push it out so as to reach out, when he offers her a ride home, is the most moving gesture in the entire series. Considering the context of who Francis actually is, the scene is flabbergasting for its empathy and awareness of vulnerability, bringing to mind some of the vocal effects that Charles Laughton landed in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • Armitage plays this role in the tradition of some of the 1930s-era Universal Studios movie monsters: with an acknowledgement of the grace that arrives almost inadvertently from the purity of the effort to overcome physical damage—a grace that Francis hates himself too much to recognize. When Francis eats a piece of pie that Reba offers him as they sit in her home, quickly, like a hungry dog, we share his relief in being able to eat with someone while remaining alone and unwatched in equal measure. It’s training-wheels companionship for a man who’s long been lost in the figurative cold.

Link - Slant Magazine

  • Father Son Holy Gore - I cannot get enough of Richard Armitage as Dolarhyde. I mean, it’s incredible. His physicality, the way he embodies the character and truly becomes him; it’s the essence of the character. Plus, he has several episodes to flesh out that performance. Perfect actor to have chosen for this role. Armitage rules – I am now a believer!

Link - Father Son Holy Gore

  • Cut Print Film - As for Dolarhyde, Hannibal once again makes great use of Armitage’s body-language — all twisted muscle and clenched fists. There’s a wonderful, Cronenberg-ian moment when we even see a big, fleshy tail snaking its way out of Dolarhyde’s back. But just as we seem him at his most monstrous, Hannibal also begins to humanize him a bit. There’s a little flashback to Dolarhyde as child, eating with his stern looking grandmother. And as an adult, Dolarhyde starts to have some human contact besides those unfortunate happy families he slaughters. He seeks the assistance of Reba (Rutina Wesley), a blind woman who works at the same photographic company he does. While their conversation is awkward, Reba seems interested in Dolarhyde, and he ends up giving her a ride home. She thinks he’s shy and closed-mouth because of the surgery he’s had to repair a cleft palate. Of course there’s more than meets the eye about the man she refers to as “Mr. D”, but she can’t exactly see him to know that.

Link - Cut Print Film

  • Dork Shelf - We see a short glimpse of Francis’ childhood, eating dinner at what book readers can assume is the Dolarhyde Orphanage run by his grandmother. The rest of his journey is spent garnering audience sympathy thanks to two excellent performances by the season three guest stars.
  • Reba McClane, played by Rutina Wesley of True Blood fame, is introduced in “Clothed With the Sun.” Blind and only now experiencing the sighted world for the first time, she encounters co-worker Francis when he comes to request infrared film as she work in the Gateway darkroom. Her confidence contrasts with Dolarhyde’s childish self loathing comfortably, in a way that makes them both endearing. Later, when the two are on a semi-date at Reba’s home, she broaches the topic of Frank’s speech impediment, and the results are both terrifying and beautiful.
  • Francis’ need for love, or even basic kindness, pulls our instinct to fear him away. He is painted as a deeply pained and emotionally traumatized child. The effect works especially well since Hannibal doesn’t let us watch guest stars kill people, making Will Graham reenact them instead. The separation from murderer and victim illustrates that Francis Dolarhyde and The Great Red Dragon he is becoming are separate entities and should be viewed as such.

Link - Dork Shelf

  • Nerdly  - And the Woman Clothed With the Sun’ introduce’s Francis Dolarhyde’s voice(a tremendous performance by Richard Armitage. His tortured rasp is in a league with Tom Hardy’s muffled and ecstatic Bane) and his scorchingly plain-spoken love interest, it is very much Hannibal’s hour of television.
  • Dolarhyde’s tenuous move in that direction, his awkward courtship of Reba McClane(a studied and bluntly playful Rutina Wesley), is equal parts genuine and unsettling. The show has always had the infinite possibilities of human connection, for better and for much, much worse, at its heart, and there’s something of Will’s twitchy efforts at friendship in the way Dolarhyde protects himself. It’s also another way to show his diametric opposition to Hannibal, his fumbling attempts to find companionship so different from Hannibal’s suave and easy manipulation of those around him. The transformation offered by a connection to Reba, who declares that she likes Francis for the lack of pity he shows for her blindness because “pity feels like spit on my cheek,” is a mundane one set against the metamorphosis into which Dolarhyde is entering.

Link - Nerdly

  • AV Club - Francis’ need for family is alluded to in the dinner scene with his grandmother… He places mirrors in his victim’s eyes and mouth to see himself in them, to see himself in these families as well. But in “And the Woman Clothed with the Sun…,” he’s also beginning to interact with the outside world, not just with his inner dragon (although, the scene where he grows his tale was quite striking).

Link - AV Club

  • IGN - As for the Red Dragon himself, we saw a different side of him here as he met Reba (True Blood’s Rutina Wesley), a blind coworker of his who he formed a rapport with. Wesley was very good, playing very well off of Richard Armitage, as we heard more of his speech impediment – and she made it clear she had no judgment about it. Of course we also got some glimpses of Francis’ childhood too and his grandmother… which I won’t say more about if you don’t know the Red Dragon story, but should be interesting to delve into.
  • But lest we think we’re getting too much of the nice side of Francis, Will’s investigations reminded us of the naked, blood-soaked monster he has become. Showing these different facets of the character, Armitage is expertly capturing the very complicated, damaged person Francis is, as we saw a vulnerable side with Reba, but always felt just how scary he is.

Link - IGN

  • Guardian - He meets a nice blind woman at work (played by True Blood’s Rutina Wesley). She can’t see his harelip and understands the way he speaks because she listens intently, so he lets her in, overcoming his shyness. He takes her home and she invites him in, serving him the most awkward piece of pie that has ever been served in all of eternity. First he gobbles it down and then he grunts at her and grabs her hand when she tries to touch his face and says, in the most menacing voice I have ever heard: “Trust me. I’m smiling.” If I was this lady I would never talk to him ever again and eat the rest of that pie all for myself because it looked really good.

Link - Guardian

  • Den of Geek - While Will and Hannibal obsess over the function of family in their own lives in an attempt to understand the function of family in Francis Dolarhyde’s life, the serial killer makes a new friend. She is Reba, a blind co-worker of Dolarhyde’s who forms a connection with the man over pie (Pushing Daisies leftovers?!) and a shared respect for directness. We finally get to hear Dolarhyde speak, a menacing growl he also shares with Hannibal via a phone call to his prison.

Link - Den of Geek

  • 411 Mania - Dolarhyde’s actually something of a supporting character this week. When we spend time with him, he’s meeting with Reba (Rutina Wesley), a blind woman working at the same film company he does. These are the parts that are mostly ripped right from the story. Even if you’re aware of it, the story of Dolarhyde finding companionship is interesting. He doesn’t seem like he’s all there enough to properly handle one and yet Reba’s so innocent that there’s the faintest glimmer of hope that he’d stop if their relationship works out. It’s still early in that so there’s no way to be sure, but no one ever gets a happy ending on Hannibal.

Link - 411 Mania

episode 9 comment

I should have written some small comment about episode 8, about the silence that waved over that episode reflecting Francis Dolarhyde’s silence - how many lines were on the episode? Half than usual, at least -, see Jimmy Price and Brian Zeller again after so long, THIS IS MY DESIGN, etc. And the finale. The long awaited parallel between Savoureux 1.13.

random spoiler gallore following. It’s more of a comment than an analysis


Yesterday seeing episode 9, I realized I had to share something. As soon as I saw the mirror / reflection of Hannibal and Will walking side by side, I knew I would like the episode.

damn it was awesome. ah, wish I had screencaps of that already, but it’s too soon. this and following images are from farfarawaysite

Beautiful visual and all the metaphorical implications. Hannibal is starting to follow Will again, influence him, and/or vice versa. It was like a shadow, and it felt like followed Will after he left. The Hannibal shadow/mimic was like an opposition to how Will acted in Naka-Choko 2.10. They are orbitating again, and the gears in Hannibal’s mind are spinning again, like Alana said.

Man, Alana’s angry at Hannibal. Point noted.

Back at Hannibal and Will. They are the same, after all, in Hannibal’s mind - and Will’s too. Poor guy, I loved that we got the same exact reaction to the dreams like we did in season 1.

It’s painful to see how Will did move on and built a family of his own, and now he’s getting back where he started, with much more to lose now. I think Hannibal sees this as both through a slightly hurt, but most of all amused perspective. Will moved on, and now he’s back.

Hannigram. I was never one to look at Hannibal and Will and see them as a romantic pairing (read, sexual pairing, because it is a romantic bound), but I appreciate every single time it it hinted or suggested, because I find that it is presented in a very intelligent way. I love how everyone in the production team made Hannigram possible for the fans, and fans who don’t see it in that exact light can still love it too. I have a hannigram tag on my blog, I like to read opinions on them, I just don’t see them as an actual pairing but as something platonic and more complicated. I love the idea of murder husbands, I just don’t see them actually married. Family. They are a special form of family.


“You called us murder husbands” - Will

not so internally screaming. oh my goodness I’m sure my neighbours heard me. I jolted up and had my mother stare at me before I could sum up in 20 seconds exactly how that was one of the most beautiful and amazing lines I’ve heard lately. Someone who watches the show and has no contact with tumblr or twitter or the fanbase - yes, there are several people like that, I brought some of them to the show - wouldn’t realize how awesome this line was.

Holy shit, Bryan Fuller, Martha deLaurentiis, Loretta Ramos, the whole deLaurentiis Company, every single one of you production teams and directors I cannot possible name all, I love you. I have never seen a production team that was so close to their fans, so nice, and could actually learn from them and appreciate what the fans do. That felt like waving a giant flag and crown that flad with flower crowns saying ‘We love you fannibals’.

Murder Husbands. I never for once expected to hear that on the show and it was awesome. Freddie, you’re one hell of an awesome person.

And Abigail. It was awesome to see her back, go back to previous episodes and see their form of father - daughter relationship (and GJH! it’s been so long!)
Awesome way to reflect the point Hannibal made to Will - he gave her a daughter. Will has a new son, but he did have a daughter before and the possibility of a very different family - but still family.
And you killed her, Hannibal. You may blame Will, but you did it. Point noted.

As I watched Francis and Reba, I could make the parallels with The Red Dragon, I love parallels. I loved to hear Richard talk. Beautiful stuff.

Thank you to everyone who makes this show possible, and will continue to make. You are awesome and created one of the best shows in recent times, you will continue, sooner or later.

Fan art for the next Hannibal - And The Woman Clothed with the Sun,

Hope you guys like it! And remember #SaveHannibal!