Before Dante, we spoke not of the Gates of Hell, but of the Mouth of Hell. My journey to damnation began when I was swallowed by the beast.
"...And The Woman Clothed In Sun" looks into the mouths of several beasts, those yawning passageways to hell and damnation that seem to be everywhere on Hannibal. Bedelia's hypocritical lecture speaks of her descent once she was swallowed by Hannibal, and her journey will surely end the same way, though far more literally. But we also see her hand...and arm...and shoulder... swallowed by her patient, Neal Frank (Zachary Quinto returning after his brief flash earlier in the season). But Neal himself, that twitchy, paranoid, fragile creature, isn't the beast. Neal only represents the beast within Bedelia, the part of her that wants to crush vulnerability rather than help it. That instinct, and the moment that she acts on it, is her first deliberate step into the Mouth of Hell, the act that shackles her to Hannibal for years to come.
Will may feel he has escaped the mouth of his beast, but he is still Hannibal's bride, and his armor is still inadequate. He can be as chilly as he likes in his sessions with "Dr. Lecter," but in front of Hannibal, Will is always naked. Hannibal continues his pretense of helping Will, who seems to believe he is being helped, but Hannibal is also fostering a new son in The Great Red Dragon. And now Hannibal has Will's home address, a piece of information we know he does not plan to use for good.
And then there's Reba, who's safer caressing the tooth of a tiger than she is sleeping next to Francis Dolarhyde in his grandmother's bed. Their date with the unconscious tiger is one of the most stunning passages in Red Dragon - that Francis knew what this would mean to Reba, that he understood her isolation and knew how to abate it, is truly beautiful. There's something electric about watching Reba lace her fingers through the sleeping tiger's fur, and we can understand Francis' deep emotion at the sight.
When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
There's something about Reba that makes Francis more human, that slows his becoming. The morning after they sleep together he is the most tender we've seen him, scarcely able to believe that he has free leave to touch Reba, to be touched by her. But his own beast will not let him go so easily, and there's only one thing for it: he must consume The Dragon as he is being consumed, shoveling Blake's beautiful, dreadful painting into his cleft mouth in a room deep within the halls of the National Gallery of Art. And maybe Hannibal's been helping Will after all, because he leads Will directly to Francis in a confrontation that easily could have been the last of The Great Red Dragon. But Will hesitates; he sees vulnerability and once more falters rather than crushing it, leaving himself at risk yet again despite Bedelia's informed advice. Just as Hannibal knew he would.
"...And The Woman Clothed In Sun" is beautifully directed by Guillermo Navarro, particularly the scene in which Francis sees Reba as the woman in Blake's painting, golden and angelic, both menaced by The Great Red Dragon and humanity's last defense against it. Reba - kind, straightforward, unafraid Reba - is all that stands between Francis and his ultimate becoming, but she will not be enough. No one can stop the dragon.
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