HANNIBAL Review: 3.11 “...And The Beast From The Sea”

Save yourself. Kill them all.

It’s tough to hold on to anything good. It’s all so slippery.

Yeah, slick as hell. 

Will's happy home with Molly and Wally is slipping from his hands, tumbling down a hill and soon far beyond where he can ever hope to hold it again. Hannibal has wielded The Great Red Dragon like a weapon, using the dragon's vast capacity for change in order to irrevocably alter the way Will feels about his new family, his once safe space. Hannibal cannot abide the fact that Will has found himself a harbor outside of the darkness, but the reality is that if Will were truly fulfilled by his life with Molly and her son, Jack Crawford - that fisher of men - could never have lured him away. 

Nina Arianda does great work in this episode, giving Molly Graham more depth and strength than the character has ever had before. Molly is a character that has been kept forcibly unknowable to us, nothing more than a weak and fading beacon reminding Will of how good he once, briefly, had it, but never strong enough to guide him back home. This is how the character was written by Thomas Harris, and how she's been portrayed in every adaptation, including Hannibal, until "...And The Beast From The Sea." Here, Molly's instincts are proven to be as strong and unerring, in their own way, as Will's, and we're left to presume that could be what drew them together in the years we missed between episodes. Those instincts keep her and her son safe from The Dragon, differing from the source material that includes a last-minute rescue by Jack Crawford, a change that strengthens Molly's character and weakens Jack's in the most interesting way. Even Hannibal's got to admire this new Molly, his romantic rival: "She survived the Great Red Dragon. Takes a pinch more than luck." Arianda's ending scene in the hospital room with her Venus in Fur co-star Hugh Dancy sells us on a relationship that has, until now, only felt like a distraction from the true love story of this series. 

A love story that grows more broken and toxic with every episode, as Will and Hannibal take turns hurting each other just to prove that they are each beyond the capacity to be hurt. Neither is, as Will loses his cool distance and tearfully confronts a seemingly nonchalant Hannibal. It's left to Alana, again, to punish the beast where Will cannot, and she keeps her promise by stripping him of his books, his drawings, his toilet - and by muzzling him in the character's infamous mask, long hinted at on this show and finally delivered. But as long as Hannibal still has the rich palace of his memory, and as long as he still has Will, he has all he needs. 

He has also, until now, had that last necessity for his ego: a patient, a pupil, a disciple. Hannibal seems quite protective of Francis, and the man needs that protection, as he battles out, quite literally, the two souls dwelling in his breast, each one striving to forsake its brother. He doesn't want to hurt Reba, this flare of warmth and brightness so sudden in the blackness that it blinds him to look at her. He breaks up with her, trying to free her, but Hannibal suggests he can have his dragon and his Reba too, so long as he throws the dragon to another. Since Molly has thwarted this plan, what does that mean for Reba?

"...And The Beast From The Sea" is tensely directed by series vet Michael Rymer, with The Dragon's home invasion a grim and terrifying episode high. Dolarhyde's transformation into The Great Red Dragon is growing more literal (and radder every second); there are just two more episodes before we see his true Becoming. I can't wait.

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