After a relative return to a more generic structure of TV drama in last week’s episode, Hannibal delivers a somewhat shapeless installment with Season 3, Episode 9 (“And The Woman Clothed with the Sun”). Perhaps it is my panic knowing that we probably only have four episodes left of this beautiful show, but I wish Hannibal had done more with this reunion episode between Will and Hannibal.
That being said, “And The Woman Clothed” was a beautiful, expertly-acted piece of television that took the theme of family to explore how one can be saved by and/or destroyed by the people we call family. In that first category, we have Will, Molly, and Walter. As Hannibal observes: “Like you Will, [The Tooth Fairy] needs a family to escape what’s inside of him.” Though the analogy is gruesome, it is also somewhat fitting (one of Hannibal’s many specialties). Of course, as Will is kept tethered by his new family, he is pulled back into darkness by his old one.
Hannibal isn’t shy in admitting that he considers Will family, and (in a very welcome return) Freddie Lyons even goes so far as to label them as “murder husbands” in one of her many pieces about their relationship. Hannibal doesn’t waste any time expressing his disappointment in Will’s new choice of family. Excepting Will’s “betrayal” at the end of season 2, this might be the most disappointed we’ve ever seen Hannibal. Here, his disappointment is much more mundane, and perhaps dulled by the passage of time. As Alana threatens to take away the small dignities that she grants Hannibal in his prison, it’s hard not to wonder if Hannibal is regretting giving up his freedom for this small piece of Will.
This theme of family is further explored in the third member of the family Hannibal and Will once had: Abigail Hobbs. In flashbacks, we see moments in the relationship between Hannibal and Abigail in the time between her fake-death at Hannibal’s hand and her real death at Hannibal’s hand. Like Will, we get the sense that, even as Abigail is being pulled in by the promise of being Hannibal’s family, she understands that it could very well end with her death. Though it is tragically hypnotic to see Abigail and Hannibal interact, her presence is not as effective here as it was earlier in the season when Will hung with her ghost. Though Abigail still very much affects Will, Hannibal, and their relationship with one another, I am ready to move onto new things — dynamics of their dynamic that haven’t already been so thoroughly explored.
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. Though this meandering episode was not without its insights and delights, it would have been nice to get to this plot development a lot sooner.