Viewing posts tagged proverbs of hell

The Proverbs of Hell 39/39: The Wrath of the Lamb

THE WRATH OF THE LAMB: Reframing the title scheme for the back half of the season away from “Blake paintings” and towards “lines from Revelation,” and not entirely honestly. The title drop in the proceeding episode forces single vision, such that it can only refer to Will’s vengeance against Hannibal, although it’s not as though it would have been long on ambiguity without that.

I complained on Twitter a while back that there are no good instances of the deceptive edit, in which information is withheld from the audience purely by selectively editing around it so as to obscure it. The general problem with this is that it depends on selectively and covertly breaking the basic narrative codes of the medium, which state that editing is for communicating information, not for casual lying without any hints to this effect. Hannibal likely comes closer than most to being able to get away with it by the simple virtue of its editing never really suggesting a directly communicated reality in the first place. But the real reason it just about gets away with having an unseen cadaver in the room for this entire scene is just that the deception is mercifully ...

The Proverbs of Hell 38/39: The Number of the Beast is 666

THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST IS 666: Last and in most ways least, it is to “The Great Red Dragon and the Beast from the Sea” what “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun” is to “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun”—a drabber and less chilling counterpart. The dragon is in an awkward pose that serves to expose the limitations of Blake’s anatomy, his face flattened in profile in such a way as to lose all animalistic grandeur. It is the one of the paintings to arguably look better when Fuller and company recreate it in “And the Woman Clothed in Sun.” Its one interesting element is the lamb-like figure behind the Beast from the Sea, a point of contrast and dissonance that enlivens the whole.

BEDELIA DU MAURIER: It's hard to predict when brittle materials will break. Hannibal gave you three years to build a family and a life, confident he'd find a way to take them from you.

WILL GRAHAM: And he has.

The blunt fatalism of this admission surprises, and doesn’t really seem to follow from any of Will and Molly’s interactions last episode. Nor is ...

The Proverbs of Hell 37/39: And the Beast from the Sea

AND THE BEAST FROM THE SEA: The one painting in the series not to have a direct representation or invocation in the series. The tense sexuality that exists between the Dragon and the Sun-Clothed Woman is replaced here by a raw homoeroticism—a theme that is not entirely uncommon in Blake. (c.f. Object 47 of Milton a Poem) The Beast from the Sea appears in Revelation 13, one verse after the Dragon, and is said to be given his power by the Dragon, creating a sense of heritage or supplanting. In Blake, the Beast rises below the Dragon, but has clear dominion over him. Of course, that’s always how supplantation begins. 

ALANA BLOOM: Maybe he's trying to stop.

JACK CRAWFORD: You think there's any way to push him to be self-destructive?

ALANA BLOOM: Push him toward suicide?

JACK CRAWFORD: Suicide suits me just fine.

WILL GRAHAM: If he's really trying to stop, he's not going to kill himself. How could he be sure his death would affect whatever's inside him?

Will’s casual apprehension of the absurd logic of Dolarhyde’s difficulties in confronting the beast within is grimly funny. A crucial question, of course, is ...

The Proverbs of Hell 36/39: And The Woman Clothed In Sun

AND THE WOMAN CLOTHED IN SUN: The big one. Hannibal describes its “unique and nightmarish charge of demonic sexuality,” which is fair enough, but seems desperately insufficient. Let’s add, then, a brief discussion of gaze. As John Berger memorably simplifies it, in art the norm is that “men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.” Which at least broadly describes this picture, sure, in that we are seeing a woman being looked at. But the woman is obscured in the picture. We watch her being looked at, yes, but we do not really see her ourselves. That picture is The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed With the Sun. Here the object of our gaze is, as they say, dat ass. This isn’t so much a charge of demonic sexuality as a stunningly homoerotic vision of erotic puissance. Dolarhyde, clearly, does not miss the point nearly so much.

FRANCIS DOLARHYDE: Hello, Dr. Lecter. As an avid fan, I wanted to tell you I'm delighted that you have taken an interest in me. I don't believe you'd tell them who I am, even if you knew.

HANNIBAL: What particular body you currently occupy ...

The Proverbs of Hell 35/39: And The Woman Clothed With The Sun

AND THE WOMAN CLOTHED WITH THE SUN: This is not the picture that Dolarhyde worships, which is “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun.” The distinction flummoxed Harris himself, who got the wrong one in Red Dragon, and the most satisfying explanation for this preceding the episode named after the story’s central painting is that Fuller is providing an homage to the error. In any case, this painting is essentially Dolarhyde’s from the opposite perspective. The result is that the woman is the central object of the painting, with the Dragon looming above her, mimicking our own act of looking at her. The picture Dolarhyde prefers is on the whole the far more interesting framing, which we’ll get to next week.

HANNIBAL: That's the same atrocious aftershave you wore in court.

WILL GRAHAM: Hello, Dr. Lecter.

HANNIBAL: Hello, Will. Did you get my note?

WILL GRAHAM: I got it. Thank you.

HANNIBAL: Did you read it before you destroyed it? Or did you simply toss it into the nearest fire?

WILL GRAHAM: I read it. And then I burned it.

HANNIBAL: And you came anyway. I'm glad you came. My other callers are all ...

The Proverbs of Hell 34/39: The Great Red Dragon

THE GREAT RED DRAGON: After thirty-three episodes named after food, we change gears abruptly to episodes named after works of art by William Blake. This episode does not designate a specific work but rather a series of four paintings in a larger series of water colors illustrating the Bible completed between 1800 and 1806 four of which have titles beginning “The Great Red Dragon.” Thankfully we still have food to illustrate this episode as part of the delightfully barmy decision to let Hannibal still cook in prison, and we can get on to the Blake works starting next episode. 

Although Time has on a few occasions in its history had articles on Blake exhibitions, he is not generally considered cover material, and if he were it seems unlikely The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun would be the image gone for. But for all its mild silliness, there’s a certain logic to having Dolarhyde encounter the Great Red Dragon in a print magazine, given that Dolarhyde exists in a constant tension with modernity, as we’ll get to.

The first thing to be emphasized about Dolarhyde is his intense physicality—he is, as they say, a ...

The Proverbs of Hell 33/39: Digestivo

DIGESTIVO: An after-dinner (and after-coffee) drink such as grappa or limoncello. As we’ve completed the actual Italian portion of our adaptation of Hannibal in order to return to the US, this is on the whole sensible.

JACK CRAWFORD: Hannibal Lecter, il Mostro di Firenze, narrowly escapes the Questura. That how the story goes?

INSPECTOR BENETTI: Missed him by that much. The good Dottor Lecter is once more in the wind. But he left one last victim. Open him the way Lecter opened the other one. Open him all the way.

Something of a rarity in Hannibal, Benetti is an utter shithead who gets to display this act of staggering and monstrous corruption without any consequences. He disappears from the narrative entirely, having nothing to contribute past this point. Indeed, this is the last scene to be set in Italy, and there is essentially no unfinished business there, this dickbag excepted. 

CHIYOH: You're sitting at Hannibal's table. You know him. You know Will.

JACK CRAWFORD: I know them. They are identically different, Hannibal and Will.

This is a deeply odd time for Jack to lapse into gnomic hedging, even if it is generally his default state. “Identically different” ...

The Proverbs of Hell 32/39: Dolce

DOLCE: Dessert. Nobody particularly gets their just ones here, so let’s call this a case of running out of both course names and titles in this phase of the series. 

The bath has been a fragile refuge for Bedelia over the first half of this season. Here she sacrifices this safe position, turning it over to Hannibal as she cleans his wounds after his fight with Jack. This, however, contains its own form of power, as we will shortly see.


There is an odd understatement and contrivance to this reunion - Will pops up in Florence with improbable speed and simply arrives by Jack’s side, with their reunion almost entirely underplayed. But for all that this violates scads of normative rules about how narrative functions, it’s tremendously effective. The reunion between them that mattered was in “Apertivo." The significance of this is simply that it allows the plot to move forward, and so it does.

JACK CRAWFORD: And Hannibal would slip away. Would you slip away with him?

WILL GRAHAM: Part of me will always want to.

JACK CRAWFORD: You have to cut that part out.

A simple and moving confession on Will’s part. Jack’s response ...

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