Hannibal 3×10 ‘…And the Woman Clothed in Sun’: Competing identities

Hannibal 3x10 Cover

Hannibal, in being a show about family and relationships, is also just as much a show about the different identities that we take on.  Relationships are about contorting identity to fit in with a group of people, about code-switching between facets of yourself.  And, when we extricate ourselves from the context of relationships, sometimes it can be difficult to understand just exactly what we are.  What “self” is our real “self”?  Sometimes, we can come up with an answer.  More often than not, there is no real answer.

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Source: NBC

And this is why Hannibal takes the characters of Dolarhyde and Graham and shows how the two mirror one another.  Both are torn between two competing facets of their identity, and both of those competing facets are on completely different ends of a spectrum.  On one end is humanity and compassion and connection.  On the other hand is malice and inhumanity and destruction.  Human beings inherently have both of these within them, and they need to work on a balance between the two in order to exist in a world where both are a commodity.  But too easily is the balance disrupted and even broken for the sake of comfort.

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Source: NBC

Dolarhyde, for example, finds himself becoming the Red Dragon and continually commits to the urge within him that fosters that growth.  Not only is he murdering families on the full moon, but he slowly transforms his body into something akin to a beast.  The tattoos on his back are indicative of the permanence of his transformation, as well as its inescapability.  There’s no turning back for Dolarhyde, even if he wanted to find a way to regain some of the humanity that he has lost.  But his apprehension is the thing that makes him a tragic character.  He sees what his inhumanity does to other people, even gasps at the horror that he inflicts.  When he takes Reba stroking the sleeping tiger, he admires the beauty of the beast, but when her hand drifts closer to its mouth, he almost cries out in terror.  The fine line between beauty and horror is so miniscule, so easy to cross, that it makes balance almost impossible.  In the case of Dolarhyde, he’s drifting one way or the other.  And even though he finds himself sleeping with Reba, even though the loss of control associated with sex is both exhilarating and terrifying for him, he knows that he is still becoming the Red Dragon.  He’s drifting into the darkness.

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Source: NBC

Will, on the other hand, is all too knowledgeable about the effects that darkness have on him.  When he goes to meet Du Maurier, who is giving a speech about the ordeal she went through in Florence, he hears about the darkness within her, about how she is unable to find that balance either.  When she talks about the injured bird, about the decision to save it or kill it, there really is only two options.  Will can be compassionate or ruthless.  Any decision leans towards one.  When Will hears how Du Maurier murdered a patient of hers, when he hears about Hannibal’s influence, he sees how she has been so mercilessly influenced by her.  And it’s hearing about her murdering and her condoning of murder that reminds him how he’s not the same as them.  He may have those dark tendencies within him, but he’s still fighting them, and that fight is worth something.

Hannibal is quickly moving towards wrapping up its series, but the Red Dragon plotline appears to be taking its time to do so.  It works to the benefit of the series, as the longer the show dwells on parallels and comparing characters and themes, the more the show builds an understand of who these people are and how they relate to each other.  Hannibal has done an amazing job with the first half of the Dolarhyde arc.  All they have to do now is stick the landing.

So what do you think of the Dolarhyde arc so far?  Is it as fascinating as the rest of the series?  Let me know in the comments!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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