Hannibal 3×11 ‘…And the Beast From the Sea’: The sacrificial lamb

Hannibal 3x11 Cover

Hannibal is ending the series with one of the best story arcs it has ever done.  While the first half of the season was fascinating and gruesome, it doesn’t hold a candle to the kind of character study the second half of the season is doing.  The lines between Dolarhyde, Hannibal, and Will continue to blur in a way where it slowly becomes difficult to tell one from the other.  All three of them want control over their lives, and as that control is threatened, all three of them lash out in ways that make sense, given their situations.  Thematically, each episode in this back half of the season has dealt with a new angle on a familiar idea; a serial killer is gearing up to kill again and the FBI has to stop him before he does, but it’s not that simple.

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Source: NBC

“…And the Beast From the Sea” does a brilliant job making Dolarhyde more and more sympathetic, as he feels that killing is the way to transform others into vessels for his own transformation, but finds that his empathetic and human side doesn’t want to kill certain people.  He continually distances himself from Reba, as she makes him lose control in a way that terrifies him.  His inability to kill her makes it more difficult to keep the Great Red Dragon at bay, so he strikes out at Will’s family.  They are able to evade him, even though Molly is shot and needs to be hospitalized, but Dolarhyde’s failure results in him sinking deeper into a schizophrenic insanity.  He beats himself over and over again, imagining the Red Dragon giving the beating.  Dolarhyde faces an unwinnable struggle.  He can fight back against the Red Dragon and be torn apart internally in the process.  Or he can murder others and become the Red Dragon.  This episode does a superb job showing just how doomed Dolarhyde really is.

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Source: NBC

Dolarhyde’s attack on Will’s family exposes the lack of control Will has as well.  His reintroduction to the world of killing and violence has shaken the control that he has over his vicious, murderous side, and Dolarhyde’s direct aggression against his family gives Will a reason to unleash that side against him.  After Molly is shot, his step-son tells him that he should kill Dolarhyde, that simply capturing him is not enough.  Will has to look inward for a reason to draw a barrier between himself and his darker side, as everybody around him wishes to utilize his darkest impulses for the sake of dealing with Dolarhyde.  And it sets up a fantastic tension, having Will attempt to assert his control over himself in a world where everybody wants to take it from him.  In his family’s eyes, Jack’s eyes, Hannibal’s eyes, he’s a dark mass, a tool to be used for the sake of dealing with other darkness.  But Will wants to be more than that, even though he’s always pulled back towards violence.

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Source: NBC

And Hannibal, for being locked up in a mental hospital, has been trying to reassert control over his ability to influence others.  Dolarhyde goes after Will’s family because Hannibal tells him exactly where they live.  Hannibal wants to take Dolarhyde and help him evolve, and he wants to watch Will’s dark side reawaken in the process.  He wants to inject chaos into the narrative and watch to see what happens, the same as he did in Season 1 when he destroyed Will for the fun of it.  So, when he tells Dolarhyde that the FBI are listening to him, he’s robbed of his table, his drawings, his books, his toiler.  He’s robbed of his dignity and of his control, forced to think of other desperate means to take back what control he can still have while he’s locked away.

With only two episodes left until the series is over, Hannibal has continued to assert itself as a show concerned with exploring just how people destroy each other when they begin to lose control.  With Dolarhyde losing control over the Great Red Dragon, Will losing control over his darker side, and Hannibal losing control over his ability to influence, all three are beginning to resort to more drastic measures to reassert that control over themselves.  Because control is what allows us to dictate our lives, what allows us to assert our space in the world.  And, without control, we simply become husks, shells of people without meaning, without purpose.

What did you think of “…And the Beast From the Sea”?  Do you think Hannibal will go out with a great final act?  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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