Sunday, August 9, 2015

Hannibal 3x10 "And the Woman Clothed in Sun" (Swallowed Whole) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]

"And the Woman Clothed in Sun"
Original airdate: Aug. 8, 2015

Bedelia is back. She stands prominently in front of a Hieronymus Bosch painting the first time Will sees her, but at this point, they might as well all be living inside of one. His painting is full of disturbing images, almost overstuffed with distorted and tortured figures in the literal depths of hell. And between petting a tiger, sleeping with a dragon, and being Frankenstein’s bride, there is enough fantastic and nightmarish imagery in just this episode to fill even a Hieronymus Bosch painting.

This episode even looks like a painting (more than usual, that is). The colors are often brighter, even bleeding into the air like the neon orange of the tiger that Francis describes to Reba. Francis’ obsession with William Blake’s paintings seems to literally color his world, and every scene with Francis is brighter, warmer, and dreamier than the scenes with everyone else.

Francis is balancing two sides to himself. One is the person that Reba calls “D,” who takes his girlfriend to the zoo to touch the face of a tiger, so that she, as a blind woman, can feel the this majestic animal and truly see it for the first time. The other side of Francis is the great Red Dragon, which overtakes him with fire and violence, and wants to destroy every bit of happiness he sees.

Francis gives in to both sides, and his sex scene with Reba is full of color, light, and love. He begins to overcome the shame and fear he has of her seeing his face and tenderly places her hands on his lips for the first time. He puts his hand on her heart, as if he’s trying to feel it beating and reach out to directly touch her love.

But when he wakes up the next morning and finds her missing from bed, he immediately runs upstairs to his lair to check on the Red Dragon. The Red Dragon was dormant this time — Reba was just getting ready to head home — but the Red Dragon appears in Francis’ conversation with Hannibal, and in his mind, their conversation ends in fire.

The Red Dragon also takes over when Francis goes to see the William Blake painting in person. He knocks the woman showing it to him unconscious, and he fondly looks at the painting that he now has all to himself. And then he devours it. He literally eats the painting — he needs it to become a part of him. Will is onto him at this point, or at least onto the killer’s obsession with William Blake’s painting of a dragon, and the pair run into each other for the first time. It does not go well for either of them, and I’m sure they’ll see each other again. 

Meanwhile, in a much less action/adventure portion of the episode, Will and Bedelia bond over their past relationships with Hannibal. But just because there’s less action, doesn’t mean it isn’t also full of suspense. Hieronymus Bosch paints nightmares, and Bedelia lived one, behind the veil with Hannibal. Yet she emerged unscarred, whereas Will is covered with them.

Bedelia says this is because she wasn’t herself when she was with Hannibal, so it was easier to play a part and then come back to herself. Will was completely vulnerable and completely himself whenever he was with Hannibal. Will calls Bedelia the bride of Frankenstein, but Bedelia says they were both his bride. Will’s relationship with Hannibal was so intimate and personal (“Is your wife aware…?”), but Bedelia’s relationship with Hannibal was because she was interesting to him. She was another pawn to him, and she knew it, so she was able to game his system for a little while. Will broke the system entirely.

Will and Bedelia sit across from each other in her living room, where she sees patients. They mirror each other, both sitting with legs crossed in her blue chairs, just as their relationships with Hannibal were mirrored. Will takes the place where Hannibal used to sit, and it’s also where her fated patient sat — the man Hannibal sent to Bedelia to be killed so long ago. In flashbacks that cut between the past with Neal and the present with Will, we see how Bedelia was entangled with Hannibal the first time, and exactly how it played out. (Not well, for either of them.)

Played brilliantly by Zachary Quinto, Neal was one of Hannibal’s first twisted projects as a psychiatrist. Hannibal’s often sent his patients to die or goaded them to kill. Will, Bedelia, Margot, and Franklin (from season one) are all evidence that Hannibal is really, really good at this. But he made a small mistake with this first patient. He chose to play games with a man who trusted himself. Neal believes himself way more than he believes Hannibal, and he begins to see Hannibal and Bedelia for the twisted masochists they are. Unfortunately, he still ends up dead. But Hannibal doesn’t make that mistake again.

The Twitter hashtag for this episode was #swallowedwhole, and it seems to nail what this episode is about. Bedelia and Will have were swallowed by Hannibal, and they have both emerged from the belly of the beast. But they are about to encounter another beast, and the Red Dragon is going to devour Francis entirely. 

  • Wait, nobody waits and listens to Hannibal’s phone calls? Probably they are being recorded, right? You know what, I’ll let this one go.
  • Bedelia’s face when she sees Will for the first time is a perfect mix of disgust and trepidation.
  • “This is culty and weird.” That's it. That's the show.


  1. Thanks again for a thoughtful review of another culty and weird (thanks for picking up on that line:-)) episode...

    Bedelia is back. She stands prominently in front of a Hieronymus Bosch painting the first time Will sees her

    That got me thinking. A few episodes back, we had a scene where Hannibal was giving a lecture in Florence and standing in front of a picture of the devil with the title "Lucifer" prominently displayed - now we have Bedelia standing in front of a picture that certainly looks like one of Bosch's depictions of Hell. It's very tempting to see a link between the two scenes, of Hannibal as the devil who has dragged Bedelia down into the pit. Probably reading too much into it, but on the other hand, this show...

    And on the subject of Bedelia, but was it my imagination or was there a certain undercurrent of jealousy in her conversation with Will, with the two of them competing over who was closest to Hannibal? Very, very weird.

    Wait, nobody waits and listens to Hannibal’s phone calls? Probably they are being recorded, right?

    Yeah. Not thrilled about that one either, to be honest. All I could think of was that as both the phone calls we saw (both Francis calling in and Hannibal calling out) were supposed to be conversations between Hannibal and his lawyer maybe lawyer/client confidentiality meant they weren't being recorded? But yes, that's a difficult one - all I can say is it's faithful to the books, so...

    Oh and apropos of absolutely nothing relevant to the show, but my country's flag is also a great red dragon. I mention this for no reason other than amusement value...

    And again, thanks for continuing to review the show...

    1. Thanks, Richard!!

      It's very tempting to see a link between the two scenes, of Hannibal as the devil who has dragged Bedelia down into the pit. // I think you're right! What a cool detail to pick up on. I really do think every artwork means something on this show.

      Will and Bedelia's conversation had 100 layers to it, and twice as many double entendres. I still can't quite figure out Bedelia's game, except she may be the smartest one because she survived Hannibal, came out relatively healthy, and is now making money off of him. Except I wouldn't want to trade places with her when he escapes. I bet you're right--they both want to be the most special to Hannibal.

      Yeah, they seem to be giving Hannibal a lot more than I ever would. He can't be trusted! But confidentiality with him and his lawyer makes sense.

      That's such a cool flag, thanks for sharing! I can't wait for the last few episodes, but I also wish it would last so much longer.