Warning: The following review is filled with spoilers.
Hannibal has brought back Abigail Hobbs back to the show/from the dead so many times that you feel like it should start getting stale, but every time Kacey Rohl shows up on screen, she elevates the entire episode. I enjoyed Will’s delusion of Abigail introducing him back into the show way back when, but tonight’s episode far exceeded that. “And the Woman Clothed with the Sun” showed that, oddly enough, Hannibal is a show that began and will likely end with, to use the term very loosely, custody battles.
Way back in season one, after the death of Garett Jacob Hobbes, Will and Hannibal indirectly fought for influence over Abigail. Will tried to convince her that just because she was her father’s daughter didn’t mean she was a monster as well. This is at the same time that Will is hoping to convince himself that he isn’t a monster, as his brain in literally frying and causing him to black out and think that it might be a possibility. On the other side of the coin, Hannibal is bringing Abigail further down the monster rabbit hole. Back in season one, him helping her cover up the murder she commits felt like him trapping her to him. When we see Abigail at the end of season two, she looks like a prisoner. But tonight’s episode re-contextualizes all of that, definitively showing that Abigail was participating the entire time. Will had her best interests in mind, but Hannibal was her favorite parent.
All of this perfectly sets up the Red Dragon arc, where Hannibal and Will are this time competing for the soul of Francis Dolarhyde. Hannibal sees him as another person he can groom and help with, who he understands on a deep level. He’s Hannibal’s rebound. Will is going to end up seeing Dolarhyde as another deeply disturbed individual, disgusted by the monster inside of him, who might, with proper help, be able to keep that monster at bay, and be better than Will was. But Francis sees pictures of both of them in the newspaper. And he reaches out to Dr. Lecter.
I can’t mention Dolarhyde without again praising Richard Armitage’s performance. He finally speaks in this episode, and he’s just as effective with words as he is with expressions. His scene with Reba, his blind co-worker, is brilliant. When she mentions wanting to work in speech therapy, it’s almost painful just how naked Francis looks and feels, how despite his best efforts he can’t play the comment off, despite Reba’s assurances that she’s accepting and not judgmental at all. It’s a great moment where we somehow sympathize with a man who we have indirectly seen slaughter families.
This episode also marks the first time we’ve watched the scenes we’ve anticipated since the show began: Hannibal behind bars, talking to Will. And boy do they not disappoint. The way Hannibal prods at Will, mostly through references to fatherhood (Will’s step-son, Abigail, how Will would never breed so as to not pass on his bad traits) is downright brutal. But there’s a two-sidedness to it. Alana thinks that Hannibal doesn’t have Will’s best interests in mind at all, but when Hannibal and Jack meet, and Hannibal asks if Will has any room left for scars, you feel like it’s not just a pertinent question, but that Hannibal really is concerned.
This relationship is, erm, complicated.