Running to Stand Still

Richard’s run on Hannibal is over and while I won’t miss the show itself, I have grown attached to Francis Dolarhyde, but not for the reasons I thought I might. a lot of fans have fallen for the shy boy, the damaged soul who doesn’t understand life and death and love in the way that most of us do. I like that Francis because I want to ease his burden, show him what love (all kinds) is.

I wanna know what love is, I want you to show me


The Francis that has really captured my attention though isn’t that shy boy, it’s the Francis who is becoming something more. not the Dragon persona specifically, because the Dragon is what pushes Francis to murder families and that’s horrible, but the part of him that is embracing the thought that he doesn’t have to sit back and take it anymore.

we're not gonna take it, no! we ain't gonna take it


…which is a bit of an oxymoron since the Dragon is bullying Francis into doing what he wants. I guess I like the in-between Francis? I don’t know, I’m starting to confuse myself! let me explain what it is that I like and what facets of his personality(s) I find alluring.

alluring facet
alluring facet


I like the physical way that Francis starts inhabiting his body. not just the fleshy parts we get to see in the attic but also how his stance changes, the way he moves and walks. how the uncertain boy who first meets Reba, starts to own the space around him once they become intimate with one another. this is different from the man who first invites her into his van, eats pie with her; the methodical loner.



I find the physicality most alluring when he’s the Dragon; the power. I’ve become slightly addicted to the scene with Dr. Chilton. Richard’s acting steps out of the box here in a way that both frightens and excites me. he’s scary! his demeanor, his voice. I feel like I am right there in the room with them, frozen. I couldn’t leave if I wanted to! 

Francis aka The Boogeyman
Francis aka ‘The Boogeyman’


The body itself entices me, as he’s sitting there in his robe. his shoulders seem so square all of a sudden, so regimented, and that patch of skin that’s peeking out at the neck. the silk of the robe, the hypnotizing cadence of the voice, not being able to see his eyes or observe his facial expressions forces me to rely on whatever it is that he is pushing out into the room. can pheromones reach through the television? 



there’s just all kinds of mind-fuckery going on in that scene! it shouldn’t feel sensual but it does. the fear shouldn’t entice me but it does. I shouldn’t eagerly anticipate whatever horror he’s about to unleash upon the doctor but I do. FYI: on rewatch, I shut this scene off after the feline stalk but before the demonic kiss. the gore is more than a little disturbing.



I feel some of that same magnetism during the scene when Reba locks the door. I think it’s understandable in that scene because it’s more clearly Francis, who is trying to  do right by Reba. it’s still that odd mixture of wariness and familiarity that is Francis, along with those sensual undertones. he’s telling her to touch his chest so that she can find the key that he’s wearing around his neck. 



it seems like something different, the encouraging tone to his voice feels intimate but quickly shifts to a reprimand when her touch goes too far.



I hold my breath when she goes over to lock the door, hoping that she will do what he says. not because I’m afraid for her but because I’m afraid for him.




I want him to feel that someone has faith in him, whether he deserves it or not. I want him to feel goodness in the air, if only for a fleeting moment, before he goes off to do what he feels he must do. he’s either going to fail at the task he’s set before himself, or the Dragon is going to prevail; neither scenario is promising. let him carry a talisman of goodness, of love, of humanity, with him where he ends up- so that he’s not alone. 



with all this feeling swirling around inside of me, it’s no wonder I was disappointed with how it all played out. I felt it was wrapped up too quickly, that the characters involved suddenly went off script and did things that didn’t mesh with what had gone before. aside from the very last frame of Francis, with his earthly wings, I felt he had been disrespected by the ending of the story. his demise wasn’t worthy of him, in my opinion. he was so smart and so cunning and so physically able, that whole tag team dance of blood just seemed cheap in comparison. 



in the end, I surprised myself with the attachment I grew to feel towards Francis. he’s like a roller-coaster that frightens me but gets my adrenaline flowing so strongly that I find myself stupidly shouting, “let’s go again!” I feel like I shouldn’t want to, but I will, because I have no choice.


19 thoughts on “Running to Stand Still

  1. To me, the early Francis was like a stray dog in some ways, the kind who expects a kick instead of a pat on the head. Rutina Wesley said that in the tiger scene she played it to show Reba’s sensuality, but RA’s reaction as FD was not that of a man but of some creature that yearns for a gentle touch and affection. You can see in other scenes where he’s sitting on the sofa with Reba draped across him that FD doesn’t know what to do with that affection when he does get it. His arm is across the back of the couch not touching her. Is this because he doesn’t know that this is what he’s supposed to do, or from fear of the dragon within?
    That scene with Chiltern otoh ruined the character for me, and the show. I could barely bring myself to watch anything after that and never watched the finale. It was just cheap gore porn, and wasted all the effort that was put into creating a multi-layered performance. I will never watch the rest of the series now, and warn people away from it with feelings of genuine anger and disgust.


    1. I don’t like the lip-biting but everything before that fascinates me in a scare-yourself-silly-and-then-come-back-for-more kind of way. I don’t like the gore and that’s why I can’t be an actual fan of the show but I knew that going in and so it didn’t surprise me. if nothing else I have a fondness for the character from a technical acting point of view, I was extremely impressed with Richard’s execution of it 😎

      as for the couch scene with Reba, I think Francis was scared of her b/c he didn’t have any experience with that kind of soft emotion. that was his version of scare-yourself-silly-and-then-come-back-for-more.

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        1. they’re both part of the same segment, which I am generalizing about. she’s like a mythical creature to him, one that he’s both curious about and wary of. the way he was brought up, the experiences he’s had with love and pain, are far from the norm. so the softness of her, the physical warmth, the way she is touching him, these things are all new to him and outside his realm of experience. I imagine when she touches him it feels good, yet he’s only used to feeling bad when being touched; he doesn’t really have a frame of reference for that “good” feeling.

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          1. This is true but I was thinking of the look on his face when he was watching her with the tiger too. He desperately wants this but is almost afraid of it.
            The way in which the dragon begins to take over while she’s sitting draped across him in the second couch scene is when I began to realize that perhaps he’s irredeemable.


          2. I just thought it was hormones… in all seriousness though, I didn’t catch that it was the Dragon in that scene. I’ll have to give it a rewatch 🙂


  2. I’m not fan of horror and I shut my eyes at the dragon kiss scene but the rest…Richard as Francis is superb. He mesmerises me. I was shocked when first heard about Hannibal casting but now I mourn that it’s over.


  3. I agree with you on so many of the points you have so eloquently covered here, but it partcularly resonated with me what you said about the key scene with Reba, and how you hoped it would be the one piece of goodness he would take with him on the journey to death and damnation. A beautiful thought. So much so that I think the power of a positive reaction by Reba could’ve had a different effect. Well, or maybe I have just a soft spot for Francis, the man…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s interesting that we feel we need to justify liking FD, as if it makes us a bad person that we do. It’s fictional a fictional character and the actor intentionally wants and needs us to feel that way and did a great job (a lessor actor would just project more of a one note portrayal of horror). I’m pretty sure it goes without saying that if FD was a real life person we would not feel the same about him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. but it just feels wrong! it is a testament to the actor when we feel this kind of push and pull though. it wouldn’t be nearly as exciting if we sympathized with him too much or we hated him too much; it’s just the right combination.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I think that it’s perfectly reasonable to feel you have to justify liking a fictional character whose negative qualities are so extreme. Those negative qualities are not any less so by belonging to someone fictional.


  5. I think the compassion vs revulsion sides were played really well. It was impossible not to want that bit of humanity to reach him and to break through his shell. I think it did transform him but the fact that he wasn’t able to ‘stifle’ the dragon could only lead to one end. The saddest thing was that in a way him finding humanity only seemed to strengthen the dragon. Maybe because i had read the book i counted with this end all the way and the way the used Reba in the end and frightened her, i felt betrayed, he used her humanity against her and that i couldn’t really forgive. But i think it was a very interesting experience and it made us all think about things and i also appreciate how far he can take the viewers on any journey with him.

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      1. He dies as well, but if i remember correctly Molly shoots him as the whole attack on them is at the end of the book, after the fake death by fire. This was a much better ending than in the book 🙂


        1. I would have liked that ending a lot better. It would seemed more fitting that he be shot by a female after killing and raping all those women.
          Instead Fuller and the writers used the ending to give us more of twisted relationship between between Hannibal and Will Graham. (And I mean ‘twisted’ because it’s a morally and psychologically destructive relationship for a man dedicated to stopping serial killers). They were pandering to the fans perhaps.


          1. yeah. I realize there is two seasons of backstory with Will that I know very little about but the way he just gave in (gave up?) like that to Hannibal didn’t sit well with me at all. what about his wife and son? 😡


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