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.
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.
…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.
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!
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.