The first conversation that Hannibal and Will have in the aftermath of the massacre at Muskrat Farms is about fatherhood, or, perhaps more accurately, parenthood. Smelling Will’s cheap perfume, a nice nod to The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal is able to deduce the broad details of Will’s new life, far away from Hannibal and Jack, and speaks distinctly about his new role as father figure. And the entirety of “…And The Woman Clothed with the Sun” seems to come back to ideas of how parentage carves out and varnishes most people, and also sends them scurrying to find new idols. Though we know almost nothing about Will’s upbringing, it’s clear that his awakening in the previous seasons came from the tutelage of Hannibal, who also acted as de facto guardian to Abigail (Kacey Rohl), the young girl Will saved in the first episode of the series.
The episode flashes back to three separate exchanges between Hannibal and Abigail, in which he is seen sharpening her killer instinct and creating a narrative for her life that he (arguably) betrays. And that betrayal foreshadows his connection to Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage), the savage killer known as The Tooth Fairy, whose backstory is hinted at during a flashback to his own childhood with his imposing, very angry mother. It’s Dolarhyde’s relationship to a new woman, however, that is the central crux of the episode, as he begins to spend time with Reba (Rutina Wesley of True Blood), a blind co-worker who immediately takes a liking to him. In the episode’s best scene, they converse over cherry pie and water about their “impediments,” and while Dolarhyde clearly can’t escape the horrible origins of his speech issues, Reba has come completely to terms with her condition and loathes any pity that might arise from her blindness.
This taut scene nicely mirrors Will’s call home to Molly (Nina Arianda), wherein his worry for what may happen to him, psychologically or physically, on the trail of Dolarhyde is balanced by her warmth and assured stance that she’ll be there, in every way, when he returns. That being said, she has no idea that he’s consorting with the man who all but destroyed him three years back, though, to his credit, Hannibal does help with the investigation, to the point that he points Will to Dolarhyde’s hide-out space in one of the family’s backyard. This prompts the return of Freddy Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki), who again uses Will as a juicy headline and cover photo for her tabloid stories, but also reignites the continuing verbal tete-a-tete between Jack and Hannibal over Will’s mind; Alana (Caroline Dhavernas), a new mother herself, goes as far as to promise institutional “indignity” if Hannibal attempts to corrupt Will again. The ever-shifting power dynamics that exist between the characters in Hannibal have rarely been so perilous and unpredictable, and though “…And The Woman Clothed with the Sun” doesn’t quite have the hallucinatory visual power of the last three episodes, there’s still a constant sense of not knowing what feelings and notions are real or imagined, and who else maybe waiting, lurking in the dark.
★★★★ Very good — Damn fine television