‘Hannibal’ and Family Values

Hannibal often has recurring themes, and “…And the Woman Clothed With the Sun,” focusing largely on “family,” was no exception.

Throughout the course of the Hannibal series, there have been recurring themes, such as transformation and family. The most recent episode, “…And the Woman Clothed With the Sun,” focused heavily on the theme of family.

This isn’t terribly surprising, because the entire Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) story deals with the issue of family — his abusive grandmother (who we see briefly in this episode), and later the families he killed. However, the family theme in this episode went even further than that.

For example, Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen), in a few scenes, brings up family to Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). He tells Will, “Family values may have declined over the last century, but we still help our families when we can. You are family, Will.” Later, he points out that Will has a “ready-made” family, and that Will is like the Tooth Fairy in this regard, saying “…he needs a family to escape what’s inside him.”

This seems a bit ominous to me, because we all know that Hannibal wants Will to cultivate that killer instinct within himself, and a family (one not of Hannibal’s making), will interfere with that.

Additionally, there were many parallels to an earlier episode, from Season 1, that also focused on families. In the current episode, Hannibal tells Will, “I gave you a child, if you recall.” After Will leaves, Hannibal goes into his memory palace, visiting Abigail (Kacey Rohl) and remembering how they had staged her first “death” in “Savoureux” (the Season 1 finale). He says to Abigail, “You accepted your father — would it be so difficult to accept me?” This reminded me of “Oeuf” (Season 1, Episode 4).

Molly Shannon in Oeuf (Season 1, Episode 4).

In “Oeuf,” the killer of the week (played by Molly Shannon) abducted boys from their families, telling them that their biological families are not their real families, and that real families are what you make them. In “…And the Woman Clothed With the Sun,” we see Hannibal reminiscing about how he had been creating his own family. He had taken Abigail and he wanted to guide her, as a father figure, and eventually he wanted Will to join them. In fact, as mentioned above, Hannibal still considers Will as family (again, this seems ominous, when we consider what he did to Abigail).

Furthermore, in “Oeuf,” the woman who abducted the boys would have the boys kill their biological families. In “…And the Woman Clothed With the Sun,” in his memory palace, we see Hannibal had dug up the corpse of Garrett Jacob Hobbs and had Abigail kill her father, symbolically. (By the way, that was most likely embalming fluid oozing from the wound, for those that may be confused.)

Considering we are in the Red Dragon arc of the season, I expect that the family theme will be a constant. I look forward to seeing how the family dynamics (specifically between Hannibal and Will) will play out in the remaining episodes.