Despite almost my better judgement, I've continued watching NBC's Hannibal. Now in its 3rd and final season, it's grown more trippy and disconnected as time progresses, which is undoubtedly part of what has lead to its inevitable downfall. The 1st season was inspired, awash with metaphor and allegorical conclusions. Each individual character was unique, and now they feel like cookie-cutter mock-ups of Hannibal himself. The original vision of originality has dissipated until there is very little left of it. At least, until the episode And the Woman Clothed in Sun.
I'll be honest, most of this season has been ho-hum for me, at least until now. Bedelia had the best moments in the entirety of this episode. She began the series cold, impersonal, and somewhat afraid of human touch. The audience felt something of a disconnect from her because they didn't know what she was really thinking or feeling. She was void. Now, at long last, she's given voice to how she views the world around her and how she views herself. It's fascinating to encounter someone so entirely devoid of conscience, but not devoid of empathy. She opens herself up to Will in this episode, finally showing her true colors. It is both a chilling and intriguing moment of clarity and truth, the very first moment of truth Bedelia has shared with anyone.
She uses an empathy example when speaking with Will. If you see a wounded bird, what is your first thought? Will's first thought, as I suspected, is that it's vulnerable and wants to help it. Bedelia's first thought, also as I suspected, is to crush it. For her, it is a rejection of weakness, which she considers to be every bit as primal, or natural, as the nurturing instinct. She says that she wouldn't actually harm the wounded bird, but her first thought is still to do so
"Extreme acts of cruelty require high levels of empathy. The next time you have an instinct to help someone, you might consider crushing them instead. It might save you a great deal of trouble." - Bedelia Du Maurier, NBC's Hannibal
From Bedelia's point of view, grinding out weakness is acceptable. It is the natural way of things to eradicate weaker beings than one's self. Think of it this way. If all mankind acted according to Bedelia's theory, would good ever be done one to another? Loving-kindness? No, her world is one where if a child born in poverty is starving, you don't eradicate the poverty, you eradicate the child. Not because the child is responsible for its own situation, but simply because the child is weak and you cannot abide weakness. In her world, you turn your back on a friend or even an enemy who is going through a difficult time. Instead of words of encouragement, you offer words of menacing cruelty.
This is the world we would have were it not for believers attempting to bring about the kingdom of heaven here on earth. Our faith demands of us that we do unto others as we would have others do unto us. That we love our neighbor, and that we forgive those who are cruel to us. People assume Christianity to be an easy choice. It's not easy. Not when it's done right. Because we're talking about standing in love against a world awash with sin and evil and all sorts of magnificent debauchery. It's about loving people who want us dead. Christians who love the people in their sphere of influence, even when they're hated in return, have a difficult life. But they choose to follow the teachings of their Savior because it is the right thing to do.
What you have here is a dichotomy of empathy. Whereas one side acts on empathy, the other side uses it to crush. Many psychopaths and murderers throughout the ages have a great deal of empathy because it allows them to know their victims. It's just that instead of helping people, they use it to hurt them instead. Empathetic people have the greatest ability to hurt others.
You see, I'm not disagreeing with Bedelia. She is right in that it is a very easy step to crush someone who needs help. It's so easy to do that. But that act is taking the coward's way out. It is so easy to hate and destroy, and so hard to love. But when you love unconditionally and help and care for the people around you, whether you even like them or not, that is where strength lies. Bedelia thinks herself so strong for her understanding of the inner workings of empathy. But she never allows herself to love others enough to truly help them when they need help. In the end, she's all about survival of the fittest, being at the top of food chain, whereas as I refuse to believe or act as though we even have a food chain.
Christ didn't come to earth to save the righteous, but to save the unrighteous, the unwashed, the sinners, and the unloved, because He loves them. That is strength. Poor Bedelia. To have gone so far in life and yet missed the mark so completely. While Hannibal has had its profound moments, in the end, it is simply another Hollywoodized example of a world without hope or mercy. And that's not the world I see because I see people still fighting to save it.