The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Hannibal, “…And the Beast from the Sea” – Season 3, Episode 11

On Hannibal, “…And the Beast from the Sea,” The Great Red Dragon attacked Will’s family. The Great Red Dragon’s attempt to kill Will’s family, however, was thwarted as Molly realized just in the nick of time that something was amiss, and she managed to get both herself and her son away from the killer before he had a chance to kill them. That being said, Molly was injured and she did have to undergo surgery, and this, of course, pissed off Will and made him even more determined to capture The Great Red Dragon.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“…And the Beast from the Sea” did not pass the Bechdel, Russo or race test.

“…And the Beast from the Sea” did not pass the Bechdel test because the two named women in the episode, Molly and Alana, never spoke to each other. The episode also did not pass the race test, and the episode did not pass this test because while there were a couple of non-White characters in the episode (e.g., Jack, a Black nurse and a Black driver were in “…And the Beast from the Sea”), none of these characters ever talked to each other.

As to the Russo test, depending on one’s perspective, it can both be argued that “…And the Beast from the Sea” did or did not pass the Russo test. For example, Alana, who is LGBTI, was in the episode; she was not defined by her sexual orientation (her sexual orientation wasn’t even brought up); and it can be argued that she was important to the plot of the episode as she was the one who realized that Hannibal was in contact with The Great Red Dragon. However, it can also be argued that Alana was not important to the plot of the episode and that she could have been taken out of the episode without causing a significant change to occur to the plot, as if she had been taken out, Jack could have just done a little bit of digging on his own and he could have realized that Hannibal had been talking to the killer. It is thus possible to argue in either direction whether or not “…And the Beast from the Sea” passed the Russo test. However, all of that being said, because there is room for doubt as to whether or not the episode truly did pass the Russo test, for the intents and purposes of this article it has been ruled that “…And the Beast from the Sea” did not pass the Russo test.

*The Bechdel test entails three requirements:
1. It has to have at least two (named) women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

**The Vito Russo test entails three requirements:
1. The show contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and/or transgender
2. The character must not be solely or predominately defined by her sexual orientation, gender identity and/or as being intersex
3.The character must be tied into the plot in such a way that her removal would have a significant effect

***The race or people of color (POC) test has three requirements:
1. It has two people of color in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something other than a White person

****Just because a show passes the Bechdel, Russo and race test does not mean that it is not sexist, heterosexist, racist and/or cissexist, etc. The Bechdel, Russo and race test is only a bare minimum qualifier for the representation of LGBTI individuals, women and people of color in television. The failure to pass these tests also does not identify whether the central character was a woman, a person of color or a LGBTQI individual and it does not dictate the quality of the show.

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