The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Hannibal, “The Wrath of the Lamb” – Season 3, Episode 13

Bryan Fuller completely dropped the mic (and this is meant in the best of possible ways) in the stunning finale of Hannibal.

In the final episode of Hannibal, Will used Hannibal as bait in a desperate attempt to kill both the Great Red Dragon and Hannibal, but as per usual, things didn’t quite work out as planned. To be more specific, instead of only attacking Hannibal, the Great Red Dragon went after both Hannibal and Will, so Will and Hannibal, in true “murder husbands” fashion, teamed up together, retaliated and murdered the Great Red Dragon. Oh, and after Hannibal and Will killed the Great Red Dragon, the two embraced each other and Will threw the both of them off of a cliff.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

“The Wrath of the Lamb” passed the Russo test but did not pass the Bechdel or race test.

Hannibal escapes the authorities with the help of Will and Francis.

There were two confirmed LGBTI characters, Alana and Margot, in “The Wrath of the Lamb” and while one of these women did not pass the Russo test, the other did.

Alana makes a deal with Hannibal.

Margot did not pass the Russo test (and the episode could not have passed the Russo test based solely on her appearance), and she did not pass this test because while she is LGBTI and she was in the episode, she didn’t do much in the episode except flee from Hannibal with her wife and child in a 5 second clip so she wasn’t very important to the plot (it’s also hard to say whether or not she was defined by her sexual orientation as her appearance was so short). Alana, in comparison, did pass the Russo test, and she (and thus the episode) passed the Russo test because she is LGBTI and she was in the episode; because she was not solely defined by her sexual orientation (e.g., she was also a mother, a schemer , a potential victim and a protector); and because she was important to the plot of the episode (e.g., she was important because she helped get Hannibal to agree to Jack and Will’s crazy plan, she helped unleash Hannibal into the wild and because her flight from her home after Hannibal’s escape added meaning to the overall storyline of Hannibal) and she thus could not have been removed from “The Wrath of the Lamb” without causing a major change to occur to the plot.

As to the Bechdel and race test, “The Wrath of the Lamb” completely failed to pass either of these tests, and the episode failed to pass these tests because the four named women in the episode (Alana, Margot, Reba and Bedelia) never talked to each other and because there was only one non-White actor (i.e., Laurence Fishburne) in the episode.

*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.