Last week’s episode of Hannibal ended on a rather shocking note. After escaping from the clutches of Mason Verger (and sending him to an unsavory fate), Will and Hannibal had what seemed to be one last talk. Will was, in effect, breaking up with the doctor; swearing off ever pursuing him. Hannibal was home free, but he decided to do something unusual – he gave himself up to the FBI. Whether this ploy was to ensure that Hannibal was always close to his “friend” or whether the doctor may be seeking some sort of revenge for being rejected, we do not know. All we know is that this week ‘The Great Red Dragon’ will introduce one of the Hannibal mythos’ most infamous of serial killers. And that Will will most certainly have to turn to his friend/nemesis in order to catch his prey.
We begin this week with a new face – the man who will become the titular Red Dragon. He’s undergoing some… changes, to say the least. Through a series of small but important scenes, we watch the man become the dragon, from his inspiration to his training to the eventual preparations he makes in order to take on his future persona. He is attempting to understand the killer within himself and eventually he finds himself roaming in the night, covered in blood and lost to his beast. Furthermore, out new serial killer seems to have a bit of an obsession with Hannibal. He keeps a wonderful scrapbook of all of Hannibal’s accomplishments and begins to add his own murder headlines to the mix.
Back with the familiar faces, we find Hannibal locked safely away, three years after the events of last episode. But while his body may be confined, Hannibal’s mind roams free. For each encounter with one of his former friends or rivals takes place in the location of his choice. He has a nice little chat with Alana and later talks to Doctor Chilton. Chilton, in an effort to drag Hannibal into a new case – that concerning the previously seen Red Dragon (who is regrettably labeled The Tooth Fairy by the media), plays off of Hannibal’s pride. He’s hoping to bring the reign of The Tooth Fairy to a quicker end. After all, his new book needs an ending. This leads to Hannibal writing a letter to his former friend, Will Graham.
The Tooth Fairy murders, however, reach Will in good time. Jack Crawford is having a hell of a time tracking the new killer down, so he goes to enlist Will’s aid. Will is happy being away from the FBI’s antics, but a dual strike from Jack and Will’s new girlfriend leads him to consider the offer. While deliberating, he opens the letter from Hannibal, which he apparently had for some time. Hannibal’s words, interestingly enough, are those of a friend. He discourages Will from becoming involved, warning him that if he does, it may lead him down the path of madness.
This does not help, unfortunately. Will ends up at the house of one of the victim families, looking for clues. He slips into his mental trance and follows the steps of the killer, seeking purpose behind the chaos. Since Will is one of the best, he does manage to help the FBI find more clues to go on, including a partial fingerprint. But when it comes right down to it, his answer to the Tooth Fairy riddle is to visit Hannibal Lecter. Not just for the insight Hannibal can bring to the case, but as a means to put his own mind at rest.
This week’s episode did a very nice job of balancing a new, mid-season introduction with enough character development and plot progression to keep us interested in what’s going to happen next week. We meet all the main characters once again, though only Will and Hannibal are looked at in more than a superficial manner (I suspect the others will have their time eventually). We also meet The Red Dragon and get a glimpse into his transformation. Why he does what he does is still unspoken, though that mystery must remain hidden until Will finds it. All-in-all, it was a good set-up to what promises to be a very interesting second half of season three.
One of my favorite bits about this week was the mixture of Hannibal’s reality and that of the world everyone else knows. We now know that our favorite serial killer is just as comfortable in a cell as he was roaming free. The power of his mind keeps him going and there’s virtually nothing that anyone else can do to bring him down.
Next week – ‘And the Woman Clothed with Sun…’ Unfortunately, there appears to be no promo for this one. So you’ll have to be satisfied with this brief synopsis:
“The FBI’s search for elusive serial killer Francis Dolarhyde (guest star Richard Armitage) intensifies as Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) begins envisioning himself in Dolarhyde’s tormented psyche. Wading deeper into dangerous territory, Will enlists the help of Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) to assist with the killer’s profile. Meanwhile, Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) reminds Will that the last time that he and Hannibal worked together things didn’t end well, but Will sees no other option. Elsewhere, a new woman (guest star Rutina Wesley) comes into Dolarhyde’s life.”