The Great Red Dragon
I guess we ran out of food course names to call episodes. This episode takes place three years after Hannibal’s capture and subsequent incarceration and takes it’s time reestablishing the characters and their new roles and relationships, while also introducing our newest characters – Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) and Molly Graham (Nina Arianda). Hannibal spends his unlimited time drawing, reading, and receiving old friends in his mind palace. Hannibal has apparently been declared officially insane, with some helpful testimony from Alana and Chilton, in order to keep him from the death penalty and under their watchful gaze at the Baltimore State Hospital. Elsewhere, we bear witness to Dolarhyde’s solitary trials as he prepares to become the Great Red Dragon, and as he blossoms into a killer of perfect families. Hannibal and Dolarhyde share some kind of connection, a mutual fascination or understanding, perhaps a professional jealousy. After the murder of the second family, Jack seeks out Will – who has retired to the woods with his wife Molly and step-son Walter. He is reluctant but still gets sucked into the investigation, finding a partial thumb print at one of the crime scenes. After so long away from the work, Will finds it necessary to finally visit Hannibal – “to get the old scent back”.
Francis Dolarhyde, otherwise known as the Tooth Fairy for his penchant for biting and his unique dental pattern, would definitely prefer to be known as the Great Red Dragon. Our newest killer is a complete mystery, despite the audience being privy to his most private moments. His strange and intense fitness regime, his extensive tattooing of the Red Dragon on his back, his speech therapy exercises – none of this adds up to much other than strangeness. We know he’s a killer with a fixation and an undoubtedly solitary man, but what these behaviors and habits mean to him only he knows. It does make for fascinating watching. Also a mystery is Dolarhyde’s interest in Hannibal Lecter, whose related news clippings feature among Dolarhyde’s scrapbook. Was Hannibal’s arrest a sort of catalyst for Dolarhyde’s evolution into a killer?
Hannibal seems contented enough in his elaborate cell at the Baltimore State Hospital, able to visit anywhere and do anything in his mind palace. He is poised and calm as always, happy to bide his time as he wine’s and dine’s his visitors. Why exactly he’s given access to wine and gourmet desserts, I’m not sure. He and Alana, who is the new director of the institution, share a glass of wine as they discuss the validity of his insanity plea, he and Chilton share a decadent dessert (during which Chilton makes a veiled reference to Hannibal appealing to a niche audience). Not a word is ever said about Will. But Hannibal knows he doesn’t have to talk about Will. Hannibal knows that its only a matter of time before Will comes to visit, especially with the emergence of Dolarhyde as a killer. The episode closes with their reunion, the moment they’ve really both been anticipating for three years.
It is amazing how Will changes and to what degrees. Hugh Dancy does a fabulous job of portraying a person with such empathy that he can often lose himself in others, morphing into a corrupted version of himself. This is not the Will from the first half of the season under the influence of Hannibal, but neither is it the pure Will from season one. What we see is someone who has been influenced by the love of a family, more openly cheerful and warm. It will be interesting to see how he changes under the influence of both Hannibal and Dolarhyde. Will warns Molly that when he gets back from this case that he won’t be the same. Molly tells him that she will be, which means that Will can find his way back to himself.