Hannibal takes a refreshing turn to form after ending it’s Hannibal-on-the run arc in last week’s episode. The Great Red Dragon mostly serves the purpose of catching folks up with what has happened with the characters in the apparent three years in which Hannibal has been incarcerated, and to introduce you to the looming threat of the newly-introduced Tooth Fairy.
WARNING: This analysis contains some spoilers for Saturday’s episode of Hannibal. You can check it out on your own on NBC or Hulu, or scroll down to “final thoughts” for a brief summation.
Not a whole lot happened this time around, as I said it was pretty introductory. Hannibal is tightly locked away inside the Baltimore mental institution, having eked out of a death sentence with an insanity plea. Alana and Hannibal both agree that he is not insane, but Lecter doesn’t seem all that worse for wear. Despite being holed up in a cell, he has surprisingly elegant accommodations. He even gets to enjoy fancily prepared meals with Dr. Chilton, who has clearly benefitted immensely from Lecter by writing a book about him. Alana doesn’t seem happy with Lecter’s confinement, but I’m not all that sure what she expected to happen. If she had wanted him dead, you’d think that she would have just left him at Muskrat farms. Hannibal does happen to acknowledge the fact that he sort of took a bullet for her by tacking on Mason Verger’s death, but he also calmly and certainly reminds her of his promise to end her life.
Chilton is sort of the excuse to propel the story forward. His goals had been to use Hannibal to increase his own fame and notoriety from the community, but he points out that Hannibal’s popularity with the media has waned in the past few years since his imprisonment. He plants seeds in Hannbal’s mind by mentioning his interest in writing a newer, even cooler book about the freshly emerging Tooth Fairy killer, and mentions to Alana that he spotted just the slightest tinge of jealousy on Lecter’s face. For somebody as subtle as Hannibal Lecter with their expressions, he may as well have been screaming his disappointment. I really enjoy the subtle references this show eludes to. For example, Chilton in this episode is seen chewing on his pen, a habit popularized by Anthony Heald. Whatever the reason, Alana doesn’t seem to favor Chilton’s plan, and remarks that Hannibal may be planning some scheme of his own to tarnish Chilton’s name.
As far as the Tooth Fairy (ahem, the Red Dragon) is concerned, I think Richard Armitage did a good job. He seemed super familiar, and I had to check out exactly who he was. I was really surprised to realize that he was none other than Thorin Oakenshield from the popular, yet divisive The Hobbit trilogy. It’s amazing how different one looks when they’re made to look like a dwarf. If you’ve seen the movie version of Red Dragon, then you will more or less have a good idea of Armitage’s take on Dolarhyde, but he pulls off uncomfortable lunacy really well. Only time will tell where he’ll take it as the episodes continue to unfold.
Will Graham seems like a mostly changed guy. It was kind of a let-down not seeing exactly how this took place, as he wasn’t exactly in good shape when we last saw him. It feels pretty natural, though — and his introduction in the episode feels about as organic as the book did. They essentially jump into the case as it’s already begun. One interesting thing to note is Will actually smiled in this time around, it made me forget just how seldom something like that is. Will Graham isn’t a happy guy. It seems apparent that Jack Crawford has learned nothing about the limits he is willing to push Will to help him solve murders. Given what all they’ve been through, you would think that they would just part ways and never speak to each other again. He just can’t get enough of Will’s “this is my design” profiling action. Will is more than reluctant to sign on, but resolves to see it through when his girlfriend (or wife, maybe) implores him to do it, as she is worried not helping out would sour him for the rest of his life. I think Hannibal’s japes had a lot to do with it, as well. Maybe Will needs to prove to himself that he can be a better person and help people without sinking to Hannibal’s level. We’ll have to see if Lecter’s warnings will ring true.
So the whole gang is back together again. I almost forgot that Brian and Jimmy from the forensics team even existed, but they were still hanging around doing their same old thing. The stakes are pretty high now, though. This may be the first time little kids, or whole families themselves have been murdered by one of the killers. The Red Dragon is an especially brutal challenge for Jack Crawford and his team. I’m interested to see where the show will go from here as it finishes it’s run.
The episode finally ends with Will and Hannibal finally coming face to face once more. I can’t help but be excited.
The Great Red Dragon wasn’t especially eventful, but if you’re familiar with the plot, then you’ll find plenty to keep you’re interest. Introductory episodes are always hard as you can’t reveal enough too quickly, and you have to simultaneously worry about boring the audience. Thankfully, it was refreshing to see the show return to a much more relatable formula. Expect excitement to increase as we get closer to the finalé, but for now let’s just try and savor this show while we still can.
What’s Good: Chilton is back to provide us with his shady dealings, Richard Armitage is doing well with his portrayal
What’s Not-so-good: The entertainment factor suffers a bit as it juggles trying to update the audience on the characters
What did you think of last weekend’s episode? Is Richard Armitage a convincing Tooth Fairy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!