Will meets face to face with Hannibal Lecter after years of separation from the events in Italy and on Muskrat Farm. These two men, who have shared many intimate moments are now separated from each other by time, life, and the view of a rather cell. Will is apprehensive about everything, but he knows he needs Hannibal’s help to prepare his mind for hunting the elusive tooth fairy.
WARNING: This analysis contains spoilers for episode nine of Hannibal. Scroll down to final thoughts for a brief summation.
If you’ve read Red Dragon (or seen the movies based on it), then a lot of this episode won’t be all that new to you. Years after “bringing down” the infamous Hannibal the Cannibal, Will Graham comes to Baltimore State Hospital to meet an old friend face-to-face. The Great Red Dragon, more commonly known as the Tooth Fairy to the general public, has been terrorizing happy families across state lines. Since the case is remotely complicated, Jack Crawford convinces Will to leave his home and family to pursue the killer, and Will decides the best way to get in the right mindset is by having a chat with his old buddy Hannibal.
I would be lying if I didn’t say that I feel like this Red Dragon arc is being rushed a little bit. I may be speaking a little too soon, but I was hoping that the writers would take more time exploring Francis Dolarhyde’s background than he’s had in the past. So far, the plot is playing out very much by-the-numbers, which isn’t terribly bad. Red Dragon was an interesting book. The show has just been known to deviate a little bit, and has usually been more entertaining because of it. That may make me sound like a hypocrite, since I’ve complained in length about Game of Thrones attempting to do the same thing, but I’ve never really held Thomas Harris’ novels in as high esteem as I do Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. In my personal opinion, the tales of Hannibal Lecter are one of the rare cases where the screen versions are actually better than the books. Harris’ novels are decent enough, but it was the great actors that really brought life into those characters. Again, this is my opinion.
The Tooth Fairy has always been a weird serial killer. In some ways, he represents what Will Graham could one day become, but he’s also totally bananas. Still, Dolarhyde still covets the idea of the family unit that most people desire in every day life. He finds a small link of hope in Reba McClane, a blind young woman who provides Francis with camera film. Immediately, he’s taken by this woman who can’t see his disfigurement. They quickly see eye to eye with each other (in a manner of speaking) as he doesn’t pity her, and she openly communicates with him. That doesn’t stop him from being a self-obsessed psycho, though.
Hannibal and Will’s face to face is brief, but meaningful. Hannibal resents will, of course — not for leading him to his arrest, but for refusing to be the family that he’s always wanted. This is further confirmed by Hannibal’s flashbacks with Abigail. Lecter fully expected Will to run away with him and their surrogate daughter, but Will ultimately betrayed him. Being in a cell has only allowed Hannibal to continue living in the past, and his wounds are as fresh as they were years before. Hannibal resorts to openly insulting Will, and challenging his new life that he’s tried to build for himself. Will isn’t having it, though, and quickly shuts him down. This doesn’t stop Hannibal from taking the case files, as I imagine his present situation is pretty damn bleak and boring. It’s made clear that these two men are essentially islands now, separated by a vast ocean of life and coincidence.
It’s hard to imagine how different Will has become. Only two weeks ago, he was ripping a dude’s face open with his own teeth. Now, we actually see Will not only smiling, but LAUGHING. It was jarring at first, but it’s very refreshing seeing Will not totally miserable. Molly has given Will something to live for, and has managed to push the monsters in his head away. Will is concerned now, not only for himself, but for the life he has fostered with his new family. So far, he has been doing a decent job of not letting himself be manipulated anymore by the spurned Dr. Lecter, but I think it’s safe to say Hannibal has more plans up his sleeve.
Alana is there to cause problems for Hannibal, though. In this episode, we learn that she helped carry on the Verger legacy by birthing a baby with the late Mason’s sperm, and that she currently runs Baltimore State Hospital. She has benefitted greatly from her current placement, garnering fame and fortune while keeping Hannibal Lecter at arm’s length. She becomes aware that Hannibal is up to something and threatens his dignity with promises of removing his art and his toilet. She currently holds all of the cards against Lecter, but we all know Hannibal likes to keep his promises. My guess is that at some point, he’s going to kill Dr. Bloom, paving the way for Chilton to take over, not that things get better for Hannibal after that.
Freddie Lounds once again graces us with her annoying presence this time around, as she challenges Will to work with her in regards to the Tooth Fairy case. She also points out the mutually beneficial relationship Alana seems to have with Hannibal Lecter. Will doesn’t want to hear any of it, though. It’s revealed that Freddie smeared Will’s name in the press in the name of good news, so he has little trust in an alliance with her. Something tells me he hasn’t heard the end of this, however.
Francis Dolarhyde himself has been closely following the news about him as well, as he is equal parts excited that Hannibal (a man he admires) is working with the police to help bring him down, and seemingly angry both Will Graham and Freddie Lounds herself. I wonder if they’ll come into contact at some point…
This was a good episode. Not great, but good. Obviously, it served as a means to set pieces in motion for bigger episodes ahead. Nothing too exciting happened, but we did learn a little bit about where exactly this motley group of characters has ended up since the events of the past. Still no word on what exactly happened to Bedelia, but I doubt they’d have completely written her off without elaborating more on her story. I’m hopeful that we’ll see greater development of the Red Dragon himself as this season begins to move inexorably toward a conclusion.
What’s Good: Will standing up to Hannibal, Will actually seeming to be happy, the softer side of Francis Dolarhyde
What’s Not-so-good: Not a ton happened in this episode, serving more to guide the plot forward