The last two episodes of Hannibal were fantastic!
Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement.
I want to say that the previous two episodes were the highest peak that the series has ever had. The prequel stuff is over and we’ve officially moved into the main narrative of Thomas Harris’s first novel in the series.
“Red Dragon” has been adapted onto film on two separate occasions. In the 80’s with “Manhunter,” which serves as an underrated but slightly flawed thriller and in 2002, with the far superior “Red Dragon.” Therein lies the rub of how the rest of season three will progress. We’ve seen this story play out on two separate occasions already and “Hannibal” fans know what’s coming. However, the difference here is that we’ve spent the course of two and a half seasons following these characters before entering this story line. Thus, we know them just a bit more than in the films. Also, enough stylistic and pacing choices are made to separate this TV version of “Red Dragon” from its big-screen counterparts.
Appetizers: Three years have passed since the events of the last episode. (Three years?! Daaaaaamn!)
Hannibal is now a safely caged animal in an extremely well-furnished asylum cell. Though it might be argued that he’s living quite the highlife for a convicted serial killer, the polite cannibal is not happy with his conditions. It turns out that Chilton (hot off his successful book) and Bloom (angry that Verger did not kill and/or eat Hannibal) flubbed certain reports in order to make Hannibal Lecter (a man who knew full well the monstrous actions he was committing) look insane.
Hannibal doesn’t want to waste away in an asylum and has written a report that might shine light on “inmates running the asylum” in Chilton’s hospital.
Main Course: As with all ecosystems, when one predator is eliminated, a new one moves in to take its place. In the case of “Hannibal”, the eponymous character’s absence has allowed a new monster to emerge.
This comes in the form of the shy, soft-spoken, hair-lipped Francis Dolarhyde.
Richard Armitage makes a fantastic transition from playing a noble sword-wielding dwarf king in “The Hobbit” trilogy to becoming one of the “Hannibal” universe’s well-known psychopaths. With no lines of spoken dialogue in this episode, Armitage makes a menacing appearance and portrays the rapid evolution of Dolarhyde turning into The Beast.
Dolarhyde seems like a normal guy on the outside, but is trying to transform into the “Red Dragon” (a figure from his favorite painting). This transformation would seem relatively harmless if he were only getting a massive tattoo on his back and buying decrepit dentures. However, a part of Dolarhyde’s transformation apparently stipulates that he go out on during a Full Moon and slaughter a picturesque family.
Dolarhyde has been played creepily by Tom Noonan and tragically by Ralph Fiennes. Armitage’s performance seems to blend both of those aspects into one of the more chilling serial killers to ever hit network television (his competition mainly lies in other episodes of this series). I especially love how this episode puts the viewer into the mind of Dolarhyde and we see his split personality (himself and the Dragon) manifesting itself in beautiful, albeit dark and disturbing, hallucinations.
I look forward to five more episodes of this madman before the series reaches its finale.
Dessert: In an episode that’s focused on Hannibal and Dolarhyde, Will almost seems like an afterthought, but if anyone’s going to catch the Red Dragon (a.k.a. the Tooth Fairy), it’s going to be our main protagonist.
Three years have passed and Will now has himself a family. He’s got a beautiful wife and a wonderful step-son. When Jack shows up at his door asking for him to dive into the darkness one last time, we get the clichéd “I don’t do that anymore” speech. This is all completed with icing on the cake from Will’s wife urging him to “do the right thing.”
To make up for these overused clichés, we are treated to Will diving headlong into Dolarhyde’s mind when investigating a bloodied crime scene. But Will can’t track Dolarhyde, just enter his psyche. So, of course he needs to get help once more from none other than Hannibal Lecter!
After three years of avoiding him, will Lecter embrace helping Will or will he torment the shit out of him (much like in the novel)?