Published on July 29th, 2015 | by Vyctoria Hart


Hannibal Season 3 Episode 8 “The Great Red Dragon” Review

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We’ve reached episode 8 of season 3 of Hannibal and it’s finally time to meet The Great Red Dragon. So far Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage – The Hobbit, Spooks) hasn’t been introduced by name but we’re given a lot of information via montages. After seeing a reproduction of the William Blake painting The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun in Time magazine he seems inspired to make changes in his life – getting a full back tattoo of the painting, working out, getting new false teeth, smashing all his mirrors, going on a murder spree – the usual things people in this show tend to do. As the show progresses we also see that he has a cleft lip, an interest in old style home movies, collects newspaper clippings about Hannibal Lecter and has a habit of clutching his head whilst screaming. All of which seems rather tame and normal in comparison to the recent antics of our eponymous cannibal. Don’t worry though, Hannibal gets a montage of his very own complete with scenes of his arrest interspersed clippings from various publications about the Chesapeake Ripper murders and his mental state.


We now jump forward three years to find Hannibal apparently having a civilised meal with Dr Alana Bloom. Dr Lecter has been found officially insane – though he defies traditional classifications – and has thus avoided the death penalty for his twelve known victims. He reminds Alana that he also took responsibility for Mason Verger’s death as promised, leading her to recall his earlier promise to kill her too. The perspective shifts revealing that they are not sitting together eating a civilised meal, they’re actually in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane separated by a glass screen. Whilst the glass is in the same style as the kind that imprisoned Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, this Hannibal is being held in a very different room. Back in season two, during Will Graham’s stay at the hospital, we saw the kind of room we’d expect Hannibal the Cannibal to be held in – cramped, with stone walls and very basic amenities. Instead Dr Lecter appears to be held in an adapted room from the historic part of the building with genuine wood panelling and a fireplace. His half of the room has been mostly painted white but it’s still neither clinical or prison like. If he wasn’t wearing the prison jumpsuit you could easily mistake the room for some kind of high end hotel lobby. It soon becomes clear that Hannibal has taken to picturing all his real world conversations as taking place in different realities when he meets with Dr Frederick Chilton. After a discussion about a dessert that Hannibal once made for the other psychiatrist using human blood, the conversation turns to the new book Chilton is writing. It appears that he did finally manage to make his fortune from the Chesapeake Ripper story but has now moved onto another killer – The Tooth Fairy. Chilton says that this new killer has a much broader appeal because he lacks Hannibal’s pretentious habits. Given his past experiences with taunting serial killers you’d think Chilton had learned not to antagonise the caged beast but it seems he hasn’t learned a lot. After he leave Hannibal it’s revealed that Chilton is no longer in charge of the Hospital, for unexplained reasons Alana is the new director. I assume that either the Verger fortune helped her gain that position or there are literally no other psychiatrists in the entire state of Maryland. The two of them have lied and conspired together to get Hannibal into his current position. Though the exact nature of their deception is unclear Chilton is trying to manipulate Hannibal by discussing the Tooth Fairy to stir up competitive vanity.


Meanwhile, someone else is due to be manipulated by multiple sources. Poor Will Graham, here he is happily living in the woods when a car pulls up with the numberplate “6FBI”. It’s Jack Crawford, here to ruin the peace Will has finally found with his pack of dogs, a wife called Molly and a stepson called Walter (which is a huge improvement on the original name in Red Dragon novel where he was called Willy). Will knows about the Tooth Fairy murders – two entire families killed four weeks apart – but he didn’t call Jack because he doesn’t want to get involved in profiling again. He doesn’t think he can do it any more and doesn’t want to think about it. Jack manages to speak to Molly (Nina Arianda) on her own and she in turn persuades Will to go by asking how he’ll feel if he does nothing and they don’t catch the murderer before he kills again. Jack believes the killer is inspired by the full moon and so they have three weeks before he’ll kill again. Will warns her that if he gets involved he’ll be different when he comes back but she accepts it as the cost of him doing the right thing. Once she’s asleep Will takes out a letter from the master manipulator- Hannibal has sent him a cutting about the Tooth Fairy after speaking to Chilton, expressly telling him not to go with Jack. Dr Lecter reminds Will that madness is waiting if he goes that way, but Will chooses to burn the letter and go anyway.


Graham visits the scene of the most recent Tooth Fairy murders where he discovers that the killer moved all his victims after killing them, then returned them to their original positions. He was barefoot, shot his victims, broke all the mirrors in the house, decorated the mothers body with the shards and ate some cheese. No really, he took a bite out a wax coated mini cheese round and then left the rest in the fridge. This was likely to give the FBI a clear imprint of his new false teeth which he had also used to bite the mother as well. Will also realises that talcum powder on the body was from the killer removing his gloves. This allows the comic relief forensic duo Zeller and Price to recover a partial fingerprint from one of the mirror pieces. Despite the new evidence Will is unable to fully process the crime scene. He is staying in his own personality too much, evidenced by his intense concern for the welfare of the murdered family’s dog, and decides he needs outside help to get into the right mind set. Yes, he’s going to visit Hannibal. Whereas Dr Lecter pictured his conversations with Drs Bloom and Chilton taking place in dining rooms rather than his own cell he chooses to picture his reunion with Will taking place in the Cappella Palentina in Sicily. The episode ends with Will Graham standing on the graven skull mosaic whilst Hannibal himself stands before the altar. And Hannibal wonders why Frederick Chilton thinks he is pretentious!


After the last few weeks of the surreal mixed with the bizarre this episode comes as a welcome relief. Hannibal and his intoxicating influence are safely contained behind glass and we can get back to more normal serial killers. Though I fear that sanity won’t last for long if Will is going to intentionally expose himself to the cannibal’s influence. In some ways I’m worried that the show has gone so far over the edge recently that Dolarhyde won’t seem like that much of a threat. Yes he kills entire families, but in the first two seasons they had all kinds of monsters as the killer-of-the-week whilst also hunting the Chesapeake Ripper. There was a guy who built a totem pole out of all his murder victims; another who turned strangers into faux angels; the pharmacist who used diabetics as living mushroom farms; and the guy who turned himself into a sabre-toothed cat. There was even an episode in season one that wasn’t shown in the U.S. called ‘Œuf’, that centred around a group of boys who were each goaded into killing their whole families around Christmas time. I’ not sure that The Tooth Fairy is all that different after all horrors that came before. I’m really curious to see what is it about Dolarhyde that makes him worthy of taking up the last half of the season when similar villains were dealt with in a single episode. The fact that he’s being played by a quality actor like Richard Armitage gives me hope that it’s going to be good But on the other hand we never saw Zachary Quinto again after his cameo so I’m a little wary about getting my hopes up.

Vyctoria Hart
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