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Review: ‘Hannibal’ Season 3, Episode 12, ‘The Number of the Beast is 666’: Don’t Call Him Tooth Fairy

Review: 'Hannibal' Season 3, Episode 12, 'The Number of the Beast is 666': Don't Call Him Tooth Fairy


PREVIOUSLY: ‘Hannibal’ Season 3, Episode 11, ‘…And the Beast From the Sea”:
Home Invasion

Appetizer

Last time, Dolarhyde broke into Will’s home on Hannibal’s
orders. Will wasn’t amused.

Willucinations

Unsurprisingly, Will isn’t taking the attack on his family
particularly well. Our favorite investigator spends this episode plagued by
hallucinations of the women in his life as Dolarhyde’s victims. Faced with the inescapable
reality of how vulnerable his loved ones truly are, as well as his own
participation in a horrific turn of events for Dr. Chilton (Raul Esparza, great
as always), Will starts therapy sessions with Bedelia in an attempt to work
through his demons. Predictably, their conversations often turn to their
respective relationships with the only person linking them together: Hannibal.

At first glance, Bedelia seems to be an odd choice of
therapist for Will, considering their history together with Hannibal and her predilection
for manipulation. But it’s possible that Will picked her for precisely that
reason. After all, who would understand the effect that Hannibal can have on a
person better than the woman who lived as his wife/hostage for months?

Most Wonderfully
Unsubtle Moment

“Is Hannibal in love with me?” One guess as to who asked that question.

Freddie Lounds Gets
The Scoop

The FBI is at a standstill in their investigation of the Red
Dragon, so they’re pretty much willing to try anything at this point. Will
suggests doing a disparaging interview about the Dragon with Freddie Lounds at
Tattlecrime in order to lure Dolarhyde out of hiding, and Jack says yes. At
Alana Bloom’s urging, they recruit Dr. Chilton to legitimize the interview
since they need someone “less concerned about the truth than the best
story.” Chilton and Will proceed to spin a tall tale about the Dragon (who
they refer to as the Tooth Fairy), calling him ugly and impotent before
standing up together to take a picture. The parallels between Chilton and
Freddie Lounds are only lightly touched upon in the scene but interesting to
consider, especially since Chilton spends the rest of the episode subbing in
for Lounds as the Dragon’s next victim.

Behold The Great Red
Dragon

As for Dolarhyde? He plays right into the FBI’s hands… almost.
After reading the Tattlecrime article he goes after Dr. Chilton (in a deviation
from Thomas Harris’ original novel), abducting the doctor instead of Will. This
Dolarhyde is one who has nearly completed his transformation into the Dragon,
but who is still insecure enough in his identity to be enraged by an inciting
tabloid article. For a more visually arresting interpretation of the Dragon’s
identity crisis, pay close attention to the sheer black balaclava that changes
position on Richard Armitage’s face, depending on which side of his character
is the dominant one.

Meanwhile, Reba shows up unannounced with soup and is run
out of the house by an overwhelmed Dolarhyde, but not before Chilton sees her
face. Her inability to move on from her ex likely spells doom for her, especially
after she finds herself in the clutches of the Red Dragon at the end of the
episode. Hold on Reba!

Hannibal Behind Bars

Though Hannibal never leaves his prison cell, Mads Mikkelsen
gets some great material to chew on in this episode. His initial conversation
with Jack brings back the God/Devil conversation from the season’s early
episodes, this time casting Jack as the God-like character sending his angels
to wage righteous war on Hannibal’s Devil. The reveal that Hannibal allowed Dr.
Chilton to write a book of lies about him (“Hannibal The Cannibal”)
solely to refute its findings after publication is at once amusing and
depressing; it seems indicative of the kinds of things Hannibal is forced to content
himself with nowadays.

Or is it? Hannibal’s overarching influence is felt all over
this episode, in everything from therapy sessions to attempted murder. The
beautifully shot montage of a manila envelope going through the appropriate
snail-mail channels before ending up in Hannibal’s hands is one of the
episode’s best. Watching it, I couldn’t help but think of the many food preparation
sequences in earlier seasons — a parallel which is made even more explicit
when the contents of the envelope turn out to be a pair of lips formerly
belonging to Dr. Chilton. The implication that Hannibal has separated the pair
of lips by giving one to the FBI as evidence and eating the other (a midmorning
snack?) foreshadows an escalation in the lengths to which he will go to amuse
himself.

Grand Guignol

We finally get a played-straight version of the
“flaming wheelchair of death” this episode (starring Chilton), but
not before a gratuitous close-up of Dolarhyde biting Chilton’s lips right off
of his face. “Hannibal” goes for the gore in a very Hitchcock-ian
manner, using silhouettes, shadows, sounds and viewer imagination to create the
effect of ripping flesh from Chilton’s face.

But the award for “most horrifying shot” this
episode goes to the close-up of Chilton’s mutilated face while he’s in the
flaming wheelchair. It’s a haunting and memorable image that caused me to jump
about 10 feet in the air.

No One Dies On This
Murder Show

This episode marks the second time the flaming wheelchair
has been used as a murder weapon — as well as the second time it’s failed to
kill its victim. Last season: Freddie and Will used it to fake her death. This
season: Chilton! I can’t help but be impressed by Chilton’s ability to survive
anything and everything the show throws at him — including having his mouth
bitten off and nearly being burned to death. The show treats him like a
downtrodden dog, bringing him back again and again only to keep kicking him, so
is it any wonder that Dolarhyde goes for Chilton first? He always kills the pet.

Grade: A

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