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Review: ‘Hannibal’ Season 3, Episode 8, ‘The Great Red Dragon’: Just When I Thought I Was Out…

Review: 'Hannibal' Season 3, Episode 8, 'The Great Red Dragon': Just When I Thought I Was Out...

PREVIOUSLY: Review: ‘Hannibal’ Season 3, Episode 7, ‘Digestivo’: Showdown At Muskrat Farm


Previously, Hannibal gave himself up to the cops in a fit of pique after
Will broke up with him. Hannibal is the world’s greatest serial killer and the
world’s clingiest boyfriend.

Behold The Great Red Dragon

Since every episode starts with the credit “Based on
characters from the book “Red Dragon,”” it was inevitable that,
if it lasted long enough, “Hannibal” would tackle Thomas Harris’s
first novel featuring Hannibal Lecter. In the novel, Will and Hannibal had
barely met when Will realized Hannibal was a murderer and was responsible for
his arrest. In the world of “Hannibal,” we’ve had two and a half
seasons of build-up in Will and Hannibal’s relationship, so when Will must turn
to Hannibal at the end of “The Great Red Dragon,” we feel the weight
of that decision all the more.

“Red Dragon” is an excellent novel (previously
adapted into a
great movie by Michael Mann
, and a not-so-great movie
by Brett Ratner
), and “Hannibal” seems to be sticking to it
pretty closely. Richard Armitage is in the role of Francis Dolarhyde, aka The
Tooth Fairy, the serial killer that gets Will back to the FBI. Armitage doesn’t
say a word the entire episode, but his physicality is top-notch, perfectly conveying
Dolarhyde’s transformation into the Dragon. He should be a formidable presence
for the remainder of the season.

Hannibal Behind Bars

After a quick montage of Hannibal’s arrest and processing,
we jump ahead three years, where Hannibal is held in his famous cell. There’s a
nifty trick this episode, where each time Hannibal is visited by one of the
other characters, he imagines them both elsewhere: at a dinner table, for example,
or a church. Hannibal is physically restrained but his mind still wanders
freely to all the locales in his memory palace.

Hannibal has managed to avoid the death penalty with an
insanity plea, but everyone, including Hannibal, knows it’s bull. Alana gets
confirmation that she’s on Hannibal’s hit list should he ever get the
opportunity, and Chilton swings by to tease Hannibal about the new serial
killer in town. It’s a pretty funny scene, with Chilton pointing out that
Hannibal has “niche appeal,” but The Tooth Fairy has wider interest
due to his targeting of families. “What do you think about The Tooth
Fairy?” Chilton asks. “I think he doesn’t like being called The Tooth
Fairy,” Hannibal responds. Hannibal, of course, is exactly right.

Will Graham: Deliberately Not Doin’ Stuff!

Will has retired from the FBI and found himself a new home
with his wife Molly (Nina Arianda) and stepson (plus dogs!). Of course,
“The Adventures of Content Will Graham” would be a terrible show, so
Jack promptly shows up at his doorstep for help with The Tooth Fairy.
Ironically, Will’s new family is what ultimately convinces him to take the
case. How can he stand by and let another family be murdered? Once he’s decided
to go, he’s honest with Molly, “I’ll be different when I get back.”
She’s supportive of his decision, and even helps convince him to go. You picked
a good one, Will!

Will’s investigation of the scene of Dolarhyde’s most recent
murders is one of the best the show’s ever done (kudos to episode director Neil
Marshall in his “Hannibal” debut), and was a nice callback to
“killer of the week” investigations of Season 1. As he walks through
the crime scene, Will’s flashlight subtly reveals the bodies of the victims as
they were discovered. Will hesitates before turning on his super-empathy, and
Hugh Dancy does a great job of conveying the danger of Will going back to this
way of thinking, and knowing the toll it will take on him. Once he goes down
this road, it will be tough to find his way back.

Grand Guignol

It’s a pretty tame episode by “Hannibal”
standards, since Dolarhyde mostly shoots his victims and puts mirror shards on
their faces once they’re dead. Still, Will’s flat tone as he narrates his
re-enactment of the murder is suitably creepy, culminating in a great visual of
the blood spatter lines forming dragon’s wings as Will utters “This is my
design.” There are plenty of episodes left in this half of the season, but
this is an excellent start.

A Quick Appreciation of Scott Thompson and Aaron Abrams

I’m so glad these guys are back! They provide some
much-needed levity on this often oppressively dark show. Excited for them to be
around the rest of the season.

Grade: A

READ MORE: ‘The X-Files’ Returns: What To Expect, Plus NBC’s Plans For David Duchovny & Gillian Anderson

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