'Hannibal' S3E8: The Great Red Dragon

★ ★ ★ ★ ½

Out of all of the Red Dragon (see here and here) portrayals, this one is by far the most interesting. "The Great Red Dragon" not only broke away from the series by discontinuing the episode title tradition (where each is named after a meal course) and becoming a sequel, of sorts. It’s going to be tricky for Hannibal from here on out. The series will be having to compete with the films. They’ll be having to tell much more complex stories that span entire seasons rather than an hour or two.

Three years after the incident at the Vergers’ farm and Hannibal’s arrest, Hannibal the Cannibal has become a household name and Will has, almost, gotten away from the world of criminal profiling. Hugh Dancy’s Will is far more different than Edward Norton’s. While Norton’s is driven man of action, more of an FBI agent scarred by his past experiences, the Will we have loved over the past three seasons of Hannibal is far more damaged and unstable. Dancy’s interpretation of Will doesn’t fear criminal profiling because of the dangers it entails, but rather is afraid of losing his grasp on reality and his sense of self. In fact, Norton’s reluctance to get into criminal profiling is dropped rather quickly until later on in the movie. You can notice in Dancy’s Will’s behavior as soon as he gets into the crime scene, that he is wandering back into his comfort zone and isn’t driven, but rather addicted.

Hannibal S3

Since Hannibal’s arrest, Will has tried to turn things around. In a lot of ways, his new wife, Molly, and step-child are his support system and an escape from his past. After the Tooth Fairy commits two identical murders of families in their homes, Jack seeks Will out to reel him into investigating the murders. It was great seeing the this-is-my-design return in its usual fashion. At the very beginning of the season, Will had absolutely no control over what he saw. Now, Will struggles to regain his ‘superpower’ after not having used it for so long. Notice how he had to look over the case file in order to strengthen his view of the crime scene — a first. The flashlight effect during the investigation was absolutely fantastic.

While Will escaped by building a family and attempting to move on, Hannibal ran away deep inside his mind palace to avoid seeing his cell. His scene with Chilton was pretty funny. Chilton’s character mercilessly taunts Hannibal, almost like poking a tiger with a stick, by calling him a has-been. During the three year gap, Hannibal the Cannibal has become a household name, but its the Tooth Fairy that is gaining ground as one of America’s most frightening serial killers. Almost a meta-humor joke, he tells Hannibal, "You’ll always have niche appeal." The Hannibal within walls is one we are very much so familiar with. It’ll interesting to see how Fuller writes his version of this Hannibal. Already, Hannibal and Will are far more different characters than the ones we have seen in the movies, so it won’t be too difficult for their scenes to feel unique.

Francis Dolarhyde had no lines in this episode, but the performance and presence of the character were powerful. A major serial killer and primary antagonist of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon, I sincerely doubt that he will be anything like Garret Jacob Hobbes or Mason Verger. Instead, I hope that he will stand out as a serial killer worthy of sharing the spotlight with Hannibal.

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