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Hannibal “The Great Red Dragon” Review (3×08)

25 Jul

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Note: Because I won’t be at home to post this later tonight, the review is being published early. Full spoilers follow.

“Dear Will: We have all found a new life, but our old ones hover in the shadows.”

Will Graham has a wife, a kid, and a bunch of lovable dogs now in his new life. He’s been living cannibal-free for three years, and we see him doing pretty well as the beautiful barks of those dogs pierce the chilly air. And yet, even as those furry creatures prance around in the gorgeous snow, there’s no doubt that the influence of Hannibal Lecter–that the influence of his old life–still lingers over him. He knows what’s going on with the recent murders, and it’s actually Hannibal’s warning to him that primarily motivates him to return to the Jack Crawford Party. Yes, Jack and Molly are there to urge him to help out, but in the end, Will burning the letter–which warns him about the madness awaiting behind Jack’s open door–is essentially a statement from him to his ex-boyfriend.

And so, Will returns to the scene of the crime, this episode marking the return of the swinging pendulum screen wipe. It’s such a chilling moment, not just because of the fact that we haven’t seen it in a while, but also because of the way it’s shot. It’s beautifully directed and scored, and everything comes together in this truly horrifying sequence: visual flourishes, unsettling voiceover, gruesome imagery. It’s a great way to both highlight a new chapter of the show and to emphasize the lingering influence of former lives, and it eventually leads up to a final exchange that does the same. Will states that there’s a “mindset [he needs] to recover”, and in a scene that mirrors the final one of the first season, we get the famous “Hello, Dr. Lecter”/”Hello, Will” exchange. It sets up what should be a brilliant final arc to the season.

Of course, another huge factor of that arc is the Red Dragon bit, which I guess is pretty important or something. The way the show introduces us to Francis Dolarhyde is really artful and intriguing, and Richard Armitage delivers a magnetic physical performance full of muscle-contorting, dragon screeching, and intense staring. And even though Alana talks about Hannibal earlier when she says that he “defies characterization”, the same can be said about Dolarhyde. He’s a guy who smashes mirrors and buys fake teeth and strips before the full moon, and it’s really hard to pinpoint exactly who he is. We can assume right now that there’s an inner turmoil raging within, but there’s also the sense that he’s similar to Hannibal in a way: meticulous, controlled. He’s a new character, but the past is very much hovering in the shadows, tying the two together through personality, reputation, and eventually proximity. Bring on Red Dragon.

GRADE: B+

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OTHER THOUGHTS:

-Is Hannibal’s cell actually that good–remember, he wields a ton of influence and has a bunch of dirt–or is it the Mind Palace? Or both?

– “The blood was from a cow, but only in the derogatory sense.”

-Bryan Fuller got away with some ass there for Dolarhyde!

-I love the fact that this is very obviously a reference to the show itself. “He has a much wider demographic. You, with your fancy allusions and fussy aesthetics…you will always have a niche appeal.” Also, Chilton-Hannibal scenes will never fail to entertain. Chilton-wall or Chilton-brick or Chilton-tree would still manage to be amazing, because Raul Esparza.

Photo credit: Hannibal, NBC

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