Ricky Church reviews episode eight of Hannibal season three…
A new era has begun for Hannibal as the show jumped three years ahead of Hannibal Lecter’s capture in ‘Digestivo’. This episode felt like the premiere to an entirely new season since the status quo was shaken up for all the characters. Even the episode titles have changed from the names of foreign recipes to William Blake’s The Great Red Dragon paintings. The latest episode, appropriately called ‘The Great Red Dragon’, introduced fans to one of Hannibal’s most anticipated storylines.
Based off Red Dragon, the first novel in the Hannibal Lecter series, the new status quo takes its starting point mostly from the beginning of the novel. Jack is once again in charge of his old FBI division, Hannibal is caught and Will is retired. Alana is in charge of the psychiatric prison Hannibal is placed in rather than Dr. Chilton, who seems to have made it big as the author of an expose on ‘Hannibal the Cannibal’. Whereas in the book and films readers are suddenly thrust into this world, viewers now have an entirely new history and context to understand the dynamics of all the relationships. Will and Hannibal are obviously much closer than they were in the source material and previous adaptations, making their struggle throughout this story much more impactful.
The show has also returned to the police procedural format after its adventure through Italy in Season 3’s first half. Unlike the previous seasons though, this storyline is only following one killer: Francis Dolarhyde AKA The Tooth Fairy AKA The Red Dragon. Richard Armitage made a memorable introduction in the opening as he prepared for his first set of kills. While he did not have any lines, much of his performance was given through body language and facial expressions, painting a picture of a very disturbed and emotionally unstable man. Armitage is sure to be a standout of the series once all is said and done.
Its interesting Will didn’t make an appearance until halfway through the episode, almost a parallel to Hannibal’s pilot where the titular character also appeared halfway through. Will seems to finally be in a good place as he’s in a committed relationship, raising a child and in seclusion from the FBI. While he has no interest in helping out on the case, wanting to put everything murder related behind him, its appropriate that it takes a letter from Hannibal advising him not to take the case to get him back in the game. Was Hannibal really looking out Will or using some reverse psychology in order to see him again?
Either way, it was startling to see Will visibly shaken at the crime scene, resisting the urge to empathize with The Tooth Fairy and act the crime out. This showed that Will really has grown for the better and Hugh Dancy was great at showing viewers his evolution.
‘The Great Red Dragon’ was an excellent set up episode for a storyline that has been eagerly anticipated. However, the difficulty Hannibal faces the remainder of the season is the fact Red Dragon has been adapted twice before with the films Manhunter and Red Dragon. The show will really have to set itself apart from the previous movies so viewers don’t feel like they’re watching the same thing again. Of course, Hannibal’s distinct visual style and episodic format helps on that front, but its really going to be the added history between Will, Hannibal and the rest of the characters that will help set this adaptation apart from the others.