Saturday night’s “Hannibal” was an introduction in many ways to the story of Francis Dolarhyde a.k.a. the Tooth Fairy, and after watching “The Great Red Dragon” in full, “introduction” may be the best overall way to describe it. It was a solid, necessarily entry into the series, but like the season 3 premiere we are not entirely sure that anything in here was altogether that memorable we are going to be discussing many weeks from now.
This may be right up there with the premiere episode in terms of lack of dialogue. While we met Dolarhyde (played with the utmost creepiness by Richard Armitage) during the episode, he spoke nary a line as we saw more of his process, and his desire for feverish self-transformation. He almost envisions himself a monster, and that separates him in many ways from the more civilized and decadent Hannibal Lecter. It is clear still that Dolarhyde is using the Chesapeake Ripper still as inspiration, but is modifying much of what he did into something that is his own ghastly creation. His M.O. is killing families, and taking along teeth as a memento (hence the name).
Aside from seeing Francis and also Hannibal’s new life behind bars (where he is still apparently intent to continue cooking and practicing academia), this episode largely was about bringing Will Graham back into the madness from which he escaped. He has a wife and family of his own now, but Jack created a narrative in front of him that almost gave him no choice but to re-enter the fray. At least he has someone to watch the dogs, right? Through Will we did see the return of Aaron Abrams and Scott Thompson thankfully to the series, which is great news for us given that they were the comic relief of the series before their lengthy disappearing act thanks to Hannibal heading to Europe.
Will’s determination after surveying the crime scene that he needs to see Hannibal is him fully submitting in some ways to the darkness. Will is like the BAU’s most skilled method actor; he can uncover the truth, but must become the truth at the same time. Jack remains results-oriented enough that he does prioritize solving the case over Will’s mental stability, which is somewhat sad given that he considers him a friend but also acknowledges there is a job still to be done.
As Will makes this realization and as Hannibal awaits what may be an inevitable return, we found this episode to be a worthy start to the Red Dragon story. It may not be until next week when we start to have more activity and momentum. Grade: B.