Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hannibal 3x08 "The Great Red Dragon" (Madness is Waiting) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]

"The Great Red Dragon"
Original Airdate: July 25, 2015

It’s been three years since the insanity at the Verger farm, but Hannibal and company have not been able to leave the horror behind. With Hannibal the Cannibal in a jail cell, Jack has returned to solving murder cases, and, boy, does he have a good one to sink his teeth into. (Sorry, I couldn’t help it.)

The Tooth Fairy aka the Red Dragon aka Francis Dolarhyde has finally come on the scene, in one of the most horror-like episodes of Hannibal so far. Without ever saying a word, Dolarhyde is one of the creepiest, scariest villains the show has ever created. And when the title character is a man who eats people, that is quite an accomplishment. I haven’t read the books or seen all of the Hannibal movies (I’ll remedy this ASAP), so I didn’t know what was coming and couldn't connect all the references. But you don’t need much background to understand the fact that the Tooth Fairy is a bad, bad guy. Everything — from his obsession with a painting of a dragon, the old teeth he buys on the black market (I mean, buying teeth isn’t legal, right?), to the reptilian way he moves — adds up to a truly memorable monster.

And the public seems to think so, too. This is no serial killer with fancy illusions and fussy aesthetics who will always have niche appeal (*cough* just like the show *cough*); this guy is the real deal. He is the Boogeyman who sneaks into homes to kill entire families, and the Boogeyman has wide appeal. (Don’t worry, Hannibal, you’ll always be my No. 1.)

Hannibal’s trial ended sometime in the three years the show skipped. Somehow, he was found criminally insane, even though he is the sanest of them all — perhaps because the atrocities he committed never bothered him, so he was never pushed over the edge like Alana or Will. Alana is in charge of the Baltimore hospital for the criminally insane, and Dr. Chilton has moved on to writing books and presumably appearing on talk shows. Both of them, though, are still bound by Hannibal and the lies they told to get him into jail. There is a slender Wendigo statue with antlers in Alana’s new office — antlers appear everywhere in this episode and have always represented the evil in Hannibal — because, after all, she couldn’t have gotten this job without Hannibal. He is a part of Alana’s psyche now, just like her bold red lipstick and her power suits.

In fact, Hannibal is even closer to Alana now that he’s been caught. Hannibal is jailed in Alana’s hospital, in the most beautiful prison cell. Bryan Fuller said on Twitter that Hannibal’s cell was similar to Alana’s office and inspired by Stanley Kubrick. And it really does fit with Hannibal’s aesthetic. He passes the time in his cell using his memory palace to imagine places he’d rather be, like a church in Florence, listening to an angel singing. Hannibal also has ample time to practice drawing and keep up with his correspondence. (It is a great mystery to me why Hannibal is allowed things like a sharp pencil — and did he cook in his jail cell? But Hannibal has never been that concerned with logic, so I’ll let it slide.)

While Hannibal is busy practicing his arts, he never stops missing Will. But Will has moved on. He’s found a lovely wife, Molly, and he’s a stepdad to a sweet kid. He even has a brand new cabin in the woods. But no matter how deep in the woods Will is, it won't stop his old life from finding him. Jack intrudes on Will's sanctuary and invites himself to dinner. In a cruel move, he plays on Will and Molly’s empathy by showing them pictures of a family that was killed. And how could Will say no to helping Jack, once he learned the family had a pet dog?

So Will enters the crime scene home of the family who was killed to see what he can learn. And then things got truly terrifying. With every step into this family’s house, Will descends slowly back into the life of horror he knew before. His flashlight illuminated the house, and also his imagination. Around every corner, he saw more blood and was able to piece more together about how this family died. These scenes were Hannibal at its chilling best, and needless to say, I was very creeped out. Will’s flashlight and the blood spatter connected him to the crime scene in a visceral way, reaching out from his body and his mind to touch the blood that was spilled. Will fell right back into his old habit of picturing himself as the killer, and he got to reprise that old line once again: “This is my design.”

And with those four words, the show has reverted back to a format akin to season one. Jack, Will, and the FBI staff work on solving a murder. Will looks at clues and pieces together the persona of a killer. And Hannibal and Will talk like old friends.

I’m excited to see this return to form, though I’m sure there will be some new and terrifying things to come.

  • Will’s sweater game is still on point.
  • The scenes of the family being killed reminded me so much of In Cold Blood, the book by Truman Capote about a family in Kansas being murdered. Also, the only book to ever give me bad dreams.
  • It’s been two episodes since we’ve seen Bedelia, and now one since Margot. They did mention Freddie was still poking around though, so hopefully we’ll see at least one of the Hannibal women soon.


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