Hannibal: 3.08 The Great Red Dragon

Fans of Hannibal should consider themselves lucky. Had Bryan Fuller gone with his original plan, season three would have ended with the dramatic events of Muskrat Farm and Hannibal Lecter's imprisonment. The adaptation of Red Dragon would not have come until season four. But based on recent interviews with the series mastermind, it is clear Fuller knew the chances of NBC renewing Hannibal for a fourth year were slim. Instead Fuller chose to devote the back six episodes of his third season to the story of the tooth fairy, giving audiences two seasons in one. Whether Hannibal returns as a TV movie or gets picked up by another network - and the chances are very slim - it doesn't matter; Red Dragon is the endgame of the story between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter begun in 2013...

The Great Red Dragon was a brilliant debut for the season four in all but name, picking up three years after the last episode with glimpses of newspaper headlines and conversations filling in the gaps of the years inbetween. Frederick Chilton has naturally cashed in the whole affair, writing a book on 'Hannibal the Cannibal'. Somewhat unethically (though that never stopped Chilton) Dr. Alana Bloom has become the cold ice queen and general administrator for Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, watching over the man she once bedded. Jack Crawford has returned to the FBI, working with Brian Zeller and Jimmy Price; both make a memorable, amusing reintroduction, having been absent since season two.

Naturally, the most intriguing characters were Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. Will has succeeded in fighting off the darkness that was Hannibal, finding love with new wife Molly (Nina Arianda) and her son in the remote wilderness while Hannibal has avoided the death penalty and become not only a celebrity of sorts but written for psychiatric journals. He has even managed to maintain his decadent lifestyle; his cell is opulent and a far cry from the dark cell Hannibal Lecter inhabited in the movies, while he continues to wine and dine on fine cuisine with Frederick and Alana. I was ready to be disappointed with the lack of magnificent menus but the chocolate and blood desert looked delicious!

But of course there was far more than scene re-setting and this week we got our first glimpse of Francis Dolarhyde, aka The Tooth Fairy. Richard Armitage made a gripping introduction, delivering a character that was utterly unhinged, obsessed with the Blake's art and the Red Dragon and physically imposing. Interestingly we saw very little of the deranged killer; his brutal slaughter of the family in Buffalo is talked about in great detail and presented through the eyes of Will Graham. It builds the anticipation for seeing Dolarhyde in action in the coming weeks while still delivering plenty of mystery to his own character.

Talking of Will, wasn't it magnificent to see him return to his season one glory days and recreate the murder scene by walking in the footsteps of the killer. This time round we know just how much Will has to lose - he has a wife and stepson to return home to and a history of succumbing to the darkness - so it makes that final scene all the more intense. It is a testament to the show that we only saw Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham together last week and yet we were completely sold on the drama of them meeting again after three years apart.

In one episode Hannibal has been able to reinvent itself and return to the glory days of its earlier seasons. It is exciting to see the show get its teeth into the books this year; the Florence arc was as decadent and twisted as Hannibal and now we are getting to witnesses the terrifying darkness and horror of Red Dragon. Enjoy these next five weeks while you can...

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Category Episode Review

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