With Lecter behind bars, there’s room for a new handsome/sadistic/exquisitely bizarre killing machine to do his thing on Hannibal. And what an entrance Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) makes! Welcome, sir, and your obsessions with William Blake, dentistry, fitness, and slaughter.
After we get a wonderfully wordless intro to Dolarhyde, aka the Tooth Fairy, aka “The Great Red Dragon” for whom this episode is named, we get a more melancholy look at what happened to Hannibal. After his surrender to Jack Crawford, he makes some grim headlines (sure would love to read that entire special edition installment of TattleCrime!), then gets locked away in that familiar spartan-yet-somehow-still-opulent (hey, it’s Hannibal, after all) glass-front cell in Chilton’s hospital.
Suddenly, it’s three years later.
Hannibal’s beaten the death penalty, we learn from a barbed jailhouse conversation with Alana Bloom, thanks to a successful insanity plea. He’s imprisoned now, but he still intends to kill her one day. “I always keep my promises,” he reminds her.
The glass between them cracks, but it’s really a mirror in Dolarhyde’s attic lair that enables us to see a man whose personality is literally fractured. It’s only 10 minutes in, and he hasn’t spoken a word yet, but it’s hard not to be already loving this character and performance: brutal yoga moves, a huge back tattoo applied in what looked like one sitting, picking out false teeth, yowling and growling at a broken mirror, and standing covered in blood under a full moon ... EVERYONE ELSE IS BORING!
Everyone except Hannibal, at least, who’s still able to be a gourmet chef in his cell, despite not having access to his preferred ingredients. He’s made a traditional Neapolitan dessert for Dr. Chilton, one of his favorites. It’s traditionally made with pig’s blood; in this case, a local cow. It’s not the first time he’s made it for Chilton, and the doc has to ask: what kind of blood was in it before? Also a cow, “only, in the derogatory sense,” Lecter replies, matter-of-factly. (After Alana’s bitter reminder of what (“who”) Lecter used to put in her beer glass, and at this point in the show, really, it’s safe to assume that anyone who survived dining at Casa Lecter in the good old days consumed something human.)
Obviously, these two aren’t pals. Smarmy Chilton delights in telling his star patient that nobody cares about Hannibal Lecter anymore ... in fact, he’s writing a new book about the new kid in town: the Tooth Fairy. “I think he doesn’t like being called the Tooth Fairy,” Lecter says, when pressed for his take. “It is not as snappy as Hannibal the Cannibal,” Chilton agrees. “But he has a much wider demographic than you do!” He kills whole families in their homes, you see, “striking at the core of the American dream.”
However, if the public perception of Lecter is based on what Chilton wrote about him, Alana reminds him, it involves a lot of lies. And an upcoming journal article Lecter penned from his cell (“a rebuttal,” Alana calls it) is going to sting Chilton big-time. But Chilton has his own warning for Alana: “the Young Turk might inspire the Old Lithuanian to keep himself interesting.”
Cut to the Young Turk, listening to Ricky Nelson (and the voices in his head), watching his projector and clipping his headlines with precision (“Tooth Fairy Massacres ‘Perfect Families’”) for the purposes of mailing them to Hannibal, as well as pasting them into his supremely creepy personal scrapbook. He takes a thick black marker and crosses out “Tooth Fairy,” proving Hannibal was, of course, right about his thoughts on the nickname.
Cut to No Longer the Young Turk, aka Will Graham, puttering on his snowy farm as an array of dogs frolic around his feet. Jack Crawford rolls in for a chat, to Will’s annoyance. Will’s out of the game, shacked up with the dogs, his wife Molly, and her young son. “I don’t think I can do it anymore,” Will protests but Jack knows better, and he needs his former star’s take on the Tooth Fairy, who’s likely to strike again with the next full moon. Molly recognizes that if Will doesn’t help out, and another family is killed, the guilt will be enormous (she also knows that Jack won’t take “no” for an answer). Dissent comes from an unlikely corner: Hannibal, who’s penned a perfectly-timed letter advising Will not to take on the task he knows Jack is going to ask. Through the dark doorway, he advises, madness awaits. Is Hannibal using reverse psychology to get Will to take the case? Could be ...
...And take it he does, because next we see him, flashlight in hand, poking around the Buffalo, NY scene of the Tooth Fairy’s most recent crime. It’s a comfortable home that still looks lived-in, complete with a fridge full of food (including a nibbled-on wheel of cheese, hmm). That is, until he climbs the stairs, where Terrible Things have happened.
The ol’ Will Graham crime-scene-o-vision kicks back in, and rest assured he hasn’t lost ANY of his insane talent for “seeing” a crime exactly how it’s been committed. No wonder Jack wanted him back in the fold so badly; and frankly, Zeller and Price back at FBI HQ aren’t too surprised to see him back. It was inevitable, really.
But there’s one more mind that needs to be added into this crime-solving team, and we all know who it is. So in case anyone was worried we wouldn’t be seeing plenty o’ Hannibal the rest of the season, fear not: he’s still very much with Will, and with us. BRING ON THE RED DRAGON!