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Last week’s Hannibal introduced the Great Red Dragon/Tooth Fairy in a episode full of gorgeous imagery. It also brought Will back to the beginning, sending the character into the dangerous territory of empathizing with victims of the Tooth Fairy’s attacks. And, in a brilliant stroke of pacing, waited until the episode’s final moments to reunite Will and Hannibal in a scene loaded with tension. This week, we were given an episode that was largely filler, although it was, for the most part, rather interesting.
Not every week of Hannibal can be a home run, and this week certainly wasn’t. We did find out some interesting tidbits of information. Margot and Alana are still together and have a son (good for them, escaping their difficult pasts and making a better future)- information that almost certainly means that, at some point in this season, one or both of them will be in peril. Freddie Lounds has been writing about Will and Hannibal for the past several years and is still lacking any journalistic integrity. Although, her lack of filters might actually work in Will’s favor, since it appears she is willing to be used as a tool to sniff out the Tooth Fairy. But, it also means Will is on the Tooth Fairy’s radar, and since he likes to kill happy families . . . Well, let’s just say I’m a tad worried for Molly and his stepson right now.
But the highlight of the episode was the exquisite interaction between Will and Hannibal. As expected, Hannibal is not pleased with Will’s new life. The theme of family is the topic of the day at the Baltimore State Hospital, with Hannibal stressing that he had given Will a real family: Hannibal, Will, and Abigail. Only Will had to ruin everything. The episode also provides us with additional Hannibal and Abigail flashbacks (always a welcome addition to any episode), showing us how Hannibal groomed Abigail to trust him and accept him as the new father in her life. It’s particularly chilling to watch, knowing the outcome and knowing that Hannibal still cares for both Will and Abigail, despite what he did to both of them.
Even behind bars there is still a seductive quality to Hannibal. He retains the charisma that he had on the outside that drew people into his orbit. But there is now a new edge to him, an element of a caged dog with no where to go. Hannibal is trapped but not secluded. He still has his books and his ability to communicate with those who mean the most to him (something that Alana reminds him she controls, a scene that occurred between Hannibal and Chilton in the original text). He may no longer be free, but he has an awfully impressive amount of access to the outside world for someone in his position. And, as Alana tells Will, there are only five doors between Hannibal and freedom. Perhaps Alana thinks that by giving Hannibal so much he will not decide to manipulate his way out of the hospital. Or, perhaps Alana still feels she owes Hannibal something for taking the fall for Mason’s murder. Either way, it troubles me that she and Chilton are giving Hannibal so much leeway. Now that Hannibal has access to his precious Will Graham as well, how long does Alana think he will be content with merely speaking with Will in an environment where Will can leave whenever he chooses? I don’t anticipate that lasting very long at all.
The one element of the episode that didn’t work well for me, however, was the one element that really needed to. The addition of Rutina Wesley’s Reba McClane to the Red Dragon story was just dull for me. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Wesley’s work on True Blood, but considering the schizophrenic nature of that show’s writing, I was certainly willing to give her a chance here. But her scenes with Richard Armitage’s Francis Dolarhyde didn’t pop at all. I just don’t connect with either character on the level I need to for the scenes to work. A large part of that is because I’ve had two and a half years to get to know the rest of the characters in the episode, so I clearly care far more about them than characters I’ve only known for two weeks. But I fear there might be more to it. For the Tooth Fairy story to really work, we need to understand why Dolarhyde is what he is, and we really need to sympathize with McClane. Watching their scenes this week, I just wanted to fast forward back to the interaction between Will and Hannibal. There is far more chemistry there. I’m hopeful that the show will be able to make me care about Dolarhyde and McClane, but I’m not holding my breathe, considering we only have four more episodes left.
— The black and white imagery continued this week, with Alana rocking an outfit entirely comprised of the two colors, and Will seeing himself covered in black blood in the white moonlight. Such a nice contrast to the earlier color palettes of the series.
— We get another look at the Will/Molly relationship, and it’s really great to see how happy and free Will is in it. Having it contrasted immediately with Will getting another dream with night sweats was heartbreaking. The mental stakes are real for Will.
— Oh Jack Crawford. Admitting he’s willing to destroy Will in order to catch the Tooth Fairy. It looks like you have changed quite a bit over the last three years, sir.