Though NBC officially cancelled Bryan Fuller’s series Hannibal in June and it appears that the show may be out of options when it comes to finding a new home on a streaming site, if Saturday night’s episode is any indication, the best the show has to offer may be yet to come. The episode, The Great Red Dragon, is the first episode in the arc based on the book Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. Richard Armitage joins the cast playing Francis Dolarhyde, a serial killer known as The Tooth Fairy, and Mads Mikkelson and Hugh Dancy reprise their roles as Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham, respectively. Though it was only the first episode of the arc, it was possibly the most interesting and engrossing episode of the show so far. Even though Hannibal appears to be dead in the water, below are 5 reasons you should keep watching based on Saturday’s episode.
Hannibal Lecter Institutionalized
The episode skips ahead three years from where it had left off in the previous episode, letting us know that during that time Hannibal Lecter was found guilty of his crimes, which included murder and cannibalism, by reason of insanity and sentenced to life at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Dr. Alana Bloom, the administrator of the hospital as well as his former colleague and girlfriend, is now his jailer, and his fancy suits are replaced by the hospital uniform. From inside his cell, which was designed to look like a space from his home office, he is able to draw and write, and shares meals occasionally with Bloom and Dr. Frederick Chilton, another former colleague whom he framed for murder and who was the previous administrator of the hospital. He is still attempting to communicate with Will Graham, as shown by a letter he receives from Hannibal, and is seemingly keeping tabs on The Tooth Fairy investigation. Possibly the most interesting thing going forward will be how Hannibal’s meddling in The Tooth Fairy investigation and in Graham’s life escalates throughout the rest of the season, as well as how he adjusts to being imprisoned considering how much he enjoyed the finer things while he was free.
Francis Dolarhyde didn’t say a word in this episode, but he more than made his presence known. Armitage’s mannerisms and facial expressions were enough to convey just how tortured and evil Dolarhyde is. The first five minutes of the episode show Dolarhyde’s obsession with The Great Red Dragon painting and how he let it transform him, and it is wonderfully creepy, which has everything to do with Armitage’s acting in that scene. Though there wasn’t much of Dolarhyde shown yet, outside of his Tooth Fairy persona, based on the little that was shown, the rest of this season is going to be a terrifyingly wild ride.
Raul Esparza’s take on Dr. Frederick Chilton continues to be one of the best parts of Hannibal, and Saturday’s episode was no exception. Esparza’s often colorful performance as Chilton is in stark contrast to the rest of the cast whose characters are written to be dark and stoic. In Saturday’s episode, it is stated that Chilton is going to write a book about The Tooth Fairy, and Alana mentions that Hannibal is quite displeased with the book he wrote about him. Though he isn’t Hannibal’s jailer like he is in the movies and books, his writings about Hannibal seem to similarly antagonize him. Over the course of the series, Chilton has been through a lot, including being framed for murder and disemboweled, though he comes out of each situation with sass and flair, even if he doesn’t have the respect of the other characters. It’s yet to be seen whether or not he’ll face a similar fate again this season, but the prospect of what might happen to his character, as well as Raul Esparza stealing every scene he’s in, is enough make tuning in through the rest of the Red Dragon arc satisfying.
Dr. Bloom is played excellently by Caroline Dhavernas, and this season her character continues to make drastic changes every week. The character from season 1 who had a curious friendship with Will Graham is now almost a completely different character, but it works. As the head of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane after Chilton resigned, she is now the jailer of the man who was once her good friend and lover until he completely betrayed and tried to kill her. With the change in her character to a more vindictive, sarcastic person, it’ll be interesting to see how this will affect her treatment of Hannibal. In Harris’s books, Chilton is the sadistic jailer, so will Alana follow suit? That is yet to be seen, but there are bound to be interesting developments throughout the season.
One of Hannibal‘s strengths has always been its score. The music, composed by Brian Reitzell, has been critically acclaimed and is one of the highlights of the series. The first scene of the episode is about five minutes long and features no dialogue, instead it is guided solely by Armitage’s acting and Reitzell’s composition. The combination is superb, making the scene entrancing and giving it an eerie feel. The music throughout the episode is stunning and serves to further illustrate scenes and drive the plot in ways that few other television scores do. It’s safe to assume that the rest of his score for the Red Dragon arc will be equally breathtaking and continue to be one of the most important elements of each episode.
Though its ultimate fate is uncertain, if this is indeed the end of Hannibal, the series is poised to go out on a high note. The footage shown at San Diego Comic-Con includes many scenes from Saturday’s episode, but what is still yet to be shown in an episode appears to be some of their most intriguing footage to date. Even though the show was moved from it’s Thursday slot to Saturday at 10pm on NBC, don’t let that discourage you. Hannibal‘s best days are ahead of it, even if they will be its last.
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