Previously on Hannibal, ‘The Great Red Dragon’
Hannibal asks Will if he read the note before he burned it. How well he knows his Murder Husband! He goes on to insult the other “pencil lickers” and seems hurt that Will keeps calling him Dr. Lecter. He inhales, smelling dogs, pine, and “atrocious” aftershave a child would pick out. Does Will have a child? He gave him a child, once. Will tries to stay detached, but Hannibal won’t have it. “You came here just to look at me. To get the old scent. Why don’t you just smell yourself?” Will snaps back, tired of the We Are The Same routine. Is Will a good father? Hannibal instructs him to hand over the file so he can help.
“Family values may have declined over the last century, but we still help our families when we can. You are family, Will.”
His face fades into blackness. Hannibal and Abigail bond in the kitchen of her first “death,” talking of blood rituals and rebirth as he collects her blood with a makeshift IV. He would have killed her like her father would have, if he’d had to. Would it be so hard for her to accept him like a father? “We don’t get wiser as we get older, Abigail, but we do learn to avoid or raise a certain amount of hell, depending on which we prefer.” He’ll need some flesh, too, but not a finger—he wants to teach her the harpsichord. He asks if she’s ready to “die;” her cheek twitches and she asks if she can push the button. Proud, he bounces her down from the countertop and holds her close as they spray the blood together in arterial fashion. “Abigail Hobbs is dead,” he announces. “Long live Abigail Hobbs,” she rejoins.
Alana admires Will looking so well, but wishes he weren’t there, for all the reasons. His visit with Hannibal, he tells her, felt like a fly in his skull, like Hannibal followed him back out. Alana’s still with Margot and even carried their Verger Baby boy, heir to the throne. That’s not creepy at all. She’s there because she needs control of Hannibal: she has keys to all five doors between Hannibal and the outside world. “He who sups with the devil needs a long spoon.” In other words, Will + Hannibal = shit gets stirred up and people die.
Hannibal inhales when Will walks back in; the cell transforms to his office as he discusses their Shy Boy, noting his likely disfigurement, which Will knows, and Hannibal knows he knows, and Will knows that Hannibal knows that Will knows and… JUST KISS ALREADY.
They phase into the murder scene, now much gorier with bloody sheets hung in dragon wings. “The first small bond to the killer itches and stings like a leech,” Hannibal says. The killer sees himself in the mirrored victims’ eyes. Like Will, he needs a family to escape what’s inside him. In Hannibal’s hands, a mirror shard reflects the wendigo. How is the killer choosing these families? How Will chose his—a ready-made family with a stepson to absolve himself of biological blame, Hannibal concludes, then inquires about the yards of these families. Large, private, so the killer worship the moon. Will sees himself naked and covered in black blood.
Freddie Lounds snaps Will leaving the mental hospital. Alana visits Hannibal, earning a finger-wagging lesbian entendre. She can hear his cogs turning, accusing him of prying maliciously into Will. “You’ve got Will dressed up in moral-dignity pants. Nothing is his fault,” he snaps. She warns him to behave himself or lose all the dignifying details of his lavish incarceration. That seems unwise, Alana. He withdraws, disappearing into memory.
Hannibal tells Abigail that family members can smell each other; she recognizes her father’s bone knife by scent but won’t acknowledge his love. “Every family loves differently, every family unique,” Hannibal admonishes, asking her to be honest. She visualizes her father there and acknowledges that he was as good as he knew to be, that she enjoyed hunting with him. Could she love him the way he loved her? She slits the vision’s throat. What she needs of her father is in her head, and she doesn’t need to be ashamed of that.
A large, unhappy family shares a meal. The piano music goes sour and wild as the boy becomes adult Francis eating his own dinner with the film of his victims: his perfect family. Will stands in the victims’ kitchen with their family videos playing on his iPad, then transports into the moment, reflecting in the intact mirror. Shirtless now, Francis clutches his head, flexes his tattoo, and then groans. A dragon tail snakes behind him.
Dirt reverses, revealing a metal box marked Kate. The bantering coroner team shows Jack and Will a dead white cat; the dog, too, had a puncture wound, revealing the killer kills or hurts the pets the day before. What did the families have in common? They were both happy.
Will wanders the yard, imagining how the killer would approach it. A broken branch. A symbol carved into the tree. He sat on a stump, watching. Will catches Freddie trespassing, as usual, but she feels they’re co-conspirators. But she took a photo of him naked in the hospital!
“I covered your junk with a box. A big black box. You’re welcome.”
“You called us Murder Husbands,” he protests.
“You did run off to Europe together.”
She reminds him that psychopaths love to read about themselves, making up a headline, “It takes one to catch one.” Is that about Hannibal or himself? At the lunch table, Dolarhyde reads the resulting tabloid article, Hannibal and Will’s face side-by-side. He licks the smudged ink from his fingertip.
Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley) calls him into the film lab, directing him through the dark to a stool. He finally introduces himself. She smiles, blind, giving him a plum. He requisitions special infrared film to photograph nocturnal animals. She instructs him to process in total darkness, offering to process it herself. “Privacy guaranteed.” She smiles again. Later he watches her at the bus stop, then offers her a ride home in his Killer White Van, not for pity but pleasure. The bus stop has a dental ad—“Open wide”—with giant jaws. She invites him in for a drink. He lingers back at the van like a creeper, then enters. The soundtrack whines.
She feels around the edge of a fruit pie, slicing into it, and says this is her first job in the outside world after training other blind people to do the same for so long. He digs into the pie like an animal. Her desire to help children in speech therapy stops him cold. She realizes he hasn’t said anything since she mentioned speech therapy, so she reassures him that she understands him and is interested in what he has to say. “Sympathy feels like spit on my cheek.” She asks if she can touch his face, wanting to know if he’s smiling or frowning, if she should she shut up or not. He catches her hand and says he’s smiling. He isn’t.
Molly and a giant happy dog call Will.
“I’m feeling randy.”
“Randy’s our new dog,”
“Oh, hell,” he laughs.
They giggle about Randy’s huge balls. Will pictures them on the bed together as she teases that even as a child he had a criminal mind. “I don’t have a criminal mind.” But he does have a surprise for her: a new NEW dog, the Jacobis’ dog. Molly acknowledges what this is costing him, saying she’ll be there when he gets home. She’s gonna die.
He dreams of wailing, covered in blood, over Mrs Jacobi’s body. He wakes gasping, then looks at himself in the bathroom mirror. It shatters and a piece breaks away, one eye.
Hannibal disapproves of Jack involving Will again. “You’ve placed him back in the pot and you’re letting him cook.” “We’re all in this stew together.” The Shy Boy knows Will’s name; he accuses Jack of chumming the waters. As usual, Jack thinks he knows what he’s doing. “Will has never been more effective than with you in your head.” How many more scars can Will handle?
Fade to the past. Hannibal slices red peppers in the kitchen. The phone rings. “They know,” Will says. Hannibal relays it to Abigail. She asks if they’re going. No, they’re waiting for Will. He wants Will to see her so they can be together. They should all take care of each other, since they’re family. He sends her upstairs to wait. “Hunting with your father was the best time you’ve ever had. Now you’re going hunting with me.”
An orderly delivers the phone to Hannibal, a call from his “attorney.” Francis Dolarhyde lisps that delighted Hannibal’s taken an interest and knows he understands that the important thing is not his identity but what he’s becoming.
“What are you becoming?”
“The great red dragon.”
After my underwhelm with last week’s episode, Hannibal came back strong this week with “…And the woman clothed with the sun,” the second Great Red Dragon painting in which Satan attempts to devour the pregnant Virgin Mary, forming the strong familial theme of this episode. It’s primary focus is on maternity: the emphasis on Mrs. Jacobi’s reimagined murder scene, Hannibal “giving” Will a child in Abigail, his doting care of her, Francis’ harsh grandmother at the dinner table, Will seeking out a ready-made family of mother and child, Alana’s Verger baby with Margot, even the potential of Jack finding another unnamed, unacknowledged partner. The coroner comic relief team counters this with Jimmy’s greater concern over the family pets: “I’m particularly fond of cats. I’m not particularly fond of children.”
Hannibal reminds us that even in perverse form, love is still love, and that even our most psychotic characters are loving in their own way. Unfortunately for Abigail, Hannibal does indeed love her exactly as her father did—by slitting her throat, bonding her to Will even more inextricably than if she’d lived. It was satisfying to not only see those missing months with Abigail filled in, but to see Hannibal press Will again to accept him as the only worthy partner. Last time he had to settle for Bedelia, who is markedly less maternal than even Will or himself. He’s irritated by people who don’t see Will for all he is, and he clearly doubles down on his determination to kill Alana.
Rutina Wesley made a beautiful addition to the cast as the fragile hope of normalcy on the cusp of Dolarhyde’s becoming as the Red Dragon. She presses the overarching theme of this season: she sees him, hears him, and understands him. As much as we fear for her, I also felt a tiny bit of fear for him as his hope flickered to life, however briefly, in her presence. This episode did what Hannibal does so well: making us feel for everyone involved and showing us the equality of the heart.