Will pays Hannibal a visit while the Great Red Dragon continues his transformation.

By Keith Staskiewicz
August 05, 2015 at 02:30 AM EDT
Brooke Palmer/NBC
  • TV Show

“Hello, Dr Lecter.” “Hello Will.”

I know it’s only been one episode, but it’s hard not to drop the needle on Peaches & Herb’s “Reunited” in my head when Will Graham walks up to Hannibal’s cage in the psychiatric zoo. And while Hannibal seems to be keeping his cool, it’s clear he’s missed his good friend. He can barely even stop himself from doing the ol’ Hannibal scent-detective parlor trick, commenting on Will’s aftershave in only one of the lines gently lifted from his interactions with Clarice in Silence of the Lambs. It’s a bit like running into your ex after all these years, after the tempers have cooled and hardened into regret.

Will, meanwhile, tells himself he’s just there to get into the right mindset to solve the Tooth Fairy case. Of course, that mindset is allowing Hannibal to roam around his skull with abandon. Alana, whose pantsuits continue to amaze, warns him that there are only five doors between Hannibal and the outside world, so he should be careful. Of course, she’s just afraid that he will somehow be able to keep his appointment in Samarra with her, especially now that she and Margot have a Verger baby to raise. She wags her finger at Hannibal, warning that if he doesn’t behave himself, she’ll subject him to his greatest fear: indignity. Hannibal Lecter may be imprisoned, but he’s imprisoned like the gentleman killer he is, with books and drawing materials and a cell with a happening Scandinavian Modern aesthetic. It’d be harder to take him quite as seriously in a straightjacket and a diaper.

Hannibal clearly can’t prevent himself from sticking his fingers in Will’s brain and poking around. He chastises Jack for involving Will in the case, but Jack has known Hannibal long enough and well enough to know that if you put the chess pieces down in front of him, he can’t help but play. Even if he’s a super-genius whose schemes have more layers than a millefeuille, the scorpion is still a scorpion and cannot fight his nature.

Speaking of which, welcome back, Freddie Lounds, you flame-haired parasite, you! It’s been awhile, but the Tattler herself is back on the beat, trailing her slime all over the Tooth Fairy case. Anyone who’s familiar with the source material knows that this isn’t quite the safest road for her to go down, although the show has already mined her mode of death last season, so who knows. In any case, she gives Francis Dolarhyde a new clipping for his scrapbook, one with a big picture of Will Graham’s face.

The episode spends time going over Hannibal’s playing father-figure to Abigail in the aftermath of her “death,” even going so far as digging up her actual father so that she can slit his throat and watch the embalming fluid spill out. (That’s known as a touching gesture in Hannibal’s universe.) I feel like I could have watched an entire sitcom made out of their life together: “They call him Hannibal the Cannibal, but she just calls him Dad. Watch Hannie and Abby, Wednesday nights on CBS!”

Sadly, Dolarhyde had no such father-figure in his life. Instead he had a grandmother and her terrifying coterie of gray-haired ghouls, followed by a half-lifetime of loneliness. This is a tree that grew entirely in the dark, so it’s no wonder it turned out so gnarled and bent. The great tragedy of Dolarhyde’s story is that he finds a possible path to redemption just as it’s too late for him to take it. That path takes the form of Reba, the blind darkroom operator who falls for his lack of sympathy and his charming monosyllabic grunts.

Reba’s potential love, or even friendship, would be a game-changer for Dolarhyde, but it’s not for the Great Red Dragon. No, the Dragon is looking for approval elsewhere. He calls up Hannibal posing as his lawyer—not, surprisingly, as his new psychiatrist Dr. Agon — and tells him he’s a big, big fan. “What are you becoming,” asks Hannibal, which I assume is the most clichéd of lines in serial-killer phone sex. He gets his answer, but it just raises another question: How will Hannibal play this new card?

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