When Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) visits Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), we learn even the perennially-scruffy nature boy wears aftershave. The moon-phased Tooth Fairy is on a killing deadline, and the Baltimore State Psychiatric Hospital's apex killer-in-residence must be consulted. For his part, Hannibal appreciates a break from the professional “second-raters” and “pencil-lickers.” Wicked. (I recall when Will was a top expert in his field, that is, until he succumbed and went native, so to speak.)
Hannibal can tell Will's domestic life has expanded, that fatherhood has changed him. He digs in as Will tries to maintain distance, saying that Will only need remind himself of who Hannibal is, who he is himself on that selfsame axis, and that the memory of that alone should be enough for Will to figure out how the Tooth Fairy's choosing his victims. Yes, well, after more verbal foreplay, at last, to the casefiles!
We flashback to Hannibal's “fatherhood” of Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), the parenthood which he tries to place heavily as a shared burden on Will. She'll adapt now, mutate later, the lesson every loving father teached at softball practice and blood rituals. Hannibal takes a big bottle of blood, and then, as they discuss how he would've killed her, they rather calmly discuss the flesh he also needs. Not a finger, so she can learn to play the harpsichord he's always on about, but a bit of something she can do without. We know it'll be the shell of her ear. Together they empty the bottle, enacting the pattern which will be taken for her fresh arterial spray. Among twisted killers, it's as sweet as a dad and daughter pancake breakfast.
I know Baltmore's on the Chesapeake, but Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas) is dressed for punting on the Thames in crisp whites and stripey blazer. It suits her starkness of mood, too. Will is talking to her as if to an old friend, but she appears impatient, dismissive. And why not? She's the one with the awesome and jaw-dropping news! She and Margot Verger are still together, and Alana carried the Verger heir herself, a son conceived from the sperm which Hannibal advised the pair on collecting with cattle prod before Mason's death by eeling three years ago. Good stuff!
I did previously suspect Verger dough in the obviously upscaled hospital offices, and Alana says she's only slumming there to protect the outside by holding the five keys to the doors standing between Hannibal and the outside world. “He who sups with the devil needs a long spoon.” This is a noble sentiment, but Hannibal's previously promised to kill her, too, so I believe she's genuinely motivated.
Meanwhile, Hannibal's had a chance to review the files, and it's a flashback to his sumptuous Baltimore office/home, where as he reveals each conclusion, he takes a painful poke at Will in exchange. “Like you, Will, he needs the family to escape what's inside him.” Hannibal prods about Will's marrying into a son to avoid breeding with his own rotten DNA. That's before he points out that a nude Tooth Fairy, who by the way believes himself to be disfigured, would need a private back yard for moongazing. All is in trade, as much tit-for-tat as Will can stand. Probe, then enlighten. Accuse, then reveal.
And speaking of revelators, our favorite muckraker, the not-dead Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki), is back outside the hospital to see Will leave and knows she has the line on a big story. Inside, Hannibal is making uncharacteristically crude jokes to Alana—did Mason rub off?—but she knows his curiosity is piqued, and wonders what he's planning. Now I have to ask if Dr. Chilton has perhaps rubbed off on her. She threatens to take Hannibal's books and drawings and even toilet. She stands ridiculously close to him, within the cell, for these threats. She promises him nothing but indignity and the company of the dead. How can that end well?
Back in his memories with Abigail (i.e. his dead), Hannibal introduces her to the bone-handled knife of her father and his seated corpse. He demands that she admit her father, though he cut her throat, loved as best he could in his own way, and that she should love him back accordingly. She does. Embalming fluid flows, and it's warmly educational for all. Hannibal understands so much about hereditary relationships.
Now, to the sounds of old-timey silent film music, we see Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage, who does loom nicely in this role), suffering through a family dinner, a child at a fussy, formal table full of senior citizens. Will is at one of the victims' family homes, watching a film of a birthday party, imagining the scene. It's all about family this week. Family love. Family confusion. New family members. Ties that bind and which live on inside, often as invisible to the world and yet as real as The Great Red Dragon's tail.
Back at the lab—hello geeks!—One of the dead families had a cat, killed and wrapped up as an offering with a flower. The other one's dog was killed with an ice pick or an awl. Will needs more, and finds the spot behind the house where a voyeur could observe them. There is a symbol carved into the tree, and in the driveway… Freddie Lounds.
She just puts me in a good mood. This whole exchange, from the comatose colostomy pic and black-box stuff to calling Hannibal and Will “murder husbands” is just fun, and may be my favorite scene of the episode. She reminds Will, whose forehead saw-scar is prominent in the reflected snow, that narcissists love to be covered in the paper. Use her and TattleCrime, Will!
Dolarhyde's blind associate, Reba (Rutina Wesley), is played by True Blood's Tara. A fellow film pro, he's attracted to her plums, her friendliness, and her access to infrared stock. He's going to film nighttime animals at the zoo, he says. Uh huh. That film's development is so exacting (and he hates digital), that she offers to process it for Mr. D, privacy guaranteed. He picks her up in his creepy van, which doesn't bother her a bit, and she invites him in for a drink. She's a forthright woman, also experienced with speech disorders, and likes that he doesn't pity her. Getting close to him is a dangerous proposition, but she's brave in stating her case and reaching for his response.
To count off another fun woman, we get more time with Will's wife (Nina Arianda), whose forthrightness on the phone about Randy-ness and dog balls breaks the thick tension Will's been under and makes him feel like he's home. She teases him about his criminal mind, which he doesn't take well, but he has adopted the other slain family's wounded dog, who had no home. Molly loves his penchant for strays and his sweetness. Pray he can keep them, because he's dreaming murder again.
Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) visits Hannibal, too, Three years after his wife's death, Hannibal seems to sniff a new life on Jack, too, who sniffs the same old corruption on the cannnibal. Not sure why Jack's there, actually, since Hannibal basically, as always, accuses someone else of being the manipulative one, and Jack leaves after a gratuitously painful mention of his deceased wife. However, I confess to liking this strong pair's parrying best. More recollections of The Worst Dinner Party Ever, how he sent the not-dead-yet Abigail upstairs to surprise the guests.
To conclude, the now busiest imprisoned insaniac in Maryland gets a call from Dolarhyde who confesses, to Hannibal's infinitesimally-detectable smile, that he's flattered by the caniibal's interest as he becomes The Great Red Dragon…
The woman clothed with the sun may be one of Dolarhyde's victims, but I'm so happy to have such engaging, up-front women this week, bravely and humorously cutting to their respective chases, since holding down the devious and tortured axis are the eternal warden Alana and still-dead Abigail.
Clare Toohey is a literary omnivore, admirer of both stripes and plaids. Aside from editing The M.O. and site wrangling here, she freelances as an editor, writes short, surreal crime fiction, blogs at Women of Mystery, and tweets @clare2e.