Hannibal season 3, episode 11 pits Francis Dolarhyde against The Great Red Dragon. Who will win out when Will’s family is on the line?
Will Graham knows Jack Crawford and Hannibal Lecter better than he is willing to let himself be aware of. Until now. After his encounter with Dolarhyde in New York, Will finally links Jack, calling him the “Fisher of Men,” to using him as bait for Hannibal to set his mind to the case. Hannibal knows where the Dragon is.'
In a pseudo session with Hannibal, Dolarhyde speaks for the longest time we’ve heard yet. The compelling narrative Richard Armitage was able to create using his body is only enhanced watching him explain his internal struggle to Dr. Lecter. His voice is heavy and low bearing the weight of his constant internal struggle to fight the Dragon.
Hannibal does little to persuade Dolarhyde away from the Dragon during their brief phone sessions. For the first time since his exposure to the painting, the Dragon spoke to Dolarhyde, calling him by name. Dolarhyde is desperate to find a solution that will keep Reba out of the clutches of the Dragon. Hannibal spins Francis’ need to flee and turns him to face the monster he wants so desperately to destroy. Hannibal highlights the fact that if it weren’t for his Becoming, Dolarhyde would never have gotten Reba in the first place.
Hannibal offers another solution to satisfy the Dragon’s craving — feed him another family. Feed him Will Graham’s family.
The full moon approaches and Dolarhyde stakes out his next victims, lurking in the wooded area around Will’s home. He works his body to a breaking point under the careful watch of the Dragon. As the time for the Dragon’s next strike nears, Dolarhyde decides to expose a bit of the Dragon’s work on a date with Reba. He watches the film from cameras set outside Graham’s home, studying Molly and Walter, his prey, as they move about their natural habitat.
The second step in his plan, the removal of the security system, sends Molly and Walter to the vet with very sick dogs. Believing that it was her fault, since she switched the animals to canned food after Will left, Molly and Walter decide it is best not to tell dad about the incident — a step that may have clued Will into Dolarhyde’s next selection a moment sooner.
With the full moon just hours away, Will demands that Hannibal reveal the Dragon’s identity. Admitting he does not know the true identity of the man consumed by the Great Red Dragon, Hannibal’s brash retorts about communication via toilet paper and personal ads (both nods to their communication in Harris’ Red Dragon) only set Will further on edge. Hannibal may not know the man, but he knows the family the Dragon has chosen. Rather than give up the how and the who, Hannibal wants to be sure that Will understands if another family dies it is because he could not solve the Dragon. The blame rests entirely on him.'
Under the glowing moon, Dolarhyde approaches the Graham cabin, but Molly has the upper hand. She swiftly gets Walter out of bed and tells him to hide under the car until her signal. Molly and Dolarhyde’s silent dance around the house intensifies as he becomes frustrated that their beds are empty. Narrowly escaping to the roadway, Dolarhyde gets a shot off and kills a man that Molly flagged down to help them escape. With Walter tucked in the backseat, Molly gets away, but not unscathed.
Will arrives at the hospital where he and Walter work their way through the mental state of the man out to get them. Refusing to murder Dolarhyde, Will tells Walter that he wants to catch the man and put him in a hospital where they can treat him. Like the one that Will was placed in after he killed a man? Walter may be 11, but he is more aware of Will’s past than he realized. Turning away from Will, Walter goes to watch baseball after instructing him to kill the man who hunted them.
The Dragon’s failure inflicts more damage on Dolarhyde, the man, as he tortures himself in penance. The scene shifts from the figure he believes he is fighting to seeing him punch and choke himself. The weak and vulnerable Dolarhyde is at the mercy of an angry Dragon. Battered and bruised he shows up at Reba’s lab to end their relationship. Dolarhyde shrinks away from Reba’s touch, trembling, admitting that he is too afraid that he will hurt her.
In his final council with Hannibal, Lecter urges Francis to not allow fear to win the battle. The Dragon is the answer, even if he fears that he is not strong enough to keep the Dragon away from her should she approach him again at home. Hannibal feeds the Dragon, describing how easily Reba’s body would tear under his grasp. Dolarhyde lets a bit of himself fight through the as he recalls being called a “sweet man,” smiling at the memory. But as soon as he says her name, the first clue is dropped and Hannibal says “they are listening.” Lecter is having his fun, but Alana is not here for it.
She holds up her end of the promise, stripping his room of everything, including the toilet.
Molly wakes up and tries to sort through why she wanted Will to take the job. She knew he would change and does not blame anyone but herself and Jack Crawford. But really, the entire plan was Hannibal’s doing. She slips into anger for just a moment, asking if it will be possible to go home, to have the lives they used to have.
Hannibal may not have succeeded in removing Molly and Walter altogether, but now when Will looks at his family all he sees is Hannibal.
The Dragon and Will are more alike than he cares to realize. Shedding the skin of their former selves, looking to change the people they hunt into something greater, their goals are the same. So how long until Will and the Dragon finally make their connection?
Watch Hannibal season 3, episode 12, “The Number of the Beast is 666…” Saturday, August 22 at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBC.