Hannibal Recap: Stop Dragon Her Heart Around

Dr. Hannibal Lecter knows all about perfect pairings — a census taker’s liver and a nice chianti; Prof. Sogliato’s cranium and a freshly sharpened ice pick — and yet on this week’s installment of the NBC drama that bears his name, every pas de deux had me thinking “pas de don’t!”

Will Graham going from a flirty phone conversation with his open-hearted wife to a bloody homicidal fantasy (or maybe “nightmare” is a better word choice)? Alana poking the world’s most dangerous bear from her side of the plexiglass partition? Francis Dolarhyde pretending to smile — or even scarier, believing himself to be smiling — while sharing a piece of pie with guileless (and sightless) co-worker Reba? Mason Verger’s sperm and a viable egg? No, no, no and (oh em God) hell no — all of these situations need to be reported immediately to the Department of This Isn’t Going to End Well.

I know, I know… Hannibal isn’t a show for people who expect — or even want – happy, life-affirming outcomes. (“It would be more honest if you are his brain right out of his skull” is pretty much as feel-good a quote as you’re gonna get.) And yet still, even in an episode like “…And the Woman Clothed with the Sun” — which felt more about setting up tragedies than actually executing ’em —  the sense of dread can be as overt and insistent as a Freddie Lounds headline.

With that said, let’s recap the action:

Hannbial - Season 3HELLO DARKNESS, MY OLD FRIEND | We pick up with Will’s first visit to Hannibal since the latter’s incarceration, and while H. is prickly at first (“That’s the same atrocious after-shave that you wore in court”), he eventually agrees to read the Tooth Fairy case file and offer some suggestions — or at least allow Will to “get the old scent again.” Hannibal suspects the killer chooses fenced-in yards because he likes to go out in the moonlight following a kill, and “one must show some consideration for the neighbors.” Will manages to figure out that the Tooth Fairy is attacking or killing the families’ pets (aka early warning systems) when he scopes out his victims — all of whom share the common thread of being happy. There’s a creepy subtext, though, to all the old pals; conversations – one that ought to make Will flee the room and never return — and it involves Hannibal gleaning Will is a stepdad now (“you know better than to breed”). I mean, for all of Will’s murderous internal riptides, I can’t believe he’d ever want to hurt Molly or her son. But by not shutting all the doors between them and Dr. Lecter, is he somehow dangling them as bait in the twisted dance between himself and his sometimes therapist?

OH, IT’S HER AGAIN | Aside from seeing — in beautifully bloody detail — how Hannibal and Abigail collected her blood, then sprayed it around her father’s hunting cabin to fake her death, our titular sociopath’s flashbacks to his and Will’s “child” provide little more than flowery dialogue. Well, that and a doozy of a scene in which Hanniba exhumes Abigail’s daddy dearest and lets her slash his throat ’til all the embalming fluid runs out. (But what about the hardwood floors!)

CAN YOU (IN)DIG(NITY) IT? | Alana’s got a pumped up confidence now — she carried Mason Verger’s heir, and is still paired with super-rich Margot — but like one of those Powerball winners who don’t have big enough imaginations to figure out new and exciting ways to be lazy, she continues her work at the Hospital for the Criminally Insane — and maintains her awareness that there are “only five doors between Hannibal and the outside world. (Ummmm… isn’t there some slush fund to pay for five or 10 more?) Because she digs psychological examination — and maybe, a little bit, gloating — she keeps up her communication with Hannibal, and also threatens him not to play with Will’s addled mind. “You’ve got Will dressed up in moral-dignity pants. Nothing is his fault,” Hannibal huffs, half right. But Alana, for now, is in the driver’s seat, and warns her former lover (and wannabe murderer) that he needs to play nice, or she’ll take his books, his drawings, even his toilet — and leave him with nothing but indignity.

Hannibal - Season 3PSYCHOTIC MANEUVERS IN THE DARK | Francis, thankfully, doesn’t slaughter any families this week, but we are treated to some grainy flashbacks of family dinners headed up by a stern old woman, some film-reel clips (in his mind) of his horrific murder scenesand the appearance of his imaginary dragon tail. All of this seems to have him utterly tormented — and the only thing that calms him are sweet, tentative chats with Reba (True Blood’s Rutina Wesley), a new blind coworker at the film processing lab. She digs that he doesn’t show her any sympathy — girl, he’s not capable! — and he seems drawn in by her plainspoken ways. (Anyone notice how Reba’s the only Season 3 character who speaks in a normal, inviting cadence — rather than in a sloooow and deliberate hypnosis-talk?) 

Whatever her positive effect on him, though, she doesn’t stop Francis from obsessing over headlines about himself — and about Will and Hannibal teaming up to capture him. (Welcome back, Freddie!) Jack gets in on the act, admitting to Hannibal that Will was “never better than with you in his head” — but the FBI profiler’s not the only one getting a Lecter injection into the brain. The hour ends with Hannibal getting a call from his lawyer — damn they need to monitor his calls better — but it’s actually Francis, and he’s all atwitter about what he’s becoming. Hannibal strokes the ego of this “shy boy,” and learns the next phase of the metamorphosis: Francis is beginning to see himself as “the great red dragon” — and that’s quite a toy for a serial killer trapped in his fancy cage, looking for a chance to play.

What did you think of this week’s Hannibal? How badly will all these various partnership ends? And have you had enough of the Abigail flashbacks? Sound off below!