The Great Red Dragon Did Not Disappoint

Note: There are NO SPOILERS (  and no recap)  here UNLESS you know nothing ( no interviews, stills, no teasers, no trailers) I figure, if you know nothing, you’re probably not reading here.

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We already suspected, but let me reiterate, that this fandom is going to see something so new and unfamiliar in our Richard Armitage that things may never be the same. Because some of us may want more of this.

For those who have wanted to see him dance – this gets pretty close. The body movement, which I just recently mentioned in a previous post is, at times, a combination of ballet and yoga, with a little body-builder pose thrown in – though I recall Armitage saying that he studied some Japanese Butoh dancing in preparation for the role. I checked it out, and I can see what he means. Butoh is called The Dance of Darkness. It doesn’t hurt that the scene in question (we saw some in the trailer) is performed in the almost nude, with just a pair of tight boxers.

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Screen shot of Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde in Hannibal S.3Ep8.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so muscular, at least not in close-up, as in these scenes.

For those fans who want to hear him sing – well not quite here, but there are some sounds and registers I don’t think we’ve heard before ( except perhaps some of the high pitched whining of Paul Andrews in Between the Sheets). In fact, he speaks almost not at all, and when he does, it’s in a scene that gives credence to both his and Fuller’s description of a somewhat sympathetic character.

For those fans who can’t get enough of his eyes – you can tell me what you think. Wild-eyed is my description.

For those fans enraptured by his hands, episode 8 is a veritable hand-fest. I even wonder whether the hand shots were completely accidental, created by the director, or did Bryan Fuller and Neil Marshall investigate fans’ obsession with those massive, but ever so graceful, hands.

For those fans who love the profile or the nose from any angle – you won’t be disappointed.

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For those fans who always want to see him gorgeous, I’m not sure your wishes will be fulfilled in this episode. The lighting, the close-ups the camera work and the haircut cause him to look, alternately, like a nerd and a monster. On the other hand, almost none of this is due to the scar, which detracts not at all, although there seems something different to me about his whole mouth.

For those fans who like his acting and characters best when he’s tortured, conflicted, serious, damaged, heartbreaking, this one’s for you.

What this episode does so well is to set up the becoming efficiently and artistically. With no words, and very little exposition, viewers get a pretty good picture of the beginning of the transformation from Francis Dolarhyde to The Great Red Dragon  as well as his connection to Hannibal. The Hannibal team delivered a perfect set-up with which to go forward.

As to the rest of the characters and the episode plot – I think this is one of the first times I can recall in the entire series – perhaps there were one or two instances in the earlier episodes, when Will and Jack Crawford talked, more or less normally, without double-meanings and Jaws-like foreboding.

Hannibal, on the other hand, and Alana and Fred Chilton, are still busy playing word games.

Bottom line – this episode was sooo not disappointing, that I’ll gladly overlook the mistake in describing a half-eaten BabyBel, including its red wax cover, as a “wheel of cheddar.” I guess that could be a half truth – but really, who takes a bite out of a BabyBel and puts it back in the fridge? How inconsiderate.

I’m eager to know what the rest of you think when you’ve seen it.

15 thoughts on “The Great Red Dragon Did Not Disappoint

  1. Yeah, the babybel is not a wheel of cheddar! LOL. You would never find a half-eaten one in the fridge with kids around, though, so chances are it was Francis’ work. Off topic, but my son has recently come up with a new sandwich he likes to make for himself… the babybel sandwich. A rather awkward looking, lumpy sandwich, but he loves them. =)


  2. Loved the first two seasons, but I confess I might have given it up after Episode 2 of the current one if I’d never watched the show before. Mason grated on my nerves in S2 and I couldn’t wait for his demise in S3.

    Now, THIS new episode is something else. I feel as if the old series has returned. The show which won me over is finally back with a bang. Definitely the best episode of a rather disappointing and muddled season.

    Richard’s job so far is nothing short of mesmerizing, which isn’t surprising having seen all his previous work.

    It’s going to be a an unforgettable ride. Looking forward to Episode 9.


  3. Great episode. My second favourite this season (I still like last week’s episode better, Mads’ acting, especially during the break-up scene, left me completely speechless).


  4. I only watched episode 7 of this season to try to be up to date with episode 8. RA stunned me by his moves, but also his shrieks and huffs, quite disturbing. Absolute awesome acting.
    I wonder, is FD put off by his crimes in the book? I haven’t read it, I mostly remember Tom Noonan’s performance in Manhunter.


    • FD hates himself in the book, for sure. He becomes confused about his crimes and wanting to stop after he meets Reba. But prior to that, I did not find that he hated his crimes. In his twisted logic, he initially started killing chickens to protect his grandmother and earn her love. Now it seems he is trying to please the Red Dragon.


  5. Finally getting to read the reviews. Spot on! There is a lot to be loved in this episode for Armitage fans. Most of all that he simply is convincing as the nerd/monster. If anything, Armitage’s participation adds quality and layers of nuance to the show. I can see why he accepted the role.


  6. As someone who was very reluctant to watch RA in Hannibal because I am major squeamish! – a while back, Perry, you gave me some advice on how I could watch it & said that if you were a betting woman… Well it’s a shame you couldn’t place a bet for real because you won that one!
    I recorded RA’s debut which was tonight in the UK & I did ask my husband to preview it for me but it’s not his thing. Then I thought I’d watch it in the daytime with the remote handy should I need to fast forward! but me being me & very impatient & curious, I watched it ‘live’! (It also helped that I read an interview where RA said he wouldn’t have played the FD role if it meant performing the gruesome murders)
    Many have already commented on his extraordinary performance. On a shallow note, how is it possible for a 43 year old man to be so fit and graceful? (clearly his early dance training came in to play) I am now hooked & keen to see the remaining episodes!


    • Loved hearing that you gave Hannibal a chance, and somehow, I helped that happen. I think it’s a given that his dance training came in to play in those scenes. Staying fit is essential to success in his job right now. I suspect that when he can, he continues his acting education, but now I wonder whether he doesn’t slip in a dance class now and then.


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