Congratulations, Richard Armitage. You Finally Scared the Crap Out of Me.

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Loved this episode and I’m going back for more.
Funny line – Richard Armitage AKA The Red Dragon, calls someone a slug. Thorin Oakenshield called the dragon a slug. I don’t hear folks called slugs that often. I always wonder whether Richard Armitage gets the joke, or suggested the line, or whether my analysis just got the better of me.

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SPOILER ALERT: Hannibal S. 3 Ep. 9 – And then it hit me!

Some thoughts on what I want to write about. This is not a complete performance review.

Episode 9 was a good one overall but – not enough Richard Armitage, and not until halfway through the 42 minutes of play.

Flashbacks going back 3 years earlier were almost like a Peter Jackson “Extras,” edition. The scene in which Hannibal is preparing for his last dinner party, and readying to leave with Will and Abigail, was an AHA moment. Hannibal receives a call from Will, who says, They know.that is, Jack Crawford and the FBI.   These are precisely the words Hannibal spoke when he phoned  Abigail’s, father, The Michigan Shrike, to warn him of the same threat.

Shocker! Will tipped off Hannibal. I guess he assumed Hannibal would escape before hand, and it would all go away. I should not have been so surprised, because most of what Will Graham revealed in season 3 supports his ambivalence, as does his final decision to let Hannibal go.

Other flashbacks seemed like a waste of minutes to me. The additional flashbacks with Hannibal and Abigail were of little interest to me, except to note some sexuality between Abigail and Hannibal that I must have missed in previous episodes. I didn’t find him fatherly, as much as seductive.

In the present, Will and Hannibal, imagine a joint visit to the second crime scene. A nice touch was Hannibal looking into a shard, and seeing himself as the young Wendigo of Will’s imagination. He sees the monster he is, just as Francis is looking for the Red Dragon in his own reflection.

Screencap Hannibal S.3 Ep.9

Screencap Hannibal S.3 Ep.9

The decision to give Hannibal an upscale cell, and also remove him from it, placing him back in the real world  is smart, I think. It gives viewers more of what they want – the Hannibal they know, reacting with the Will they know.

And the Jack Crawford we know is back as well, conflicted between his need to have the best qualified person stop the killings but in spite of the potential damage to Will Graham. Hannibal gets it right when he suggests that Jack might as well eat out Will’s brain – Jack’s manipulation of Will can be so destructive.

But Will is a healthier, more whole person now, so it looks like he can stick to the mission without playing too many games – so far.

On to Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde. Overall, the shots, angles and lighting, showed off a better looking Richard Armitage – he was more himself, except for the very short hair ( so much ear). he was shot from the left ( his left)  a number of times, completely obscuring the scar – and the scar anyway is of little consequence to his appearance. His facial expressions, when he’s with Reba, are normal ( though somber and Lucas-y), in contrast to some of the tortured expressions we saw in Episode 8 and in this one, when he’s becoming in the attic.

A handsome Dolarhyde is consistent with the book, but in this series, we also see a really unattractive Armitage at times. He wasn’t that attractive when he was growing a red tail in one scene. I assume this scene was part of those shot for the first episode.  Richard Armitage, in interview, stated that he was given, more or less free reign to just keep moving, not unlike his description of how he filmed the scene in BOTFA, when Thorin hallucinates and  is gripped and consumed by dragon sickness.

His voice, it’s tone and timber, varies depending on the situation, but generally, when Dolarhyde speaks, it’s in a deep voice  the car scene was an exception), but gravelly, not the veloute version. I feel relieved and rewarded that despite the speech impediment and the dearth of words, it is the voice I know. Yet, something seemed different to me, and it wasn’t until the very end, when Dolarhyde called Hannibal Lecter, that I had that aha moment – it’s an American accent!

I went back and listened again. Except for a handful of isolated words – no sentences – just a word here or there ( believe was one of them) the American accent was good. The speech impediment and Dolarhyde’s overall creepiness may be forgiving if there are lapses, but by and large, I thought it was good, it explained why something seemed different to me.

Between Into the Storm, where there was mostly screaming, and this attempt, with a speech impediment, and intentionally slow, careful speech, I still feel that I’ve yet to hear the American accent in a way that I can conclusively judge it.

In the first Dolarhyde scene, quite brief, we’re shown dinner at his grandmother’s “care center” and the swinging legs of a boy, sitting warily at the end. He morphs into the grown Dolarhyde, sitting alone at the same table. I don’t know what those unfamiliar with the book will make of this.

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Francis Dolarhyde asks for, and takes, one of Reba’s plums. Hannibal S.3 Ep.9

Dolarhyde meets Reba on her own turf – a darkroom of sorts, where infra red light outlines and reflects off him, suggesting The Red Dragon. Red is everywhere in this episode. Not just blood, but some juicy red plums, and cherry pie. The plums  made me think of a bowl of balls – not sure why. Big balls (testicles) have already made an appearance this episode via Will’s not the newest dog that Molly took in ( Randy’s giant balls are not long for this world, I am sure), while Will claimed the victim’s family dog.

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Reba has not convinced me yet. This incarnation, by Rutina Wesley is different from those previously played. She’s a confident, forthright, humorous young woman and nothing about the very briefest glimpse of her personality so far, makes me think she would be interested in Francis Dolarhyde. There’s a heat about her not present in Emily Watson’s version. Nevertheless, the scene with Francis and Reba in her house, him eating pie like an animal, and flinching from her touch, was, I thought, really well done. Trust me, I’m smiling. may be a new favorite line.

As a Richard Armitage fan, I need more Richard Armitage in these episodes, and fewer two person conversations between the others. As a Hannibal viewer, who is becoming a fan, some of these conversations were amusing and satisfying. It seems Bryan Fuller can’t resist a lesbian sex joke ( Alana:  I love a wagging finger. Hannibal  Are you still with Margot? ) It’s good to have the gang back, solving crimes.

Decider Review of Richard Armitage et al., – decidedly great

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Thanks to Micra for the link.
More impressive still is Richard Armitage’s instant-classic work as Francis Dolarhyde — aka the Tooth Fairy, aka the Great Red Dragon — whom he doesn’t so much play as inhabit. In a recent interview, Armitage said he patterned his (so far entirely wordless) performance on Mica Levi’s avant-garde score for Jonathan Glazer’s art-house horror masterpiece Under the Skin. That a main character on a network television show would be based not a performance but the music from one of the most difficult and surreal horror films ever made is remarkable in and of itself. But beyond that, the connection makes perfect sense. Like Under the Skin, Red Dragon concerns an individual in the process of becoming: making, and perhaps unmaking, themselves into a creature driven to commit monstrous crimes. Armitage’s Dolarhyde stares at his own hands as if only now realizing not just their potential but their existence, and mouths formless syllables as if trying to construct not just speech but the meaning behind it

The Great Red Dragon – Armitage “Intense Performance,” “Animalistic Physicality”

HANNIBAL -- "The Great Red Dragon" Episode 308 -- Pictured: Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

HANNIBAL — “The Great Red Dragon” Episode 308 — Pictured: Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde — (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Excerpt Here And don’t ignore Kate’s link to her blog post on the music – for music lovers and everyone else interested in how the music complements the action.

The first half of Hannibal season three has drawn criticism from some (though not this critic) for its artistic, avant-garde approach to exploring the psychology and relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham. With “The Great Red Dragon”, the series opens a new chapter, returning to its stylistic roots and introducing a new key figure: Francis Dolarhyde. Fans of Thomas Harris’ work have been eagerly anticipating Dolarhyde’s debut and the start of the show’s Red Dragon arc/adaptation, and after this episode, it’s easy to see why. Being unfamiliar with Hannibal’s source material, this critic can’t speak to the faithfulness of showrunner Bryan Fuller and co.’s take on the character, but the glimpses shown here are certainly compelling. Without any dialog, Richard Armitage conveys uncertainty, confusion, compulsion, fear, and power, his animalistic physicality telling viewers all they need to know—for now—about the battle raging within Francis Dolarhyde. Armitage’s intense performance is complemented by fantastic work from composer and music supervisor Brian Reitzell (more on this in Kate’s Classical Corner) and the patient, scrutinizing eye of director Neil Marshall. The episode opens with a closeup on Dolarhyde’s fingers, his skin taking on the texture of scales and, as the camera pulls back, his hand the shape of a claw. As Armitage writhes, Dolarhyde exploring his musculature and connecting to something decidedly less human within, Marshall scans his body, sweeping up and down and displaying the strength and flexibility that allow these contortions. If Hannibal is defined by his mind and Will by his heart, Dolarhyde would appear to be a primarily physical being and seeing how he responds to overtures from both should be intriguing.

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.

The Red Dragon is Coming, and Perry’s a Little Anxious Now

I haven’t minded that Richard Armitage took the role of a serial killer in a series known for its outrageous, cruelly enacted murders. Say what you want about the gory, stylish, sometimes senseless deaths over three seasons of Hannibal, but I have to admit, that most were amusing, carried out by somewhat amusing murderers.

And for Richard Armitage, it’s such an opportunity for him. I can’t wait to watch him knock it out of the park. I  re-read the book, watched both films, caught up quickly with seasons 1 and 2, and have suffered through season 3, sometimes making spontaneous declarations and WTFing  aloud, alone in front of the TV. All to get ready for The Becoming.

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HANNIBAL -- " ...and The Woman Clothed With The Sun" -- Pictured: (l-r) Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde, Rutina Wesley as Reba McClane -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

HANNIBAL — ” …and The Woman Clothed With The Sun” — Pictured: (l-r) Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde, Rutina Wesley as Reba McClane — (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

I experienced such a thrill when I saw the Richard Armitage scenes from next week’s episode and the promotion, during Digestivo. More viewers saw that than any other episode this season, I believe. Yes, maybe they wanted to see Hannibal caught – but Bryan Fuller denied us, and instead. in the final moments, made Hannibal act against character. A nonsensical phrase keeps popping into my mind over Digestivo: If you can’t eat them, join them. 

So yeah, my guy as the Red Dragon. Okay!

And then I read this particular description  here.

He’s a completely different type of killer to Hannibal or to any of the other maniacs we’ve seen on the show . . .  a smart yet savage animal unleashed by something primal deep inside.

Richard Armitage as a savage animal unleashed. I never thought of it that way.

I seem to have been so focused on learning about  – trying to get into the groove of – Hannibal, the series – that I pushed aside what I knew, and now I feel unprepared.

There’s not going to be anything amusing about Francis Dolarhyde.