For possibly the final time, welcome back to This is Our Design. With some time to digest the season three finale of Hannibal, set aside a chunk of your evening to dive in with co-hosts Sean Colletti and Kate Kulzick, who are joined by Noel Kirkpatrick of TV.com.
With “The Wrath of the Lamb”, Hannibal wraps up its run, at least for now. While all involved have been qualifying the episode as merely the series finale on NBC, the show has yet to be picked up anywhere else and several key figures have moved on to new projects. Creator Bryan Fuller has mentioned the possibility of the team reuniting for a film at some point down the line, but for the foreseeable future, this is the series finale of Hannibal, and given its bloody, spectacular climax, that feels appropriate.
Frederick Chilton has had a rough go of it in his time on Hannibal. He makes himself an easy target—the man has learned nothing, it would seem, from his disastrous experiences with serial killers over the years—but when faced with the enormity of the Dragon, Chilton is so unabashedly human, so relatable and terrified one can’t help but feel for him. Raúl Esparza has been a delight in the role throughout his tenure on the series, often giving a comedic lift to otherwise very dour episodes and arcs, but he’s particularly impressive here. Chilton’s terrifying capture by the Dragon makes up the center of the episode, but Esparza gets much more to play than fear.
The string bass is featured prominently throughout this episode as the voice of the Dragon, groaning and growling in the shadows. Whereas Reitzell introduced the character in “The Great Red Dragon” with layers of percussion, the Dragon we hear here is very different: that was an instinctual, physical being, a wordless monster pulled to the surface by the phase of the moon.
The scene of Dolarhyde eating the painting has plenty of percussion, but not the same layered elements as the Dragon scoring earlier, when Dolarhyde woke up and Reba was gone. There’s a high wind chime-like sound, some rattling, and drums and cymbals, but not the different, distinct rhythms syncing up with each other, and the strings only come in towards the end, when Will and Dolarhyde see each other. The percussion builds in intensity and speed until it cuts off with Will’s discovery of Dolarhyde, leaving behind soft vocals and the aforementioned strings, and this is when we hear the more characteristic Dragon percussion.
Between its careful handling of the Tooth Fairy’s crimes, its memorable character debuts and reintroductions, and its gentle resetting of so many pieces on the Hannibal chessboard to their pre-“Mizumono” positions, “The Great Red Dragon” is a strong and exciting midseason premiere that promises a confident, more accessible end to a previously divisive season.
In framing Hannibal as a weekly procedural, showrunner Bryan Fuller populates his world with so many serial killers, that it becomes hard to believe that so many of these insane, yet brilliant men can all reside in the same city at the same time. Only two episodes in and we’ve already been introduced to three killers, with the possibility of a fourth. Yet, while the second episode of Hannibal does introduce a new ‘killer of the week’ formula, the series remains elevated by four things:
How many TV shows about serial killers can networks create before audiences grow tired of the genre? Earlier this year, we welcomed FOX’s The Following and A&E’s Bates Motel to the already crowded TV lineup that already includes Dexter and Luther, to name a few. Doctor Hannibal Lecter was first introduced in the 1981 novel Red Dragon followed by The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal.