This week’s episode of Hannibal represents a novel approach: starting a new season mid-season. The Italian story of the previous seven episodes has concluded, and the show dispenses with the convention of naming episodes after courses in a meal. In another change from tradition, this episode jumps forward three years.

We open with one F. Dolarhyde in a work cafeteria, staring at his hands as well as a Time magazine retrospective on William Blake. He is utterly taken (and anxious about appearing so) with Blake’s The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun. (Note: In the original text, Harris cites Blake’s other painting from the same cycle, The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun, while describing the details of the Woman Clothed in Sun painting.)

Later, Dolarhyde is doing strength-training exercises in his attic, arching his back, and undulating, imitating the Dragon in the painting. (Thorin Oakenshield, we hardly knew ye.) Shelves full of 16mm film canisters are beside him. Then a huge close-up of a tattoo needle followed by Dolarhyde in the cafeteria again, looking even more strange and self-conscious. Dolarhyde visits a shop in Chinatown and purchases a set of false teeth, and for the first time we notice a scar on his lip, the kind that results from cleft palate surgery. We see Dolarhyde receiving a tattoo on his back, and then back in the attic, he wears a kimono, which he drops to the floor as his completed tattoo is revealed. He copies the stance of the figure in the painting, revering it, while a sound like a teakettle boiling reaches a fever pitch.

Welcome to the Great Becoming of Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal.

A young boy is singing the “Alleluia” segment of Mozart’s “Exultate, Jubilate” in the Palazzo dei Normanni, while Hannibal watches rapturously. But this is just his memory palace because in real life, he’s getting DNA swabs on his cheek from Price and Zeller (#TeamSassyScience!) as a lurid Tattle Crimes headline (Kitchen Nightmares!) is superimposed behind him. A freshly shorn Hannibal is now in his prison duds, chained at the wrists and ankles while a quote from Dr. Chilton (“There is no name for what he is”) appears behind him. Hannibal is now residing in a cell. The doors close. “Three Years Later” appears on the black sceen.

But what’s this? Hannibal, impeccably dressed, sharing tutti bianchi and Bâtard-Montrachet with Alana Bloom? “Betrayed by good taste,” he quips. Clearly Hannibal’s memory palace is getting a thorough workout. “You defy categorization,” Alana states. Hannibal’s office is then his (admittedly swank) prison cell, with Alana on the other side of the glass partition.

“You beat the needle on an insanity plea,” Alana says, perturbed by this turn of events. “Enough people have died,” she remarks. “You haven’t,” Hannibal remarks matter-of-factly. She smirks. “A promise in waiting isn’t it? A promise you intend to keep.” Hannibal retorts with, “I always keep my promises.”

Meanwhile, Dolarhyde is looking at the cracked mirror in his attic, trying to stop his lisp as he says “sixty-six.” He appears to have cotton in his ears. He hears a low growl and turns to look for the source, but nothing is there. Cut to nighttime, outside, and a full moon. A naked, blood-covered Dolarhyde gazes at the moon with a wild look on his face.

Once again in his prison cell/memory palace, Hannibal is sharing sanguinaccio dolce with Chilton. It’s a dessert typically served on Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday. Does this represent the beginning of Lent for Hannibal? Cannibal puns and insults about Hannibal’s “niche appeal” ensue; Chilton recalls that he’s written a book about Hannibal and explains that he doesn’t like colons in titles because “they lose their novelty when overused.” (Well-played, Bryan Fuller.) Chilton wants to write about The Tooth Fairy. Hannibal’s shark eyes flash. “I think he doesn’t like being called The Tooth Fairy.”

“Get out of my chair, Frederick,” Alana tells Chilton back in the BHCI office. Chilton uses the “magisterial we” when discussing the capture of Hannibal Lecter. “We lied,” Alana reminds him. “You wrote a book of lies.” Apparently Hannibal wrote “a brilliant piece” for the American Journal of Psychiatry, which Alana notes is a rebuttal that’s “going to sting.” But Chilton is more worried about Hannibal’s excitement over The Tooth Fairy’s escapades.

Speak of the Dragon. Dolarhyde is watching some 16mm films when he hears that familiar growling. He looks in the projector, but sees nothing. In a surreal scene, Dolarhyde becomes the projector, with the light source pouring from his eyes and mouth. Back in prison, Hannibal is tearing off the front page of a newspaper with the headline “Tooth Fairy kills perfect families” before he starts to write a letter. Dolarhyde also saves that clipping, placing it in his giant murder scrapbook, which includes a lot of press on Dr. Lecter.

If you were wondering about Will Graham, he’s in a giant cabin in the snowy woods, feeding his seven dogs (Winston!) as a car pulls up. Will does not look pleased to see Jack Crawford. They share coffee on the porch because as Jack notes, “You don’t want to let me inside.” Will does not want to talk about what Jack wants to talk about. Jack shows him family photos of the Leeds and Jacobis. Jack: “You didn’t think about calling me?” Will: “I didn’t think about calling you because I didn’t want to.” OH SNAP. He continues: “I don’t believe I could do it now,” “it” being empathing at a crime scene. “I think this freak is in phase with the moon,” pleads Jack, noting they might be able to catch him before then next one in three weeks.

Inside, Jack, Will, Molly (Will’s non-murder wife), and their son Walter (Molly’s from a previous marriage) are finishing dinner. “People dump small dogs here all the time,” Molly reveals. Will looks at her with genuine love and affection. “Molly’s a sucker for strays.” They laugh. It’s painfully adorable. Will says, “I’m lucky here. I know that.” Then he and Walter go outside with the dogs. “So whatever he says he wants to do,” Molly addresses Jack, “you’ll take him anyway.” She’s far more open-minded about Will returning to work than the Molly Graham of the novel. Later as she and Will are going to bed she tries to convince him to help Jack. “If I go,” he whispers, “I’ll be different when I get back.” “I won’t,” she offers confidently.

Insomnia strikes at Will and he gets up while Molly’s sleeping and takes out an unopened letter. It’s from his ex, Hannibal Lecter, who has helpfully included that Tooth Fairy clipping. “Dear Will, We have all found a new life, but our old lives hover in the shadows… it’s dark on the other side and madness is waiting.” Will scowls, burning the whole thing in the fireplace.

Yet there he is at the Leeds family crime scene in Buffalo, NY, with a file folder and a flashlight. He notes the empty doghouse outside. He opens the fridge and discovers that The Tooth Fairy doesn’t like Babybel cheese. He notices a shattered mirror on the wall. In the bedroom, there are dozens of red threads connecting the bed and wall to denote blood spatter patterns. Will starts to shake, looking from the file to the bed and back again. Then we see the familiar pendulum swing and Will closes his eyes and walks backwards.

In murderer mode, he walks through the house, recreating the crime: “I cut Mr. Leeds’s throat as he lies asleep beside his wife…” This is a particularly gruesome sequence; this is no artful arrangement of a corpse in the shape of a heart. Will sees the dead family members placed together with shards of mirror in their eyes and mouths. He realizes that the talcum powder on Mrs. Leeds came from the inside of a glove. “I have to touch her. This isn’t my design.” The red threads fan out behind him like The Great Red Dragon’s wings.

Jimmy Price is back! He has to do some work on Mrs. Leeds before her funeral, which is in a few hours. He’s not pleased about being referred to as “Mr. Price.” (Thomas Harris, Red Dragon: “Don’t worry, Price is here. Grouchy bastard.”) And Zeller is back! He is working on the bite marks. Price prints Mrs. Leeds eyeball and shares the results with the team – including Will – back at the crime lab. (DO YOU SEE?) “I’m surprised to see you back,” Price laughs. “Welcome back,” adds Zeller. Will is silent. This isn’t a family reunion for him.

Price mentions the mirror shard wedged in Mrs. Leeds’ labia and Zeller tells them that The Tooth Fairy “bites a lot.” Will: “It may be a fighting pattern as much as sexual behavior.” (We shall see how Fuller handles the novel’s necrophilia.)

A shirtless Dolarhyde cleans and repairs his film projector in the attic. He hears that growl and cringes, covering his ears and whining. His false teeth, in a glass across the room, shiver slightly.

Will, in the loneliest, saddest motel room ever, pours himself three fingers of whiskey and calls Molly on his cell. There’s no answer, so he just lies on the bed fully clothed and dreams of crime scene photos. In Jack’s office the next day Will asks about the dog, which was apparently at the vet’s during the night of the murder. “What’s going to happen to the dog?” Jacks peers over his glasses. “Please don’t worry about the dog.” Will laughs, “What do you expect me to do?” Then he beats around the bush a bit until Jack, clearly exasperated, forces it out of him. “It’s a mindset I need to recover. I have to see Hannibal.”

First, they meet in one of the shared rooms in their memory palace, the Palazzo. Then, separated by the partition of Hannibal’s cell, the doctor turns to face his former patient/BFF/murder husband. “Hello Dr. Lecter.” “Hello Will.”

As a fan of Red Dragon and particulary Manhunter (Tom Noonan has always been Dolarhyde to me), I love where this season is heading. Fuller and Co. have gotten so many of the small details right, but they’ve also captured the feeling, and Richard Armitage looks like he’ll be a magnificent and terrifying Dolarhyde.

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