This is the introduction of the Red Dragon storyline, with Richard Armitage playing Francis Dolarhyde. And, holy fuck, did this episode deliver.
With his introduction in this episode being virtually absolutely no dialogue whatsoever, it gave audiences a chance to really examine who Francis Dolarhyde is, from his opening scene of transforming into the Red Dragon to the psychological troubles he faces when the Dragon is speaking to him (that we cannot hear, but clearly can see that he does). Richard embodies Francis in such a physical manner that there is no doubt that he could completely play the role without speaking throughout the entire arc if he wanted to. The physicality of his performance is both mesmerizing and unnerving, with way he contorts his body and the animalistic sounds he creates, and the disturbing imagery of him being coated naked in blood in the moonlight. Being familiar with his previous work, I knew that Richard would be perfect for this role. He didn't disappoint, he was practically flawless with the way he presented the character to us in his first episode, which can be a difficult task for any actor who is trying to convey such a character like Francis Dolarhyde without any dialogue to an audience. It also helps with such a show like Hannibal and Bryan Fuller, where the artistic direction of the cinematography enhances the performance.
Of course, this isn't all there is with Francis, as Richard will have to humanize his character by balancing out the chilling and disturbing aspects with being sympathetic and showing that, unlike Hannibal, there is a possible chance he can be redeemed from his actions. His upcoming relationship with Reba, who will be introduced in the next episode, will showcase this and I cannot wait to see how he does that.
This episode is also marks that it has been three years since Hannibal Lector was captured (er, or rather surrendered to the police). He is now imprisoned in a very luxurious-like cell, reminiscent of an office. It's such an interesting way of presenting his imprisonment, also very fitting for someone like Hannibal who must have the finest of things even when he's been convicted of such heinous crimes. With how this show is done, I wouldn't have it any other way. Will Graham is now married and is living privately with his wife and stepson (and all his dogs, thank goodness) and has retired from his work with being an FBI consultant. Until Jack Crawford appears at his doorstep wanting him to come back to investigate the string of murders of families by the mysterious killer they have labeled the "Tooth Fairy", who happens to be Francis Dolarhyde.
Will's reluctance to get back into the consultant role is heartbreaking, because you know he just wants to have a normal life after everything that happened with Hannibal Lector. Returning to that mindset again isn't what he wanted to do, and he expresses this clearly to Jack that he doesn't want to go there. But, the FBI needs his expertise, and seeing him getting back into the swing of things is both heartbreaking but also fascinating since it brings back the first season nostalgia. "This is my design."
Overall, this episode was chilling and fascinating and it was absolutely brilliant. Being biased that I am, everything surrounding Richard's performance as Francis Dolarhyde was absolutely magnificent (him being mostly naked/semi-naked didn't hurt either, bless this show for the fanservice), but I'm also fascinated with the continuing Will and Hannibal connection and what will come out of that for the remainder of the season.