This was by far the creepiest episode of Hannibal, and perhaps the best episode of the entire season so far, and all of this is due to everything that Richard Armitage does with his performance as the Red Dragon.
And this episode was entirely about the Red Dragon. Not Francis Dolarhyde that we've been introduced to throughout these last few episodes, with all his vulnerability and humanity, but what Francis has been becoming with his transformation as the Dragon. Jack Crawford and Will Graham wanted to devise a plan to illicit a strong reaction from Francis in order to draw him out, and a strong reaction is what they got. But it was the Dragon that they got, which of course targeted the one person that he could from the article that brought him out: Fredrick Chilton. And let me just say, everything that followed after the kidnapping was absolutely terrifying and chilling. The scenes with Dolarhyde and Chilton were probably the most unnerving moments of the entire series. Raúl Esparza was able to convey Chilton's fear and helplessness of his situation, being completely at the mercy of Dolarhyde. And Richard Armitage, goodness, there aren't enough words to describe his performance. We've seen how unnerving he could be from his first episode, where his entire introduction was wordless yet still managed to unsettle us. But this was something completely different, this was Francis Dolarhyde completely embodying the Dragon, from his physical movements to the deep, low register of his voice, powerful. Richard as Francis Dolarhyde in this episode was utterly intimidating and frightening. Dare I say, his performance is certainly Emmy-worthy? He deserves all the awards, IMHO.
Like everyone else, I wasn't opposed to Richard and Raúl having a scene together (especially with everyone saying that they look alike), and I certainly wasn't opposed of them having a kissing scene (for reasons), but I'm pretty sure that wasn't what most people meant, lol. Regardless, while I knew it was coming, that was quite disturbing. I also still find it ironic that NBC (and other networks as well) is completely okay with showing violence and graphic scenes, such as biting off someone's lips and showing the aftermath of it in several different shots, while being such prudes when it comes to showing even the tiniest bit of ass shots. Oh, America.
I know some people are confused why the switch of having Chilton being the victim instead of Freddie as it was in the books, but it actually makes sense given how Bryan Fuller is quite adamant about not showing any kind of horrific violence, especially sexual violence, against women. What happens to Chilton can definitely be considered sexual violence in a way, since he was stripped naked and then was forced a brief kiss before his lips were bitten and torn off. Never mind that in the books Freddy Lounds is actually a male character, and has been depicted as male in other adaptations. So the trade-off makes even more sense for this confrontation between two males, one who doesn't understand who Francis is and his becoming. Plus, Fuller did say that something bad happens to Chilton every season, so that just goes with that theme, as unfortunately as his outcome is in the second to last episode.
While I know what happens with Reba, I'm still terrified for her. I'm so conflicted because the way the Reba and Francis relationship has been formed in such a short time I feel an attachment to how deeply emotional and sensual they were with each other, except that Francis is a serial killer. He commits horrific crimes. I shouldn't feel horrible for him, and yet I do, because Francis doesn't want to hurt Reba, he tried to stop himself. But it failed. Seeing what happens in the finale is going to be quite a doozy, for many reasons.
Other moments I loved about the episode:
"Is Hannibal...in love with me?"
Well, then. The subtext has finally become text.
This is something that I don't consider queerbaiting, though. I have always considered the relationship between Hannibal and Will to be quite homoromantic, and it wasn't so much subtext as their actual relationship throughout the show. Hannibal showed a lot of affection for Will, in his own way. Him wanting to organize his own Murder Family getaway with himself, Will and Abagail, for example. There was certainly a love between them in the earlier seasons that was palpable, even after the "breakup" between them there is still that connection. Whether or not it was sexual, that is for one's own interpretation, but there is no denying that there was a certain level of love between them that wasn't your typical Hollywoodized "bromance". To have it said out loud is perhaps the most confirmation we'll be getting before the series ends.
I also loved everything about the conversation between Hannibal and Chilton, especially the line, "quantifiably bitchy." That is forever my favorite, lol.
Plus, when Hannibal was gifted Chilton's lips and we have that little scene, after Jack asks him where the other one was, we have a brief flash of him slurping one of them up. And Hannibal's cheeky grin. He was having too much fun fucking around with them. Those little moments is something that gives this show some needed humor, and who better than to provide that than Hannibal who always has some sort of subtle pun about cannibalism.
It appears that the moment when the crew actually got terrified by Richard's performance was when Francis was putting in those false teeth and climbed over the furniture towards Chilton before biting off his lips. One of the crew had to walk off the set during that scene.
Oh, and speaking of, someone pointed out that what Francis put over Chilton's eyes (and mouth I think?) was actually a pad. Like, a maxi pad. I don't know, little details like that are so fascinating to me.
Overall: This episode was simply amazing. Absolutely horrifying and disturbing in all the right places with interpreting one of the most infamous Red Dragon scenes. Richard once again proves just how a magnificent actor he is by immersing and transforming himself into this role, bringing a new element of terrifying to Francis Dolarhyde that wasn't previously seen with his rendition. While we have wonderful performances with every actor on this show, Richard literally outdid himself and practially outshined everyone else with his scenes, giving a bone-chilling performance. With only one episode left, of the season and the entire series (insert all the sadfaces here), we have one grand finale to look forward to in seeing how it all ends for not just Francis Dolarhyde, but the rest of the characters.