Hannibal Wiki

"The Great Red Dragon"[1] is the eighth episode of Season 3. It aired on July 25, 2015.


Hannibal Lecter has been under lock and key for three years at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane when a new villain arises in Francis Dolarhyde, also known as "The Tooth Fairy." As the investigation unfolds Jack Crawford approaches Will Graham to help catch this vicious serial killer who is targeting families.


Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) sits in a cafeteria and begins reading a copy of Time covering The Great Red Dragon Paintings. He is so enamored with the image that he begins to mold himself into a version of the paintings, having The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun tattooed on his back and purchasing a set of custom-made jagged dentures. Three years after the events of the previous episode, Lecter has been institutionalized and Alana Bloom is now the administrator at the hospital, due to Chilton resigning to become a best-selling author of true crime volumes. Dolarhyde practices speaking with his cleft upper lip and is then seen standing naked outside a home, covered in blood and staring up at the full moon. Chilton has dinner with Lecter in his cell, where he reveals his next book is about Dolarhyde, who has been given the nickname The Tooth Fairy. He has a conversation with Bloom, where she reveals that Lecter has written an article for the American Journal of Psychiatry refuting much of what Chilton has written about him. He suggests that Dolarhyde will inspire Lecter to "keep himself interesting". Dolarhyde is seen watching film when the projector blows out; he has a hallucination. He compiles news clippings in a large book, detailing not just his own crimes but articles on Lecter. Crawford goes to visit Graham, who is now living with his new wife Molly (Nina Arianda) and her eleven year-old son. Crawford has come to get Will's assistance on the Dolarhyde killings, but he is highly resistant after his previous experiences. Molly knows that Crawford will take Graham regardless, and he promises to make it easy on him. Molly and Will have a heartfelt conversation where she encourages him to leave and help. Graham reads a letter he has received from Lecter as well as overlooking a news report on the killings before throwing both into the fire. He travels to Buffalo, New York, and reenacts the killing in his mind. Price, Zeller, and Graham determine that the killer placed pieces of broken mirror in the eyes of the victims so he could look at himself, obtain a partial print off one of the victims' eyes, and create a mold of his distinctive teeth. Dolarhyde works in his house, where he begins to have another hallucination. Graham tells Crawford that he has to go visit Lecter. He and Lecter greet one another in the asylum.


  • This is the first episode which does not take its title from a course or dish. Rather, like the novel from which it is adapted, it takes its name from the series of William Blake paintings. Subsequent episodes take their titles from the individual paintings in the series.
  • Bryan Fuller’s initial choice to play Francis Dolarhyde was Lee Pace, who starred in Fuller’s series Pushing Daisies. Pace ended up being unavailable, and Fuller has subsequently expressed his desire to have Pace play Jame Gumb/Buffalo Bill if the show ever obtains the rights to The Silence of the Lambs.
  • Price and Zeller return, after a nine-episode absence (scenes with the characters were filmed for “Mizumono” and “Aperitivo,” but were cut). After appearing in 21 out of the first 22 episodes of the show, the two appeared in only one episode out of the following 11.
  • Nina Arianda previously starred alongside Hugh Dancy in the Broadway play Venus in Fur (for which she won a Tony). Bryan Fuller had tried to cast her several times on Hannibal, including offering her the role of Miriam Lass in season 1, before convincing her to play Molly.
  • Richard Armitage wrote the handwritten portions of Dolarhyde’s ledger himself. Fuller said he was inspired to take some portions Armitage wrote and put them into dialogue in later episodes.
  • The script specifies the location of Will’s cabin as Moosehead Lake, ME.

Book to Show[]

  • This episode begins the show’s adaptation of the novel Red Dragon. The episode fairly faithfully adapts Chapters 1-3 and part of Chapter 28, as detailed below.
  • This episode introduces several characters from the novel Red Dragon to the show: Francis Dolarhyde, Molly Foster Graham, Willy Graham (renamed Walter on the show), Grandmother Dolarhyde (in a photograph), Charles and Valerie Leeds and their two sons, and Mr. Lombard. 
  • Whereas the novel does not introduce Dolarhyde until nearly a quarter of the way in, the show’s adaptation begins by immediately immersing the viewer in his perspective.
  • Dolarhyde pressing the knuckle of his forefinger under his nose when seated, to conceal his cleft lip, is a detail from the book.
  • As in the novel, we first meet Dolarhyde in the cafeteria of the Gateway Film Laboratory. However, the first sequence of the episode mostly adapts flashback material which appears much later in the novel, in Chapter 28, detailing events several months before the present-day of the novel. In the book, Dolarhyde is standing by a window examining film when he notices that his hand skin “had slackened over the bones and tendons and his hands were creased in diamonds as small as lizard scales.” Within a week after this realization of his mortality, he sees the Red Dragon painting for the first time, in a Time magazine article about a William Blake exhibition.
  • The novel famously has an error: it describes the Blake painting The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun, but mistakenly refers to it by the title of the similarly-named The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun. The first film adaptation, Manhunter, went with the title used in the novel and displayed ...with the Sun. The 2002 film adaptation instead stuck to Harris’s description of the painting, using ...in Sun. The show pays tribute to both, using ...with the Sun as the cover to the fateful Time magazine, but ...in Sun as the painting that inspires Dolarhyde (and his tattoo). 
  • Dolarhyde’s obsessive weightlifting from the book is replaced by a more yoga-inspired routine. In the book, the mirror by his exercise bench—the only mirror in his house—is unbroken so he can see his physique (his face is masked when he exercises), whereas in the show this mirror is broken, anticipating the mirrors he will shatter at his crime scenes. (The 2002 film adaptation depicts an unbroken mirror near Dolarhyde's workout bench, but a broken mirror elsewhere in the attic.)
  • Dolarhyde going to Hong Kong to get his tattoo and teeth, and subsequently posing in front of the mirror in his attic gym with the new tattoo, come from Chapter 28 of the novel. In the book, Dolarhyde’s tattoo is described as being the Dragon’s tail on his lower back, continuing down and wrapping around his leg. The idea of Dolarhyde’s entire back being covered by the Dragon comes from the 2002 film adaptation.
  • Dolarhyde’s kimono is a detail from the book.
  • An article about Hannibal features a quote from Chilton saying there is no name for what Hannibal is. This contrasts with the novels Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs, where Chilton calls Hannibal a “pure sociopath,” while Will disputes this, saying psychologists simply don’t know what else to call him. In the same quote, Chilton says Hannibal may not be a man, calling to mind narration in the novel Hannibal: “In fact, there is no consensus in the psychiatric community that Dr. Lecter should be termed a man.” Alana’s line about how Hannibal is regarded by his “peers in psychiatry” also comes from narration in this portion of the novel Hannibal.
  • Hannibal’s cell differs from the books, where it is described as having steel bars and a nylon net more than arm’s length inside the bars. The plexiglass in the show is inspired by the film adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs, and the subsequent 2002 adaptation of Red Dragon, while the relatively luxurious interior is an invention of the show. 
  • In the books, Hannibal is only permitted softcover books, and staples and paper clips have to be removed. In the show, the institution seems to take a more lax approach, with Hannibal appearing to have hardcover books on his shelves, lamps containing lightbulbs, access to flame for cooking, wine glasses and what appear to be porcelain plates. Chilton casually sharing a meal with Hannibal in his cell while he is merely handcuffed defies the strict procedure in the books, where Chilton only enters the cell with orderlies carrying Mace and a tranquilizer gun, who put Hannibal in a straitjacket and leg restraints before Chilton enters.
  • Hannibal’s prisoner number, B5160-8, is the same number printed on his T-shirt after he is transported to Tennessee in the film adaptation of The Silence of the Lambs.
  • As in the novel, the events of the Red Dragon arc begin three years after Hannibal Lecter’s capture.
  • Hannibal’s line about taste itching at Alana in the “daily rounds of institutional life” comes from a description of Clarice in the novel Hannibal (in the same section where she notes Hannibal’s recurring purchases of Bâtard-Montrachet and white truffles).
  • Hannibal draws Alana’s face into a sketch of Botticelli’s painting Fortitude, calling to mind his use of that word to describe Clarice in the letter he writes her in the novel Hannibal, as well as his drawing Clarice’s face onto figures such as Christ (in The Silence of the Lambs) and a griffon (in Hannibal).
  • Alana says Hannibal “beat it all on an insanity plea.” In the novel Hannibal, Mason says this line, and Clarice corrects him, noting, “The court found him insane. Dr. Lecter did not plead.”
  • Dolarhyde’s self-consciousness about his difficulty with sibilants comes from the book.
  • In the book, afraid that his thoughts will “glow out of his ears” after seeing the Blake painting, Dolarhyde stuffs his ears with cotton balls; then, fearing cotton too flammable, he tries steel wool, which makes his ears bleed. In the episode, he appears to be using cotton, but there also appears to be blood on the cotton. The later scene, where light shoots out of his eyes and mouth, may also allude to this passage.
  • Dolarhyde stands naked covered in blood in the moonlight, as Hannibal theorizes he does after a kill in the novel.
  • Chilton writing a book on Hannibal is an invention of the show, as is Dr. Bloom taking over as director of the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, and Hannibal being found insane due to a conspiracy between Chilton and Bloom.
  • Hannibal terming the Tooth Fairy a “shy boy” comes from his first conversation with Will in Red Dragon.
  • Chilton’s line about Hannibal spending the rest of his life watching the diaper cart go by comes from a threat he makes to Hannibal in The Silence of the Lambs. Chilton saying it’s hard to believe an inmate’s opinion could count for much in the professional community also comes from this passage, when he recalls Hannibal giving him misleading answers during interviews then ridiculing Chilton in Hannibal’s Journal articles.  
  • Hannibal having written a brilliant piece for The American Journal of Psychiatry, and Chilton saying Hannibal only writes about problems he doesn’t have, come from Chilton’s dialogue in Red Dragon when meeting Will. 
  • The show retains Dolarhyde’s film projector and record player, which were fairly commonplace possessions when the book was published in 1981, but make the character seem more out-of-time in the show’s updated setting.
  • Dolarhyde’s ledger is largely as described in the novel, including the front page inscription (which in the novel he handwrote himself), the loose photo of young Francis and his grandmother (which he ignores “as though it had been left there by mistake”), and references to the “Tooth Fairy” nickname being blacked out. Although Dolarhyde has a “complete collection of [Hannibal’s] press notices” in the novel, these appear to be stored separately from the ledger. The idea that the ledger contains articles about Hannibal’s crimes, as well as the ledger’s overall design and appearance, owe to the 2002 film Red Dragon, and particularly the opening title sequence. (In the book, Dolarhyde is said to write in a “fine copperplate,” like William Blake as well as Hannibal. The more chaotic scrawl on the show, overlapping and wrapping around the photos and articles, resembles that in the film.) In the book, the earliest clippings are said to be about the disappearances of old ladies Dolarhyde is implied to have killed, and the margins contain pieces of scalp with hair trailing “like comets.” This detail is omitted on the show.
  • Hannibal writes his letter to Will in charcoal pencil. In Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs, he is not permitted to have regular pens or pencils, but has felt-tip pens, and charcoal for sketching.
  • In the novel, Will and Molly are living in Sugarloaf Key, FL. This was the original plan on the show as well, but after the Italian shoot earlier in the season, there was no room in the budget to leave Toronto again to shoot somewhere that could convincingly double for Florida. Likewise, the show changes the locations of the Tooth Fairy’s killings to colder climes, moving the Leedses from Atlanta to Buffalo, and the Jacobis from Birmingham to Chicago (the latter of which plays a significant but different role in the novel as the home base of the National Tattler and Freddy Lounds).
  • In the novel, Will’s stepson is coincidentally named Willy. Both of the prior film adaptations simplify the backstory by making the character Will’s biological son. The 1986 film Manhunter renames the character Kevin, whereas the 2002 film Red Dragon calls him Josh. The boy undergoes his third renaming for the TV series, now called Walter and once again Will’s stepson, as in the book.
  • Jack and Will’s initial talk is a faithful, albeit abridged, adaptation of their conversation at the beginning of Chapter 1 of Red Dragon. The show eliminates some dialogue delving more into the killer’s M.O., as well as dialogue which has previously been adapted in other episodes such as "Coquilles," references to Jack's wife (who is already deceased in the show timeline), and exposition about Will’s backstory with the FBI and his abilities, which the show audience already knows. Some dialogue from the subsequent dinner scene on the show is also taken from this initial conversation: Molly’s line about the dogs is spoken by Will in this section; as in the show, he says Molly is a sucker for strays. The dialogue about Will being “lucky here,” and about Walter/Willy’s age and height and his father also come from Jack and Will’s dialogue.
  • In the book, unlike the episode, Jack tactfully declines to have dinner with the family, and only returns afterward. Jack and Molly’s private dialogue in the show is a much-shortened version of their exchange in Chapter 1, when Will and Willy go out to feed the dogs. Jack showing Molly the photos is an addition of the show.
  • In the book, Will and Molly’s conversation about his potential return to the FBI takes place with the two sitting on a log watching the sunset. Both film adaptations move the conversation to the bedroom, and the show follows suit. On the show, Molly is much more encouraging of Will’s return to the FBI than in the novel (or in either film). The show gives Molly Jack’s book line about how Will will feel if he reads about “the next one.” Molly’s line about another killing “souring this place” for Will and about “High Noon” comes across as angrier in the book, with Molly bookending this dialogue by saying that Will has already decided and is not really asking for advice. Likewise, her line about having satisfaction that Will did the right thing comes from the book, but she follows it by saying, “That’ll last about as long as taps.” Notably, in the book, this scene occurs before the Jack/Molly exchange, whereas the show moves it to after, letting Molly have the final word in convincing Will to go. 
  • Will saying he will be different, and Molly saying she won’t, is new dialogue written for the show, again making Molly more encouraging.
  • In the novel, the Leedses have a daughter in addition to the two sons.
  • Will’s visit to the Leeds house crime scene adapts Chapter 2 of the novel fairly accurately, with some details streamlined. Details from the book left out/altered in the show: the door glass has been removed and replaced with plywood by this point; Will pops Di-Gels (for heartburn) and Bufferin (for headache) while exploring the crime scene; Dolarhyde’s gunshot strategically leaves Valerie Leeds paralyzed but alive, to later die of strangulation; Charles Leeds dies in his daughter’s bedroom, rather than the hallway; Dolarhyde ties Charles Leeds to the headboard of the bed rather than placing him on the floor with the children; Dolarhyde rapes Valerie Leeds (likely posthumously; Fuller eliminated the rape aspect, as he finds most TV rape storylines exploitive). The book delves more into Will’s forensic methods, as opposed to the show presenting his conclusions as largely intuitive. 
  • In the book, it is only stated that Dolarhyde places mirror shards in the women’s eyes, mouths and labias. The idea that he also places shards on the husbands and children comes from the 2002 film adaptation.
  • In the book, Jack finds the cheese in the Leeds fridge before he enlists Will’s help.
  • In the book, Will comes to the realization that Dolarhyde posed the husband and children to watch, and that Dolarhyde removed his gloves, only after Will is back in his hotel room (as he drifts off to sleep, through stream of consciousness thoughts involving a childhood drug store he used to visit). 
  • Jimmy Price’s entrance into the funeral home faithfully adapts the character’s introduction in Chapter 3 of the novel, right down to him looking at a sculpture of praying hands when Mr. Lombard enters. (The show adds Jimmy’s promotion to Special Agent.) The scene moves beyond the novel with Zeller’s entrance. Zeller is not with Price in the novel, and in the novel Zeller is Price’s boss, not his assistant.
  • In the book, the FBI works closely with local law enforcement in Atlanta. The show eliminates those characters, keeping the focus on the established FBI crew.
  • Jimmy’s dialogue about the partial, Jack’s reply (“You’re the light of my life”), and Jimmy saying he never did that before come from a phone call in Chapter 3 of the novel. (In the book, it was Will’s idea to print the eyes, something that is not clear in the show. In the book, the print came off the oldest child, not Mrs. Leeds.)
  • Jimmy’s line about smudged prints on the labia mirror shard was Jack’s in the novel, from Chapter 3, as he and Will head into an Atlanta police briefing. Will’s reply also comes from the novel, as does Jimmy/Jack saying the shards in the mouth and eyes were obscured with blood. (Notably, in the episode, they only discuss the shards from Mrs. Leeds and not those from the other family members, since in the novel from which the dialogue is taken, no other family members had shards placed on them.)
  • Zeller’s description of the teeth comes from the Atlanta police briefing by chief medical examiner Dr. Dominic Princi in Chapter 3. In the book, Jack’s line, “Snaggletoothed son of a bitch,” was spoken by a policeman in the crowd. Will’s line about how the killer may have a history of biting in lesser assaults and it may be a fighting pattern as much as sexual behavior comes from Will’s contribution at the briefing (versions of this line were previously spoken by Alana and Will, respectively, in lectures in "Aperitif" and "Œuf”). 
  • Grandmother Dolarhyde’s dentures make their show debut. As in the book, they are strongly associated with the Dragon. 
  • Will drinking whiskey in his motel room comes from Chapter 2 of the novel, after he returns from the Leeds house. In the book, he wants to call Molly but it is too early. Will floating downward amidst crime scene photos visually approximates his inability in this Chapter to let the crime scene go as he tries to sleep.
  • Jack’s explanation about the dog in response to Will’s inquiry was spoken by Detective R. J. (Buddy) Springfield in the book. 
  • Like both of the prior film adaptations, the show skips over a subplot involving H. G. Parsons, a local crank who lives near the Leedses, whose complaints about his electric bill lead to a police sketch of Dolarhyde, who had been posing as a meter reader while casing the area.
  • Will and Jack’s dialogue about Will going to see Hannibal comes from Will’s thoughts in the book at the end of Chapter 6.

Cut Scenes[]

  • In the script, the ceiling of the Norman Chapel falls on the “old Italian women” around Hannibal as he enjoys the music. Fuller says on the audio commentary that the production company felt the Norman Chapel sequence was unnecessary and refused to budget money to shoot it, and Fuller ultimately paid for the shoot himself.  Presumably, under these circumstances, the ceiling-collapse effects were not financially feasible, although the crowd of old woman can still be seen behind Hannibal.
  • The script includes a brief scene of Will chopping wood as he talks to Molly, in between the two scenes with Jack at their cabin. Molly says Jack stopped at the shop to ask for directions and she tried to get him lost.
  • The script has a cut to Molly and Walter when Will is trying to call from his motel room. They are outside on a blanket watching shooting stars, with Molly making sound effects, her phone left inside.

Image gallery[]

See: The Great Red Dragon / Gallery

See other[]