Since the beginning, Frederick Chilton’s sense has not been equal to his ego. He thinks he’s a genius (and he does have a knack for self-promotion), but his all-consuming self-regard blinds him to the game being played around him. He is a pawn, and the kings and queens have finally offered him up for sacrifice.
“The Number of the Beast is 666” revolves around the FBI’s attempt to catch the Dragon. With the help of Freddie Lounds, Will baits the hook with inflammatory statements, while Chilton – still stinging from Hannibal’s public refutation of his best-selling book – volunteers to give the article professional credibility.
The plan works, to an extent. Dolarhyde is furious at the implications in Freddie’s article, but he’s not foolish enough to walk into a trap. He instead captures Chilton and subjects him to a rigorous interrogation, forcing him to refute his earlier statements on video. Then the Dragon rips Chilton’s lips off with his teeth and sets him on fire in Will’s courtyard.
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“The Great Red Dragon” marks the beginning of a new phase for Hannibal, shifting back to the show’s procedural roots as it prepares to unravel the mystery of the Dragon. It makes for a welcome change of pace. The high wire psychology that played out in Italy was extraordinary, but that balancing act becomes more difficult to maintain the longer it goes on. “The Great Red Dragon” gives the show the opportunity to regain its bearings, serving as a nostalgic reminder that Hannibal, Will, and Jack first came together to help solve crimes.
The episode is primarily exposition, although it covers the ground with far more panache than most other shows. After a three-year jump in time, we learn that Jack is back in charge at the FBI, while Alana is running the institution where Hannibal is a prisoner. Chilton is on the celebrity doctor circuit penning books about serial killers. He occasionally visits Hannibal to gloat, though it’s unclear if he’ll get his comeuppance before the show runs out of episodes.
Hannibal may be on the chopping block, but there are still nine more episodes left in season three and we’ll be here to recap all of them. It’s a good thing, too, because last night’s “Apertivo” was easily the strongest episode of the young season despite Hannibal’s conspicuous absence.
“Apertivo” spends most of its time filling in the gaps from season two. The episode begins with a conversation between Frederick Chilton (Raul Esparza) and Mason Verger (Joe Anderson, replacing last season’s Michael Pitt), comparing their surgically reconstructed faces after surviving their respective run-ins with Hannibal. Chilton is hoping for revenge and profit. Mason’s motivations remain somewhat unclear, but he is offering $1 million for information about Hannibal in an effort to bring the doctor to heel.