On this week’s How I Met Your Serial Killer, we start to see the small but important ways the show differs from the source material and makes the story of Red Dragon its own. We continue on the Francis Dolarhyde/Tooth Fairy/Red Dragon saga, inching, sometimes stumbling, forward to its conclusion. Spoiler alert, and trigger warning for self-harm, harm to animals, and assorted Hannibal violence.
We open with Team Behavioral Science discussing what to do with the newest serial killer on their hands. Jack implies that he wants to push Dolarhyde to suicide, or at least certainly wouldn’t mind such an outcome. Geez, that is a pretty twisted thing to say even after all they’ve been through, and it struck a sour chord with me. How monstrous are our “heroes” willing to become to stop their monsters? Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones looking to manipulate Dolarhyde: Hannibal wants to push him to kill Will’s family. During their phone therapy sessions, it’s revealed that Francis already has filmed footage of Molly and the kid (who has a different name in every adaptation, I swear)—not good!
Alana reveals she’s on to Hannibal: she knows he hasn’t been talking to his lawyer, he’s been chatting with the Tooth Fairy. Jack wants him to be a sort of double agent: they’ll trace Dolarhyde’s location through the phone calls. Checking in on Francis we come to a very uncomfortable scene in which he beats himself up, hallucinating that the Red Dragon as a separate entity is hurting him. There’s then a surprisingly poignant scene with Reba and D, as she endearingly calls him. Echoing his earlier concern—he told Hannibal that he doesn’t want to give Reba to the Dragon—he says he doesn’t think he can be with her because he’s scared he’ll end up hurting her. Probably thinking he just means breaking her heart, she in turn she dumps him herself and asks him to leave. Everyone is sad.
Back at the new Chez Graham, we find that all the dogs are sick, so Molly and the kid take them to the vet. We can only presume they’ve been poisoned by Dolarhyde, since his M.O. typically involves killing the pets before killing the family. And that is indeed what he sets out to do next. In the dark of the night on a full moon, D breaks into their house! (Where are they exactly? In the book and previous film adaptations, they’ve moved to sunny Florida, but I guess they’re still in the Baltimore area?) After lots of aimless sneaking around, instead of going for the car, they use the car as a distraction and their plan of hitchhiking kind of turns to carjacking? Poor planning. As they flee, Molly gets shot! This is a huge departure from the book, where Mrs. Graham remains unharmed.
When D calls Hannibal next, Alana and Jack are listening in. Hannibal warns Francis that they’re listening, tipping him off that the FBI is onto him, like he did with Garret Jacob Hobbs back in the pilot. As punishment, Alana makes good on her prior threat to rob Hannibal of his dignity, taking away all the books and finery from his cell, even his toilet, leaving him straightjacketed and muzzled. At the hospital, Molly is in surgery and Will and the kid have awkward father/son time (is this even the same kid from the other episode? I can’t tell if he looks different or if all small children look the same to me.) It’s revealed the boy knows that Will killed a man and spent time in a mental hospital. Even though he’s uncomfortable with the fact his stepdad is a killer, he wants Will to kill the bad guy. Will goes to see Molly after her surgery, before once again visiting his first spouse—his murder husband, Hannibal, I mean.
Overall, this episode seemed like it couldn’t figure out what feeling it wanted. Some moments felt like a thriller, Francis and Reba’s scene felt like a romantic drama, the scene at the veterinarian felt like Molly was trying to be funny? (Not the right time, Molly, all your dogs have just been poisoned.) The Francis Dolarhyde storyline is quickly coming to a close—the last episode of the season (and possibly the whole show) is not entitled after the Blake paintings, does that mean we only have one more week to wrap up the Red Dragon? As compelling as Richard Armitage’s performance has been, I feel like we still haven’t gotten to the heart of the character. Though I haven’t read the book, I understand that much of Dolarhyde’s psychological damage comes from abuse suffered at the hands of an abusive grandmother, something the show seems to have glossed over. (There was a brief flashback of Francis as a child, but I don’t remember anything of note.) I just hope the show explores the man behind the monster a little more in what little time is left and gives the Red Dragon his full due before he’s gone. Till next week!
Toilets left for Hannibal to use: zero
William Blake paintings in the title but not on screen: one
Shirtless Richard Armitage scenes: two
Dogs poisoned: all the doggies