After whetting fans appetites by suggesting that Hannibal might continue its life on screen as a movie series if it's not picked up by a television network in time for season four, the NBC showrunners treated their Comic-Con 'pannibal' audience to a highlight reel of the remainder of season three, which introduced them to Francis Dolarhyde, who names himself The Great Red Dragon due to his obsession with the watercolour painting of the same name by William Blake.
Dolarhyde is a similarly fictional serial killer within the world of Hannibal, who earns himself the nickname of The Tooth Fairy from the media due to his habit of biting his victims after he has murdered them. The Hobbit actor Richard Armitage, who will be portraying Dolarhyde within the current series, was present at the event alongside Hugh Dancy (Graham), Mads Mikkelsen (Lecter) and show-creator Bryan Fuller.
"Will Graham is looking at Francis Dolarhyde as a version of Hannibal [Lecter] he might be able to save, and Hannibal is looking at him as a version of Will he may be able to corrupt," Fuller explained to the watchers in Ballroom 20 of the San Diego Convention Center. But while the character is known to violently kill families and rape the women of the victims he targets, Fuller assures that the show won't concentrate on the latter.
"I wanted to keep the promise that we were not going to be telling rape stories," Fuller explained. Dolarhyde will still be murdering families — this is still Hannibal, after all — but it will be "more about the assault on the family unit instead of just on one woman in the family".
A character stemming all the way back as far as Lecter and Graham's initial origins within Thomas Harris' first novel, Dolarhyde made his debut on screen in 1986's Manhunter played by Damages actor Tom Noonan. He was later portrayed again by Oscar-nominated actor Ralph Fiennes in a film titled after his role, Red Dragon (2002).
Each time we have seen the trio of criminal profiler Graham, psychiatrist-turned-serial killer Lecter and murderer Dolarhyde within the same plotline, it has been in the following way: Lecter is behind bars following his cannibalistic crimes having been finally captured by Graham and the FBI agent uses his former enemy to help him catch new serial killer The Tooth Fairy (Dolarhyde) in exchange for favours for Lecter.
As followers of the show well know, Mikkelsen's Hannibal is very much still on the run at the moment, and even bigger fans of the whole Lecter franchise will be aware that the ultimate stand-off between Graham and Lecter leading up to his life imprisonment happens in the psychiatrist's lavish office.
But it seems as if the writers are going to skim over Graham actually capturing Hannibal, as Fuller has confirmed that episode eight will mark a plot-jump within season three. According to IMDb, the episode propels the storyline forward to a time where "Hannibal has been imprisoned for three years at the Baltimore State Hospital" while simultaneously Jack Crawford reaches out to his troubled colleague who is married and no longer working for the agency, to help him capture new emerging serial killer, The Tooth Fairy, which makes more sense with the new characters introduction and his typical involvement with the main two protagonists.
This new storyline, which will be continued up until the end of the third season, is bound to please fans that enjoy the rapport between Lecter and Graham, who have been separate from each other throughout the first half of season three.