Season 2 of NBC's bloodiest drama Hannibal ended, not with a bang, but with a bloodbath, as the show's three main protagonists lay bleeding out on the titular villain's kitchen floor while the cannibal fled the country safely ensconced in first class, glass of bubbly in hand. Based on the characters of Thomas Harris' series of novels, network television's most thrilling show is ostensibly a prequel to the Hannibal that we know, although showrunner Bryan Fuller has delighted in twisting Harris' mythology into an intricate braid of his own design. Fuller treats the source material like play-doh, lifting plot points from one novel while making sly references to the events of another while quoting famous lines from yet another. Part of the thrill of Hannibal is watching Fuller take a story you thought you were familiar with and tie it into a unexpected gordian knot, only to unravel it in spectacular fashion.
With Dr. Lecter on the run and Mason Verger out for vengeance, Season 3 of Hannibal is primed to be Fuller's riff on the events of Harris' third novel (also called Hannibal), with Verge hunting down the man who's responsible for his horrific disfigurement. But Fuller has revealed that it will also incorporate some backstory from Harris' prequel Hannibal Rising, including the introduction of Lady Murasaki, a formative figure from the cannibal's past. And now, in an even further blurring of the novels' timeline, the showrunner has announced that we can expect to meet a famous figure from another of Harris' books: Francis Dolarhyde, AKA The Tooth Fairy.
Who is Francis Dolarhyde?
Introduced in Harris' first novel, Red Dragon, Dolarhyde is a notorious serial killer who eludes FBI profiler Will Graham. Graham is so frustrated in his attempts to capture Dolarhyde that he seeks the help of his former enemy, Hannibal Lecter, now a prisoner in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Due to his predilection for biting his victims, the press dubs Dolarhyde "The Tooth Fairy."
Born with a cleft palate, Dolarhyde compensates for his facial deformity by transforming the rest of his body: his back is completely covered by a giant tattoo of William Blake's painting The Great Red Dragon And The Woman Clothed In Sun. His M.O. involves murdering entire families, then lining the father and children up against the wall like dolls to "watch" as he rapes the mother. To make them appear more lifelike, he places shards of broken mirrors in their eyes.
When will we meet The Tooth Fairy?
When Fuller created Hannibal, he had a very clear seven-season plan: three seasons of prequel centered on Hannibal's relationship with Will Graham, one season devoted to each of Harris' novels, and then one original concluding season. However, over the course of the past two seasons, that plan has changed somewhat due to the natural evolution of Fuller's storytelling — undoubtedly combined with a bit of time pressure from the show being firmly on the cancellation bubble two years in a row.
Now, instead of tackling the novels sequentially, Fuller is blending the plots into his own horrific concoction. So while the main thrust of Season 3 will be Hannibal and Hannibal Rising, the showrunner has announced his intention to introduce viewers to The Tooth Fairy next season as well. Here's what Fuller had to say about his new plan in an interview with TVGuide:
The books won't necessarily be in sequential order. We'll be hitting elements of each of them except Silence of the Lambs in the next season. My hope is that not only do we have a completely different Hannibal Lecter story in Season 3, but we will meet some of those great characters like Francis Dolarhyde and Lady Murasaki and weave them into the world in a unique way.
Lady Murasaki, Mason Verger, and Francis Dolarhyde, all in one season? Sounds positively delicious.
Where have we seen him before?
Of course, this isn't the first time audiences will see on onscreen portrayal of The Tooth Fairy. Tom Noonan (pictured above) played the role in the first adaptation of Harris' novel, Michael Mann's 1986 film Manhunter, which starred Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecter. After the wider success of Jonathan Demme's The Silence Of The Lambs in 1991, MGM re-adapted the first book in the series, this time titled accurately as Red Dragon. That 2002 version starred Ralph Fiennes as the disfigured serial killer (pictured at top).
But even when The Tooth Fairy officially appears on Hannibal for the first time, it won't necessarily be the first time we've encountered him on the show. Back in the Season 1 premiere, we first met Will Graham while he was investigating a murder in a house where a husband and wife had been killed. They had both been shot through the throat and died relatively slowly, which Will determined meant the killer wanted them to see what he was doing. This was how Fuller chose to open his entire series, so it's likely that it was significant in some way. Could that crime scene have been one of Dolarhyde's earliest kills, before he perfected his pattern?
Who should play him?
The role is still un-cast, which allows us to dream up our ideal choices. There's one actor who leaps immediately to mind: he has worked with Fuller twice before (on Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies) and has proven through a variety of roles, whether they be transgender showgirls or stoic elf kings, that he can do just about anything. We're speaking, of course, of Lee Pace. Sure, he's busy starring on AMC's Halt And Catch Fire, but if the ratings are any indication, that shouldn't be a problem for too much longer.
Images: MGM (2); DEG; Absolute Entertainment